Bulletin: How This Company Helps Brands Expand Offline Distribution

By Annie Baker ● July 18, 2019

Bulletin founders Alana Branston and Ali Kriegsman

  • Bulletin — a retail technology company that makes it easier for brands to expand brick-and-mortar sales — announced it closed $7 million in Series A funding

Retail technology company Bulletin makes it easier for brands to expand into brick-and-mortar sales. Recently, Bulletin announced it closed $7 million in Series A funding led by Foundation Capital. Kleiner Perkins, Trail Mix Ventures, and Afore Capital also joined the round.

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Bulletin was founded by CEO Alana Branston and COO Ali Kriegsman. Prior to launching Bulletin, Branston and Kriegsman were sales executives at Contently. And since they launched Bulletin in 2015, the company has helped hundreds of brands access physical retail space for the first time thus unlocking one of the most powerful commerce channels at their disposal. Plus Bulletin has met brand demand by opening its own physical retail stores.

It has become much easier to start digital brands through platforms such as Etsy, Shopify, and Squarespace, but accessing physical shelf space is still a cumbersome, pricey, and time-consuming hurdle for most brands. In order to connect with buyers, brands have to pay thousands for tradeshow booths, hire showrooms, and pay substantial commissions to wholesale reps. 

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Now Bulletin is evolving its service and it is planning to use the new capital to help brands optimize and increase their distribution across retail stores nationwide. This round of funding will also help refine and expand Bulletin’s custom assortment-as-a-service program — which utilizes data science and data-driven insights to help retailers make smarter buying decisions. And Bulletin community manager Rachel Hodes wrote that with this new round of funding, Bulletin is planning to launch a platform-enabled solution for brands looking for new stockists and retailers looking to seamlessly source new inventory.

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Foundation Capital partner Jonathan Ehrlich pointed out that these options are outdated and unnecessary given the efficiency and effectiveness of platform-based solutions. “As digital marketing becomes more expensive and convoluted, brands are looking for a more agile, affordable way to access physical retail space to generate sales and build brand awareness,” said Ehrlich. “With the right blend of data science and human merchandising, this type of platform not only offers increased distribution for these brands but the right distribution to increase and maintain sales.”

Bulletin saw this rapid demand first-hand. By the middle of 2018, Bulletin amassed a waitlist of over 3,000 brands looking to access shelf space. Since Bulletin was unable to accommodate such a high volume of brands in its own spaces, the company started building a marketplace that matches the most modern and relevant brands with buyers looking to source new product for their stores.

“With this evolution and new financing, we are now able to serve the millions of digitally native brands that are struggling to find affordable, sustainable solutions for omni-channel growth,” explained Branston. “In testing this marketplace model last year, we were absolutely blown away by the early traction and demand from both retailers and brands. It’s been really gratifying to see how this new product has increased retailers’ sell-through while giving brands the brick-and-mortar exposure they need to engage their existing d2c customers, acquire new ones and learn about product performance across various stores and environments.”

The matchmaking process is driven by various data inputs like the store’s historical sales data, social media data, and current best-sellers. And in many cases, satisfied retailers have turned to Bulletin for even more support, ranging from visual merchandising guidance, to fixture suggestions, and pricing strategies. And with the capital infusion from the investors, Bulletin is now poised to further productize these services and become a trusted retail partner to brands and buyers alike.