NuORDER Co-Founder On Digitizing The Ordering Process

Heath Wells

While many observers see the apparel and retail space's evolution as nothing short of turbo-charged, many aspects of it remain archaic. Line sheets, ordering systems, and inventory are slow, paper-heavy, and error-prone in many respects. But NuORDER is looking to change all that with an online showroom system designed to facilitate the interactions of brands and retailers specifically in the apparel industry.

"NuORDER was born to revolutionize the apparel industry," says Co-founder Heath Wells. "We took the same notion of how e-commerce has revolutionized consumer buying and applied this to wholesale. NuORDER takes the entire wholesales process online. In short, NuORDER is e-commerce for wholesale."

NuORDER allows brands and retailers to view each others stock and ensure their inventory levels meet demand without using a single piece of paper.

While it planted its roots in high fashion, NuORDER is making a major push in action sports and has signed on a wealth of brands such as Hurley, KR3W, Supra, and Levi’s and retailers are also beginning to reap the benefits.

Here’s a look at how the NuORDER system looks and works:

“The industry has been in great need of a service like NuORDER. It dramatically improves how the brand and the retailer conduct core wholesale operations” said Aaron Pai, Huntington Surf & Sport. “NuORDER has developed a platform that not only makes finding and purchasing goods easier but saves valuable time. It is a win/win for the brand and the retailer and should be a part of every operation going forward.”

While one of the first reactions to the system is that it could undermine the utility of both reps and trade shows alike, Wells and his group are eager to point out that it is really a tool to make all the current players more efficient. NuORDER has even partnered with Agenda.

"NuORDER is a perfect partner for AGENDA," says the trade show's president, Aaron Levant. "Innovation is what our customers expect and that’s what NuORDER brings to the table. One of Agenda’s main goals is to make our show paperless. NuORDER will help us achieve this goal by getting rid of physical catalogs, line sheets, and order forms.”

We caught up with Wells in late December via email to learn more about NuORDER's nuances and his plan to do nothing short of change the entire apparel game.

What is the overarching goal of NuORDER?

Its mission is simple: eliminate pen and paper, while driving more sales for brands and allowing retailers to buy more effectively. It is a two-way platform so both the brand and retailer can create orders, custom line sheets, view product catalogs and inventory. NuORDER also has an exclusive marketplace for prospecting retailers and brands.

Why do you think this system will work well for action sports retailers and brands?

Action sports brands and retailers are just like any other apparel business--they are under strain to improve their bottom line. We allow brands to sell more with less. We allow retailers to make their buying more efficient and ensure their store is stocked with the key selling styles, that work for everyone.

Think of this--if a consumer walks out a store with a size medium top from Hurley and this is a best-selling unit, then the retailer at that instant can reorder [through NuORDER], both benefiting the store and the brand.

Action sports brands typically have great imagery and brand presentations including video and content. We allow them to combine this content with commerce and move beyond the typical printed catalog.

Finally, many Actions Sports brands note the environmental benefit of moving wholesale online. In summary, Action sports is a key area for us as we know that the brands and retailers are both wanting and needing a solution like ours.

How does NuORDER track inventory and stay updated with brands’ new lines?

Brands can update information such as inventory via drag n' drop (inventory report) or automatically via feed from their back of house system. We can fully integrate with a brand's existing systems allowing for the automatic flow of data [including] product updates, inventory, orders, etc..

Specifically, regarding inventory, units are deducted as orders are placed ensuring close to real-time values. This allows the rep to sell to a retailer with confidence and avoid the all too familiar problem of overselling or stock-outs.

What are the costs and time commitments for brands? How do you measure ROI for your clients?

The costs are based on the number of users and features needed. We have packages for smaller brands and can scale to a customized package for enterprise clients. The costs are far outweighed by the benefits realized.

ROI is simple…. We help brands sell more in less time. We dramatically help retailers buy more effectively and connect with new brands in the process.

If you ask most brand owners what their top priority is--sales and costs are in the top few responses. This is exactly where we operate and create amazing results for our customers.

