Last edited 14 Sep 2020

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ECA Institute / association Website

Competition and the independent electric wholesalers

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[edit] Introduction

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

[edit] Wholesale purchasing options

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.

In 2020, 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?

[edit] AWEBB

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

Due 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.

[edit] Product knowledge training

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.

[edit] Industry response

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.

One of the most urgent issues facing independent wholesalers in 2020 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 the organisation's member-owned This website connects customers 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 10,000 square feet of extra warehouse space and holds £600,000 worth of stock, enabling them to compete nationally.

This article originally appeared on the ECA website under the title, 'How independent wholesalers are competing'. It was written by Mark Lambert CEO, AWEBB and published on 3 September 2020.


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