Top brands tell us their what the industry should be keeping an eye out for in the next decade

As the sector prepares for FWD’s next generation conference at St George’s Park in Burton-on-Trent, Wholesale News gathered the thoughts of the event’s sponsors to hear which trends, technology and talent we should be looking out for in the 2020s.

Jill Livesey, Managing Director, HIM/MCA

“Digital technology is a growing opportunity within wholesale, with other industries quicker to adapt to developments. Our research shows that retailers and foodservice operators are using online more and more as their main ordering channel within wholesale.

“However, many wholesalers and suppliers are not necessarily maximising the growth opportunities available. We expect digital capabilities, with more investing in apps and new ordering platforms that provide greater levels of convenience to retailers and foodservice operators.”

Matt Gouldsmith, Channel Director, Lucozade Ribena Suntory

“The past decade has been focused on the outlet, with time-poor and value-conscious consumers creating the rise of the omni-channel shopper. The next decade’s trends will more likely stem from the actual product on offer.

“The consumer is now more attuned to the environment and health than ever before, meaning product purchase is now strongly influenced by their ethical standards and consciousness of a well-balanced lifestyle. With information also now being just a click away, making informed choices to adapt what they buy and where they buy it based on their needs and wants is quick, easy and simple.”

Tanya Pepin, Director, TWC

“The next generation is all about the digital revolution, but wholesalers must broaden their thinking to take advantage. It’s not only about having a website or app, it’s about the systems that sit around them to drive traction. For example, in the real world, cash and carries need to attract customers into depot and then build promotion displays and cleverly site KVIs to drive sales.

“Digital enhancement is no different to that. Signage and rack ends are being replaced by insight-based algorithms to identify customer needs and drive loyalty.”

Martin Brock, Director of Supplier, SalesOut

“Last-mile delivery will be the key in the future. Mobility and distribution is increasingly a cost burden for operators and wholesalers, with ultra-lowemission zones and pedestrianisation all adding cost and time to services. Trends in home delivery and consumers doing it for themselves are showing the way.

“Suggestions are that Amazon and Hermes can’t continue to grow at the expense of low-cost resource when their pay rates don’t cover running costs. What then? Maybe a return to local supply.”

Gregg Morris, Senior Manager, American Express

“One key current trend for UK businesses is moving on from old-fashioned payment systems and single-funding sources. American Express has introduced new financial solutions and technology in the UK market, focused on optimising supplier payments, stronger integration within the supply chain, solving cashflow challenges at peak periods and helping our customers to optimise the use of their funds to invest in robust growth strategies.

“We’ll be at the FWD conference showcasing some of these developments that align to financial services trends, as well as the technology enhancements behind this.”

Paul Brown, Channel Director, Molson Coors

“The diverse nature of the wholesale sector offers a huge opportunity for growth. The key to success relies on three essential ingredients: developing great people, providing unique brands and exciting consumers. Getting this right will give wholesalers the best chance of success for years to come.

“Everything starts with great people. As we look to the future of the sector, the need for talent with an exceptional breadth of understanding is more important than ever.

“This is coupled with insights on the whys and hows – the way consumers shop means that wholesalers will need to utilise their infrastructure differently. Together with our wholesale customers, we’re committed to coaching and developing the next generation of business managers and helping retailers succeed today and tomorrow.”

Paul Stokoe, Japan Tobacco International

“Consumer demand for vaping products continues to grow and the UK is now the second largest e-cigarette market in the world, with more than 3.2 million adult vapers. One clear trend in the current vaping market is the popularity of Pod Vapes, which is currently the fastest-growing RRP segment in the UK.

“JTI’s Logic Compact device perfectly caters to this demand, offering pre-filled e-liquid pods that click into place magnetically in one simple step. The product delivers the perfect combination of flavour, power and simplicity, and its user-friendly, modern design make it a premium proposition for consumers.”

Steve Brooks, Impulse Controller, AG Barr

“The convenience sector continues to grow because it’s adapting to evolving shopper needs. The top three trends are food to go, which is one of the top shopping missions (with soft drinks featuring in more than half of them); that shoppers are time poor and expect to find the right brands in the right place; and health, which is becoming more important to shoppers, so they expect to see a wide range of regular, low- and zero-calorie options.

“Barr Soft Drinks’ wide product range enables wholesalers and retailers to tailor their range to regional tastes. This creates a point of difference from competitors and drives loyalty.”

Kevin Powell, Business Unit Director, Carlsberg

“Next year will be when consumers expect businesses to deliver for the planet. Our ground-breaking Snap Pack, which will remove the equivalent of 60 million plastic bags from packaging across Carlsberg Group, is one of the ways we are responding to this turning tide of public opinion.

“By 2022, we will use 100% renewable electricity and by 2030 we will have eliminated carbon emissions at our breweries and halved our brewery water usage. Together, we will create a better tomorrow and we’ll do this while still ensuring we invest in product quality, as we have done this year with new Carlsberg Danish Pilsner.”

Loreta Lingyte, Data Solutions Consultant, The Retail Data Partnership (TRDP)

“EPoS data from our 3,000 stores show improved trading in independent convenience stores, which make up 65% of the channel. After years of decline, March 2019’s average footfall per store increased in all regions apart from Scotland. But it’d be wrong to think wholesale can get back to normal. Category mix is changing as retailers adapt to declining tobacco footfall.”

Aimee Thomason, Trade Marketing Manager, Unilever

“By 2020, we aim to source 100% of our agricultural raw materials sustainably and are leading the way with initiatives to reduce plastic waste. Within the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever Food Solutions aligns focus to four key areas where we can make a difference within the market.

“These include commitments to improve health and wellbeing, increased food safety as well as reduction in food waste and sourcing our ingredients sustainably. Unilever is a founding member of The UK Plastics Pact, an ambitious multi-stakeholder initiative, led by WRAP, which aims to transform the plastic packaging system in the UK and keep plastic in the economy and out of the ocean.”