TradeStone Software—Helping Omni-Market Retail Transformation

TradeStone Software, headquartered in Gloucester, Massachusetts, United States with offices in Atlanta, Boston, Bangalore, Hong Kong, and London, provides a merchandise lifecycle management (MLM) platform that brings together retailers, their suppliers, and channel customers. Retailers such as American Eagle Outfitters, Belk, Boots, Family Dollar, Groupe Dynamite, Guitar Center, Kohl’s, Le Chateau, Macy’s, N Brown Group, Pacific Sunwear, Shoprite, and Urban Outfitters use TradeStone’s solutions to help them bring innovative and profitable products to market at required high speeds.
2013 served as another banner year for TradeStone, as the company continued its streak of double digit growth. The vendor signed a number of noteworthy new retailers and further extended its roster by adding new customers in the athletic apparel, office/school supply, and furniture markets. Having signed a multi-billion dollar hypermarket in Germany last year, the company also continued to make great strides in grocery by signing the largest supermarket chain in Australia.
TradeStone is also continuing with product innovation. In 2013, the company announced a number of new enhancements and solutions, including the following:
  • A new Trading Company Management module
  • Industry Models (best practice deployment approaches) for apparel, footwear, hardlines, and soft home and food products
  • Dynamic Omni-Costing capabilities

Trading Company Management module
(click for larger images)

TradeStone also continues to see success with its Bamboo Rose marketplace—an Instagram- and Pinterest-like hybrid that adds security so that retailers and brands can share inspirations and ideas, shop supplier showrooms, select products for sampling and ordering, and then transition to TradeStone MLM to kick off the buying process. Legendary Wall Street analyst Deborah Weinswig also joined the company’s Bamboo Rose Advisory Board. She is providing council and guidance on linking TradeStone's marketplace to retail global expansion strategies and profits.

Bamboo Rose Showroom
Omni-channel vs. Omni-market
More broadly, the company has taken a position in the ongoing omni-channel debate. In a series of blogs, TradeStone executives have noted how conversations are shifting as the dust starts to settle on omni-channel, which is traditionally business-to-consumer (B2C) oriented, to focus on delivering margins through the supply chain in a business-to-business (B2B) manner. TradeStone’s omni-market thinking revolves around the ability to deliver a market-specific product line anywhere in the world profitably, while mitigating risk. That ability includes the following aspects:
  • costing products by market and channel
  • mining thousands of supplier profiles to determine the best fit for a specific market
  • rolling up material commitments and orders across all channels to maximize buying power
  • postponing production to respond to market trends
  • virtualizing assortment to visually collaborate with business partners
TradeStone has always prided itself on its close relationships with its customer base, and anyone who has attended the company’s STARS User Conferences can attest to the mutual partnership and admiration. STARS 2013 (held in the spring of 2013) showcased nine customers and industry experts discussing TradeStone and innovation in retail technology.
The company has since also hosted two webinars with customers Guitar Center and Groupe Dynamite offering case study examples of their successes with quality management and integration respectively. Finally, TradeStone ended the year by announcing a go-live of its MLM solution at hot brand Urban Outfitters, bringing its user count at that particular organization to 4,000 strong.

Omni-Market Costing
The National Retail Federation (NRF) 2014 event for TradeStone was, according to the company, its most successful to date, with a record number of new prospect meetings and strategic sessions held with customers. Highlights from the show included a Q&A breakout session the company hosted with Deborah Weinswig called “Technologies that Will Transform Retail in 2014” that was delivered to a packed booth audience. TradeStone also debuted its 2014 Best Practices guide, which it will be discussing throughout the year, and noted considerable interest in private brand growth across a wide set of retailers.

Being SMART Wins in Retail
TradeStone concurs with my overall impression of NRF ‘14 that could be summarized as SMART, in the following manner: social, mobile, analytics (big data), and real-time visibility (of inventory, orders, workforce, etc.). Perhaps a "unified transaction engine" would be another emerging trend, although it might be subsumed by the real-time trend. TradeStone agrees that it has now become industry standard to have all the aforementioned SMART characteristics, and its MLM platform fits those needs. On the concept of the transaction engine, the vendor continues to see MLM as a complement to enterprise resource planning (ERP). More and more companies are recognizing how systems like TradeStone fill the gap from market-to-purchase order (PO) that traditional ERP systems do not address, providing a more complete view of the merchandise lifecycle.
Additionally, one of the biggest value props for retailers today is the real-time visibility to information and exceptions across the merchandise lifecycle. It is one of the many reasons TradeStone’s unified buying engine serves as a big “ah-ha” moment for senior executives. There is an increasing demand for solutions that offer end-to-end design-to-delivery capabilities under a single platform. The aforementioned Bamboo Rose marketplace brings that one step further, giving retailers the ability to capture virtual feedback as early as the inspiration stage. The aforementioned SMART theory speaks to the importance of having agile, collaborative, real-time technology to deliver benefits that drive value and make an impact to the bottom line.
While TradeStone is not in a point of sales (POS) software and hardware business, the company has been observing the transition towards mobile POS systems, and finds it interesting that mobile POS is helping transactions be used to give managers a holistic view of the high-selling items, best-performing salespeople, and inventory across disparate locations.
This phenomenon actually has great applicability to product lifecycle management (PLM) systems, as the next wave of innovation will enable retailers to use data from POS and tie it to their PLM solutions, to see trends based on consumer behavior. Using a system like TradeStone MLM, retailers could leverage this information with their development teams and suppliers. Today, retailers are already using TradeStone to postpone manufacturing decisions to more quickly respond to trend and channel conditions, giving them the ability to deliver market specific products anywhere in the world, while mitigating risk and increasing profitability.
The aforementioned trends and corporate update will likely be discussed further at the upcoming STARS 2014 conference in the fall of 2014. Stay tuned for our report from that highly anticipated event.
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