We commissioned independent research and the following was reported:

  • 17.6 percent increase in sales due to increased SKU count on order
  • 85 percent time saving when sending image line sheets (custom to client)
  • 3 times faster order entry
  • 5 times order accuracy

When a customer looks at the cost of our system compared to the benefit, it is completely one sided in favor of NuORDER.

How do retailers enroll? Is there a cost for them?

Retailers are either invited by the brand or we invite them through our own research. Retailers are free and there is no cost to them. It is a private network, thus access must be granted to the retailer by the brand.

The key point here is that retailers can now conduct wholesale with all their brands via our platform. With a click they can switch between brands making it easy for the retailer to validate new buys or reorder in seconds.

How are you developing your directory of retailers? How many are currently in it?

We currently have 45,000 retailers. We add new retailers through our own research. We have multiple people internally researching stores across the country and gathering their info and providing them with marketplace access to connect with brands. Brands also add retailers through their own invitations, but these retailers remain private to the brand [and are] not shared with other brands.

You guys have an astounding number of retailers on board. How many action sports retailers have signed on?

It is too hard to estimate as many stores in the middle of the country carry brands that cross into action sports, but it would be safe to say in excess of 7,000 are action sports related. There is no question we are just scratching the surface.

You come from the fashion industry, but to be effective across action sports, adding hardgoods seems like the next step. Are you doing anything on that front? What differences do you see between those markets?

Absolutely. Hardgoods are ideal for our solution. In fact, they are easier to wholesale online compared to softgoods. Denim, dresses, etc. require fit and often touch.

We are already talking with a number of hardgood manufactures and consider it a focus as we move into action sports.

How can NuORDER augment trade shows and make reps’ visits to shops more effective?

This is a key benefit of our solution. At the trade show, the rep can take buyer notes in seconds and send this recap to the store. Orders can be processed accurately in 300 percent less time. This means more time building relationships and less time doing busy work. If you are a retailer you don’t have to carry 100 catalogs with scribbled notes. You can now review your buys via the emailed PDFs or jump online and see it through the solution.

Reps' store visits are greatly improved. I was with a brand the other day and they were in-store checking stock levels. With our solution they can place a proposed reorder for that store while they are there. They have the confidence that the item is in stock and can be shipped immediately.

Another example is the rep doesn’t need to carry every sample. They can focus the retailer on key styles, but also give the retailer the opportunity to explore further as needed.

How does the product recommendation feature work?

Very simply--this allows a rep to create a retailer-specific presentation. A rep or retailer can use it to highlight key styles at a trade show or it can be used any other time to help suggest styles for a retailer.

Retailers love the ability to see the styles they are considering buying and then merchandise these via drag n drop. adidas, who is a client of ours, does this via touch screen in their booth! It is very cool, just like Minority Report.

You claim that NuORDER helps brands get new accounts and increase orders. Explain that.

Brands can open new accounts in a snap now.

Instead of trying to describe styles and spending hours mailing catalogs, custom photo packages, etc., the brand can now make a call, introduce themselves, and send a username and password to the retailer. While the rep has the retailer's attention, the retailer can now easily validate product, brand imagery, and best sellers.

Brands can increase business easily with existing stores by now giving their reps more time to sell along with giving them the tools to up-sell. For example, reps can now send a targeted best-seller presentation to a store weekly in a few clicks. Selling now becomes proactive.

There are other products like this, what sets NuORDER apart from them?

Although cliché, we sit in a class of our own (functionality, interface, training / support, technology and scalability). Our customers know that, and anyone who stacks us up against the competition sees it first-hand too.

We offer the most functionality wrapped in a beautiful interface. We offer a two-way solution plus a marketplace. Our solution is cloud-based, plus we have an offline iPad option--this allows a brand rep to create line-sheets, forecasts, or official orders anywhere without any internet.

We can scale to multi-currency, multi-teams--showrooms and distributors) and can integrate with your back of house and inventory system.

There are a few players trying to do what we do, but they each have missed key areas--e.g. requiring a separate login per brand, no marketplace, clunky integrations, no offline iPad, etc..