Advantia Launches Their Exclusive Merlin Marketplace E-commerce Platform To Members and Suppliers

Advantia Launches Their Exclusive Merlin Marketplace E-commerce Platform To Members and Suppliers

Advantia launched their new e-commerce platform at their recent conference and the message to their members and suppliers was clear.  Buyers are now shifting to buying online and Advantia has the platform for members and suppliers to sell extended ranges of office products and non-office products and it is ready to use, right now.

Addressing the Conference, Advantia’s Operations Director, Beck Miller opened by saying to both members and suppliers “With the launch of Merlin Marketplace, Advantia has recognised that the marketing you require is changing.  There is still a need for the core marketing but the real emphasis going forward from 2017 will be on digital marketing.”

Advantia had reviewed e-commerce platforms already available in the office products space but decided that none measured up to their members’ requirements both now and for the future.  So, last year Advantia bought a 50% share of the digital marketing agency, Comgem.  Working with Advantia and some of their members, Comgem has created Advantia’s e-commerce site Merlin Marketplace which is exclusive to Advantia members and the technology is owned by Advantia.  

Recent research shows that 73% of office supplies buyers use online as their principal product search with just 11% now using catalogues.  This highlights the importance of dealers providing a good quality merchandised e-commerce offering driven by the highest quality data.

Advantia will be driving customers to their members’ e-commerce stores through SEO, using social media content and creating digital marketing campaigns that will be sent direct to members’ customers via Merlin Marketplace.  Using gap analysis and other metrics members will have their marketing campaigns targeted at specific customers. These campaigns together with all product data will be managed centrally by the team at Advantia head office.

A selected number of supplier partners were invited to the launch to see how they can feature products on the platform.  Suppliers will also be able to market to end users via banners, featured products and featured brands.   Beck Miller told suppliers “We can guarantee that your marketing will be seen by all the customers of Advantia dealers and we believe no other dealer group can say this.  Advantia members can for example, add their own bespoke banners, but these will be in addition to the Group banners, not instead of.” Suppliers will also benefit from seeing the return on their investment on marketing through statistics provided by Merlin Marketplace. 

Advantia’s members were told that Merlin Marketplace can be customised to reflect their individual branding and with over 700 optional settings the site can be configured to suit their individual business needs.  But, to make the transition to Merlin straight-forward the site will be pre-configured for them.

Following a high level demonstration of Merlin Marketplace the conference continued with members choosing to either take part in workshops from Newell Brands and Kays Medical or attend a Technical Merlin Marketplace workshop.  All workshops were well attended, but in the Technical workshop there was standing-room only owing to the level of interest from Advantia members in taking up Merlin as a sales and marketing tool!

During the early development of Merlin, Advantia opted to change the name to Merlin Marketplace because they see the site as offering far more than office supplies and are already working with suppliers with products and services from outside mainstream office products. 

Advantia presented detailed information and predictions in light of the forthcoming launch of Amazon Business in the UK and the steps, including the launch of Merlin Marketplace, that Advantia is taking to positively help their members counter this threat that will undoubtedly be looking to take market share from dealers.

The keynote speaker at the event was Harry Wallop, former retail editor of The Daily Telegraph, presenter of three of the most watched Channel 4’s Dispatches programmes and a weekly slot on The Gadget Show.  Harry gave an insightful, entertaining and inspiring look at how technology, convenience and frixionless shopping is influencing the buying habits of consumers in the UK, and how this is likely to develop in the future.

Advantia had planned their conference to allow maximum time for their members and suppliers to learn about Merlin Marketplace from Advantia’s team, Comgem and Advantia’s dedicated Merlin Consultant who is helping members to get on to the platform on a one to one basis.

The conference ended with a fun-filled themed evening where the delegates entered the misty and magical world of Merlin.  Entertainment was provided by Merlin the wizard himself and a quiz on i-pads with the winning team receiving £1,000 in shopping vouchers.  Well done to Advantia members Mark Collin of Smart Business Supplies, William Brown and Barry Marshall of Asdon Group, Kevin Rhead of Hussey Knights, Paul Butterfield of Probyns Stationery & Office Products and suppliers Andrew Rana of Bisilque, Richard Monk of Fellowes and Tim Ingham of Woodstock Leabank.

 

For more information contact:

Beck Miller - Advantia Business Solutions Limited,
64 Albion Court,
Attleborough Road,
Nuneaton, Warwickshire
CV11 4JJ
Tel: 02476 373738      Email: rebecca.miller@advantia.co.uk     

Karen Nicholls - Roar Marketing Limited
102 Loughshaw,
Tamworth,
Staffordshire 
B77 4LZ
Tel: 01827 897 142     Email: karen@roarmarketing.co.uk

 


By Laura at 3 Apr 2017, 14:08 PM