This article was published in the Silicon Slopes Magazine, Summer 2022
by Jeremey Brockbank, Chairman and CEO, Volcanic Retail
It’s late summer 2016, and I’m in Salt Lake City at the annual Outdoor Retail Show. Brands from all over the world are here with hopes for cracking the retail game by connecting to the right buyers. The show is on its last day, and I’m making my rounds down the new exhibitor hall before heading to lunch. The show, as always, is packed with brands with reps eager to show off their beautiful booths.
I’ve already seen two small granola brands, and I’m having a conversation with the third who tells me, “Honestly, it’s been a bust. We haven’t had any real buyers stop by. I’m still holding out hope that maybe the big buyers will leave the big hall and come this way before we start packing up.”
I nod, knowingly, trying to give them a bit of encouragement, although I know better.
This is my 8th year in a row at Outdoor Retailer, and I know the story all too well. The buyers won’t be coming. In fact, those “big buyers” he’s referencing left three days ago. What these new exhibitors don’t yet know is that buyer attendance has been drying up for the better part of a decade. The game has changed.
As someone who has been a part of augmenting the sales for over 500 brands both small and large, this is personal. I know what it’s like to put all your money and hopes on the heavy trade show preparation, travel, and expense. I know it’s not the tradeshow’s problem—the buyers have been sourcing new vendor queries through online social platforms and marketplaces.
The reality is only those who have previously worked for national brands and have built the required relationship with the “big buyers” will be picked up by the large retailers this year, and there’s nothing the other brands in the industry can do about it.
Eighteen months later, I found myself across the desk from a former Bain Capital power player, anxious to tell him about my business-to-business, two-way communication platform that connects innovative brands and buyers. He interrupted me midstream, saying, “There is NO REASON this isn’t a hundred million dollar company right now.”
An hour later, I left that meeting knowing my idea was going to change the industry for the better.
Fast forward a few years and concepts have been put to paper, patents have been applied, and a global pandemic has provided the perfect opportunity and created a new $38 billion dollar white space in the trade show world, left behind by those unable or unwilling to stay with the old trade show model. All right here for the taking.
Just as the seeming destruction of a volcano leaves behind fertile soil ready for new growth, Volcanic Retail has enabled new growth by providing more efficient tools for the industry. These said tools have allowed retail sourcing to reach its FULL potential. Volcanic Retail, which is a cloud-based, SaaS platform, was launched in early spring 2022 and is specifically designed to make the B2B brand sourcing transparent, efficient, and effective.
The platform provides predictive analytics on a buyer’s sourcing trends. Buyers search for brands that are eco friendly, women or minority owned, or organically sourced brands among many other valuable keywords. Then, like magic, suggestions are made, matching brands and buyers similar to a Tinder-like dating app. This qualifies potential products in a matter of moments, leading buyers to be able to uphold their corporate initiatives which represent their earth conscious consumers. Cheaper and more effective sourcing means offsetting some of that needed margin that Amazon has been pillaging from traditional brick and mortar retail over the better part of two decades.
It is the premier brand discovery platform that buyers need to discover the next compatible brand, with B2B information not sourced on social media platforms. And for the retail brands, this couldn’t have come at a better time. Just ask the 176 brands that signed up at the Atlanta Market show last week. Or the 160 brands that recently signed up at the Astra Toy Fair in California.
In a world where plane travel pollutes 10-50x more than a high speed electric train, this also means Volcanic Retail is helping to reduce potential pollution and allow brands and buyers to effectively communicate and do business in an eco-friendly and more productive way. Buying calendars, key words, Pinning boards, two-way transparent communication, social media components, and RSS feeds are all part of the experience brands and buyers will benefit from by using Volcanic Retail.
Disruptive tech. Giving one of the oldest industries known to man a much needed face lift.
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*Read the latest issue of Silicon Slopes Magazine, Summer 2022