8. November 2022 | Interview, Leading Voices, Retail Marketing, What´s new in Retail

Start-up platform opens the door for retail newcomers

by Julia Pott (exclusively for EuroShop.mag)

Together with over 200 renowned commercial establishments such as Kaufland, Rossmann, dm, Globus, Bünting or Müller, the retail group Markant aims to pave the way for new, innovative products and food trends to get into retail store shelves. This prompted the retail partners to launch the “voilà! – Startup Arena”.

The platform gives startup founders the chance to – initially – present their ideas online in a quick, easy, and free fashion. It allows them to reach decision-makers of Markant retail partners directly. The latter represent sales of 83 billion euros in over 6,800 retail outlets, guaranteeing reach, a high profile and attention beyond Germany’s borders. It’s a springboard for start-ups to bring their products to market.

Innovative product ideas in competition

Retail, in turn, benefits from the ability of start-ups to deliver solutions to meet customer needs quickly. The sector gains favor with consumers thanks to trendy products with choices that stand out from the crowd, thus building a competitive advantage.

Start-up arena event at the Markant trade forum; Copyright: Markant

Start-up arena event at the Markant trade forum in Karlsruhe. // © Markant

Start-up entrepreneurs vie for a presentation slot by submitting their ideas along with information and photos. This is followed by a multi-day voting process, in which the retail companies act as a jury and rate the new products by giving a “like”. The start-ups with the most likes move on to the subsequent exclusive pitch to showcase their concept.

Products run the gamut: the jury has seen pitches for beeswax wraps, caffeine energy bars, baked goods, vegan chocolate, organic energy tea, meal replacement drinks, feel good foods, juice and soup cleanses, jam in tube format and many more. If the retailers like the idea, they start negotiations to get the respective product on their store shelves. Some start-ups might get a wildcard for the next Markant trade forum in Karlsruhe to also showcase their brand to visitors at this venue.

Start-Up Arena voilà! – A conversation with Alois Bauer from Markant

EuroShop.mag spoke to Alois Bauer, National Head of Buying, Food/Drugstore Products at Markant, about the opportunities voilà! offers to all parties involved.

Mr. Bauer, what challenges do retailers face today?

Alois Bauer; Copyright: Markant

Alois Bauer is National Head of Buying, Food/Drugstore at Markant. // © Markant

Alois Bauer: Ensuring consistent product availability is a top priority in today’s market. The continued global economic uncertainty, which also drives consumer behavior makes assortment planning and management a major challenge.

Markant with its retail network and access to the decision-makers in retail procurement of the top players in the food retail and drugstore landscape – pertaining to food and non-food products – is unique in this setting. Its “voilà! – the Start-Up Arena” platform provides an important foundation for start-ups to build and expand their business.

How do retailers like Kaufland benefit from participating in the voilà! infrastructure?

Alois Bauer: Voila! – the Start-Up Arena offers retailers a platform that presents start-ups for the retail sector in a packaged, structured, and verified manner. Organized by Markant, start-ups applying to pitch their idea and retailers casting their vote puts retail purchasing managers in direct contact with the budding entrepreneurs.

How does your concept benefit start-up entrepreneurs?

Alois Bauer: Our Start-Up Arena gives start-ups the opportunity to make exclusive pitches to the top decision-makers of Markant’s major retail partners. This chance to address these agents and retailers in an event is unique and only available in this forum.

How does this benefit Markant?

Alois Bauer: It is important for Markant to keep its finger on the pulse and always stay on top of the latest trends to benefit its retail partners and promote POS diversification.

How exactly do start-ups and companies come together up to the point where the start-up product ends up on the shelf?

Alois Bauer: There are different ways contact is established. In most cases, this happens during and after the live pitches. The start-ups are often contacted by the retailers’ respective buyers to discuss a possible collaboration. The retailers’ buying agents also have direct access to the voilà! platform and the entire portfolio of currently over 600 registered start-ups, allowing the former to contact the latter directly. In both cases voilà! provides the platform and foundation that facilitates contact and collaboration options. The negotiations between start-up and retailer are bilateral. The Markant Group comes into play within the framework of the Central Settlement and as it pertains to service provision.

How do you reach start-up entrepreneurs to encourage them to showcase their products via the voilà! platform?

Alois Bauer: We utilize our LinkedIn and Instagram channels and approach people directly at trade fairs, conventions, and panel discussions. We always recommend visiting our new and highly informative website. We also receive many applications through recommendations from start-ups that have made a pitch to us in the past.

How many applications have you received since the launch of the platform?

Alois Bauer: Currently, over 1,200 start-ups have registered on the voilà! platform. Some have already become a popular fixture on many retail shelves.

For more information, visit: www.voila-startups.com.

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