Saturday, March 5, 2011

COD: Noblivity and the new product distribution paradigm

Thanks to ad:tech for publishing this first.

Lots of businesses struggle with product distribution issues. The process and cost of traditional distribution building efforts make it particularly difficult for emerging brands to get out there in a serious way. Lots of large retailer classes charge huge slotting fees, and may also have draconian application processes. Additionally, small retailers can also be difficult to reach because the system to close them was traditionally geared to in-person meetings.

But digital holds the power to change that. And a website called Noblivity is out to make that power felt in the fashion industry. The site bills itself as a virtual trade show that connects small brands and upcoming designers with boutiques that are seeking unique items.

The service holds enormous potential value for both sides of the exchange. It helps the small brands while enabling smaller retailers to compete better with larger stores. Small retailers depend upon stocking unusual and unique inventory in order to compete. They cannot battle on price for like items, so instead they focus on goods that you cannot get at Gapbebeandfexpressfcukandapatridgeinapeartree.

The service enables stores to buy directly through the site and get a single invoice for merchandise they purchase, how ever many merchants they choose to patronize. Sellers get worldwide retail reach, and the performance pricing model eliminates fixed costs. Presumably they take a cut of sales, though based upon the press they get from buyers and sellers, it must be an eminently reasonable one.

Again, I think this model should be interesting to you regardless of whether you are (indulge me for a moment, I’ve always wanted to use this phrase in business writing!) "in the rag trade." Because it shows yet another way that digital has the power to upend the status quo and democratize an aspect of business that needs it.

The site also offers a good blog with lots of tips and advice for businesses on either side of the equation.

Good stuff.

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