When it comes to marketing food brands, the primary challenge is to get your products seen and discovered. In 2020, US grocery sales topped 750 billion, and over 40% of shoppers under the age of 65 are purchasing specialty food items. Food and beverage sales will continue to rise in the coming year as the market opens post-pandemic.
So when it comes to breaking that barrier of creating and increasing exposure for your products and connecting your business with the right buyers, as a business owner you need to be nimble and adapt to using the most advanced online tools and platforms designed specifically for that.
This week, I am so happy to share with you my conversation with Vir Satyan, the Vice President of Supplier Success at RangeMe, an online product discovery platform where buyers and brand manufacturers can connect and engage with each other.
As business owners and key decision-makers, we should never miss an opportunity to grow and find strategies to evolve our business and meet market demands. We shouldn’t succumb to the mentality of settling for things as they are now - because the business industry is dynamic and ever-changing. And whether you’re an emerging brand or an already established business, tools like RangeMe can help your business reach optimal success.
Listen to Episode 43 as we talk more about this platform.
Virginia Foodie Essentials:
The whole concept of RangeMe is creating a way for emerging brands to have a level playing field and making it easier for buyers to find those emerging brands. - Vir Satyan
There are ways to make products stand out or perform well on the RangeMe platform. I help people who are starting on this platform make sure that details are entered in ways that are going to present the right story to the buyer. - Georgiana Dearing
RangeMe really is like LinkedIn for the CPG industry. It's business to business, brand to buyer, but it's digital, it's 24/7 and it's always working for you. - Vir Satyan
Using RangeMe is no different from how all of us as consumers use online shopping. You're much more likely to click on things that stand out and look attractive and have all the information you need. - Vir Satyan
You've got to be active and engaged regularly and not just sit back passively and expect that everyone's going to jump on now because you've created your presence on the platform. - Vir Satyan
Key Points From This Episode:
What is RangeMe?
How RangeMe can level the playing field for all emerging brands
Using keywords for SEO
Why certifications are beneficial for your brand
How brands can expand their grab and go products
Why positioning your brand is important
How travel has increased competition, thereby improving food quality
Utilizing industry and category insights
Future upgrades to the platform such as Direct Sales (digital storefront)
Other Resources Mentioned:
More about the Guest:
Vir Satyan is the Vice President of Supplier Success at RangeMe, the leading product discovery and sourcing platform where retailers and suppliers discover, connect, and grow their business. They are now the industry standard, currently working with over 10,000 retail buyers in the U.S. alone while also continuously expanding globally.
Connect with Vir:
Follow The Virginia Foodie here:
Click Here for Full Transcript:
[00:00:00] Vir Satyan: That was the whole concept of RangeMe which is creating a way for emerging brands to have a level playing field and making it easier for buyers to find those emerging brands. Because today, buyers do want to find those.
[00:00:16] Georgiana Dearing: Welcome to The Virginia Foodie Podcast, where we lift the lid on the craft food industry and tell the stories behind the good food, good people, and good brands that you know and love. If you've ever come across a yummy food brand and wondered, “How did they do that? How do they turn that recipe into a successful business?” Then we've got some stories for you.
Hey there, Foodie folks, welcome back. And thanks for joining me on my journey through the craft food industry.
I'm pretty excited about today's guest because I'm speaking with Vir Satyan, Vice President of Supplier Success at RangeMe. I've been talking to brands about range me for years, and the biggest question I hear is what the heck is RangeMe? When RangeMe started seven years ago, there was employee number two. So he is well qualified to answer that question.
If you're in the specialty food business, then you already know that there are five key tools you need in your sales and marketing toolkit, your packaging, your website, email, social media, and sell sheets. I believe that online sales platforms like RangeMe and Faire are the evolution of your sell sheets. They're the tool you use to establish your brand position with new partners while also explaining what it's like to do business with your brand.
Online engagement is becoming a big component of all sales transactions. It's been coming for a while and the pandemic has just spurred it along. So if your growth strategy includes big retailers like Whole Foods and Target and Meijer and KeHE, then you need to be on RangeMe.
But I get it. A paid account seems expensive, and online platforms can be confused. That's why I was so excited to land this interview with Vir. He answered all the questions I ever heard brands ask about the platform, and then some. He also shares some new information about the company and super bonus, he's making himself available for any follow-up questions that my podcast listeners may have.
