Solution54/Project54 – Supporting specialty brick-and-mortar retailers everywhere by promoting local purchasing.
What we’re about: Anywhere from 30%-60% of dollars spent at locally-owned shops are funneled back to the community (compared with 20% or less from chain stores). But buying local is hard when chain stores and the Internet offer bigger selection. This situation is magnified when it comes to specialty retailers. By definition specializing in an item, like outdoor equipment or music instruments, means you cater to a limited market, and despite a desire by many to buy locally they find it difficult if the desired product isn’t available at the local shop.
There have been many initiatives over the last few decades to encourage people to buy from locally-owned shops, but none of these addressed the root of the problem; lack of inventory. We believe if local shops could offer more selection buyers would return to the store and dollars spent would stay in the local community. Solution54 wants to help local shops thrive by increasing their access to inventory and keeping sales inside the walls of the store, which we will accomplish through our patented software platform that functions as a virtual warehouse. Project54 is the initiative to raise awareness among consumers that for buying local to work we have to give local retailers increased access to inventory to help them compete.
Why this affects you – the customer: Diminishing in-store sales threatens the sustainability of specialty shops, which often times serve not only as a place to shop but a resource for information and a community for enthusiasts. Specialty retailers also serve as advocates for their respective industries (environmentalists for outdoor shops, keeping music in schools for music shops, etc.) particularly among their local communities. Most importantly, locally-owned businesses are a critical part of a healthy economy because a greater portion of their revenues go back to the community than do revenues of chain stores.
Why you, the customer, need us: If you’ve ever had your heart set on a product that wasn’t in stock you’ll appreciate Solution54. With our service specialty retailers of all sizes and industries don’t have to end the conversation with, “Sorry we don’t have that item.” Now they can say, “Let me check the warehouse, if its available anywhere I can have it delivered right to your door,” reducing your search time for the ideal product and passing on all the benefits of purchase from an authorized dealer including product warranties, service packages and a more forgiving return/exchange policy.
How we Help Shops Compete: If you’ve ever missed a sale because the item wasn’t in stock, or been stuck with an item you couldn’t sell through, you’ll appreciate Solution54. We are the link between retail shops to help match people and products. Our patented platform connects retailers and pools their inventory, making it possible to find products that are sitting on shelves simply because the right buyer didn’t walk through a particular door.
Why Don’t Shops Use the Internet to Compete: Without getting too technical, there are manufacturer agreements that dictate what retailers can and can’t do online and outside their physical territory when selling to consumers. Complying with these terms can be challenging for shops, particularly the smaller shops with fewer resources, and they’d rather not make sales online that might jeopardize their good standing with manufacturers. Although our platform benefits the consumer by expanding inventory options, it’s only accessible by retailers. This means retailers can make transactions on it without violating their manufacturer agreements because those transactions are retailer to retailer, not retailer to consumer. In short, we can make available even more inventory than what you can currently find online because we give retailers an option to move that inventory in compliance with their vendor agreements, and this helps retailers complete more in-store sales.
Solution54 is launching in the U.S. in the outdoor recreation industry, with plans to expand to other specialty industries and geographic markets as soon as revenues allow. We are currently facilitating transactions in the snow industry and preparing for transactions in bike. Multiple outdoor sports equipment manufacturers support our business model, and we’re hard at work to bring on more. Eventually this will include shops in multiple industries including electronics, jewelry, music instruments and more.
BUILDING A MOVEMENT TAKES SUPPORT
We’re not the first group to try to encourage people to buy local, but we are the first group to pair that message with a viable solution; giving shops access to the inventory they need to keep purchases in the store. We want to get that message out to shops nationwide, then worldwide, in every retail segment there is. The more shops we reach the more inventory we can make available to the customer and the more sales connections we can make, ultimately giving the brick-and-mortar shops a way to compete with chain stores and online sales. But we need help spreading that message, so be sure to tell others about our campaign!
BUILDING A NETWORK TAKES MONEY
Many of the Solution54 members we have joined our network even before it existed, and it makes us feel pretty good to know that people support not just the mission to save specialty retailers but the method to accomplish that. Our virtual warehouse is live and facilitating transactions, and word is spreading not just around the country but around the globe. But the buy local movement we want to support can’t reach its full potential without the system that gives shops the inventory access necessary to keep customers in the store, and that system needs programmers, designers and support staff. Your contribution supports both the Solution54 system and Project54 message. Proceeds (after fees) will go towards increased functionality on the system and the staff to support a retailer network that could become global in scale. A portion will also go back to contributors in the form of rewards.
WHY ARE WE ‘54’?
The Solution54 inventory network was envisioned decades ago by our CEO Kyle O’Dea while he was running a snowboard shop in Colorado. The Colorado Boarder was one of the first snowboard shops in the country and helped prove that a store specializing in snowboards was a viable business model. But like many retailers each year Kyle made more transactions yet saw very little change in revenue. He attributed this to inventory control and the challenges of being a small shop that didn’t have the space or financial resources to stock everything. Together with his mother Karen, a computer science specialist, they began brainstorming a business model that would let separately owned shops work together for mutual benefit. Unfortunately the cloud technology we have today didn’t exist back then, so the vision couldn’t be completed. Since the technology has caught up to the vision this “solution” is now a reality. We lost Karen to cancer several years ago, and since her birthday is May 4th we named the company Solution54 in her memory.
Solution54 is a for profit company that built a patented software platform which enables member shops to increase their access to inventory via our “virtual warehouse.” Project54 is our term to summarize the mission statement of our company, supporting specialty brick-and-mortar retailers, which we believe can be accomplished through the Solution54 platform.