The digital shift may transform retail storefronts in Europe.
To that end, in Europe, Czech firm Nulisec has debuted an online B2B marketplace focused on European retailers — geared toward improving sales and procurement processes. As reported in eCommerce.com, there is a digital storefront that allows sellers to display their wares, makes them a bit more visible to buyers. The marketplace is tied to commerce, itself, conducted between buyers and sellers.
In an interview with PYMNTS, CEO Lukas Pham said online marketplaces address several pain points.
“At the moment, retailers are hostages of their local suppliers,” he said. “Life is hard for boutique retailers and [small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs)] without an online wholesale marketplace.”
Offline methods of meeting face-to-face and establishing business relationships amid the pandemic are increasingly few — or even non-existent. Salespeople have been unable to visit customers in person.
“However, most retailers still rely on these offline methods because there is a lack of trust and transparency in online methods,” he added. “That’s why it makes sense for a buyer to seek out a central place where they can source their goods online.”
That’s been driving suppliers online too to look for solutions that would help them become discovered by retailers and give them an efficient ordering system. He noted that the Nulisec platform has branched out from Prague (and a local focus) to embrace thousands of European firms.
Early adopters included household cleaning supply makers and pet food firms, and more recently, grocers.
“We started by aggregating suppliers — this was relatively easy because there was an intrinsic value for suppliers to display their brands online, specially, for those that didn’t have an online presence before joining us,” Pham told PYMNTS. “Then we would leverage their brand to bring on buyers, and then suggest to those buyers additional suppliers.”
The company has incentivized suppliers to bring on their existing customers by allowing them to sell to their referrals at no cost, indefinitely, he said.
“We make the suppliers front and center of our platform,” he said. “This is very different than traditional marketplaces that tend to ‘hide’ their suppliers — and instead of acting as a platform — these marketplaces take on a reseller role.”
The storefront acts as a wholesale portal of a supplier, through which they can decide on minimum order values and delivery and payment terms.
“Most importantly, they have the ability to choose who they will do business with by assigning potential buyers their individual price levels upon request,” he said.
Payments happen outside the marketplace and are done between supplier and buyers via wire transfers.
“We see huge potential in the digitization of B2B payments and the potential for it to further de-risk online transactions and power wholesale trade,” he said. “There are so many technologies that are widely available and affordable in the B2C segment, but they have yet to be adopted in the B2B world.”
He said the company is examining ways to make it easier for buyers to process their new inventory in their point-of-sale (POS) systems.
“We are already testing integrations with supplier’s ERP systems so that product orders can be automatically processed by their internal systems and operations.”
Asked about the near-term roadmap, Pham said, “[W]e’re going to first target countries and markets that are geographically close to the Czech Republic. We want to digitize existing relationships first and then cross-sell to the buyers that join the marketplace.”
Subsequent markets will include Poland and Slovakia.
“First, we will build out the supply side and connect them to the buyer base that we have already built in the Czech Republic,” he told PYMNTS. “Additionally, we are starting to see a rising interest in household goods, home decor and gifts suppliers. So that might be a vertical that we would start testing as well.”
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