Vir is approachable, smart, and a huge fan of small brands. And I loved having the opportunity to talk to him about my approach to using the tool. And he gave some pretty great feedback. If you're on RangeMe now, or if you're thinking about using it, then this is an episode you don't want to miss. Listen to it, bookmark it and come back to it for helpful tips.
If you're not a subscriber to this podcast, please like this episode and subscribe on your player of choice. It really helps me get more insider interviews like this one, and I really appreciate the support.
Well, hello, Vir. It's so good to see you. And I know our listeners at home can't see you, but you and I have spoken a few times in the past. And as we do this recording, we're face to face, and I'm really glad to see you in person. But I'm speaking with some inside information. So could you please introduce yourself to our listening audience?
[00:03:21] Vir Satyan: Absolutely, and thank you so much for having me. It's so nice to speak with you virtually but feels like in person as well. So my name is Vir and I run the Supplier Success Program here at RangeMe. I'm responsible for a team that helps our emerging brands really get the most out of the RangeMe platform, and also just grow in general. Education, what goes into and what's involved in growing your brand and using RangeMe as one of those tools.
[00:03:50] Georgiana Dearing: Well, I have been talking up RangeMe to my clients for a couple of years. And it started because someone emailed me from your platform and it allowed me to see their dashboard. And just to have full disclosure, I now advertise as a supplier on your site. And so I have some connection to the company but you guys don't have a pay-per-play thing? I'm not profiting off of any of my clients who sign up, I just am here to assist them. But I talk about RangeMe a lot, and the question I get the most often, I'm going to ask you to explain and that is, what the heck is RangeMe? People who aren't on it hear about it and they just don't get it. So can you explain it?
[00:04:37] Vir Satyan: I'd love to. RangeMe is an online product discovery platform where buyers and brand manufacturers can connect and engage with each other. We are now the industry standard because we work with over 10,000 retail buyers in the US alone. And most recently, which is good news for all your listeners as well, we've begun our global expansion. So we now have a retail presence in the UK. Your listeners will be amongst the first to know that we just signed Tesco, the largest grocery in the UK. So very exciting there, and starting to get many more. We also have retailers in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
[00:05:22] Georgiana Dearing: You started in Australia, right? So that makes sense that you were already in those markets.
[00:05:27] Vir Satyan: Exactly. We started in Australia over seven years ago. I was one of the founding members, employee number two when things first kicked off. And because Australia is a very small market, even though it's a large country by landmass, it's a small market when it comes to retailers and how many retailers control things. We very quickly realized that we were working with all the top retailers and we had to make our move into the US market. And we haven't looked back ever since now, based out of San Francisco as well.
[00:05:58] Georgiana Dearing: Well, you had a couple of really big retailers sign-on, I think early on I recall that Whole Foods made it the way to get into their stores. If you weren't already selling into them or already one of their vendor partners, they quickly switched to say that you had to come to them through RangeMe.
[00:06:17] Vir Satyan: That's exactly right. And that's how most of the major retail chains, in particular, use RangeMe. We're part of their entire inbound process. We have corporate-level relationships with them. And using your example with Whole Foods when we first launched, and Target as well, today, over 150 national chain retailers including CVS, Albertsons, Walgreens, Wegmans, Publix.
If you're a manufacturer, that's not already doing business with them and you're trying to get in touch with them. On their corporate websites you'll see, sign up for RangeMe so our buyers can look at you. That makes it so much easier for their retail buyers, because everything's in one format. It's standardized. And they don't have hundreds of thousands of emerging brands trying to contact them individually through email or Excel files or messy PDFs. It makes it much more neat and clean.
[00:07:13] Georgiana Dearing: Yes, so there are two things. One I wanted to say, I'm speaking to you about food brands, but RangeMe is for all packaged goods that are going to be going into retailers. So I mentioned Whole Foods, but then you said CVS, and that would include toothbrushes and things like that.
