Finding retailers is one of the toughest steps in launching a CPG product. Likewise, from the retail buyer’s perspective, meeting with thousands of prospective suppliers isn’t actually a picnic. But a new online platform is seeking to disrupt this traditional face-time intensive model and bring it into the digital age.
The platform is called RangeMe, and it’s designed to put suppliers in front of retail buyers through a shared, intelligent portal. While it won’t immediately replace face-to-face meetings to develop and ink deals, it does serve as the industry’s first online product that facilitates introductions and vetting. It calls itself a “product discovery platform” and follows in the disruptive footsteps of Airbnb and Uber in that it provides an efficient marketplace for two parties to find each other with minimal time and monetary investment.
The RangeMe website shows some heavy hitters as users, including Target, Whole Foods and Petco, suggesting that the buyer side of the relationship is taking it seriously. And why not? The way stores have done their own shopping is time consuming and expensive. Like consumers taking advantage of Amazon to save time and money, retail buyers can find the same benefits through RangeMe. In fact, Target is now requiring all prospective suppliers to introduce themselves through RangeMe. That’s quite an endorsement.
RangeMe is easy to set up and, for the time being, free. Suppliers create a company profile with basic information such as number of products, segments, sales volume, a cover image and profile picture. Static images and video can also be included. After a profile has been completed, products are added. For each product, suppliers can add pricing and distribution information, an image, barcode, and more detailed information such as certifications, package variations, production capacity, etc. In fact, there is a surprisingly broad set of fields to help suppliers tell their story and convey relevant information. RangeMe also allows suppliers to exclude certain retailers from the ability to see a product. Once completed the product information page gets submitted and, after approval by RangeMe, gets published. Products do not need distribution to get approved, so even new brands can use the platform to find retailers.
On the buyer end, a dashboard is used to navigate relevant products and assess with “Interested”, “Not Interested” or “Shortlist” selections. From there, buyers can then request samples and begin a conversation with a supplier. They can also share the product with others. RangeMe claims that as of October, 2016, 65,000 product reviews have been made by buyers. Based on their recent growth, it’s possible that around 20,000 brands are available for review.
Concentric just produced a video for one of our own clients, Respect Foods, who will be using RangeMe to increase exposure for its antibiotic-free frozen turkey burgers. Ken Hartman, founder and CEO of Respect Foods, said that RangeMe is an attractive tool for buyers, especially millennials, who are used to getting their information through video and other digital media.