Tradeshift Acquires Product Information Management Provider Merchantry

Tradeshift announced Tuesday the acquisition of Merchantry, a leading cloud-based product information management (PIM) provider, for $30 million in cash and stock. While Merchantry has traditionally focused on sell-side and retail product information management, its technology is a close fit with what is necessary to enable catalog content management for procurement – and deeper in a range of areas based on past use case support.

“Merchantry’s industry-leading innovation in PIM and its e-commerce domain expertise will extend the power and value of the Tradeshift platform for our customers and their suppliers globally,” Jigish Avalani, president and COO of Tradeshift,” said in the company’s press release.

Tradeshift suggests its platform connects 500,000 companies across 190 countries today – which provides an immediate base to expand Merchantry’s reach. The company has built its business model based on what we call platform-as-a-service (PaaS) – a platform where Tradeshift has created its own infrastructure and applications and one where third-party applications can be easily connected (“plug and play”).

To recognize the value Merchantry offers Tradeshift, it is first important to understand that central to Tradeshift’s value proposition for buyers is the ability to on-board, enable and manage as many suppliers and partners as quickly and completely as possible, with the least disruption to vendors.

To achieve this, Tradeshift has already implemented a number of techniques and services. These include:

  • Online marketing mechanism (emails, landing pages, online easy sign-up process) to communicate to suppliers and manage on-boarding like a sales/market automation campaign
  • Premium services (White Glove) to enable and on-board strategic suppliers (e.g., offering a dedicated project manager and a integration engineer)
  • Registration invitation to suppliers upon receiving an purchasing order from a client of Tradeshift
  • Consulting support

What Merchantry Brings to Tradeshift

Much of Tradeshift’s value to procurement and accounts payable is the cleverness of its truly mass-market supplier on-boarding approach centered on capturing the long-tail of vendors to drive e-invoicing, integration and related capabilities as a foundation on which other “apps” can be delivered on-top. As part of this, the provider offers Tradeshift Studio, a development environment and stack, to third-party application providers, including customers, that want to leverage Tradeshift’s PaaS framework.

However, it is one thing to incorporate the supplier to facilitate the process of accounts payable (POs and Invoices) – it is quite another thing to enable a supplier catalog management functionality for requisitioning or sourcing purposes. This is where Merchantry comes in.

Merchantry is a cloud-based PIM solution for retailers (e-commerce) that like Tradeshift, offers value by onboarding as many vendors as possible in a short period of time and in a simplified way.  For Merchantry customers, the more products (SKUs) enabled inside the e-store, the better for e-commerce retailer’s growth. So to grossly oversimplify: Where Tradeshift on-boards and manages suppliers to enable transactions, Merchantry on-boards and manages catalog and related product content to facilitate transactions in the first place.

Merchantry’s PIM capability includes the detailed capture and validation of product and inventory information (e.g., images, attributes, categories and prices). This capability could become part of the Tradeshift offering for personalized product catalogs management, hosted in Tradeshift network, as well as a sourcing capability (as a new application). And the Tradeshift PaaS model could broadcast this capability to other network and applications.

Bottom Line

Spend Matters believes that Merchantry’s capabilities will strengthen the value proposition of Tradeshift’s emerging procure-to-pay (P2P) capabilities in a range of markets including retail by going significantly beyond transactionally-centered supplier on-boarding and e-invoicing.

In particular, by adding Merchantry’s solutions into the mix, Tradeshift can begin to offer a more complete e-procurement capability with depth in catalog management built on a newer architecture than traditional content management providers that were originally developed to enable the SAP SRM ecosystem. As part of this, there are also a range of once vertical specific capabilities that Merchantry brings to suppliers which can generally increase the velocity of publishing detailed product/SKU-based information (e.g. e-store) and vendor selling opportunities (e.g., leveraging Merchantry’s Drop-Ship Module).

The combination of Merchantry with Tradeshift is a step towards a P2P vision that appears different than what other providers are offering in the market. In particular, the seller-focused capabilities and high-volume/SKU mix retail environment on which the solution was originally built to support should bring new and expanded use cases to both sides of the procurement/vendor equation – and will provide another entry-point beyond e-invoicing for Tradeshift into buying organizations.

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