Bulletin's software paves way for small online brands
- Bulletin, a female-focused retailer in New York, is launching Bulletin Omni, a software platform to enable brands to sell in the Bulletin brick-and-mortar stores complete with inventory management and sales tracking, reported TechCrunch this week.
- Bulletin’s COO Ali Kriegsman described the company as a "feminine apparel brand" that is adopting a flexible "WeWork-style" approach to its stores with other brands, in effect, renting shelf space. This will allow online brands to experiment with sales in a physical space, where the selection is continuously refreshed and curated, TechCrunch reported.
- "We’re building this more feminine retail company, but we are also part real estate company, and now we are also part technology company," Kriegsman told TechCrunch.
There's growing evidence that the hottest thing in online retailing is brick-and-mortar stores. On one level, Amazon and Alibaba are pushing their wares into physical buildings. But smaller size e-commerce companies, such as Shopify, Boxed and Untuckit, are also finding their way into the world of brick-and-mortar commerce.
But there are many even smaller online brands looking for space on physical store shelves. That’s where Bulletin comes in with the Omni software, which lets brands manage inventory or add a new product to a specific store. Bulletin’s goal for Omni is to give brands data similar to what they get when they promote and sell online, TechCrunch said.
"Our stores feature products from female-led brands that, until now, have only sold on the internet," according to Bulletin's website. "Instead of wholesale or consignment, Bulletin rents sections of our store on a month-to-month basis, which has lowered the barrier to entry for physical retail. Now, digital brands can quickly plug into our in-store community."
Bulletin is literally one step removed from a flea market, reported The New York Times. The company started as a "shop-able" magazine similar to Etsy, and then expanded into a weekly flea market on a Brooklyn parking lot. It now has a store in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, and another in NoLIta, an area of Manhattan north of Little Italy, according to the website. A third store, Bulletin Mini Mall is devoted to 1990s nostalgia and is located is in the Flatiron district of Manhattan, the Times said. Bulletin has short-term leases for the stores, noted the Wall Street Journal.
Another location will open this summer, reported TechCrunch, and the use of the Bulletin Omni software platform will help the startup fund an expansion into more cities later in the year.
This is similar to the "store as a service" startup b8ta, which uses its own stores to showcase goods from small brands and is partnering with Macy’s, which recently invested in the platform. Office-sharing startup WeWork is reportedly planning a related move into retail.
Bulletin is ready to roll out the Omni software to the 150 brands it works with. Previously, the company relied on email, phone calls and "a very, very large Google Doc" to manage its offerings, Maggie Braine, director of product and brand experience, told TechCrunch. Bulletin envisions selling the software to other companies for their stores, Kriegsman said.