The journey ahead might be a little bumpy, but there are signs we’re on the road to recovery.

According to a Financial Times poll of more than 90 leading economists, it will take at least 18 months for the UK economy to return to its pre-pandemic size. They also predict that its recovery will lag behind that of its high-income peers.

However, under the same headline, we can also find an argument that a lower starting point will work to the UK’s advantage. Some economists suggest the early vaccine roll-out will be a shot in the arm for the economy, propelling consumer-led growth and leading to a faster bounce back.

At this point, it’s tempting to reach for the old joke: What happens when you put 10 economists in a room? You get 11 opinions. However, no matter how tough a third lockdown might currently feel, it’s clear that thoughts are generally turning to what happens next as we start to emerge from the depths of the crisis.

Opportunities

Delayed spends. As restrictions ease, there may be a spike in demand for items which were not in required during the period of limitations. Wholesalers need to be aware of these potential upticks and be in a position to act quickly to seize any opportunities that emerge.

Powering smoother customer experience. With remote shopping habits becoming embedded thanks to the acceleration of previously emerging consumer trends, new logistical challenges are coming to the fore. The ability to fulfil orders and get products to customers fast will be a valuable competitive advantage for retailers and wholesalers alike.

Direct fulfilment. Enabling orders through retailers’ sales channels to be drop-shipped directly to the customer will expand the online market. Retailers’ online offerings will be extended and wholesalers will start to diversify their client base.

Risks

Stock level confusion. There is no baseline of ‘normal’ anymore. Behaviours and patterns of demand are continuing to evolve quickly and managing the impact of these fluctuations requires care and attention. A fine balance needs to be struck to avoid both stock-outs and warehouses overflowing with excess safety stock.

Extended payment terms. Extensions that were initially taken as short-term measures to help navigate the toughest times may end up causing pinch points along the supply chain. It is vital to maintain strong and connected relationships with both customers and suppliers in order to identify potential areas of concern and issues that might cause a knock-on effect. 

Cash flow. Need we say more? Having a decent cash flow is the only thing that has kept some businesses alive over the last 12 months in the face of major shocks and disruptions.

Recovery requires resilience

No matter what the shape of the UK’s recovery looks like over the coming year, the world-class wholesale organisations that will thrive are those with organisational resilience. It is impossible to seize opportunities and avoid or overcome risks without this feature. 

We know how hard it is for companies to self-diagnose the key areas where change would have the biggest impact on their organisational health. With this in mind, we have created a diagnostic tool that gives you the opportunity to pinpoint priority areas for attention, highlighting specific activities to help you enhance business performance and resilience to become a world-class wholesale organisation.

Discover more about what the anatomy of this level of business looks like and try our self-assessment tool for yourself.