Now part of customer relationship management and category planning specialist ECRM, RangeMe offers retail buyers - who are inundated with approaches from suppliers via online forms, email, social media, phone calls, and trade shows - a more efficient way to manage inbound approaches and compare what suppliers have to offer, CEO Nicky Jackson told FoodNavigator-USA.
While some large CPG brands are using the platform to target specialty retailers they may not have dealt with before about new natural or organic products, more than half of the suppliers on the platform are generating revenues of less than $5m, said Jackson.
“Small suppliers love it because it allows them to access retail buyers based on their merits, not on who they know,” added Jackson, who has attracted leading retailers to the platform from Target and Whole Foods to Ahold USA, Albertsons, Safeway, Peapod, Publix, Sprouts, CVS, Dollar General, Winn-Dixie, GNC, HEB, Hy-Vee, Jet.Com, and LuckyVitamin.
So where do distributors fit into the RangeMe universe? According to CEO Nicky Jackson, “UNFI and KeHE work very closely with a lot of the retailers on RangeMe and when suppliers upload profiles they can identify which distributors they work with, which helps retail buyers onboard them more quickly.
“We’ve also started to work directly with UNFI which looks for innovations for its warehouses and is constantly inundated with approaches from suppliers so RangeMe’s database is a goldmine for them looking for new suppliers. It’s a bit of a gray area as they are not a retailer but as they are so dominant in this industry they function like one.”
We’re also adding new functionality all the time
In a growing number of cases, participating retailers are now directing all prospective suppliers to the RangeMe platform via their email signatures, voicemails, business cards, social media accounts, and the ‘how to become a supplier,’ sections of their websites, said Jackson.
“They want to find new products and suppliers, but historically it has been an administrative nightmare trying to manage all the emails and messages. They want to see what suppliers have to offer in one place in a standardized format, and that’s what RangeMe allows them to do.
“The platform really solves key pain points for buyers: speed to market, innovation, and access. We’re fast becoming the google for CPG, where you can find a new product, and start a conversation with the supplier.
“If I had advice for suppliers, I’d say, ‘don’t ignore RangeMe.’ The faster you set up your products, the faster buyers will reach out to you. Your products on RangeMe work for you every day just like a booth that’s set up 24/7 online.” Mark O’Brien, sales manager, Terrapin Ridge Farms
“We’re also adding new functionality all the time, including livestreaming of Nielsen data to help retailers make selections based on data… for example, what products that I am not currently carrying are outperforming the category? What products are trending? We’re offering actionable information to help buyers make better sourcing decisions and move more quickly. We’re also providing aggregated data to Verified suppliers [see box] such as what’s the average MSRP in their category, what’s the average margin?”
Back end integration
Another project on the firm’s roadmap is exploring tools that will enable retailers using the platform to integrate data and images from RangeMe seamlessly into their own internal platforms, she added.
“Right now, we have an export feature that enables buyers to upload all the data from the platform so they can upload it into new item forms, but at the moment, we don’t have ways to automate that process because retailers all have different back end systems.”
The new RangeMe Verified program increases a brand’s visibility on the platform by awarding suppliers who pay for the service with an easy-to-spot badge that places them above non-verified brands as buyers review product submissions and search for new items (brands from suppliers with this logo achieve up to seven times more views on the platform).
While all suppliers on the platform are required to enter basic product information, product images, descriptions and key metrics such as gross margin, MSRP, full year sales, current retail customers, and certifications, RangeMe verified suppliers have high-quality product images, insurance, barcodes, packaging dimensions, nutritional labels, ingredients lists and more, all verified by the RangeMe team.
CEO Nicky Jackson said: “When we started, our focus was on getting as many suppliers as we could on the platform to offer as much choice as possible to retailers, but some of them were a little green, so this provides a level of filtering and assurance that suppliers with the Verified label are really ready for prime time.”
The RangeMe ‘freemium’ pricing model
Retailers are not charged for the service, and any supplier can also sign up and populate the platform for free. However, suppliers paying for the Verified classification [$1,400/year] get increased exposure on the site and can access industry data, sharing tools and analytics, plus access to RangeMe’s customer support teams to help ensure their profiles on the platform are optimized.