[00:07:29] Vir Satyan: That's exactly right. Our biggest and most active segment is food and beverage, of course, because it's a snapshot of the industry around us. But after that comes beauty and personal care. You've got health and wellness as well. And sometimes those intermingle. You could have a food brand that's actually health and wellness, and sometimes beauty as well. When you've got an example like collagen bars wherein the beauty aisle, but it's also a food product so we're starting to see an amalgamation. But yes, we also cover general merchandise, home, and houseware, pet, baby, et cetera. So every imaginable consumer packaged goods category you can think of.
[00:08:07] Georgiana Dearing: The other thing I wanted to pull out of your description there was standardization. And I've been in this industry for a while and I made a good deal of money on helping brands get the attention of retail buyers. We put together interesting mailing packages, and we did direct communication, and we did lots of pitch presentations which are still important and still part of the mix. But I see RangeMe, when I talk about it with my clients, it levels the playing field. Everyone is entering their information the same way into the same platform. And it takes a little bit of the noise out of what the buyer is receiving.
But there are ways to make products stand out or to make them perform well on the platform, and that's where I come in. I try and help people who are starting on their platform, make sure that the things are entered in ways that are going to present the right true story to the buyer. Lots of my work is with emerging brands. Can you speak to them in particular about what RangeMe does for someone who is starting to move into retail?
[00:09:18] Vir Satyan: Absolutely, and you touched on two really important points there.
One, which was leveling the playing field. When we first started RangeMe, our founder, Nicky Jackson, had worked in big CPG for many years. She'd worked with companies like Kellogg's, like Goodman Fielder. And when she decided to try and launch her own product, it was a skincare product that she developed with a local chemist to help her daughter's eczema. She thought, okay, I have a lot of connections from my past in the CPG world in big corporations. I should be able to get into these buyers with no problem or get in touch with these buyers.
But what she found was, she was no longer Nicky from the large CPG company with Nicky the emerging brand who they'd never heard of, and she wasn't going to get that time of day. And that was the whole concept of RangeMe which is creating a way for emerging brands to have a level playing field and making it easier for buyers to find those emerging brands. Because today, buyers do want to find those. They need to diversify their product assortment. And they're looking for those brands, but it's hard to your point for them to find them.
And then the second thing you touched on was making sure that you stand out. Because yes, it's standardized, but within the standardization of a RangeMe profile, the more you put into it and the more attractive it looks, the more likely you are to have a buyer reach out to you.
Because now, a buyer logs in and they're looking at all the snack bars or snack food items on RangeMe. There are thousands of brands with even more products. While they're scrolling through, the way the brand is set up and positioned themselves is really important.
Is the cover image really nice and attractive? Does it highlight the packaging? Does it showcase the key selling points that the buyers would look at and go, wow, I see gluten-free, non-GMO, and USDA Organic? I'm now more likely to be interested in this snack bar versus the thousands of others on there because they've shown me very quickly and in a simple condensed manner what their unique selling propositions are. That's the initial piece that really gets buyers to your page.
And I like to use the example of LinkedIn because RangeMe really is like LinkedIn for the CPG industry. It's business to business, brand to buyer, but it's digital, it's 24/7 and it's always working for you. Because a buyer could stumble upon you and discover you at any point so you have to make sure you're putting your best foot forward to get that interest and get them connecting with you.
[00:11:52] Georgiana Dearing: I like that LinkedIn for your brand. That's a good analogy. I can immediately make that connection.
And the thing from my point of view, I start working with brands many times when they're very young, or sometimes I've worked with established brands who they get a guy from the sales team and he grabs some stuff and he puts it in there. And the thing that they don't realize is that if your photography is not at a standard, it's sending a signal to a buyer: this guy's not ready for the market.
On my emerging brands' side, I actually had a client whose pricing was so low that people were just passing over them because experienced buyers knew that that was not a sustainable price point. And we raised their price and they got three outreach unsolicited Can I talk to you? messages because they started to look like a viable brand.
The buyers are really using that apples-to-apples comparison on how that information is put in there. And I'm speaking from the side where coming in as a communicator, we used to make some really attractive, wow, getting attention things which would get a buyer's attention. But then they would have to pick through the relationship before they found out that, geez, these people can't handle an order. If I asked for a thousand units, they can only do a hundred.
I'm starting to talk about myself.
[00:13:13] Vir Satyan: No, I think you've actually nailed it because those are some of the key points we really see for success. And they really tie back to what you asked about, how do emerging brands use RangeMe for optimal success?
