Customer Loyalty in the B2B Food Industry

The B2B food industry continues to face challenges that many others within the B2B space do not share. In the wake of COVID, the out-of-home takeaway sector such as restaurants, pubs and clubs are still dealing with the damage dealt.

After finally starting to bounce back in recent years, they’re now dealing with stock issues from supply chain disruptions, staff acquisition and retention, and economic factors such as inflation across Australia and New Zealand, there’s a reason that the industry is known as one of the most cutthroat business arenas around.

Between recent supply chain disruptions facing the industry worldwide and the growing presence of eCommerce within the food and beverage industry, customer loyalty has been harder to capture and easier to lose. After all, if your supplier is unable to meet your needs, and the ease of switching to another provider no longer presents a hurdle, why would you stay with local suppliers who continue to fall short?

In this article, we’ll highlight some of the pain points facing customers in the B2B food and beverage industry, how your business can step up to meet the high demand of current customer trends and expectations, as well as the benefits of a B2B loyalty or incentive reward program that you may not have considered. After all, we’ve been the leading supplier of reward programs Australia and New Zealand-wide since 1996 – it’s our job to present out-of-the-box thinking and strategy to capture the engagement of your B2B channel partners.

Dangers Facing the Wholesale B2B Food Distribution Industry

As we mentioned earlier, the COVID years presented a large series of hurdles for much of the out-of-home food industry. Lockdowns shuttered restaurants for months at a time, leaving them to depend solely on takeaway and delivery apps, eating into their already-high expenses due to restaurant space rent that they couldn’t use.

Finally, as we started to reopen, it seemed that these businesses were closing in on the light at the end of the tunnel, but the supply chain disruptions proved long-lasting, and stock and employee shortages weren’t helping either. Finally, the economic factors such as inflation across Australia and New Zealand has lead to many consumers cutting back on eating out, which just added insult to injury on an already-suffering industry.

With so many of the above-mentioned global scale troubles currently facing the out-of-home takeaway portion of the food industry, distributors can struggle to find a connection with wholesalers, who have the potential to be active brand advocates if facing favourable procurement terms.

Streamlined operational efficiency can be challenging to meet, but there are other systems that you can compete on as a distributor. Finding a niche to attack from can be tricky, but hey – that’s why we put the strategy first!

Your marketing efforts can be dedicated to combatting the manufacturers and wholesale distributors on other angles. Considering the B2B elements of value pyramid, you can feel confident in meeting table stakes for your regular buyers of retailers and out-of-home providers because you’ve worked with them successfully in the past. If the struggle is based around economic elements, then you’ll have to move further up the pyramid to create demand on a different scale – customer relationships and personal value.

So, what can your company as a distributor do to connect with major players within the wholesale distribution food industry? Create a B2B wholesaler and distributor loyalty incentive program, of course! Provided your loyalty program is structured correctly (which we can help with), you can partner with your suppliers to fund the entirety of your program.

By identifying and distributing additional value to your channel partners, your program provides additional communication touchpoints with your customers and strengthen your relationships with those partners who are keen to market directly to your customers. Your customers become your brand advocates, promoting a stronger customer experience down the line, letting them feel valued and connected to your brand and success – which is strong motivation for them to move your product.

By utilising a B2B incentive rewards program for your out-of-home partners like pubs, clubs, restaurants, and cafes, you can increase sales while simultaneously boosting engagement with your brand to more clients. Using a self-funded growth program can also ensure that your clients’ connection with your brand and products will provide the entire funding for the program to be taken once the incentive markers are met, leaving your business with zero risk of being out of pocket.

If you have any interest in developing an incentive program for your buyers, look no further. We focus on the strategy of providing solutions to your current challenges while still competing against large enterprises in major industries for market share. We’ll work with you to keep on top of the trends of the B2B food industry to let your business focus on what it needs to do – making sales!

