Sustainability, AI and E-commerce Are Top Wholesale Trends for 2024, Study Finds

In a recent report by NuOrder by Lightspeed, the business-to-business marketplace platform, surveyed 65 brands and retail experts looking at wholesale trends for the upcoming year.

Retailers and brands identified e-commerce, sustainability, artificial intelligence and emerging technology, personalization, data and analytics and inventory management as top trends shaping the industry over the next five years.

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The report’s authors noted that unsurprisingly, AI and emerging tech will disrupt every aspect of the industry — with the need to adapt greater than ever before. Businesses are expected to home in on digital-first practices to dictate their strategies. Seventy-seven percent of experts polled said that digitization will influence changes in wholesale “a lot” and “a great deal.”

The primary challenges brands and retailers foresee they will face include rising costs of business, supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, inventory management, artificial intelligence and emerging tech and data and analytics.

Notably, retailers and brands are both looking for more data fluency through distribution and sales. Looking ahead, the brand-retailer relationship is set to change the wholesale ecosystem through data sharing and collaboration, private label growth, sustainability and ethical practices, flexible terms and conditions and seamless technology integration.

Amid these rapid changes and innovations, companies are looking to adapt by investing in training to ensure employee comfortability, phase-in implementation, partnering and collaborating with tech experts, prioritizing cyber security, staying updated on the latest tools and trends, taking a customer-centric approach and more.

More than 90 percent of survey respondents said that the key to strong collaboration and communication efforts with wholesaler partners are critical to the success of their businesses. Most brands and retailers said that they are taking the approach of creating shared goals, joint problem solving, training and workshops, checking in regularly, transparent decision-making and maintaining an open channel of communication.

As brands and retailers understand their product life cycle and customer journey as an essential practice, they have become savvier to make more informed decisions on product and distribution, access to data and sustainable and ethical initiatives. Metrics used to track the success of wholesale are sell-through, gross margin, order frequency, reorder rate, average order value and total sales.

Sustainability has continued to be a top-of-mind priority amongst wholesalers; the report’s authors note that experts are doubling down on strategies to adapt more sustainable and ethical values.

Wholesalers are conducting product life cycle analysis, investing in sustainable education and training initiatives to ensure total company alignment, collaborations with NGOs and other organizations, engaging with consumers to promote environmental awareness, seeking Organic, Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance certifications and garnering feedback from stakeholders and consumers about company initiatives to improve their environmental footprint.

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