When Amazon introduced its upsell tactic, “Customers who bought this also bought”, their sales rose by 35%. Food delivery apps like Just Eat and Deliveroo operate similar methods, using customers’ previous buying habits to recommend new dishes and eateries, increasing spend on their platforms.

Right now, this isn’t something wholesalers really do. But why not?

After all, wholesalers have the advantage of customers who must register an account to trade with them, and therefore have transactional information attached to each individual. At the very least, wholesalers can look at aggregated sales data and clearly recommend products which other, previous, customers have bought. In a way, it’s clever ‘word of mouth’ marketing for the digital world. 

The power of popularity

Retailers and foodservice operators listen to their peers. If they hear their retailer friends have all started buying/selling a product, they’re very tempted to follow suit. And using Amazon’s upsell technique simply digitises all of this process. 

What if we could go one stage further? What if we could show customers that other retailers/foodservice operators nearby, have bought this other product in the last seven days? Wouldn’t this be powerful? 

But there are challenges too. What if the wholesaler uses this method to upsell alcohol products, but the targeted retailer isn’t licenced to sell alcohol? (A lot aren’t these days.) This could be dealt with if the wholesaler:

  1. A) uses existing/accumulating transactional history to conclude the outlet isn’t licenced, and therefore recommends the top non-alcoholic drink sku…
  2. B) the wholesaler becomes (or already is) obsessive about understanding customers, and is forever probing/asking questions (likely via an app) to build up greater knowledge and intelligence on each customer. 

In return, they can serve customers with tailored comms relevant to them and their business.

With the help of social proof

What could happen if wholesalers gathered reviews and ratings from customers who had previously bought an item and published them on their ordering platform? Some think this wouldn’t work in UK food wholesale. But it’s clear from past experiences that at some point someone will. And the rest will follow suit.  (In the meantime, go and look at Amazon’s website – it works for them…).

The power of immediacy 

Also, what benefits could be gained if the wholesaler’s data told them they had only 100 cases of a product left in the depot? And, based on previous rates of sale, those 100 cases will be gone in less than 12 hours? 

The wholesaler could communicate this information live, in real time – “we’re down to our last 100 cases and believe all stock will be sold within a matter of hours”.  Scarcity, or the fear of missing out, triggers sales.

The power of discount

Alternatively, wholesalers could give the retailer a discount on specific products: “the normal price is £29.99 for a case. But because you have £750+ of goods in your basket right now, we’ll give you that product for £27.99.”

No one could argue that someone who pays £750 doesn’t deserve some discount on further items going into their basket. This then creates fluidity of prices. (Amazon changes the prices of items on its platform 250 million times a month). In wholesale, why should a case of something be the same price for everyone?

With the strength of an event 

The same principle works if wholesalers started creating occasions like Italian Food and Drink week and bundled five or six products (pizza, pasta, ragu, dessert, Chianti, garlic bread) together and sold them as a bundle. If they buy all six items in the bundle, the wholesaler gives the customer a 5% discount. Their customers could, in turn, create retail bundles in stores for shoppers. 

The power of intuitiveness 

Right now, many wholesalers’ websites aren’t intuitive. Imagine if the search functionality on sites was so good, customers could find the items they were looking for immediately, giving them the time and brain space to consider upsell options. And if purchasing those upsell options was so easy, they could be added to their cart in one click. 

Sounds exciting. And relatively easy. You need three things to make it happen:

  1. You need data (which you already have)
  2. A mindset or culture of focusing obsessively on the customer (but not focused on buying)
  3. Digital at the heart of your strategy (with data and a customer-centric mindset)

If you have all three ingredients….you can do it

Written by: 

Tom Fender, Development Director, TWC
07802 336333
Twitter: @Tomhfender. @TWCGroup
Web: www.TWCGroup.net

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