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B2B Food Industry Distribution and Customer Loyalty

Beyond the challenges to local B2B food distributors through revenue and marketing aspects, additional hurdles are presented through general competition within your local areas as well. With an increased demand for sustainable products, industry trends show that younger demographics are beginning to switch to environmentally conscious options.

It is important to use analytics tools to ensure that your organisation is aware of where your growth and demand are coming from to tailor your marketing to the appropriate channel partners, as this will allow you to maximise the return on your revenue. Creating a B2B loyalty or travel incentive program for your channel partners will give you additional access to forms of data you may otherwise be leaving on the table, as well as additional important touchpoints to create conversations with your customer base.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • There is a wide range of customers within the B2B food and beverage industry, specifically those within the food manufacturing industry. Manufacturers will sell to channel partners such as out-of-home providers such as restaurants, pubs, clubs, and cafes, as well as direct-to-consumers retailers such as supermarkets and shopping centres. With such a wide range of demand from buyers and customers, it is important to narrow your marketing channels to your specific customer base, as you’ll likely do business with these partners, to maximise sales.

  • Within the B2B food industry, your competitors will come from other wholesale providers. With the increase presence of wholesalers from around the world within the food and beverage industry appearing through ecommerce platform business models, it’s important for organisations to adapt and develop a broader set of tools beyond simple pricing optimisation.

  • There are many potential solutions you can use to optimise your marketing strategies to your buyers. Conducting market research on both your customers and other companies and businesses in your industry through analytics technology, keeping on top of current market trends from around the world, and reading case studies and white papers from other businesses within your market to see potential challenges your company may face. Use of a marketing funnel or enlisting the help of a marketing consultant can also be useful to do a lot of the work that you may not have time to do. There are many other systems to investigate, but these are some worth doing!

  • The biggest difference between B2B and B2C is their buyers or customers. For B2B, the main buyers are businesses that will be the intermediary between your business and consumers. In the beverage and food industry, this would be supermarkets or restaurants – organisations whose main users are consumers. These buyers are also examples of a B2C organisation – a company or business who sell directly to consumers.

  • eCommerce businesses are a threat to local B2B retailers as they can reach a wider range of users with their solutions in their everyday business operations through the reach of their technology. They will generally have a lower overhead, which will also allow them to be more competitive on pricing and are then able to devote more efforts towards their marketing, allowing them to capitalise on industry trends quicker. It can be hard for local B2B retailers to match the growth and reach of ecommerce businesses, which is therefore a direct threat to increasing their revenue.

  • There are many benefits of creating a B2B loyalty program for both your organisation and your customer base. Some notable loyalty program benefits include additional customer touchpoints and extra ways to gather data on your target audience, B2B retention strategies for your audience, improved customer engagement and connection with your brand. There are also additional benefits that can come from a travel incentive program, such as creating bespoke personalised relationships with some of your most valuable channel partners at top incentive travel destinations!

  • The advent of e-commerce has introduced a new dimension to customer loyalty in the B2B food industry. With e-commerce platforms reshaping how businesses buy and sell, the pressure to provide seamless online experiences while maintaining strong relationships has become paramount. From streamlining order processes to ensuring timely deliveries, ecommerce has heightened the need for innovative customer loyalty strategies.

  • A B2B loyalty program agency like 212F specializes in developing tailored solutions to address the unique challenges posed by e-commerce. Our expertise extends to creating loyalty programs that not only incentivize repeat purchases but also enhance the e commerce experience. By leveraging data-driven insights and personalized rewards, we help food industry businesses build enduring relationships with their B2B customers in the ever-evolving ecommerce landscape.

  • Customer data is a cornerstone of effective customer loyalty strategies in the B2B food industry’s ecommerce realm. Collecting and analyzing data from online transactions, preferences, and behaviours enables businesses to tailor their ecommerce offerings and reward structures. By harnessing this data, B2B companies can create personalized ecommerce experiences that foster customer loyalty, drive repeat orders, and strengthen their position in the competitive digital marketplace.

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