The main UK-based catering equipment spare parts suppliers are facing growing competition from internet-only sellers trying to get a piece of the action from this lucrative market.

But how do the most well known brands differentiate their offerings and ensure that they are supplying genuine quality spares at competitive prices?

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One of the major names, Caterparts, has embraced the online channel. According to Matt Titchener, technical development manager: “Online ordering and research has become a facility that customers now expect as a necessity in any B2B or B2C trading.

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“Caterparts recognised this some years ago and established a strong web presence to aid its customers in the ordering and research of catering equipment spares and ancillaries.”

The company believes this offering is a success, as it now sees a third of its business passing through the internet.

“National sales manager Robin Coates commented: “We believe the success of our website is due to its ease of use and the ability to achieve 24/7 access to live stock holding and pricing information, with the added ability to view an image of the item being considered.”

However, he added: “What we never want to lose sight of at Caterparts is that sometimes you need to talk to a human being and not just rely on a computer, so we ensure we have a sales desk manned by people who care and want to help any customer.”

Competitor, GEV, has moved in a similar direction. MD, Bryn Vivian, believes: “GEV holds a strong position in the catering spare parts market thanks to a consistent level of service and an advanced webshop which generates 60% of sales online.