Matchmakers

From Retail Bricks To Online Clicks, Sans Inventory

Nordstrom eCommerce

Here’s a retail trick — creating the ultimate endless aisle without owning any inventory. It’s a trick that RevCascade CEO Josh Wexler says his platform helps retailers like Crate and Barrel and Wayfair do all day long. He shares his secret sauce with The Matchmaker Is In hosts Karen Webster and David Evans.

 

These are tough times to be tangible — as in brick-and-mortar, in retailing at least.

And for those struggling in the world of goods stacked high on shelves, lifted by no human hands as foot traffic is not bringing hands into the shop, there’s a real need to bring business in from the digital realm. The physical retailer is constrained by square footage, the hybrid retailer joining on an eCommerce platform less so, especially with the drop shipping.

In the latest installment of The Matchmaker Is In, PYMNTS’ Karen Webster and David Evans sat down (virtually, of course) to discuss the ways companies can sell across several marketplaces online with RevCascade CEO Josh Wexler. Webster noted that RevCascade allows firms to take advantage of a $700 billion phenomenon tied to the online marketplaces. Wexler said that the largest players in the space, including Amazon, Alibaba and eBay, really dominate eCommerce. “And on the flipside,” he continued, “you’ve got traditional retailers who are, frankly, in a freefall” as brick-and-mortar locations are being shuttered.

Against that backdrop, said the executive, RevCascade has made it possible for retailers to launch their own online marketplaces, amplifying the business that had already been in place, with more products to sell and, of course, the opportunity to generate more revenue. The upshot is that, through the drop-ship model, they do not need to hold more inventory.

The retailers are able to select the brands, vendors or manufacturers with which they want to do business, and Wexler said his firm’s platform automates the information flow (product, SKU number, shipping dimensions, for example) about inventory from the brand to the retailer. RevCascade also automates information flow once a transaction has taken place through to the drop-ship function. But it is the retailer, said Wexler, “who remains in total control” of the customer experience. The marketplace is not separate from the actual business that is online, said the executive. And as Webster noted, this is a way for singular brands to get some exposure across the internet. Conversely, manufacturers can plug into hundreds of sites to help boost their own visibility. All of this helps cut down on the manual processes that have marked online retail and inventory management — from entering data to even maintaining images on a given site.

Wexler said that his firm’s buildout of software represented a “massive undertaking” as it amounts to a solution that is built on a series of APIs that can integrate with all the disparate systems that exist on the brand side and on the retail side, extending across product information management systems, financial systems or existing vendor portals, to name a few. To name one example, he cited Crate and Barrel, which had selected RevCascade for its drop-ship program, where integration was so easy that the retailer was able to launch this functionality within 60 days. And in response to Webster’s query that more online merchandise would hasten the demise of physical stores, Wexler noted that retailers have the ability through this platform to offer a broader array of merchandise that reflects “the sensibility” of stores themselves. Post-transaction, he said, the data flow is presented across a dashboard, where the manufacturer, for example, can see what products are selling, which ones are not and which retailers are performing well. The feedback, he added, goes beyond line items like revenue and, in fact, offers visibility into the trends that are driving business. There’s also insight into shipping timeliness and measuring performance via benchmarking.

And in thinking of other matchmakers, Wexler cited Airbnb and social media companies that have become the largest publishers worldwide. He also said he looks to companies such as OpenTable, where an initial tool for booking reservations ascended into a powerful network for restaurants.

Looking out into 2017, said Wexler, RevCascade is looking to become international in scope, with an eye on currency conversion, metric conversion and international shipping.

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