RangeMe founder Nicky Jackson is no stranger to success in the US.
In less than a decade, she has taken her software platform from the idea of a hub to the world’s largest product discovery platforms with more than 250,000 suppliers and partnerships, with leading retailers such as Walmart.
In addition to a large presence in the US, RangeMe now operates in the UK and Europe, and Australia.
So how did Jackson achieve this in less than 10 years? Well, we asked her.
Identify a problem
Jackson launched a skincare company focused on helping children with eczema in 2013, inspired by the needs of her own child. But she found that there was a real lack of opportunities for brands to connect with retailers.
“Large retailers relied on existing relationships and outdated processes, making it difficult for innovative smaller brands to get a foot in the door. I realized that if this was an issue for me, it must be a similar issue for other new brands trying to reach out to retailers,” she said.
So she parked her skincare business idea and devoted herself to researching and developing an online platform for retailers to connect with brands and suppliers, launching RangeMe in 2014.
“It was a time when the supermarket landscape was changing – major supermarkets were eager to find new suppliers in response to consumer demand. In 2014, there was nowhere near the range of specialty products we can find in supermarkets today. so both the retailers and the brands were interested in a platform where they could connect with each other,” she says.
RangeMe was launched with major Australian supermarkets and drugstores excited about accessing a market full of innovation, rather than relying on traditional methods such as trade shows to find new products.
As RangeMe grew, Jackson sought investment to scale the business, and US investors were interested in the business model and invited her to visit the US and see the opportunities there firsthand.
“We saw quite quickly that there was an opportunity for RangeMe in the US market, after speaking with retailers there who were also looking for a new way to connect and evaluate new products and suppliers,” she said. .
“So not only was there a need, but there was a huge market – while in Australia we only have a few big supermarket brands, in America there were so many retailers – what they considered ‘small regional retailers’ were the same size as a large retailer here in Australia.”
In 2015, Jackson moved with her family to San Francisco to establish the company in the US. They lived there for three years to grow the team and dominate the US market when it comes to product discovery, with RangeMe now employing more than 200 people worldwide.
A targeted approach
Meetings with major retailers proved fruitful, with Target coming on board as the RangeMe US launch partner, bringing a level of prestige to the RangeMe platform and helping open doors for other major US retailers.
“Target in the US is different from Target Australia – it has a wider product range, with a real focus on innovation, and huge beauty and grocery departments. They were a great launch partner to have as it meant other major retailers were quickly interested , “she said.
Quickly build and scale a profile
Jackson said the right partnerships and trade press coverage helped RangeMe open doors in the US market.
“Promote yourself — it’s important to present yourself, meet the right partners, and pursue PR and media opportunities that bring your business to people’s attention,” she says.
And while RangeMe was successful in Australia, the US market was different, so what worked well here wasn’t necessarily effective there.
“Due to the size of the US market, we had to scale up quickly to saturate the market,” Jackson said.
“While we didn’t have any clear competitors when we launched RangeMe, we knew that could change quickly, and we didn’t have time to take things slow – we had to act while having that competitive advantage.
“In Australia we had taken on 200-300 new suppliers per month, once we expanded to the US this increased to 4000-5000 per month and fast forward to today we have about 10,000 new suppliers per month on board. So large-scale onboarding with minimal friction was essential.”
An innovative market
It wasn’t until they were on the ground in the US that the RangeMe team understood the people and processes they needed.
“We quickly realized that we needed a head of customer success to support our customer growth, and a head of growth and marketing. We also needed automation in our tools and processes so we could onboard suppliers at scale,” she said.
“In Australia, we had no idea what kind of roles we might need in the US – they just weren’t common at the time.”
And while the US market presented several challenges, it also presented huge opportunities.
“The US in general is a market that is really open to innovation and change, and that surprised us. The people there are very open to new ideas and very entrepreneurial in their mindset,” Jackson said.
“It was really encouraging for us, and our decision to expand into the US quickly paid off, thanks to our innovative business approach and the sheer size and scale of the US retail market.”
Jackson said that for all Australian companies looking to crack the international retail market, “RangeMe is a great way to bring your product to the attention of retailers”. It uses a freemium model, so you can start with a free profile and see what opportunities there are. You can find more information at rangeme.com.
Here are Jackson’s top 5 tips for Australian businesses looking to scale in the US.
- Know the market and understand your competitors. What do they do, where are they active, in which markets do they play? Really know who you’re competing with, who’s behind them, and how much money they’ve raised. It’s an expensive exercise, so you have to understand the competition.
- Live and breathe in the market. Understand the US market and invest in mini-trips to understand the opportunities and get a sense of the country’s location.
- Don’t underestimate the cost of relocating a business. For example, the administration fee to become a US entity. This is expensive, and many places require this before investing capital. Building a team and hiring people is also expensive, so be prepared.
- You don’t need to get your business model right in Australia first. Don’t delay a US market launch as you are still perfecting your Australian business model as your business model may change in the new market. If you have a chance and there’s no one in the US doing what you’re doing, act fast – the market potential is incredible.
- Surround yourself with the right people. People who can help you. Having a good network can really help open doors.