JJ Foodservice

A survey of 34 of the UK’s major foodservice wholesalers has found that the sector is lagging behind other industries on e-commerce development

Many of the UK’s foodservice wholesalers are lagging behind other industries on e-commerce development.

This is the key takeaway from a new survey, conducted by Mirakl and Foodservice Online in conjunction with the Federation of Wholesale Distributors. It uncovered that, while all the major wholesalers recognised the importance of e-commerce to the future of their business, only half had set aside a dedicated budget to develop the necessary technology.

The report also found that 31% of foodservice wholesalers currently had no e-commerce team within their business. Furthermore, just 5.9% of respondents said they employed a dedicated e-commerce team.

Mirakl claimed that adopting online marketplaces could not only provide greater opportunities to generate increased sales, but could also mitigate against common problems facing the wholesalers, such as supply chain issues, inventory loss and storage costs.

FWD CEO James Bielby said the pandemic had brought about rapid changes to the way wholesalers did business. “Online retailers who were already equipped with an online marketplace of their own at the height of the pandemic were able to leverage the scale and flexibility of their platform to bring together more sellers with more buyers, faster and easier than a traditional linear value chain model ever could,” he said.

Those who emerged from the pandemic and were unable to adapt to increased demand for digital platforms ran the risk of being left behind, the report claimed. Wholesalers that did not have e-commerce systems in place during the past two years missed out on significant commercial opportunities and, in some cases, had to stop trading altogether.

The call for wholesalers to digitise comes after a tough couple of years for in the industry, as the pandemic caused a huge decline in sales. Additionally, the foodservice sector faces further pressure as a result of soaring inflation.