The first thing I would say is, you have to be on RangeMe, and if you're not on, you absolutely should be. And then following up on your point, putting in the best effort possible to make sure that your profile looks the best it can because we have lots of brands that would come on. There is somebody that decides they have to create a profile because they find that's on a retailer's website and they go, oh God, okay fine. I'll go ahead and create this. But it's not fully baked out. It's not the best you can be. The images aren't necessarily professional. They don't have all their SKUs on there.
And what's happening now is a buyer could stumble upon them next week, see them, the buyer doesn't have the time to think, gee, I wonder if they could do better. I'm not sure that they've set up their profile nicely. Maybe I should reach out and say, hey, do you have more to offer?
The buyers probably looking at it and going, well, I'm looking at 300 brands on RangeMe, all looking interesting, they all have the attributes I want, but these 50 or these 25 have really put themselves out and have done a fantastic job. I'm much more likely to engage with them.
It's no different from how all of us as consumers use online shopping. You're much more likely to click on things that stand out and look attractive and have all the information you need than you are something that's not very good-looking at all. If you're looking for food online and you're using something like DoorDash, for example, and they didn't have any images of the food you were ordering, you're probably not going to add that to the cart. It's the same kind of principle. So that's the second piece.
And then the third piece is, again, something you touched on, which is you get more out of it if you put more into it. As a brand, you're able to share your profile. There's no cost involved in that. Some of our most successful brands have their RangeMe profile on their email signatures. They share them on LinkedIn so that buyers can stumble upon it through a variety of different ways.
I remember being part of a great conversation with a CPG consultant and expert a few months ago, and one of the things that she mentioned was she has worked with brands just like you do for years and years and years. And she said in her research and findings, it takes eight to ten different touchpoints for a buyer to then reach out to you.
RangeMe is one of those touchpoints. And that's something I always tell our brands as well, it's not the golden ticket. You can't only create a profile and then sit back and hope that the world is going to come to you and inbound to you. You have to be active. You have to share your profile.
You have to pull out that rollo deck of cards you might've collected two years ago at trade shows and start emailing buyers with your RangeMe profile and say, here's my updated profile. I'd love to do business with you. I'd love to work with you. I think my products would be great in your store. But you've got to be active and engaged regularly and not just sit back passively and expect that everyone's going to jump on now because you've created your presence on RangeMe.
[00:16:25] Georgiana Dearing: And I think that is the mistake that I see established brands making is that they are like, oh, I've been in business for a while. I'm going to sign up for RangeMe, and I'm going to jump right into a premium, which premium is a paid service that allows the supplier to directly contact buyers once every 12 months, which is another thing about I guess your role in cutting down the noise. But I see them sign up and then hit submit to everybody they think they want to work with and then walk away. That's one mistake that I think that it just not the right way to use the tool.
When I bring people into RangeMe new, I say, let's start with your free account and get that optimized so that you're appearing in search. And then move to your introductory level, which I think is maybe around $300 now. But that basically lets you see the traffic – who is coming to your profile. And then when you are using the tool a little bit, that's when you invest in that opportunity to start doing direct outreach. That's my take on it. And I have you here, so what do you think about that?
[00:17:32] Vir Satyan: Yes, it's interesting because I agree with what you're saying absolutely when it comes to the natural progression.
So RangeMe, to clarify your point, has either the free version which has no cost involved at all, or you can choose one of our two subscription options. RangeMe Plus, which is that introductory level that you mentioned, and it's $300 for an entire year. The benefit of RangeMe Plus is it allows you to see which retailers have viewed your profile and have looked at your products.
The most popular and most effective is RangeMe Premium. That is $1,400 for one whole year, and it's interesting because part of my role is to continue to educate some of these emerging brands and talk about how $1,400 for a year is not a big investment in the grand scheme of things to get the benefits you're getting.
The two key benefits of RangeMe Premium are the ability to be verified. And so if you're paying for premium and you have the bare basics required for retail store shelves, things like packaging, barcodes, liability insurance, a business ID, a nutritional label if your product requires it. What we do is we then give you a green checkmark and we put you at the very top of your category.
