When Target Corp. tries to differentiate itself from rivals like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., one way is to carry in its stores and on its e-commerce site products the others don’t.
One way Target and other retailers are discovering new products and suppliers is through RangeMe.com, a trading portal founded in Australia two years ago.
“Finding innovation is a problem for retailers, and we help to streamline that process for them,” says Nicky Jackson, a former marketing executive for Kellogg Co. and other brands who founded RangeMe in Australia in 2014. At the same time, she adds, “I found a problem in how to access a big retailer when you’re not a big brand name.”
Yet some of the more innovative and best-selling products may come from suppliers a retailer is not aware of, and consumer interest often changes. “Retail buyers seek to deliver a compelling product mix that shoppers love, while they also must stay on top of ever-evolving consumer trends,” Rachael Vegas said last month as vice president, grocery merchandising for Target. Vegas has since gone out on her own as an expert in retail strategy, according to her LinkedIn page.
After getting some initial funding from angel investors last year, RangeMe entered the United States market last summer and is now featuring more than 30,000 products from some 7000 suppliers. Target was among the first U.S. retailers to sign on as a buyer, and has since been joined by retail organizations including Jet.com, Heinen’s Grocery Store and Lucky Vitamin.
Target isn’t commenting on specific products or suppliers it has found on RangeMe, though Vegas says “Target is excited to partner with RangeMe to streamline the product discovery process.”
Among the new suppliers Target and other retailers will find on RangeMe is OMSutra, a Syosset, N.Y.-based a family-owned and -operated business that specializes in selling apparel and supplies to yoga studios. Located on the web at OMSutra.com, the company also specializes in selling only products produced under “fair trade” policies designed to share more of the profits with the farmers and artisans that produce OMSutra’s products, OMSutra founder Jyoti Jaiswal says.
After appearing on RangeMe for a few days, OMSutra entered talks with a U.S. retailer, which Jaiswal declines to name because she’s still in negotiations. “We were really surprised to see a positive response from a major retailer,” she says.
For now, RangeMe isn’t charging suppliers any fees to list their products. It also charges no fees to buyers. And while suppliers will continue to get a basic listing on RangeMe for no charge, Jackson says the portal expects to begin offering suppliers a premium profile page where they can list more details and images, and receive analytical data on how well products sell through RangeMe and at what profit margins. The premium profile page will cost “around $1200” per year, Jackson says.
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