• guide-to-wholesalers-selling-direct-to-consumers

A guide for wholesalers selling direct to consumers

Posted on 06/04/2020

The foodservice industry has been massively affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, this article provides a guide to help wholesalers supply direct to consumers.

With hoarding, social distancing and long waits for online orders, the Covid-19 outbreak has meant getting regular household supplies is a lot more difficult. In response to the changing circumstances, some wholesalers have reacted quickly to help supply consumers with the essentials they're finding difficult to obtain.

First, let's look at what wholesalers are doing to supply consumers:

Wholesalers selling direct to consumers

JB Foods in Scotland

JB Foods in Scotland are an example of a wholesaler acting quickly to help consumers get their hands on the essentials. They offer a single Essentials Box that features meat, water, pasta and a variety of other food goods. Ordering is simple, consumer's place their order (only available to specific postcode areas) over the phone before 4pm for next day delivery.

Country Range Members

Click and collect services have been put in place by several members of the Country Range foodservice wholesale consortium. The service means that several members (Thomas Ridley, Savona, Caterite, and Harvest Fine Foods) have implemented a to-car service for consumers to collect online orders from their depots.


Bidfood has quickly opened up a section of their website for consumers to place orders for click & collect or delivery. Consumers need to register, and online ordering is available to them within 48 hours of registering. There is £100 minimum spend for deliveries and no limits on click and collect. Orders placed before 4pm are available for next day delivery and collection (Monday to Friday).


Marfast has opened their cash and carry to the general public as well as offering home delivery of home essentials to residents of Manchester with a minimum order value of £75. They've added a home essentials section on their online ordering system which includes meat, tinned goods and other household staples.

What to consider when selling direct to consumers?

What to sell?

The simplest option is to provide predetermined boxes like JB Foods have done. This way you can manage stock levels easier. You could have different packages available to cater for different needs.

Alternatively, you could do something similar to Marfast where you offer, in essence, a set menu of products. Again, this is a good way to control stock levels.

Good news for wholesalers is that bulk packs are in demand so you can sell what you have and provide consumer choice across different food and non-food products.

There is an air of urgency with consumers wanting to get their hands on household goods, so next day delivery or collection is a good idea. Most wholesalers selling direct to consumers offer a next day service based on orders placed before 4pm.

How to supply customers?

The choices you have to supply customers, where applicable, are cash and carry, delivery, and click and collect. Remember that social distancing and contactless delivery and collection are a must in the current climate. The to-car collection is a good idea to avoid unnecessary contact and protect customers and your staff.

How to collect payment and process orders?

As the JB Foods example shows, you don't have to have a complicated order process in order to kick off a new consumer service. A simple web page and phone number will suffice.

However, you may want to automate some of the manual work by implementing online ordering. If you're thinking about creating a standalone online ordering system for consumers, we've written an article giving some tips on how to quickly build an online ordering system. Alternatively, if you're current system allows, you can use product categories to create a consumer section of your online shop to give them the product choice of your choosing.

One other option is to facilitate ordering via email. Provide an order form where consumers can place an order. Your staff can then process it and email back a request for payment online. Once payment is made, confirmation is provided and delivery or collection scheduled with the customer.

Promoting your consumer boxes

You need to promote your consumer services to ensure your catchment area knows about it. Try the following:

  • Contact existing foodservice customers. They are all consumers and need food for their home and a good audience to start with.
  • Social media is more popular than ever as people use it to keep in touch with friends and family and relieve some of the boredom of being stuck at home. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are probably your best bet to reach the most people. Use advertising via these channels, you can target it based on very specific locations and it's relatively cheap in comparison to other forms of promotion, £100 will get you in front of thousands of people. Ask people to share your posts too so that you utilise their networks to expand your reach.
  • Look out for PR opportunities too, talk to local papers about your new services, look for online communities who could also share the news. It's a service that people need and as a result local media and online resources should welcome news like this.
  • Create a dedicated web page for consumers and optimise it for search engines to find so consumers can find you via Google. This article gives some tips about on-page search engine optimisation.

Supporting Vulnerable, NHS & Keyworkers

It's well documented about the issues about getting shopping, especially for NHS staff, elderly and those who a more vulnerable to the virus. Offer priority services to these groups to help society and keep our frontline workers nourished and strong.

Get in touch

If you'd like any help with anything we've discussed in this article, give us a call or email, we'll gladly try to help in any way we can.

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Aviko has a range of retail products should you need to add any retail sized packs to your stock.

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