So now, when a buyer logs in and they're looking at 5,000 coffee brands. I just did a discussion the other day on coffee and we have 5,000 coffee brands, but only 150 or 200 of those are verified, that's where all the buyers’ eyeballs are going first because they show up at the very top. The buyer also feels like you're pre-vetted, and so they're much more likely to reach out to you because they feel like you're a higher-quality brand.
The other benefit of premium is what you mentioned as well, which is being able to proactively message our top retailers. We do limit it because, again, keeping it standardized and cutting down the noise. But most importantly, we also share when available updated category reviews. So to your point earlier, you don't want to upgrade a premium and suddenly message everyone on that same day. Look at the category review schedule, see if they're reviewing your category coming up. Look at your profile insights and see if they've been looking at you lately. And if that might be there for the right time, and also timing with all your outreach you're doing outside of RangeMe.
If you're going to a roadshow for a retailer national chain, it might be a good time to reach out to them after the roadshow instead of before knowing that you might be meeting them there. So those are the kinds of things to keep in mind as well. But you're absolutely right. The progression is to come in, get familiar, and most importantly, have a really sharp profile on the free version. And we always have a team that's willing to help and give as many tips as possible with no pressure to upgrade, and then when they're ready to consider that RangeMe Premium option because that is the most effective.
[00:20:28] Georgiana Dearing: Well, I'm going to throw in one other thing that I use on the platform and that is the category insights. I find it very interesting that you will share out on the premium level. You can drill down into your food product category and you can see where your product falls in the spectrum of pricing, you can see where buyers are moving on the spectrum of margin on the product, and you can get a sense of some of the activity that is within the RangeMe eco-verse. Really because it's not all brands in the entire world, it's who is moving on RangeMe.
And I find that really interesting and it's a tool I use particularly with these very specialized craft brands. If they're coming up way high in the price spectrum, that's not a signal to lower your price, it's a signal to tell the story that justifies the price. Make sure that everything you're doing on the rest of the platform is supporting that you are a craft brand on the higher end of the spectrum. And then that positions you for partnerships with people who are looking for that kind of quality product.
[00:21:36] Vir Satyan: Absolutely spot on. And I'm so glad you brought up those industry insights or the category insights because they, in my opinion, are invaluable to emerging brands.
[00:21:46] Georgiana Dearing: I bet that $1,400 is a fraction of what you would have to pay for that kind of research. Which is why when I talk about this tool, it's like, don't set it and forget it. I feel like I'm trying to promote you to you, but I see it as a valuable tool. As long as a brand wants to be in this space and they're prepared to do all the things you need to do to become a really good retail partner, it is a place you need to be especially for those big-box grocery labels that are out there.
[00:22:17] Vir Satyan: And yes, and for both. so a couple of things that you really touched on, one, it is really important not to set it and forget it to constantly be engaged, constantly be using the insights. The category insights are so valuable. We've had a lot of people approach us to buy the data which we don't do because we keep it only for our premium members. And part of why it's so important is understanding, again, yes, it's on RangeMe but it's from thousands of buyers – what the margin is like. If you're coming in, you had the example at the start of this discussion about pricing, if you're coming in at a 20% margin but the average in your category is 45%, you really need to tweak your RangeMe pricing knowing that there were lots of different factors that go into the final cost. But you're missing out on those buyer views and interest because they're looking at your 20% and going, nope, not interested.
Buyers can also filter by a margin. So when they're looking at a dashboard of products, they can go in and say, I only want to look at things with over 35% margin. You're not even going to pop up in their search grid.
The other key insights are pricing, of course. Are you more luxury priced or are you more competitively priced, depending on what kind of retail we have and what price points they're interested in. And then the other piece that I find really important and valuable is the keyword searches and the certifications.
Being able to see what the top keywords are that buyers are looking for, allows you to go, have I set up my profile to include organic or gluten-free? Have I actually put that in there even though I am? Because otherwise, I'm not coming up in their searches as part of the SEO.
And certifications are absolutely vital. It's one of the top trends we've seen on RangeMe this year, which is retail buyers wanting to reach out to brands that have certifications. Not just going for organic brands that say they're organic, but are you USDA organic? Not just going for brands that say they're sustainable, but are they actually Rainforest Alliance Certified or Fair Trade certified or NON-GMO Project verified? Having those certifications are key as well. And those insights show you what the top certifications are that buyers are looking for in your category.
