Venzee Technologies (VENZ:TSXv) opened 2019 with several channel partner integration announcements. With 34 partners in discussion to utilize its technology, Venzee has recently signed its fourth partner agreement since launching their partner program in 2018. We recently spent a few minutes with John Abrams - a supply chain veteran and head of partner development for Venzee - to talk about what's driving partner interest at Venzee and what it signals about today's rapidly changing retail industry.
By way of background, Venzee is a SaaS-based alternative to traditional, highly regimented, point to point, "data pool" or product content syndication solutions. Leveraging a "connect to everything" approach, Venzee is the most advanced option for automating the distribution of consumer-relevant product information. Venzee’s intelligent workflow technology complements and extends the functional utility for in-place Content Management Systems, ERPs and similar enterprise tools without the "rip and replace" challenge of integrating older or less flexible retail-focused solutions.
Arlen Hansen: Let me get right to it John, what is attracting partners to Venzee?
John Abrams: Frankly, the consumer-driven digital revolution has caught up with retail trade. Consumers are continuing to increase their online shopping and are demanding accurate content on the products they shop for. As a result, brands that can't move fast enough to deliver relevant product information to today's demanding consumer find their market share evaporating. Quickly.
The pressure is on brands, manufacturers, and retailers to rapidly provide useful, accurate, and engaging digital content to the consumer through every sales and distribution channel, all the time, forever. Having incorrect content can lead to increased product returns, lower search rankings, lower sales and missed opportunities to build customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
If a brand or retailer can't build a digital content connection with the consumer, they're in trouble. The old ways of sharing content - a handful of people sending somewhat accurate spreadsheets to a handful of retailers - just can't scale. Venzee does. We bypass costly, inefficient manual processes, connect to a brand's content management system, and automate the movement of digital content, anywhere, all the time, forever.
Our partners - those we've announced and those still testing our tech - are solution providers that understand how our unique approach benefits retail trade. They seek out our products as a means to quickly move content from brands and manufacturers to retailers, marketplaces, and demanding consumers.
AH: But if Venzee improves content distribution for brands, manufacturers and retailers, don't you end up competing directly with those who partner with you?
JA: Not at all. We partner with technical companies broadly referred to as "Content Management Systems". Our partners provide technical solutions that allow a brand, manufacturer, or retailer to manage and organize a myriad of details about a product. These details include physical properties (weight, shape, size, color, etc.), languages, regulatory, global trade, and other product data management challenges. Our role at Venzee is to extend the utility of these systems - seamlessly connect them to their trade partners - allowing rapid, accurate, distribution of all that information to an endless range of distribution and retail destinations.
To say it simply, our partners are great at organizing a lot of content attributes - Venzee is great at moving all that content to any destination. These are very different functions and require different technical competencies but that blend well together in our partner program.
Our partners are deeply entrenched in retail and provide Venzee a distribution network to reach hundreds of thousands of clients globally and improve content distribution across retail trade.
AH: Ok, I get it, but isn't "content syndication" something that standards-based data pools solved decades ago?
JA: Good question but sort of like suggesting the covered wagon solved for the challenges of distributing physical goods. Times change and needs change. But, let me give credit where credit is due. In 1974 a number of innovative organizations came together to prove that with a machine-readable barcode and access to an organized data structure, the process of grocery check-out could be made more efficient. And, in June 1974, at Marsh’s Grocery in Troy, Ohio a pack of Wrigley gum was accurately scanned at check-out. Amazing stuff. Innovative. Transformational.
But we're in a different world today. That pack of Wrigley gum sits in the Smithsonian and Marsh's went bankrupt in 2017. Yet the organization - and the data structures supporting that transaction some 50 years ago - still persist today in the form of a standards-based database that needs to "synchronize" globally on a nightly basis. Brands, manufacturers, and retailers reliant on that sort of outmoded technology (and there are tens of thousands) are now challenged - and candidly, failing - to provide the type of rich, engaging, actionable data today's consumer demands.
Venzee was built in an era of cloud databases that persist globally with no need to "synchronize." We are API - which is code for “easy to connect with” - on inbound and outbound transactions. And, we leverage deep learning and other advanced tech to recognize, communicate, and resolve anomalies across the whole of the content distribution system.
AH: Impressive. But what does that mean for growth at Venzee?
JA: There are significant implications. Our goal for 2019 is to continue to grow our partner relationships and improve their clients content distribution. We are in the process of integration with our announced partners and expect those to go live.
And, while I don't have a crystal ball, I can tell you that our partner discussions and current engagements all tell us the content distribution pain Venzee eliminates is a critical challenge their clients need resolved to remain competitive.
If that is true - and I believe it is - then Venzee, as a modern, pure-play content distribution solution, is well positioned to facilitate the digital connection between brands, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers on a global scale. I don't exactly know how to assign a value to that statement, but if the choice for a brand or retailer today is between tech in the Smithsonian or Venzee, Venzee wins every time.
AH: Many thanks for your time John,
Please don't hesitate to reach out to me with any further questions or comments.
Arlen Hansen, President, Kin Communications Inc.