Sample management – from acquisition and storage to replenishment and repetition – can be a hassle for any busy interior designer. Today, a new online platform designed to streamline the process is entering the market. Meet Mercato Place.
Developed by Thoroughbred Fulfillment, a marketing service based in Zeeland, Michigan, the sourcing tool taps into the company’s existing (and vast) pool of partner brands and leverages its deep industry knowledge. “We have a long history in this industry serving furniture companies, retailers, architects and designers,” said Ray Sayers, president of Thoroughbred Fulfillment and founder of Mercato Place. “Distribution partners and furniture companies are actively looking for an alternative channel to send these samples to designers.”
With supplier relationships and compatible distribution channels already in place, it seemed natural for Sayers and his team to take on the challenge. The proximity of the distribution center to some of the biggest players in the industry, namely MillerKnoll and Steelcase and their portfolios of design brands, will certainly be a competitive advantage. “We wanted to follow the niche that we have,” Sayers told AD PRO.
Kravet Contract, Fil Doux, Designtex and HBF Textiles are among the more than 20 brands involved in the official launch. In the portal, designers and architects can access information on textiles and wallcoverings from partner brands. Once users are ready to order samples, they can order from multiple vendors knowing they will deliver everything in one box, saving time and simplifying tracking. Creating a profile and sourcing from Mercato Place is free for design professionals. (However, the site collects information that may be shared with partner brands.)
While demonstrating the portal, Sayers explains that the site is designed “to give the designer as much information as possible” about the products available through Mercato Place. From the categorical listings, users can jump directly to specific products or channel partner landing pages. Contact details for each supplier’s regional sales representative are also readily available.
“You are not being held captive on our site,” Sayers says in reference to the revenue model. By charging no transaction fees (vendors pay for placement on the platform – a price the brand estimates is 40% lower than the rate of competing platforms), Mercato Place invites users to connect with brands as they see fit, whether through the platform or their personal brand contact. Rather, the priority is to offer a top-notch marketing service that connects manufacturers to professionals (and vice versa) through e-marketplace discovery and efficient sample distribution.