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NRF Conversations – Sue Welch of TradeStone Software

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In the eighth in our continuing series of exclusive vendor interviews from NRF 2013, our Editor talks to Sue Welch, CEO of TradeStone Software about the company’s approach to mobile applications and their strategy for the coming year.

Ben Hanson: As officially the busiest ever held (attracting some 27,000 attendees), how has this year’s NRF show been for you?

Sue Welch:  Phenomenal.  Yesterday alone we had more than thirty meetings, so it’s been great for us.

BH: And how was the 2012 calendar year for TradeStone?

SW: The last twelve months have been our best ever.  We’ve seen double-digit growth, all driven by our MLM solution and Bamboo Rose.

BH: Being present at a show like NRF must give you some insight into upcoming trends; what areas are TradeStone focusing on for the coming year?

SW: Continue what we’re doing, which involves a lot of work on omni-channel on the supply chain side, alongside wholesale work.  These really are the two big things for us.  We see a lot of retailers turning into wholesalers, and we’ve been working closely with manufacturers.  So, if you look at Bamboo Rose, which is a public exchange, we’re now beginning to build up the private exchange and the private community within that.

BH: And mobile, obviously, is a significant touchstone of most vendors’ strategies for 2013 and beyond.

SW:  Absolutely, but mobile, for me, is one of those things that you just have to do.  Asking somebody what their mobile strategy is like asking them about their telephone strategy.

BH: But there’s a danger there of having a mobile app just for the sake of having a mobile app – just to check that off on the feature list – isn’t there?  Whereas there are other people who have built mobile applications around specific use case scenarios.

SW:  We built every aspect of our solutions to be mobile capable, so that we don’t now need to go back and ask ourselves what our mobile strategy is, or to force one onto a framework that wasn’t designed for it.  Now, Bamboo Rose is purely SaaS-based and purely mobile, which means that retailers are able to access supplier showrooms through mobile applications, for example – because we built it that way.

[quote]When you have the one platform and the one source of data, your delivery method for that information really becomes ancillary to that.[/quote]

BH: If you’re able to tap into accurate, contemporaneous information wherever you are, then that’s really the essence of product lifecycle management, for me.

SW: Exactly.  When you have the one platform and the one source of data, your delivery method for that information really becomes ancillary to that.  Visitors to shows like NRF might see a lot of applications that look terrific but are actually quite isolated, with nothing behind them.  Whereas my personal opinion is that if you start with a mobile strategy, you’ve built something very, very light and something that can’t go particularly deep.  If you’ve built a deeper framework, though, and accepted that mobile is just another way to deliver it, then you’ve built something strong and future-proof.

Ben Hanson Ben Hanson is one of WhichPLM’s top contributors. Ben has worked for magazines, newspapers, local government agencies, multi-million pound conservation projects, museums and creative publications before his eventual migration to the Retail, Footwear and Apparel industry.Having previously served as WhichPLM’s Editor, Ben knows the WhichPLM style, and has been responsible for many of our on-the-ground reports and interviews over the last few years. With a background in literature, marketing and communications, Ben has more than a decade’s worth of experience, and is now viewed as one of the industry’s best-known writers.