Keying into the recent push by retailers and brands to expand their online presence with marketplaces where vendors drop ship goods to consumers, tech startup RevCascade announced the launch of its marketplace automation platform.
The company said the platform “enables brands and retailers to easily leverage the massive and growing $700 billion global online marketplace channel.”
“By automating what was previously a manual and inefficient process, RevCascade is enabling any brand to easily plug in to hundreds of ecommerce sites through one simple integration, while also enabling retailers to launch, operate, and scale their own marketplaces,” the company said today.
Josh Wexler, co-founder and chief executive officer, and co-founder Andrea Tobin also discussed with WWD some of the trends driving the growth of the marketplace channel as well as the opportunities available due to advances in technology.
Tobin said that “managing product, inventory, and transaction data between brands and retailers is fraught with friction, which holds the market back. RevCascade has developed a solution for both brands and retailers to help them make more money, save time, and stay in total control of their business objectives.”
Wexler described the process to participate in online marketplaces as “manual, linear and time consuming, requiring complicated integrations with back-end systems.” The company’s automated solution eliminates these issues via “one simple integration.” The platform also enables “any retailer to build a marketplace with both existing and new vendors,” the company said adding that its beta test is a “highly scalable platform has already connected 50-plus brands and 50-plus leading retailers, with a focus on apparel and home.”
Wexler was the entrepreneur the creation of cloud-based advertising automation platform The Rubicon Project (now publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange) while Tobin was the designer and founder of fashion handbag brand Marla Cielo. The company’s chief technology officer is Julie Mattern. The company said it has raised $3 million from investors, which includes Michael Barrett, the former ceo of Millennial Media as well as Silicon Valley angel investors Gil Penchina and Ariel Poler.
WWD: What are some of the friction points and barriers that brands and vendors are experiencing as retailers expand their presence with online marketplaces?
Josh Wexler: The process by which brands have historically joined and managed online marketplaces is manual, linear and time consuming, which has held the market back. Brands and vendors have been forced to identify, register, integrate with and mange each individual marketplace separately. So, with more retailers launching marketplaces every day, brands and vendors struggle to manage all of this information, while further plagued by extremely complicated integration of back-end systems.
Managing product descriptions, product images, and pricing is unique for each retailer. As an example, if a brand or vendor sells out of an item that is listed on multiple marketplaces, they often need to manually log in to each marketplace to update the inventory status. Orders often require manually re-entering into the vendor or brand’s order management system. Retailer marketplaces require that the shipping documents include a custom packing slip with the retailer’s branding and other information. All of this friction is holding the market back from tremendous revenue opportunities.
RevCascade is removing this friction through one hook-up that allows any brand to easily and rapidly list, sell, and manage its products on any online retail site, without spending countless hours inputting data. Products, merchandising, inventory, and transactions are all centrally managed, and brands and vendors can easily transform marketplaces into a large revenue channel.
WWD: What are some of the untapped online opportunities in the market and how can brands and suppliers take advantage of it?
Andrea Tobin: The untapped opportunities that online marketplaces bring are massive. Brands and suppliers can offer: more styles to existing retailers; roll out new product categories with existing retailers; build relationships with new retailers; develop close-out strategies for underperforming styles; and leverage analytics to optimize their styles across marketplaces.
Similarly for retailers, there are also incredible opportunities to grow their businesses. Retailers can: access more styles from existing vendors; roll out new product categories; build relationships with new vendors; and identify products to buy for stores via purchase order.
Both brands and retailers leverage the data and analytics from the platform to optimize merchandising and planning in order to maximize revenue.
WWD: Where are some of the new revenue streams coming from?
A.T.: In a brick and mortar environment, retailers are bound by shelf space and open-to-buy. In a marketplace, retailers can offer an extended aisle to consumers, with a highly curated assortment – without the inventory risk. Every retailer who launches a marketplace can dramatically increase the number of categories and styles they sell, as well as the number of brands or vendors they work with. All of this results in new revenue from additional styles and new brands that the retailer could not have afforded to work with in a brick and mortar environment.
Brands and vendors also benefit from the extended aisle, as they can increase the number of styles they make available to their existing retailers, while also easily working with new retailers. Most retailers buy 10 percent or less of the total styles a brand offers. By embracing marketplaces, brands can easily double or triple the number of styles made available by every retailer they work with.
In addition to this, brands and vendors optimize the consumer reach of each of their products. Leading brands like Ralph Lauren, Coach, Puma, and Cole Haan all reach less than 3 million consumers per month at their own ecommerce sites, while their top retailers in the aggregate reach over 100 million. Optimizing a brand’s or vendor’s product reach to consumers is a huge untapped revenue opportunity that is uniquely enabled by retailer marketplaces.
WWD: You once described retailers as being “great editors.” What exactly does that mean?
J.W.: The best retailers and the best retail buyers are great editors. They highly curate the brands and vendors they work with as well as the products they carry. Curation will become a major component in the future of marketplaces, and the best editors will win.
An endless aisle is perfect for price driven, commodity products. The majority of brands and retailers are not in the price driven, commodity business. For these brands and retailers, an extended aisle will complement the great editing and merchandising skills on which retailers have built their businesses. And for this reason, RevCascade has created merchandising tools so brands and retail buyers remain in total control of the products they make available for sale.