The pharmaceutical chain says the sourcing platform will help it discover niche suppliers with unusual products to better meet its customers’ needs.

To support its strategy of diversifying its suppliers as part of new product offerings, pharmacy chain Walgreens has joined an internet sourcing platform that connects merchants with suppliers.

Carlos Cubia, vice president and global chief diversity officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.

“Doing business with small and diverse suppliers is a key part of our corporate social responsibility strategy,” said Carlos Cubia, vice president and global chief diversity officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.

The sourcing platform, from RangeMe, is designed to help merchants discover suppliers and products by standardizing and organizing product data to make it easier for buyers to find particular types of items from suitable suppliers. Walgreens can access the RangeMe platform to see detailed product information, such as packaging dimensions and a manufacturer’s suggested retail price, as well as such supplier information as social media strategy and product certifications.

Access to such detailed information about suppliers also makes it easier for Walgreens to identify new suppliers, regardless of their size, which is a priority for the company, Cubia says. Although he didn’t identify specific products or suppliers, he noted that RangeMe lets Walgreens access suppliers with products designed to match the particular interests of consumers in different areas.

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Selling products that communities want

“RangeMe provides Walgreens with easy access to the small and diverse suppliers that are a priority for us as we look to serve communities across the United States,” he said. Walgreens operates more than 9,500 stores in the U.S. and is No. 43 in the Internet Retailer U.S. Top 1000.

Buyers such as Walgreens can use RangeMe to search for products by category, product type or other specifications, and view side-by-side comparisons of products from multiple suppliers.

In addition to formatting all product data provided by suppliers, RangeMe asks suppliers myriad questions that can fill in the holes that often exist when a new supplier initially makes contact with a buyer to review a product. The process helps ensure that all the questions a buyer has about a new product and supplier are answered up front, the company says.

More than 150,000 suppliers

RangeMe carries more than 600,000 products from more than 150,000 suppliers. The platform is used by more than 6,000 retailers including Whole Foods Market Inc., Rite Aid Corp., Safeway Inc., CVS Pharmacy and independent regional retailers.

“RangeMe was created to give suppliers and retailers a better, simpler way to connect,” says Nicky Jackson, CEO of RangeMe. “As the CPG (consumer packaged goods) industry continues to change, we want to ensure that our retail partners have access to the essential information they need to make knowledgeable decisions about the suppliers they do business with.”

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Providing one-stop access to product and supplier information eliminates the need for buyers to manually enter product and supplier data gathered from disparate sources, such as trade shows, product brochures, and supplier solicitations and loading it into spreadsheets or databases for review, says Brandon Leong, vice president of marketing and growth for RangeMe. Buyers can access the RangeMe platform for free.

Suppliers on the RangeMe platform can post a basic profile at no charge. Suppliers can use their profile to share their brand and products with buyers via email and or URL. “For suppliers, their profile acts as a digital sell sheet that houses all of the essential B2B information about their products and brand,” Leong says.

Suppliers wanting to offer more detailed information in their profile can purchase a premium profile for $1,399 per year, per brand. A premium profile allows suppliers to get insights into what’s driving buyer activity, track emails or URLs sent to buyers, see what emails and the links embedded in those messages have been opened or clicked on, and see what products and pages within their profile were viewed by buyers. The latter helps suppliers with crafting follow-up emails, Leong says.

Going forward, RangeMe plans to work with buyers to make sourcing of new suppliers and products more efficient. Walmart Inc., which operates more than 5,000 stores in the U.S. and is No. 3 in the Internet Retailer U.S. Top 1000, for example, conducted its annual open sourcing call this year through the RangeMe platform, Leong says.

RangeMe is a unit of Solon, Ohio-based Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing Company LLC, or ECRM, which acquired it in 2017.

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Peter Lucas is a Highland Park, Illinois-based freelance journalist covering business and technology.

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