March 20, 2013, 12:51 PM

MerchantFuse launches as a b2b home furnishings portal

Some 400 vendors and retailers are active on the site, the firm says.

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MerchantFuse, a recently launched business-to-business web portal for home furnishings products, is providing an online marketplace for more than 300 wholesale vendors and some 80 retailers, founder Dan Merns says.

The portal, which launched in December, is in a beta test phase and being used by retailers including Zoostores.com, No. 236 in the Internet Retailer Top 500; UnbeatableSale.com, No. 285; and Stacks and Stacks, No. 381. Home furnishings vendors participating in MerchantFuse include Lifetime Brands, Haan and Jokari.

“We also have a lot of mid-sized and smaller vendors, as well as single product companies run by a single person and a handful of Etsy sellers looking to expand their wholesale business,” says Merns, who is a former merchandise buyer at home furnishings retailer Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc., No. 189 in the Top 500. Etsy is an online marketplace for sellers of handcrafted goods. MerchantFuse expects its total number of participating retailers and wholesalers to reach 500 by next month, Merns says.

For now, retailers and wholesale vendors are using MerchantFuse to find one another as buyers and sellers, but not yet to conduct purchase transactions, Merns says.

MerchantFuse is charging no fees to its first 500 participating vendors, whose basic listing fee will remain complimentary when MerchantFuse begins to charge new vendors a one-time basic fee of $500, Merns says. Going forward, the company expects to offer additional portal features, such as the ability of vendors to search for prospective buyers among retailers by criteria such as a retailer’s product categories and number of stores. In addition, MerchantFuse will let buyers and sellers exchange via the site such business documents as purchase orders and invoices to complete transactions, he adds. Vendors using those additional services will pay fees beyond the basic $500 listing fee, based on the services they use and their volume of transactions with retailers, Merns says.

MerchantFuse has no plans to charge fees to retailers, though the company may eventually consider charging merchants based on criteria such as their number of merchandise buyers using it to deal with vendors.

Merns says that he and chief technology officer Zaki Aziz have built MerchantFuse “from scratch” without outside funding, though they are currently planning to raise their first round of seed funding.

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