Wholesaler collaboration

Marie Parry, group marketing director at Scolmore Group, looks at the need for suppliers to work collaboratively with wholesalers to futureproof their relationships against supply chain rationalisation.

In an increasingly challenging and highly competitive industry, electrical wholesalers have been rationalising their supply chain in a bid to increase their operating efficiency. This makes it vital for suppliers to be at the top of their game if they want to retain their wholesale customers’ business. Now, with the additional challenges that the whole industry has faced over the last 12 months, it is more important than ever that wholesalers and their suppliers work together to overcome some of the issues that are being faced.

Working in partnership

Across the Scolmore Group of companies we believe in working in partnership with our customers and this works at every level of our businesses’ operations. We ensure that there is an alignment between each department at Scolmore and the counterpart department at our wholesaler customers.  We make it our priority to fully understand all the workings of their businesses; how they operate on a day to day basis, what their ambitions are, and future plans entail. This way, we are in a better position to help them achieve their goals. By ensuring that everyone at Scolmore fully understands the wholesaler business and how it operates, it means that wherever our customers interact with us there is detailed knowledge and comprehensive support.

Customer service

Take the customer service department for example. This is set up so that each member has two or three geographical areas to look after, where they will offer support to the external sales team as well as directly to customers. Our phone system allows for recognition of the area code of the incoming enquiry call, which will then be directed to the team member assigned for that area. This allows the team to build rapport with customers, who in turn enjoy a more personalised service.

Understanding how our customers’ business operates is one thing but having a grasp on the needs of the evolving marketplace is another, and this is what shapes our new product development. We continually strive to bring to market products that are cutting edge and designed to help contractors deliver projects quickly, reliably and safely.

Marketing support

Marketing plays a vital role in our business operation and is key to ensuring that our products and promotions are seen by installers and wholesalers alike, through print and online advertising campaigns, as well as proactive and engaging social media activity. Our dedicated YouTube Channel, SGTV, and weekly podcast episodes allow us to produce and host some really informative sessions covering product reviews, opinions from industry experts and issues affecting the industry. This all works to help us educate our customers and end users, increase awareness of our brands and products and drive sales through the wholesale channel. 

Our aim is to provide our customers with access to the widest possible source of information, resources and promotional support to help them stand out from the crowd and stay ahead in a highly competitive marketplace. Key to this support is our Marketing Hub – a unique website facility, which offers a range of tools that wholesalers can use to enhance their own marketing facilities – and all at no extra cost. 

Scolmore customers are given their own unique login details, which allow them to access a whole range of promotional material from across the Group’s entire range of wiring accessories, lighting, smart accessories, fire protection and security solutions. Product templates can be downloaded and customised with the stockist’s own details to optimise sales opportunities. A comprehensive product image library, print-ready promotional leaflets plus a range of literature covering every product category is also available. Point of sale material for every brand is also available on request.   

Bespoke ordering

A bespoke on-line ordering function offers wholesalers unique facilities and guarantees an easier purchasing experience. This service is supported by automated order picking and processing procedures which enables us to offer service levels we believe are unprecedented in the industry. 

Customers can place orders 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, check current stock levels at any time, and, using the ‘quick buy tab’, they can store the most common orders for repeated use. They can access on-line catalogues to keep updated with the complete product range, including new products. They also have the ability to track orders and to manage administration paperwork with instant access to reports and essential documents.

Towards the end of last year, we made a number of changes to the online ordering facility to enhance customer experience through improved load speeds and user functionality, as well as the addition of some new features. As ever, customer feedback played a key role in shaping the improved site and a number of new features were added. These include:

- Multi-accounts - customers can now have a single account (one login) and have access to all the branches they order for, using the ‘customer account switcher.’

- Bulk-Rates – when a customer is close to reaching the threshold for a bulk rate price, they will be informed on the basket. The basket summary will also show how much they have saved thanks to these bulk rates.

- Small Order Charges – a pop up will alert the customer to how much more needs to be spent to qualify for free carriage and to avoid small order charges.

- ETA’s - users do not have to click into a product to see the next time stock is available, it will show the next due date for available stock on the search screen.

- Low stock – products with low stock will be highlighted in red to alert to a potential back order.

Group App

We are always looking at ways to simplify life for customers selling our products and the contractors using them. To this end, last year we updated our App to incorporate all the businesses within the Scolmore Group. This has extended the access for users from Click Scolmore to the full range of products and services for ESP fire and security, OVIA lighting and Unicrimp cable accessories – with just one click.

Free to download, the App features a complete range of searchable products across all the group companies, plus product and tutorial videos, catalogue downloads and all the latest news and events to keep users up to date with what’s happening in the company and the industry.

Training and development

As a group, we have always put great emphasis on the importance of training and development as part of our service to customers. Having invested time and money to harness the latest technologies to develop cutting-edge products, we want to ensure that our customers are given every opportunity to understand how the products work and how they can be utilised to best advantage on a project. 

Whilst we are restricted from meeting face to face, we are able to offer a range of training opportunities via our YouTube and social channels and will happily respond to any requests from customers and contractors. For example, the well-established ESP training programmes covering general security and fire systems are currently being conducted remotely.  

What we are now seeing from the wholesaler is much more emphasis on the marketing effort, with more resource than ever being invested in this area of their business, particularly in digital and online strategies. Our marketing team members are building strong relationships with the wholesaler marketing teams and they are working closely together to create powerful content and help maximise the impact and reach of the various promotions and campaigns that are targeted at the sector.

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