Year 2020 and COVID-19 has shown that customers will adopt new sourcing channels quickly and adopt those into daily activities without any issues. Previous statement is valid for both consumers and business customers based on our understanding. This understanding leads to following questions:
• Will the borders and roles of retailers and wholesalers vanish in the future as customers are using various possible channels to execute daily procurement activities?
• Why the wholesalers should let the retailers take care of the consumer customer as they could manage their demand by themselves without any additional middlemen in distribution chain.
As there are no free cards nor vacation day for companies that wish to stay alive in competitive environment, we expect that wholesalers are embracing the move towards world of retailers. Technologies and its capabilities developed by wholesalers are catching up retailers in their own business segment. Distribution chains & models which are meeting the requirements set by customers in both B2B – and B2C -environments exist. Physical stores and pick-up -locations as well as co-operation with 3rd party providers has been set-up to serve B2B -customers; so why not to utilize those to serve also B2C -customers. The loss of benefit of B2C customers in B2B sphere will become more evident as the development of wholesale rallies towards retail segment.
The Wholesale Shift to Omnichannel Strategy
As an example, omnichannel (services are more centralized & unified from customers perspective, opposed to a multichannel, which has more traditional segmented single sales channels) commerce ecosystem and inventory automations are part of wholesales businesses today and those could and should be extended to serve also wider customer segment. We as individuals are the target group where the expand could focus. We as a consumer are not as demanding; requesting 24 hours deliveries nor we are not setting our own rules/requirements to suppliers. We might be easier customers than B2B -customers perhaps?
Will the role of wholesalers expand in the marketplace as a whole? If yes, this will also effect the role of retailers, putting pressure for them to expand their business to a new era where ever the business might be … let’s see what the future brings to us.