It’s nice to have that main line of communication with our members, because we know exactly what they want and how they want it. It helps drive specific innovation.
SB: What role do trade associations and other tools play in helping find suppliers?
ES: Since I've previously worked in private label, of course I have my own Rolodex of contacts — suppliers, brokers, my own network to lean on. However, I love PLMA. It’s a great trade show for the private label industry. Fancy Food Show. Expo West. Expo East. So really utilizing trade shows just to see what's out there, who’s out there. However, that's why I do like to use RangeMe, knowing that some suppliers aren't exhibiting a certain year or just truly can't afford it — because I understand it's very expensive to exhibit and bring your whole team out, and samples.
Since technically I am buying for a smaller retailer, it’s great to see smaller suppliers out there. Going back to PLMA, a lot of the suppliers that exhibit there, thinking about the volume game, they want the bigger tickets. They want the bigger volume. They want the full truckload. But it's nice to find the smaller suppliers, especially who are willing to be flexible with us and grow with us at the same time.
SB: And you have standards to meet so you need to find companies that fit your mission.
ES: Exactly. And speaking to that, we rarely take stock formulas just out of the box. Our member base is shopping with Thrive because they are wellness driven, or diet driven, or allergy driven. So that’s what's really neat about our site, the fact that you can search by whatever your value is, whether it’s vegan or gluten free, so we need to make sure every single ingredient that's listed is there or can be replaced with something that applies to certain diets — or it needs to be reformulated.