Undoubtedly, Covid-19 has driven digital transformation at a speed no strategist dreamed possible even a few months ago.

We’ve seen the overnight adoption of remote working with even the most resistant of employers being thrust into the world of Zoom, TeamViewer and Hangouts.

Interestingly, managers are ‘talking to’ and seeing their teams more – the rise of video conferencing means more focused face time.

Suppliers’ field sales teams are spending considerably more screen time than windshield time, but the inability to call on depots and stores to see what is happening (as the market adapts and evolves) is frustrating for some of our clients.

We’re hearing of several companies desperate to get product into depots and into stores but lacking the facility to influence and cut through the noise as the market goes crazy. Whether you are a household goods manufacturer or a soft drinks supplier, getting product in the right place at the right time is exceedingly difficult right now.

And you don’t need to read the media to know that consumer behaviour has changed overnight. Certainly, the role of data is imperative in understanding what is happening in the market on a day-to-day basis.

But, as we know, wholesale is woefully under-resourced when it comes to data, both in terms of ‘just in time’ reporting and analysts to interpret reporting.

At TWC, we’ve set up rolling weekly summaries for our clients to review run-rate prior and post Covid-19.

Pitching this alongside stock and order data is the only way to try to forecast during such a volatile market. Meanwhile, the multiples will have their supply chain forecasting automated and stock prioritised, while wholesalers’ account teams sit down to manually do the maths.

And what of lobbying for more share of product? It’s essential for local stores to access product as consumers seek to shop local. It is exceedingly difficult for wholesale to make the case for fair share without the market data to demonstrate the total impact it has on local communities.

A strong market read for all wholesale routes to market could really make the difference, transparently reporting stock throughout from wholesaler to outlet to consumer to unequivocally show wholesale’s essential role in the supply chain.

So, what would we like to see on the other side of this? As much as we hope the lockdown works to minimise infection and reduce mortality, what about the channel? Maybe more homeworking and less travelling for a 30-minute meeting? Perhaps less conferences, more webinars?

But, more importantly, effective digital strategies among wholesalers and their suppliers and better visibility of data for joined-up planning and reporting.

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