[00:24:38] Georgiana Dearing: So this brings up a brand new question and that is, I am coming to you from Virginia and we have a certification in our state, which is Virginia's Finest. And I also have a client in Oklahoma who's just qualified for Made in Oklahoma. So what I counsel them to do is to put that label in the product description of the products that have received that certification. And as soon as I did that for all of my Virginia clients, I started to see that they were being looked at by some Virginia businesses. Some of them were quite small. They were businesses that actually aren't on that premium submission level.
So this is prompting a question about the buyer side. Are there different levels of engagement with your platform on the buyer side? As you mentioned, for all of the corporate buyers, are there other ways that buyers can access data the same way that producers do?
[00:25:36] Vir Satyan: So on the buyer's side, what's really interesting is everything is standardized for them because they're looking at your RangeMe profile as a manufacturer. But they have a wide variety of ways that they can filter their grade in their search. They can filter by area and location.
And we're seeing that happen a lot too, especially during COVID. Last year, more than this year, but last year in particular. And for most of the first half of this year, smaller regional retailers wanted to go local. If they were an independent retailer in Virginia, they didn't want to look at coffee brands from California knowing that there are supply chain issues, distribution issues. So one of the first filters they would use is the origin and the location filter. And they would drill down only to Virginia brands, and then reach out to them first before they expanded their search grid.
You also mentioned some of the trade organizations and the programs they have. We partner with some of the states to promote their brands on RangeMe as well. Made in Oklahoma has a group of their brands on RangeMe promoted as Made in Oklahoma. We recently, a few months ago, and it was full circle for me because I studied in North Carolina and half of my family is in Raleigh. We recently a few months ago launched a Flavors of Carolina collection on RangeMe.
So we worked with the government of North Carolina and the Department of Agriculture, and they promoted 85 brands that are part of the Flavors of Carolina program. And there's a specific collection now on the buyers’ dashboards only highlighting the Flavors of Carolina brand. So hopefully, at some point, you and I can talk about promoting Virginia brands too for that particular program.
[00:27:21] Georgiana Dearing: Oh, that would be great. That's really interesting. And I'm going to follow up with you after this, because I know exactly who we need to talk to, to make that happen.
[00:27:30] Vir Satyan: Yes, absolutely. So to add to that as well, using the filters for location has become really important. Another filter that the larger chains use, not so much the independents or regionals, but the larger chains are the distributor filter. You can mention on your RangeMe profile which distributors you work with. Whether it's someone small like Pod Foods or at someone larger like KeHE or UNFI.
Larger retailers like to see if you're working with distributors because they're much more likely to take you on if you do already have one. It doesn't mean your chances are dead in the water if you don't. It simply allows them to understand who they can get directly from their distributors and who they need to actually make those introductions for.
[00:28:15] Georgiana Dearing: Well, this is a good segue to my next question which is a new feature that I'm going to confess I have not explored yet. And that is direct sales. We've been getting notices to add the direct sales component to the dashboards. And can you talk to me a little bit about how that works?
[00:28:34] Vir Satyan: I absolutely can, and I'm so glad you asked. It's been two years in the making. It's the most exciting feature, in my opinion, that we've had for many years now. And that is the ability for premium brands – starting with Premium, in the food and beverage space for now, and we will eventually expand into other categories – to be able to set up a digital storefront. So now, instead of your RangeMe profile only being about getting discovered and getting seen and then having to message the buyer, independent and regional retailers can purchase directly from your profile.
You set up your storefront as a manufacturer. You choose the products that you want to have open for selling because you don't have to have all of them, maybe there's only some that you want to include. You can set things like your minimum order quantity and your shipping rates, and then independent and regional retailers can purchase directly. We've had over 50 sales direct purchases already in just a few weeks of not even launching fully, it's a soft launch, soft rollout that we're doing.
And it's really great to see small independent retailers that you otherwise may not have even heard of or think of have direct purchases. And now as a premium member, not only do you get the benefits you're already paying for, but for no additional cost, you're getting direct purchase orders to be able to offset the spend that you have on RangeMe as well.
