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Face-to-face contact between traditional specialised wholesalers and installers on the decline in the Netherlands

The traditional specialised wholesalers used to be the main place where installers would buy their products. Selection, service and purchase happened face to face in the wholesaler shops, coated in cups of coffee, chats and gossip about current events. ​The importance of this is that the installers are in the wholesaler’s establishment, providing the wholesaler with opportunities to strengthen customer relations and loyalty, to present and promote new products, and to gather lucrative intelligence about upcoming projects.

Direct contact

Following trends of online ordering, most specialised wholesalers nowadays offer the option to order online. This online option is of course necessary to keep up with trends and to be able to compete, but it seems to be a bit of a double edged sword. With the rise of online options, and more installers ordering online and having their orders delivered, opportunities for wholesalers to be in direct contact with their customers are declining. 

Order online

As can be seen in the results of the Q3 2019 report of USP’s European Mechanical Installation Monitor, the popularity of ordering online differs greatly between countries. In the Netherlands, Half of the products installers order from traditional specialised wholesalers are ordered online. With 44%, German installers order online second-most. Belgium, with about one third of the products ordered from traditional specialised wholesalers online, comes third. In the UK, France and Poland, the traditional ways of ordering and purchasing products from the specialised wholesaler are still preferred over the online option.

Traditional specialised wholesaler

Zooming in on the Netherlands, it is clear that the traditional specialised wholesaler still plays a significant role in the market, claiming a 77% share of the total budget spent by all installers on installation products in 2019. Be that as it may, there has been a drop in share of wallet of 5% in the Netherlands since 2017, indicating that purchasing behaviour is changing. As was mentioned before, in the Netherlands, 50% of the products ordered at traditional specialised wholesalers were ordered online. This percentage has not changed much since 2017, but the amount of online orders per installer seems to be increasing.


Although the position of the traditional specialised wholesaler is still quite strong in the Netherlands, change is in the air. Given the high share of orders at traditional specialised wholesalers being placed online, and adding to that the fact that almost three quarters of orders from traditional wholesalers are delivered, the threat to the personal contact moments between wholesalers and their customers is clearly present. That means that it will be harder for wholesalers to keep customer relations up through face-to-face moments, and other means to promote new products and gather intelligence on upcoming projects need to be applied. For more detailed information we refer you to the Q3 2019 report of USP’s European Mechanical Installation Monitor.