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How independent wholesalers are competing

The plight of the independent electrical wholesaler versus the major high street brand has long been recognised.

Many customers searching for domestic industrial or domestic electrical supplies may automatically default to a high street brand, but in doing so they could be unwittingly missing out on significant benefits.

Not only does an independent wholesaler offer a highly personalised service, with an in-depth knowledge of each customer, their needs, and business; they can also offer a range of specialist, competitively priced products – something many customers may be unaware of.

Right now, Independent wholesalers have a collective sales volume of circa £2.4billion in the UK – so they are continuing to play a vital role across the wholesale market.

But what is being done to highlight the benefits of independent retailers and ensure they can compete with larger brands?

Since 1976 independent wholesalers across the country have been unified by the Association of Wholesale Electrical Bulk Buyers (AWEBB).

A WEBB, which is run by Mark Lambert, has created a UK-wide network of competitively priced, highly trained and specialised independent wholesalers, which enables them to compete against the major brands.

As an electrical purchasing consortium, AWEBB encompasses over 230 branches across the UK and Ireland, which offer greater support to independents and even better flexibility and choice for the customer.

This consortium enables independents to compete by strengthening their collective buying power and terms and conditions, to procure the most in-demand products, at competitive prices from market-leading suppliers.

And thanks to its close, and specialised, relationship with independents nationwide, AWEBB is able to collaborate with them to fully understand their needs, issues, and key customer bases.

Ultimately this enhances their service, and aids product development to maximise their offering.

However, independents are also flourishing thanks to their invaluable product knowledge, with local wholesalers able to offer the most relevant advice thanks to their unique understanding of their client base.

In order to ensure they are thoroughly informed, AWEBB members undergo rigorous training as part of its Future Fit programme. This is designed to develop staff skills to ensure they are fit for the future and ready to face industry challenges.

Over 25 workshops are run across the UK focussing on customer service, sales, and motivating teams to ensure wholesale staff exceed expectations and raise standards UK-wide.

In a bid to further support independent wholesalers, AWEBB is also a member of the Electrical Distributors Association, and supports its mission to serve and represent local businesses.

Currently one of the most urgent issues facing independent wholesalers is the adjustment to online demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. The consortium is now working to strengthen both traditional and online sales platforms, to ensure wholesalers can meet digital demand and benefit from altered customer buying trends.

One invaluable online tool, which supports both customers and wholesalers, is its member-owned

Thanks to this website, customers are connected to AWEBB’s national network of independent wholesalers wherever they are in the country, providing them with invaluable local knowledge, and the products they need on the go.

As the consortium’s national framework of branches, ElectraCentre also offers Independents access to around 10,000sq ft extra warehouse space and holds £600,000 worth of stock, enabling them to compete nationally.

So, when it comes to independent wholesalers, it’s evident that they are more than able to compete and indeed flourish.