Wholesale goes retail, the surge of ‘dark stores’

Food wholesalers are pivoting to direct-to-consumer retail in the coronavirus crisis and this is seeing a surge in the number of ‘dark stores’.

Food wholesalers in particular are taking this path to help safeguard their futures amid the dramatic decline in sales given the sudden shutdown of the hospitality industry.

As more and more customers turn to online grocery shopping and delivery due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many wholesalers – and some retailers which have closed as they are deemed non-essential – are turning their brick and mortar locations into so-called ‘dark stores’ in order to keep up with demand.

What is a dark store? 

Dark stores are defined as retail outlets or distribution centres that cater exclusively for online shopping. These stores essentially mean that a business’s physical location is closed to
everybody, except for those fulfilling orders for grocery delivery.

The concept of darks stores is not brand new, but it is gaining a lot of traction as demand for delivery slots soars and retailers struggle to cope with the influx of orders.

The appeal of dark stores, particularly in times of social distancing, is increasing rapidly. With stores dedicated to online grocery shopping and delivery drivers fulfilling these orders, in theory the space should be less crowded, better stocked, and encourages employeesto keep a safe distance – this trend will only grow from here.

Wholesalers find new methods to market

Social media channels have been a ‘quick-fix’ selling platform as wholesalers whose previous customers may have been upmarket hotels, now offer their high-standard produce to households. With admirable agility, they quickly switched to taking orders from members of the public via Facebook and offering delivery to customers’ homes. This is working for some with a number of drawbacks to having their very own online ordering system.

‘Call and collect’ orders have seen some wholesalers encounter vast volumes of wastage as a result of no-shows without a secure pre-payment system in place.

The Benefits of Dark Stores

  • Additional Capacity
    Additional order capacity provides retailers with the ability to promptly pack, deliver and pick goods in areas with high order density.
  •  24/7 Operation
    Without opening hour restrictions, online dark stores can operate 365 days a year around the clock. Orders can be delivered at the most convenient times for customers.
  • Great Availability
    As operations are dedicated to fulfilling online orders, stock levels and product availability are much clearer than a pick-in store fulfilment solution.
  • Improved Quality
    According to a study, one in five shoppers had stopped shopping online because of short product life. One in six had done so due to poor product quality. Dark stores, however, allow wholesalers to delivery their fresh produce quickly and efficiently.

The Mercury Order e-commerce experience

Wholesalers can avail of multiple benefits by setting up an online shop to process orders 24 hours a day. Bulk upload products, enjoy automated order and stock input while no longer enduring time consuming phone calls for both the consumer and business, with Mercury Order.

Mercury Order is offering three month’s free subscription for sign-ups before June 1.
Visit our website for more information: https://mercuryorder.com/.