[00:29:59] Georgiana Dearing: So this has been a trend that I see that lots of different dashboards are adding direct sales. And I heard you say that this is for independent and regional retailers. So this is not something that Whole Foods would do, this is something that the Libbie Markets or the Ellwood Thompsons, which are two retailers in Richmond that I see actively moving around in the dashboard, is something they could use to order directly.
[00:30:23] Vir Satyan: That's exactly right. That's exactly right. The larger retail chains have their own setup. They have their own processes in play, and this is unlikely to be something they do. Not just on RangeMe but with anyone else.
[00:30:34] Georgiana Dearing: Do you see that as direct competition for things like Faire and the defunct Hubba? Is that what you're trying to do, is have that space?
[00:30:43] Vir Satyan: It's interesting because Hubba, yes. Now, defunct Hubba came out and was always really looking at that direct networking component. Faire has always only been about direct purchases. I think it's a great platform. And again, going back to my message earlier, RangeMe is not the only thing you should do. You should try and explore all avenues. But for us, this direct sales component wasn't really about what everyone else was doing, it was simply a natural progression to what we've already been doing as the experts in the field, which is we've been connecting brands and buyers for over seven years. We have over 150,000 brands that use RangeMe, and over 10,000 retail buyers. And they've been engaging and interacting and exchanging hundreds of thousands of messages amongst each other over the last seven years. Now, this closes the loop and allows for that final, you have discovery, you have sourcing, and now you have purchasing all in one platform.
[00:31:43] Georgiana Dearing: I see. I see. And this is intended to be, for the most part, a direct ship, right? You just add on the cost of getting it from you to the independent.
[00:31:53] Vir Satyan: That's exactly right. For the most part, it's do-it-yourself fulfillment. However, we do have a strong, strong distributor partnership and one of those is with UNFI. So there's an option if you're already carried by UNFI as part of their national drop-ship program, which is called Easy Options. Then there is an option for the retailer to buy from UNFI Easy Options.
Very similar to what an experience is today on Amazon where you log in, you look at a product and you have multiple buying options. You can either get it from Amazon Prime or you can look at other sellers on there. Similarly, that's what the eutopia state will look like on RangeMe where you could either buy direct or you could purchase from one of the top distributors if that's easier for you. Because either way, it's a win-win for both the brand and the buyer.
[00:32:45] Georgiana Dearing: Well, that's a good explanation. And now, I'm going to have to put pen to pencil and take a look at what some of my brands are doing and come back and say, okay, these are the decisions that you're going to have to make if you're going to go this route. And one other thing I just wanted to mention, we've been speaking specifically to grocery retailers, but food service, there is a component of foodservice buyers on there as well. Is that right?
[00:33:09] Vir Satyan: There absolutely is. And in fact, especially when COVID first hit, food service was one of our largest areas of growth because cafes and restaurants were looking for more packaged goods to be able to sell since they had less foot traffic for their takeaway orders. It was more, how can I expand my assortment of grab-and-go products so that I can actually sell those at my retail location, and we have a huge foodservice section as well.
[00:33:34] Georgiana Dearing: Oh, that's crazy. I didn't even think of that aspect of the COVID impact. That's an interesting insight actually.
[00:33:42] Vir Satyan: Yes, it's been fascinating to see because I'm sure even in Virginia, as it is here in San Francisco, a lot of the cafes and restaurants that you usually would just walk into pick up your phone order now had suddenly these refrigerators with new beverage items and drinks that you never saw over there or grab and go food options. Because if they got you in and you weren't going to order food because of COVID and your worries, or you weren't going to sit down for a meal because you couldn't actually sit down in the restaurant, you would grab something over there and it helped offset. And I think that trend is here to stay.
Another big trend along those lines that we've seen recently is the reemergence of the convenience channel. Last year, when all of us were at home, if you're not traveling and you're not going out you’re less likely to go to a convenience store, you're more likely to go to a larger grocery store or a mass-market retailer like a Target or a Walmart. Now, since people are starting to get out more, they're traveling more, you're seeing retailers like 7Eleven and Wawa, and Sheetz really continue to expand their product offering because more people are going out, and therefore, they're going to convenience stores more than ever before.
[00:34:53] Georgiana Dearing: And I've seen the quality of food is going up. I've been surprised at the things I can grab at a Sheetz. And I was like, oh, I would never have thought of that five years ago.
