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UNFI boosts product sourcing for smaller retail buyers

UNFI unfi trailer truck
RangeMe platform ties into distributor’s Easy Options SMB portal.

United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) is expanding its relationship with product discovery platform RangeMe to serve small and midsize business (SMB) customers.

Suppliers will now be able use RangeMe to promote their products to SMB retail buyers and field purchase orders directly on UNFI’s Easy Options online portal, the Providence, Rhode Island-based distributor said late yesterday. Easy Options offers wholesale pricing on groceries, natural and organic foods, health and wellness products and other items to small brick-and-mortar and online retailers.

UNFI has worked with San Francisco-based RangeMe, a subsidiary of ECRM, for the past four years. The new capabilities come just several months after the distributor launched Community Marketplace by UNFI, a business-to-business digital wholesale marketplace. The B2B site, powered by Boston-based Mirakl, allows thousands of emerging products not currently available at UNFI distribution centers to be ordered via Easy Options and shipped directly to retail customers.

“Scale and access to the widest assortment of grocery and wellness products are the foundation for being able to best serve customers in today’s e-commerce world,” Tom Kraus, vice president of e-commerce at UNFI, said in a statement. “In combination with our recently launched Community Marketplace, our latest work with RangeMe not only better positions UNFI to support emerging suppliers, but also sets up an expanded universe of discovery where over 15,000 unique customers are able to more easily purchase products that meet the ever-evolving needs of today’s consumer.”

UNFIUNFI_Easy_Options-RangeMe_product_page.jpg

UNFI suppliers set up a profile on RangeMe to showcase their wares to retailers via Easy Options.

UNFI noted that Easy Options, which offers SMBs flexible order sizes and no frequency requirements, gives RangeMe suppliers another outlet to showcase their products to retailers. To increase their brand and product visibility to this audience of retail buyers,  UNFI suppliers set up a profile on RangeMe.

Aimed at suppliers and retail buyers, RangeMe’s platform uses a dashboard to put thousands of products at buyers’ fingertips, making it easier to find and compare items. Automatic alerts are sent to buyers when new products meet their selection criteria. As a result, retail buyers can more efficiently source innovative new products and manage the inbound product submission process, according to RangeMe. For suppliers, RangeMe provides wide access to retail buyers plus added control over product marketing. Suppliers can upload details of their products to the platform for buyers to review. In addition, suppliers know when their products are being viewed and can receive feedback from buyers, while buyers can instantly contact suppliers of interest or track a product to be alerted of updates.

Overall, RangeMe enables product discovery between more than 200,000 suppliers and retailers.

“This is the latest evolution of our relationship with UNFI, and it’s focused on facilitating the prevailing way that retailers and suppliers want to do business,” stated Nicky Jackson, founder and CEO of RangeMe. “RangeMe empowers nearly 13,000 retail buyers to efficiently discover innovative and emerging products, and we’re excited to expand our work with UNFI to bring tremendous opportunity to a broader set of suppliers and retailers across the industry.”

The nation’s largest public grocery wholesaler, UNFI operates 58 distribution centers and warehouses offering more than 275,000 national, regional and private-brand products to natural product superstores, independent retailers, traditional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers and foodservice operators. 

In a June conference call on fiscal 2021 third-quarter results, UNFI President Chris Testa noted that the Community Marketplace is reaching more retailers.

“Within the important e-commerce space, our recently launched Community Marketplace continues to build as more SKUs get added to this innovative platform. Although it’s still in its infancy, we remain optimistic about the long-term prospects of this extension of our UNFI Easy Options B2B business,” Testa told analysts on the call. “As for e-commerce capability that we provide to our brick-and-mortar customers, we’ve now added 215 stores to our platform in the past year, with another 120 in the process of being on-boarded. These customers can now offer online ordering, click-and-collect and delivery to their shoppers.”

supermarket news logoThis piece originally appeared on Supermarket News, a New Hope Network sister website. Visit the site for more grocery trends and insights.

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