It’s show business

Independent delivered wholesaler Iain Hill Ltd has opened a showroom designed to offer new services to customers. John McNee paid a visit to find out more.

Iain Hill

FOR retailers, a trip to the cash and carry can be hard work, involving trailing up and down long aisles, searching for stock, and loading your own trolley. But there can be some advantages, even for retailers who normally use delivered wholesale, including the ability to interact with wholesalers, see products and packs first hand, find lines they hadn’t  known about and pick up ideas.

Now Iain Hill, an independent delivered wholesaler for over 25 years, has launched a service he hopes will give his retailer customers the best of both worlds and help them improve their businesses.

“We have our picking warehouse, which is set up as an efficient distribution centre, but it’s not kitted out to be a cash and carry,” said Iain, describing the 50,000 sq ft premises his business relocated to in 2013. “We had some surplus office space, so we thought – let’s  just put one of every product  on display in there.”

As a wholesaler specialising in soft drinks, crisps, confectionery and toilet rolls, Iain found he was able to comfortably display all of his product lines – over 1400 of them – in just 1500 sq ft.

Iain Hill has converted 1500 sq ft of surplus office space at his Linwood distribution centre into a bespoke customer showroom and marketing suite, putting all of his product lines (more than 1400 of them ) on display.

Retailers use a bar code reader to scan products they wish to buy, which can then made up to take away or be delivered direct to stores.

“The barcode scanner is a nice and easy way to shop,” said Iain. “Walking around a cash and carry, everything’s wrapped up in brown boxes, you inevitably miss stuff.

A barcode reader is used to place orders, which are made up in the warehouse.

“Here, you can see exactly what product you’re getting along with price and margin. And many retailers – no matter how many years we’ve worked with them – find something they never knew we had.

“We reckon most have gone away with 20 lines they’ve not previously ordered.”

The showroom also allows the wholesaler to promote its retail club, its £1 ‘Quidzin’ products and new PoS from suppliers, which is made up ready to take away.

“We’ve only been open a short time but the reaction from customers has been great and it’s opened up a lot of new possibilities for us,” said Iain. “Getting existing customers into the showroom and buying more from us will be the focus for the next year.”