Tech platform helping Australian retailers thrive post lockdown 

| December 15, 2021

In April 2020, the deleterious effects of COVID on retail were already apparent and a solution for the pandemic was very clearly a long way off. Former Catch chief executive, Nati Harpaz, and his business partner, Einat Sukenik, had already seen an opportunity to reimagine wholesaling to retail.

Their online B2B platform business model would become the one that overcame the obstacles caused by buyers being unable to travel interstate or overseas to source stock and the inevitability of delays in deliveries of stock from overseas.

Tradesquare became a saviour for retailers, especially those that were smaller, regional and outside metropolitan areas. Now as COVID restrictions ease, Tradesquare’s value to these retailers are even greater. The “great recovery” may have begun for large city retailers. Smaller outlying retailers have formidable challenges to overcome after two years of extraordinary hardship.

“Some of our retailers have shown incredible resilience just to stay in business,” Nati says. “Fashion stores added cafes and cafes added gift products. One of our clients, a children’s clothing and sporting accessories store in regional Victoria, added goods such as towels, sheets and doonas to its stock when its town lost its Target. Many struggled with the rigours of learning how to function efficiently as an online store for the first time, when neither their technology, nor their marketing finesse were even close to being up to the task.”

That resilience is still being tested. One of many great challenges now is replenishing stock.

“Last year there were empty shelves. This year there will be empty shelves. Delivery costs are sky high. Strikes have created backlogs and there are still delays with supply chains coming from different countries. There are also unresolved supply problems from overseas. The manufacturing countries are behind in manufacturing, because there have been vast gaps in production across the last twenty-four months. And the cost of a lot of stock has increased. Christmas stock will cost more for retailers because the increase in demand has been sharp, supply is inadequate and delivery costs have spiralled,” Einat explains.

Tradesquare’s model alleviates these problems because it doesn’t rely on overseas deliveries. The company has 600 local suppliers and more than 7,000+ brands that are ready to ship. Another current challenge for retailers is cash flow. After two years of just surviving, financial reserves are at an all-time low. Unlike other wholesalers and distributors, Tradesquare doesn’t demand upfront payments. These are prohibitive for many small and regional retailers right now. It also has a price guarantee. It will match the price of any item found cheaper elsewhere and it doesn’t matter whether a buyer purchases one item or 1,000, they pay the same best possible price.

These ideas didn’t come from a boardroom.

“We were doing something like 800 phone calls a month in our first six months to chat and understand problems such as what products were missing, what people didn’t like about the platform, and what’s killing their business – what’s the pain point of their business? Then we fixed everything,” Nati states.

The site also offers TradeSquare’s Net 30 buy now pay later payment terms to help retailers with cash flow during difficult times. 50% of Tradesquare buyers use BNPL credit.

Tradesquare still talks to its members. “We communicate constantly with our buyers and suppliers,” Harpaz says. “Then we tell them, ‘This is what you shared with us and this is how we fixed it.’ Some of the problems are small. Some can break a business. One like this was uncovered when we spoke to our suppliers. We found that they don’t always favour small business clients because of the credit checks and paperwork needed to bring them on board. So we decided to vet buyers and guarantee payments ourselves. We then pay them within 14 days. This means that sellers don’t have to track payments and risk defaulters and they don’t have to wait 60 to 90 days to be paid. It’s a win-win for both our buyers and our suppliers. We also offer suppliers the option of bringing their own customers onto the platform.”

Those conversation also unearthed that many of its wholesalers were struggling with marketing effectively. “They’re manufacturers,” Sukenik adds. “That’s what they do and what they know.” So Tradesquare can take care of all the marketing for them. “We actively market our wholesalers under the one umbrella so that they can focus on what they do best,” she says. “Our customer service is also a significant advantage for wholesalers, providing a link that keeps their relationships strong.”

“We’re Australian entrepreneurs ourselves. We understand the challenges. We’ve faced them,” She adds. “We have lived through the hard knocks of running a business in Australia and come out the other side. That’s where we stand apart. Australia can be a rugged environment for small businesses. The last two COVID years have made it even harsher.”

That understanding and Tradesquare’s model have been a godsend for 10,000 small and regional Australian retail business. Their knight in shining armour has grown by 30% this year.

What does the ‘new normal’ look like for your business?

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