Knowledge Sharing in Retail & Wholesale

At MerchantFuse we interact with two very distinct worlds on a daily basis: retail/wholesale and startups.  As we market our product, we interact with hundreds of retail and wholesale companies both small and large.  As a technology startup working in New York City, we interact with startups and participate in a vibrant startup community.  One of the biggest differences between these two worlds is the presence of knowledge sharing.  In the startup world there are countless websites, blogs, newsletters, groups, and other resources that offer valuable and reliable information.  Meanwhile, retail and wholesale operate on the opposite end of this spectrum.  Industry associations and conferences serve a valuable role, but they do not utilize the internet as effectively as they could.  Most prominent online resources focus on B2C retail, and largely ignore the B2B side.  This means that it is difficult for companies to learn best practices, and that too many make mistakes that could be avoided.  With better knowledge sharing in retail and wholesale, the industry will operate much more efficiently.

The power and potential value of knowledge sharing is amazing.  In the startup world, when a founder or company faces an issue, they can likely access great insight and perspective on it for free.  Networks like Stack Exchange and Quora are powerful resources.  If information on a specific question or issue is not available, one can ask a new question, and the answers, which get ranked based on user voting, will always be available for future inquirers.  Conversely, in retail or wholesale, some companies prefer not to share information for fear that competitors will benefit.  This is an unfortunate mindset; everyone can benefit from the existence of an open and sharing community.

A consequence of the lack of knowledge sharing in retail is that there is an extreme lack of coordination in the business.  The way that partner, product, and ordering information is stored and communicated varies with every retail and wholesale company.  Many businesses that might otherwise appear similar have vastly different expectations with regards to communication and transparency.  Greater knowledge sharing would allow for  much more efficient coordination, making life much easier for everyone in the business.

One of our goals at MerchantFuse is to demonstrate the value of greater knowledge sharing for retail and wholesale.  We plan to add a section to this blog that will serve as a dynamic knowledge base for industry specific questions and issues.  We would love to hear from readers about specific topics that are of interest (leave a comment or email me at [email protected]).  Some examples are: What is MAP pricing and what are the potential issues around it? What are standards for eco-friendly and what do they mean? To build the repository we will research issues ourselves, as well as leverage the knowledge of our community.  If you have a specific area of expertise and you would like to contribute to this knowledge base, please let me know.

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