Specialty tea distributor Pique Tea wanted to expand its online market reach last year. The company already sold products to other companies as well as consumers on its own website, on Amazon.com, and to grocery chains like Whole Foods Market and Wegmans Food Markets. But founder and CEO Simon Cheng had another target in mind: Lucky Vitamin, a retailer whose e-commerce site sells supplements, vitamins and coffee and tea.
“Lucky Vitamin was always on my list of e-commerce players and on our target list for retailers,” Cheng says. Pique Tea launched its first products in 2016 along with its website, PiqueTea.com. Its product comes in the form of tea crystals for use in hot or cold water, and eliminates the brewing process. The tea is organic and Cheng says the natural aspects of Pique Tea are a perfect fit for placement on LuckyVitamin.com. But Pique had no entry point and was unsuccessful in initial attempts to get its tea in front of the company’s buyers.
Fate intervened, however. Ido Leffler, one of Pique’s financial advisors, is also chairman of the board for RangeMe, a trading portal designed to bring sellers and retailers together quickly. Leffler tipped off Cheng and he in turn began researching RangeMe, resulting in Pique beginning to sell to Lucky Vitamin last fall.
For its part, Lucky Vitamin discovered RangeMe at a trade show in late 2015 and Lucky Vitamin signed on as a buyer in early 2016, says Colleen Erickson, category manager, health foods and general merchandise at LuckyVitamin.com.
“RangeMe is really a good way to get the ball rolling with a lot of brands,” Erickson says. “There’s a lot of ‘discovery’ in this position as category manager and we keep our eyes open for trends, especially for health foods.”
Erickson and other RangeMe clients can see the retailers that sell a specific suppliers’ products to learn about geographic coverage and how long they have been in the market, she says. “We like to have a buzz behind a brand,” Erickson says. “We like our customers to already be searching for products.”
The RangeMe platform requires suppliers to complete detailed profiles about their companies and products and provide product images. That content enables RangeMe to send buyers customized product alerts matching their needs. The platform also enables sellers to request product samples from suppliers like Pique Teak, now a one-click process, Erickson says. Requesting samples from suppliers in the past was often a drawn-out process based on exchanging phone calls and faxes.
Neither sellers nor buyers pay for access to RangeMe, but the platform provider is planning to offer a fee-based profile page with expanded product descriptions and images, in addition to analytics on how products located on RangeMe perform, in July, says CEO Nicky Jackson, a former marketing executive for Kellogg Co. and other brands that founded RangeMe and expanded to the U.S. in 2015. The company declined to disclose the fee.
RangeMe was founded in 2014 in Australia and calls itself a product discovery platform. “RangeMe was formed out of my own pain points getting products in front of buyers,” Jackson says. “In my experience, unless you are a big brand name it’s virtually impossible to get a foot in the door with major retailers.”
RangeMe has deals with grocers and retailers such as Whole Foods and Target Corp., among others. “What we do is help them manage product discovery,” Jackson says. “They use our platform as almost a B2B marketplace.”
No money changes hands on RangeMe.com, however. Transactions are conducted between buyer and seller, or in the case of Pique and Lucky Vitamin, through United Natural Foods Inc. “UNFI is very helpful when starting with new brands, to see how much we can buy, and order minimums,” Erickson says.
Sign up for a free subscription to B2BecNews, a twice-weekly newsletter that covers technology and business trends in the growing B2B e-commerce industry. B2BecNews is published by Vertical Web Media LLC, which also publishes DigitalCommerce360.com, Internet Retailer and Internet Health Management. Follow Bill Briggs, senior editor, on Twitter @BBriggsB2B.
Follow us on LinkedIn and be the first to know when new B2BecNews content is published.Favorite