[00:35:01] Vir Satyan: Absolutely right. I think I was in Philadelphia for Expo East just a few months ago in September, and I walked into a Wawa because we don't have those here in San Francisco. It could have been at Whole Foods. I thought I was in a mini Whole Foods. The quality of products, the freshness of the items, and the amount of natural and organic products they had in there was not what you'd expect from a grab-and-go convenience store. So I think that's changing and for the better because as consumers, we have more access now than we ever had before.
[00:36:11] Georgiana Dearing: Oh yes. Well, I don't want to keep you forever, but I wondered if you could share with me what's next for RangeMe? We covered the current reality. Can you share anything of the things that are coming up for your business?
[00:36:23] Vir Satyan: I absolutely can, and I'm so excited to do that. It's so nice to be able to mention some of these things to your listeners as amongst the first few to hear it. We're going to continue to double down on our direct selling component. And so the next steps over there are expanding the categories. We're currently in food and beverage only. We will expand next into beauty, personal care, and health. Then we'll have wellness and supplements as well. After that, we'll move into the more general merchandise categories.
In addition to that, we will continue aggressively with our global expansion. We've recently signed retailers in the Netherlands now. The next step is a few in Belgium, so European countries are going to continue to expand. There's a lot more we can and are going to do with Canada because they're so close by. So getting more Canadian retailers on is really important too. And continuing to expand our footprint into the UK and in Australia and New Zealand, giving emerging brands, and national brands as well, the opportunity to grow internationally.
And yes, for some of your listeners or clients that might be a year away from their plans, but at least they know what that progression can be. I'm very excited for 2022. I think it's going to be the most exciting year that we've had at RangeMe since I joined, and I was the second person to join so since the history of the company. But most importantly, I'm really excited for the industry in general.
I think for all the emerging brands out there, all the clients you have, everyone that we interact with, but also everyone that we don't interact with, 2020 and half of 2021 has been such a struggle. There have been supply chain issues. There have been retailers that have slowed down the number of SKUs they take. There have been changes in consumer behavior. There have been fewer in-person trade shows or trade events that we can do. Networking is so key in this industry.
I'm excited for us to start coming out of the pandemic more, start interacting with each other more, and seeing all these brands grow is the best part of my job, to be able to talk to someone a year and a half ago who was just starting off in selling at a farmer's market and is now in all the grocery stores around me. When I walk into the store, some people think I'm crazy when I yell. I'm like, hey, I know that person and I know that brand. It's great to see them on there. I just hope for the best for this industry. And we're going to continue to do everything we can to help emerging brands continue to grow and to help retail buyers find these emerging brands in a much more easy and streamlined manner.
[00:38:17] Georgiana Dearing: Well, thank you for sharing all of that with me, Vir. I've really enjoyed talking with you. And before we go, could you share how people could find you or your business? What's the next step? Where do they find you?
[00:38:28] Vir Satyan: Absolutely. So they can find RangeMe very easily at www.rangeme.com. Signing up is free, and it's really straightforward and simple. But if they also want to reach me personally, I'm more than happy to share my direct email with all your listeners, and that is email@example.com. That way, they can reach out anytime. And I'm more than happy to spend some time with them on their particular profiles, and dive deeper into it with them, and give them all the best tips and tricks that they could possibly get.
[00:39:13] Georgiana Dearing: Well, that's very generous of you. Thank you so much, Vir. And thanks for talking to me, I enjoyed it so much.
[00:39:19] Vir Satyan: You're most welcome. Take care.
[00:39:24] Georgiana Dearing: Hey, podcast listeners. I want to throw an additional freebie in here. I believe so strongly that RangeMe is an essential tool for landing retail accounts that I want to give you my top tips for free. If you email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, I'll send you, free of charge, my Top 25 Tips For Success on RangeMe. That's email@example.com. Not listening at your desk? Then DM me with your email address and I'll still send you my Top 25 Tips For Success on RangeMe for free.
[00:40:04] Georgiana Dearing: Thanks for listening. And if you want to learn more about how to grow your own food brand, then click on Grow My Brand at vafoodie.com. If you're a lover of local food, then be sure to follow us. We are at @vafoodie on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Join the conversation and tell us about your adventures with good food, good people, and good brands.