The spring buying process is sure to be an interesting one this year, as retailers affected by the pandemic assess how much, if any, new product they can take on, and brands try to find ways to get their new offerings in front of buyers without the help of traditional trade shows. As the team at Grassroots wrote in a letter to its members at the end of April, "the spring 2021 buying cycle will likely be remembered as a season of business survival."
Still, that doesn't mean buying will halt completely, and in the absence of in-person shows like Outdoor Retailer and Grassroots Connect, retailers and brands will need new tools for communicating. Grassroots released one this week, a digital library of product information called Connect Hub, available for free to vendors and retailers nationwide.
The idea is simple but effective. Brands upload information and assets for spring products including descriptions of sell-in processes, key deadlines, images, workbooks, price lists, MAP policies, order forms, and links to B2B sales platforms. Retailers request access to the platform from Grassroots, and once approved simply log in and download whatever they need from a catalogue that can be sorted by brand, category, order deadline, and a host of other parameters.
"We hope it’s going to make a retailer’s life that much easier this spring,” said Grassroots vice president Gabe Maier. "It’s not another software to learn; it's not complicated at all. It’s just an easy place to go for all the information in one place."
Todd Givnish, sales manager for Smartwool, said the platform feels like a great idea, especially as much of the industry's buying process moves to a digital format this spring.
"The Grassroots team does a fantastic job engaging with their retailers and giving them the tools they need," Givnish told SNEWS. "Given everything on retailers' plates right now, they need all the help they can get. This is a great starting point to ensure they have the resources they need."
Brand registration has been open for 24 hours. So far, 20 companies have signed up, said Maier. The Grassroots team estimates that the platform will hit a threshold of vendors large enough to open the tool to retailers within two weeks. Moving forward, registration will be rolling for both brands and retailers, with no deadline or cutoff.