According to the Census 2011, the wholesale industry employs 43,300 people in Western Australia . It should be noted that this number includes many roles and functions found in other sectors such as importers and exporters, warehousing and road transport.
Wholesalers have become more flexible and some have moved to trading directly with customers whereas they previously dealt strictly with business to business sales.
Local traders are faced with increased competition from overseas sellers targeting the Australian market as the European and American economies are not performing as well.
With the rise of e-commerce, online sales have contributed to increased activity within the sector as wholesalers have access to a wider market. Similarly, the high purchasing power of the Australian dollar has attracted wholesalers from other countries to target sales in Australia.
Small regional operators are impacted by minimum orders set by suppliers.
The new Business to Business Sales qualification was introduced in the first quarter of 2013 and established as a traineeship in WA in the second half of the same year.
Approximately 0.5 per cent of people working in this industry had been identified as needing assistance with core activities (people with disabilities).
As at 2011, 67 per cent of workers involved in the wholesale trade were male. 35 per cent of workers were migrants.
Companies tend to operate in isolation due to the highly competitive nature of their business.
Due to the nature of the wholesale industry, there is an insufficient amount of information available to attract people to this industry.
In some cases wholesalers, as the ‘middle men’, are being bypassed by businesses as a cost saving measure to obtain cheaper prices through direct dealings with manufacturers.
Online trading has altered the quantities and manner in which people place orders for goods. Some wholesalers have had to become more flexible in the way they conduct business or run the risk of being squeezed out by competition.
There are many companies whose activities resemble a wholesaler but because this element may not be the core function of the business they do not identify themselves as wholesalers.
Occupations/Skills in demand
Roles identified by industry as future growth areas include storeperson and forklift driver.