TL; DR: Vendasta provides an end-to-end platform to channel partners that sell digital products and software services to SMBs worldwide. Users can leverage Vendasta’s offerings to automate marketing, organize sales, manage client accounts, and bring new solutions to market — all from one interface. It provides local businesses access to the same cutting-edge technology typically reserved for enterprises through a tiered range of service offerings. And Vendasta’s new ecommerce merchant services give its partners direct control over their customer billing processes.
When consumers compare small brands with big brands, the role of trust can be tricky to quantify. Consumers may be apt to trust the big brands that claim to put customer satisfaction first because they have superior resources. But in an era of instantly scalable cloud provisioning and global brand reach, that is no longer necessarily the case.
Vendasta, an end-to-end ecommerce solutions provider, believes that trust can also be central to any SMB’s value proposition. That’s why the company provides channel partners — including broadcasters, independent software vendors, marketing agencies, and publishers, among others — with enterprise-grade cloud tools that help local businesses expand their operations.
SMBs can build robust and scalable value propositions through Vendasta, which leverages trusted partnerships and cutting-edge tech.
Vendasta’s white-label platform allows these channel partners to automate their marketing, organize sales channels, manage client accounts, and take new best-in-class solutions to market quickly — all from a single dashboard. That means a local SMB client can access a dashboard to monitor improvements and manage its digital presence.
“We’re helping local brands win out in a world dominated by global brands, bots, and big marketing budgets,” said Vendasta CEO Brendan King.
Vendasta, based in Saskatchewan, Canada, currently employs more than 400 people, who Brendan described as obsessed with helping local economies. The company plans to add another 100 employees to the team by the end of this year and reach a 650-employee benchmark by the end of 2021. Recently, SMBs have been challenged by the combined effects of an economic downturn and consumers gravitating toward larger brands.
But many consumers and businesses prefer to deal locally for many of their B2B and B2C requirements. According to Vendasta, that’s primarily because they see local businesses as trusted experts and favor their commitment to the region.
And Vendasta boosts the capabilities of those small businesses, helping them stay competitive locally even against the largest enterprises.
Helping SMBs Build Brands with Enterprise-Level Support
Vendasta’s value proposition is straightforward: Its tools can put SMBs on the same level locally as big brands, locally. The platform can help its partners, including software as a service (SaaS) vendors, sell digital solutions to local businesses. Brendan and the Vendasta team believe those local businesses are critical to the fabric of communities and their economies.
“In every town and city around the world, local businesses are getting Starbuck-ed and Amazon-ed and Walmart-ed to death,” Brendan said. “We face an existential threat to the whole local ecosystem. It’s David versus Goliath. We’re dead set on helping keep local businesses strong. That’s because the very future of ‘local’ is at stake.”
When SMBs need help, they often turn to somebody local, a trusted expert, according to Brendan.
“We sell to those trusted experts and provide them with everything they need to sell SaaS solutions to other local businesses. Our ethos is that we don’t want everybody to buy their daily beverage boost from the same big coffee shop chain.”
Brendan said there is probably no product or service that consumers can buy from a big online brand that a local business could not provide at a comparable price. But local SMBs have not had within their reach the right technology, including the sales and marketing tools that Vendasta believes give ecommerce giants their primary advantage.
“We say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if local businesses could get access to the same cutting-edge technology that could help them grow?’” said Brendan. “We believe that they can do that with Vendasta and its partners’ help.”
Tiered Packages Help Clients Grow at Their Own Pace
Clients can choose from a tiered range of Vendasta options. The company offers four Product Brand packages billed at different levels depending on the size of an operation.
“Product Brands are how people find and sell a partner product in the Vendasta Marketplace,” Brendan said. “Partners purchase a subscription to the Vendasta platform, build their online digital store, and run email marketing campaigns.”
Packages range from the entry-level Startup for new businesses looking to acquire or retain clients to Essentials, which helps companies looking to establish themselves as local experts.
At the high end, its Scale offering is an end-to-end commerce platform. Vendasta recently introduced merchant services to Scale, enabling partners to securely set up payment information and invoice SMB clients directly from the platform. SMBs can also sign into their client-facing app and make purchases on their own.
Vendasta offers various add-ons and professional services, including custom website builds, guidance on go-to-market and sales strategy, technical consulting, and expansion.
More than 30% of Vendasta’s workforce focuses on researching and developing new products, and they also refine the company’s core platform and its in-house technology. Vendasta’s second-largest division is Marketing Services, which serves as a digital marketing fulfillment team for channel partners.
Trying Times Lead Small Brands to Realize the Power of Online Channels
Brendan said he believes that the Covid-19 pandemic has compelled more small businesses to embrace digital opportunities for brand expansion and sales potential.
“Say you were a small local business back in March, and then suddenly you’re physically shut down due to Covid-19. You need to switch to selling all online, and when it comes to building that branded online presence, you have two options,” Brendan said. “First, you can Frankenstein it, which means trying to build an online brand yourself by bundling multiple single-branded solutions together.”
That approach essentially promotes the platform brands a small business decides to use rather than putting its brand at the front as a white-label solution would.
That’s where Vendasta’s branding ethos comes into play and enables differentiation.
“Alternatively, you can use Vendasta, a white-label platform where what you build is perceived as wholly proprietary,” Brendan said. “The white-label concept is at the heart of Vendasta’s value proposition. Our partners continue to find customers, wholly own their brand, and are not subsumed into an overarching platform provider’s brand.”
The Covid-19 pandemic gave ecommerce a massive penetration boost during the first eight weeks of lockdowns and social distancing measures. Brendan said he believes that it was several times the rate of penetration than that observed in the previous 10 years.
“We have had retailers who had not been doing much online, and who thought their business was dying, suddenly see an online trading boost due to the pandemic,” he said
Vendasta: Built-in Merchant Services Give Partners Direct Control
Vendasta has been successful in growing its own business and product line to better serve more than 28,000 customers. The company has been rated among Canada’s top solution providers — most recently by Channel Daily News.
With the recent introduction of merchant services — in partnership with Stripe — to its end-to-end ecommerce platform, Vendasta is positioning itself as a player in the fintech space.
“We’re excited about the introduction of merchant services and end-to-end billing to our ecommerce package,” Brendan said. “Going forward, we’re going to help Vendasta resellers by expanding our product stack into areas including productivity tools — such as Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365 — along with accounting solutions.”
Vendasta also plans to work with ISPs and VARs to introduce internet provision and cybersecurity solutions to its line. When those are in place, SMBs will find it even easier to build trust with clients.
“Vendasta is positioned at the intersection of technology, trust, and need. SMBs have the need, and they trust local experts. And the software vendors have the technology. And Vendasta sits in the middle of that triangular model,” Brendan said. “I like to quote Roy Amara’s law that ‘We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.’ However, for me, it’s been a cool ride.”