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Product portal for independent retailers


Small retailers face the constant challenge of finding new and innovative products to sell as they compete with the big-box heavyweights. A new search portal from Initiate Commerce aims to make the process easier with a streamlined way to access the wares of more than 40,000 wholesale suppliers and distributors. Launched about a year ago, Albany, NY-based ProductBlazer scours the web for qualified wholesale suppliers of interesting and innovative products. It then indexes the websites and product catalogues of these suppliers, filtering out blogs, articles and other content that can clutter up traditional search-engine results. Retail users of the free service who search on particular product terms get a list of relevant suppliers in return; they also get tools to manage saved lists of suppliers, allowing them to organize their research by category and keywords. Research is stored securely in the ProductBlazer portal itself, making it retrievable from anywhere on the internet. For suppliers, a basic listing in the portal is also free, but premium search placement and advertising services are available for a fee. For retailers of gift products, Initiate also operates, which is powered by the ProductBlazer engine as well. Erik Morton, Initiate’s cofounder and COO, explains: “ProductBlazer allows small, local retailers to play to their strengths. They know their customers intimately, and know they want interesting and innovative products that you won’t find at Target.” We’re not sure that ProductBlazer’s approach of generating supplier lists—rather than specific product descriptions and images—is the right one, since it forces retailers to take the next step and investigate the suppliers’ websites themselves, leaving them to do most of the work. But there’s no doubt that opportunities exist for services that can connect independent, brick & mortar retailers with the massive new wave of creative people selling their unique wares on websites like Etsy. Revenues through advertising or referral fees await those who can successfully find and curate the most interesting products out there; might that be you…? Spotted by: Cecilia Biemann



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