Amber Engine revs up new Internet portals for buyers and sellers of home furnishings
April 27, 2015 11:57 AM
Amber Engine LLC is about to launch two Internet portals designed to help home furnishings suppliers and retailers buy and sell, CEO Morgan Woodruff says.
Manufacturers will be able to use the Channel Manager portal to store, update and distribute their product data to business buyers, including retailers selling through bricks-and-mortar stores or e-marketplaces, including Amazon.com, home-furnishings site Wayfair.com. The Discover portal lets buyers access listings of home furnishings and décor products, and to purchase them online from manufacturers.
“If you think about the way that the Amazon marketplace works or Wayfair, the manufacturer has to sit down at their laptop, fill out a spreadsheet with data, and then upload the data to the online marketplace and cross their fingers that the dimensions in row D for product XYZ in color beige all wind up on the right product page looking the way they know it should look,” Woodruff says. “The Amber Engine Channel Manager portal automatically takes that data to the buyer at Amazon or Wayfair.”
Amber Engine is targeting small manufacturers and distributors that generate between $300,000 and $15 million in revenue per year, Woodruff says. The platform enables suppliers to update pricing and product information anytime from laptops, desktops or iPads, helping to ensure they get the quickest sale at the best price for their armoire or sofa, Woodruff says.
“Amber Engine is a place for sellers to go that manages the costs in real time—online, rather than manually by spreadsheets,” says Woodruff. Sellers, for example, can set business rules to automatically increase prices when products are selling well, and drop them when sales are slow. “Say a dining room table is pretty unique and it’s doing well,” he says. “You can mark it up 50% automatically through the portal.”
Detroit-based Amber Engine took a year to develop the portals with in-house staff, and has been testing them in beta mode with six mid-sized sellers for the past year, Woodruff says. He declines to disclose how much the portals cost to develop, but says Amber Engine has financing from venture capital firm Rock Ventures LLC. He declines to specify the amount of financing.
Amber Engine plans to market itself through advertising on Google, social media and other online services. Woodruff says that Amber Engine will most likely offer its portal services as a monthly service that buyers and suppliers subscribe to online. Prices for using the portals were not yet available. To handle an expected increase in business, Woodruff says the company plans to increase its number of employees within a year to about 30 from 15 today.
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