What do you think will be the biggest emerging trends in wholesaling in 2022?

Wholesalers will be looking to utilising technology to become more agile and efficient in 2022. For example, inventory management software, which helps track and optimise warehouses and shows visibility over costs of goods sold and other financials.

Data driven decision making will also be key. Business analysts can leverage data and identify opportunities for improvement, spot trends and recognise potential issues and offer solutions.

Those who have not done so already will be looking to shift towards eCommerce. The reality is, buying online is easy and convenient, and that’s what many customers have come to expect, especially during the pandemic. Plus, having a website with a transactional function shows that you are embracing technology and moving with the times.

Debbie Harrison, Joint Managing Director (Trading) at Pricecheck.

What will be the key categories to watch out for?

The UK Government has set out its ambition for England to be smoke free by 2030, so we envisage the vaping category will do well in 2022. It is believed that over a million people in the UK have stopped smoking since the onset of Coronavirus, and vaping is a very popular stop smoking aid.

The types of impulse purchases that customers buy in stores may switch in 2022, owing to new legislation on food and drink that is high in fat, salt and/or sugar (HFSS) coming into force in England. Products such as chocolate, sugar confectionery, crisps and biscuits will no longer be allowed to appear in store entrances, on aisles ends or at checkouts, which is a chance for healthier food and drinks or non-food items to take centre stage.

How can wholesalers best prepare for 2022?

The key is not to be afraid of change and to embrace it. During the height of the pandemic, we still pushed forward with our growth plans – hiring around 100 people, implementing our warehouse management system, and launching our website! If Covid-19 has taught us anything it’s to not take things for granted and 2022 could be the year you’ve been waiting for to take your business down a new avenue.

Also, wholesalers need to be investing in the right people to do the job. Employing people with the right skills and experience is a must. However, it’s understandable that for many recruitment may not be something businesses can do for a while, so consider looking at paid-internships, apprentices and graduates and invest in the next generation of talent.

Do you think online shopping will increase over the next year?

As the pandemic slows down it’s likely that the penetration of eCommerce will level out, as consumers get back to shopping at a mix of online and offline retailers. However, overall, online sales make up a big chunk of overall spend and there has been a significant increase in those doing online shopping compared to pre-pandemic levels. And of course, there will be those who didn’t shop online before who are now converted and won’t go back to their old ways.

Do consumers still love local shopping?

Convenience stores and independents are at the heart of communities – perhaps with a newfound regard after the role they’ve played in the past 18 months.

The way consumers choose to shop will always adapt an evolve, but for convenience, community and customer service, there’s nothing quite like local shopping.

Will healthy eating and wellness be even bigger trends in 2022?

This trend is here to stay and is one of the lasting legacies of the pandemic, with a growing number of health-conscious consumers looking for comfort snacks in particular that deliver flavour without the unhealthy fats and sugar.

Plus, the HFSS legislation coming into force next year in England, will bring healthy eating to the forefront. With products such as chocolate, sugar confectionery, crisps and biscuits being moved away from store entrances, end of aisles and checkouts, and likely being replaced with sugar free confectionery, fruit and veg crisps, popcorn etc, it’s likely sales of these impulse purchases will increase.

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