February 12, 2013, 11:54 AM

NuOrder serves up a new b2b fashion e-marketplace

The web portal and mobile app let retailers shop among hundreds of vendors.

Lead Photo

Selling fashion apparel brands with constantly changing styles and fickle consumer demand, can be challenging. To help retailers deal with the near-constant chore of finding and buying the right products, NuOrder Inc. launched an online trading portal that lets merchants shop among product images from hundreds of suppliers, share comments with colleagues and brands, and click to buy.

NuOrder’s e-marketplace was designed to replace the systems used by many retailers that require them to fill out paper order forms and spreadsheets and fax them to suppliers. “That’s an antiquated way,” says Adam Bernhard, CEO of HauteLook, a flash-sale e-commerce site owned by Nordstrom Inc.

Bernhard’s awareness of such methods at retailers and suppliers led him to personally invest last year in NuOrder, which launched last August and is being tested by thousands of retailers and manufacturers. An Internet portal at NuOrder.com/marketplace—also available as an iPad app—lets retailers browse among images and descriptions of products offered by some thousands of consumer products manufacturers. Nordstrom is among the thousands of retailers who have signed up to use NuOrder, though neither the company nor Bernhard has commented on the retailer’s participation with the marketplace. Other participating retailers include Intermix, Bloomingdale’s, Zappos, Neiman Marcus Group Inc. and Karmaloop, NuOrder says. Nordstrom is No. 31 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide; Neiman Marcus is No. 41 and Karmaloop is No. 138. Zappos is a unit of Amazon.com Inc., No. 1 in the Top 500; Bloomingdale’s is part of Macy’s Inc., No. 14.

NuOrder is being used by more than 70,000 retailers and more than 200 brands, and the marketplace has processed sales of more than 1.35 million products since debuting in August, the company says.

The NuOrder portal enables both retailers and suppliers to prospect for new business, Bernhard says. Retailers can put together lists of dozens of products on the screen of the NuOrder web portal or app, and click into each to see granular details on product specifications, including materials, available stock levels and expected delivery times—and then place an order for the desired items, Bernhard says.

Members of a retailer’s merchandising team can also use NuOrder to share information among one another on preferred styles and products, such as by clicking the thumb’s-up Recommend icon that appears with each product image and on each product detail page. A merchandise manager could hit the Recommend icon on the image of a particular style of Levi’s jeans to let a merchandise buyer know it would complement a retailer’s denim offerings.

Buyers and sellers can also share information through the NuOrder web portal or app, such as when a retailer has a special request for products or styles not presented in the portal. A brand manufacturer, meanwhile, can identify retailers looking for its products. Sportswear manufacturer Adidas Group says NuOrder has freed up its sales managers and its client retailers’ merchandise buyers to get the right products to consumers. Using the iPad app, for example, Adidas sales managers can meet with retail buyers and quickly browse through dozens of products and click to place orders, says Zoran Kozomara, head of wholesale sales for the Adidas fashion sportswear line Adidas SLVR, who has used the iPad app when visiting retail clients to help them place orders.

“Although it is true that today’s luxury becomes tomorrow’s necessity, NuOrder is not a luxury,” he says. “It’s an amazing tool that lets me place orders quickly and accurately, allowing me to spend more time communicating and building relationships with my customers.”

By comparison, he adds, the old way of writing down customers’ product requests was time-consuming and subject to errors in how products were described and ordered. “I have no clear understanding as to why people still use pen and paper,” he says. Adidas, which also sells directly to consumers, is No. 212 in the Internet Retailer Top 500.

NuOrder, whose services are free to retailers, charges brands an annual fee starting at less than $10,000, depending on the number of product display features it uses and the amount of integration required with its back-end product catalogs and inventory management software, according to CEO Heath Wells. NuOrder operates with more than $3 million raised from investors including venture capital firms GRP in Los Angeles and New York-based Graycroft.
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