A year on from our last visit to Brandbank’s state-of-the-art warehouse and studio in North County Dublin, Checkout chats to Natalie Sheridan, head of retail, and Fergal Mahon, national account manager, about the business’ continuing growth and latest expansion drive.
Founded in 1998, Brandbank is arguably the leading supplier of high-quality imagery and data to the online retail channel in Europe, with operations in the UK, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and, since early 2011, Ireland. Checkout visited Brandbank’s Irish HQ back in October of last year, to discover a business eager to simplify the process for grocers seeking to gain an online foothold.
Just over a year on, the Brandbank approach has been expanded to offer an even more comprehensive service, giving Irish suppliers and retailers specialised support for offline promotional activity as well as online selling. In particular, Brandbank has brought on stream a promotional library that makes it easier for suppliers to participate in print promotions with multiple retailers.
“It makes things a lot more simple for the supplier, enabling them to gather their promotional data and information in one place and make it easily available to all their retailers,” says Fergal Mahon, national account manager for Ireland. “We are now working with marketing as well as buyer teams at retailers, and that has led us to widen the scope of services we offer to suppliers here in Ireland. Retailers planning a print promotion know they can go to the promotional library to get their hands on the very latest images and product data from suppliers. That means we can offer suppliers a whole new set of benefits.”
Retailers using the Brandbank service now include Tesco, BWG Foods, Musgrave Marketplace, Musgrave Retail Partners Ireland, The Barry Group, Budgens, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, the Co-op and Nisa. A spin-off benefit is that Irish suppliers looking to sell in the UK can use the same service to help drive their export business.
As Natalie Sheridan, head of retail for Ireland, explains, the list of retailers using the Brandbank service has dramatically expanded in the last 12 months. “The service is being used not just by e-commerce players, but by a range of retailers who are not yet online but who want to support their promotional process in a more cost-effective way. Suppliers now realise that the images and data on the Brandbank system are distributed to a very broad range of retailers here in Ireland. The pay-off is that suppliers to these retailers can be confident about not missing out on promotions on handbills, adverts and magazines.”
The promotional library adds an extra level of interactivity to the Brandbank offering, enabling suppliers and retailers to build a specific database around certain events or promotional periods. Retailers can then access said images and data quickly and easily and utilise them in handbills, in-store leaflets and POS displays.
“It’s very much about meeting the needs of the domestic market,” says Sheridan. “Handbills, for example, are used much more extensively in Ireland than in other European markets. We have increasingly tailored our service to meet the needs and aspirations of Irish suppliers. Before, we were essentially dealing with retailers that were looking to grow their online offering. Now, we have a far greater reach, and that makes for an even more compelling proposition for suppliers. It means a supplier can supply a single product sample to Brandbank and know that their data and images will be quickly and easily available for retailers, both online and offline.”
Supplying both data and images for online platforms remains core to the Brandbank offering, and with online retailing reaching never-before-seen levels in this country, consumers are increasingly demanding more transparency about the goods they purchase. “When you go online to buy a product, you have to be able to see what you’re buying,” says Fergal Mahon, “and if you have any questions about nutritional content, or any allergies you might have, you will want that information as well. That’s where we come in, with high-quality product data.”
By standardising the way products are captured and data is processed, Brandbank ensures that a retailer’s requirements when it comes to how a product is presented are not only met, but optimised. “If you’re a retailer like Tesco, you don’t want to have your buying team on the phone chasing suppliers for images. That’s one of the key efficiencies we can deliver.”
Brandbank is also well prepared for the introduction of new European Union regulations covering ‘distance selling’, which come into effect in 2014. Although these changes may not be on the radar screen for suppliers in Ireland just yet, Brandbank is already thinking ahead.
Under the regulations, which impact any company selling food or drink products online in the EU, it is now mandatory for suppliers to provide a comprehensive databank of information for online consumers, which must be displayed for consumers prior to purchase – all aspects that are already built into existing Brandbank procedures. “It’s all there: nutritional information, allergy information, product weight – that all comes as standard,” says Mahon. “In the past, [EU regulations] like these could have proved chaotic for retailers, but those that have used our service find it ticks all the boxes. As one supplier actually said to us recently, ‘This is exactly what I need.’ It’s a win-win for both retailers and suppliers.”
For more information, visit www.brandbank.ie