Commercial catering equipment can be found in abundance online with the hospitality industry generating massive turnover and profits increasing year on year.
The rise of the internet has changed the face of shopping forever - both in the domestic and commercial markets, opening up new freedom for customers.
The whole process of buying from a website may seem straight forward; find a supplier with the best price, order and pay.
However, not everything is as clear cut in the commercial catering equipment market.
Here we provide the truth about ordering your commercial catering appliances online!
The online catering equipment market is essentially made up of resellers.
You’ve found the ideal catering appliance but all the websites you visit don’t have any stock. This is because the majority of suppliers are resellers and order stock straight from the manufacturer; if it’s out of stock at one place, it will be out of stock anywhere you try.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. Larger suppliers may hold small amounts of stock from select manufacturers; these units will tend to be best selling items that are in high demand. By holding stock, suppliers are in a position to offer better prices to the customer. Some suppliers will also hold stock of their own lines and brands; this generally be entry level equipment imported from Europe or China.
The majority of stock is with the manufacturer, not who you’re ordering it with.
Long lead times: that’s the amount of time between placing your order and receiving delivery. They can be a pain but there is a valid reason for them. Unfortunately, this is a time frame set by the manufacturer rather than the supplier and is what every company must adhere to. It may be that the unit is manufactured to order, or that it will be shipped from a different country; both of which will affect waiting times.
Larger companies may hold a small amount of stock which helps to keep lead times short. However, the majority of suppliers will be subject to the manufacturer’s stock levels.
Did you know delivery isn’t made by the business you buy from?
Most deliveries are carried out by third party couriers.
Of course some large brands will use their own logistics companies but many delegate the transportation to external sources. This third party often makes deliveries for multiple manufacturers.
Should you experience any issues with delivery, where would your first port of call be? Your supplier, obviously!
However, it is important to remember that the suppliers have nothing to do with the delivery. Whilst they will do everything possible to help, ultimately it is out of their hands. Even if you choose to shop elsewhere in future, you may still be dealing with the same problematic delivery company wherever you go.
Find a supplier who will sell what you need and not what makes the most money.
Be aware that some suppliers may lack the product knowledge to offer valid suggestions as to the equipment best suited to your needs.
The key to success is finding a supplier who will sell you what you need, not necessarily what makes them most money.
Trust is a major factor; if your supplier offers a more expensive alternative, it should be because it is better equipped to provide the best results in the long run, not because they’re after your money.
Don’t expect massive discounts.
Resellers work to tight margins so the price you see is generally the best price possible.
Beware of any major discounts as these will often be on generic, non-branded products with a cheap price tag and overall poor quality - a whole heap of problems waiting to happen that will cost you dearly in the long run.
You are buying in a commercial capacity, not a domestic one.
When buying commercial appliances and supplies you are buying either as a business or for a business. Therefore, all products supplied are on a trade-only basis where domestic consumer rights do not apply.
You are not classed as a domestic consumer making a personal purchase.
Terms and conditions will apply which must be read and agreed to before completing an order. T’s & C’s will generally state that you may be subject to a restocking fee or a failed delivery charge if you send the unit back or miss delivery. The bottom line is – make sure you really have read and fully understood all terms and conditions!
Warranty is held by the manufacturer, not your supplier.
You’ve experienced problems with your purchase and need it sorting fast!
This is where your catering equipment warranty will come into play. Suppliers will liaise with the manufacturer to get the issue resolved. However, they are not the ones dispatching spare parts or instructing engineers and can only work to the time frame laid out by the warranty holder.
Look out for parts only warranties.
The standard warranty included with each piece of equipment will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. While some supply a full level of cover including parts and labour, others will offer 'parts only' as standard. Don't be caught out and realise a little too late that those repairs are going to cost more than you thought! It is vital that you understand the basics of commercial warranties and choose the appropriate cover to meet your needs at the time of purchase.