The convenience market is growing rapidly, but without the support of the wholesale sector c-stores might not be in such a strong position.

This is because many wholesalers now trade on much more than competitive product pricing just as valuably they provide services that help independents be profitable.

Take promotions, for example. These make a huge difference to footfall, with research showing nearly a third of customers visit stores specifically to buy items on promotion. Promotions save retailers money, certainly, but when they pass on those savings to consumers it can make a huge difference to their bottom line.

Wholesalers are experts in store layouts, too. They know how to tailor a store to best serve its community. But macro space planning is just the start of having a profitable shop: the right products in the right categories is also key. Wholesalers provide planograms to ensure retailers know what lines to put where, and good wholesalers are customing planograms to store format and region.

Wholesalers can also provide the latest pos material and, unlike suppliers, give unbiased advice on store layout, pos and planograms.

Many offer regular visits from advisors and free business advice on how to maximise sales. In addition, they can provide tools to ensure the day-to-day running of a store goes smoothly, with technology including epos, web ordering and telephone-based customer service teams.

Finally, the wholesale industry also holds events for independents to see the latest trends in retailing and new products and take advantage of the best advice in the business. If this is offered, independent operators should seize it with both hands. If it works as it should, everyone reaps the rewards.