Having been invited to take part in a roundtable on e-commerce in wholesale I was keen to see how mobile is perceived within the digital mix. The key question for the day was whether wholesalers are making the most of e-commerce or still lagging behind other channels? My conclusion is that whilst huge advances have been made in recent years when it comes to traditional e-commerce i.e. websites, and there have been some incredibly forward-thinking wholesalers such as Bestway, who we launched an app for in 2014 and implemented Beacons in 2015, the majority of wholesalers and indeed suppliers don’t yet fully understand the power of mobile in this channel.
Whilst much of the conversation focussed around how best to drive up sales via websites, we did get into an interesting debate around how mobile apps can add significant value. For me it’s simple. Retailers and caterers have their mobile phones with them pretty much 24/7. With an app you can actively communicate with them when you want in a personalised way. Without an app you’re reliant on them coming to your depot or visiting your website, and once there you can only communicate to them on mass.
Mobile apps offer significant other benefits as well as the engagement piece. Functionality is superior to websites, even those that are mobile optimised, with features such as the barcode scanners being a prime example of that. The user experience is also greatly improved vs a mobile optimised site as it is designed uniquely for mobile.
But for me the personalisation opportunities are what really make apps superior. And we’re not just talking about addressing someone by their Christian name, although that is important. Marketing and promotional messages should be sent when we know an individual is using the app, not too soon after they’ve placed an order and in accordance with how they run their specific business. By considering these variables it offers a unique opportunity for wholesalers and suppliers to send promotional messaging to the retailer or caterer in a more intelligent and effective way.
As many smaller wholesalers are yet to implement online trading we’re now starting to see the smart ones bypass online completely and move straight to a mobile app. A company’s website will remain an important channel in terms of information, but with a mobile app there really is no need to invest significant amounts of hard earned money into online trading when retailers will be accessing it via a mobile anyway.
In summary, the world of technology is moving at an incredible pace and it’s entirely understandable that wholesalers need some support in navigating this digital landscape in order to be able to seize on the vast opportunity mobile apps offer. Our considerable experience in the sector makes us ideally positioned to help wholesalers on this journey and to ultimately improve their bottom line. If you’d like a chat about just that, please do get in touch.