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Lightspeed CO Jean Paul Chauvet said that buying NuORDER and integrating it into the company’s new B2B platform as retailers deal with backlogs and manufacturing delays was a coincidence, but he admitted in an interview this week that it was a convenient one.Christinne Muschi/The Globe and Mail

Montreal’s Lightspeed Commerce Inc. LSPD-T is launching a new platform for product ordering and data sharing that it hopes will drive more retailers and brands to its services as they struggle with an economy-wide supply-chain crunch.

The new platform is the latest in the company’s efforts to bundle the many offerings it’s accumulated since going public in 2019, after announcing one-stop-shop platforms for retailers and restaurants in recent months.

Lightspeed bought the Los Angeles-based product-ordering company NuORDER Inc. last June, bringing with it 100,000 retailers and products from more than 3,000 brands. Lightspeed said this week that it had finished integrating NuORDER’s technology into a new platform it called Lightspeed B2B, which will also share more product data – ranging from UPC codes to descriptive text and promotional videos – in a bid to smooth out the tedious tasks of ordering products and verifying and entering product data into their sales systems.

Though chief executive officer Jean Paul Chauvet said that buying NuORDER and integrating it into Lightspeed’s new B2B platform as retailers everywhere deal with backlogs and manufacturing delays was a coincidence, he admitted in an interview this week that it was a convenient one. “The timing plays to our advantage,” Mr. Chauvet said.

But he said the company hopes that centralizing product-ordering and data through Lightspeed’s point-of-sale software will be a significant draw for retailers. The most common alternative he said, “even for the largest retailers – it’s all Excel sheets, pen and paper.”

Participating brands – which include Tom Ford, Coach and Black Diamond – will also get access to real-time sales data to better understand what customers are buying and when, with a kind of granularity usually reserved for direct-to-consumer sales. Mr. Chauvet said he hopes brands will see these data as advantageous for developing pricing strategies or new product variations, such as new colours.

Analysts cheered the NuORDER acquisition last year as it expanded Lightspeed’s supplier network while broadening its offerings for retailers. “It will enhance the product-ordering experience for retailers, while providing brands with insight into the movement of their products,” wrote Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce Capital Markets analyst Todd Coupland last June.

A report by short seller Spruce Point Capital Management last September, however, included an interview with an unnamed former NuORDER account executive who warned that the company had limited resources to expand and meet customer demands quickly. Mr. Chauvet declined to comment on the report’s claims, but said that bringing NuORDER into the fold saved Lightspeed “at least five years” of research and development time and costs.

Mr. Chauvet said that Lightspeed B2B will first work with brands and stores selling luxury apparel and outdoor and sporting goods. Those sectors, he said, have the greatest overlap between NuORDER brands and Lightspeed retailers. He said the company is deeply confident that this will help drive demand from both sides: “You’re going to see brands promoting Lightspeed to stores, and stores are going to want brands on Lightspeed.”

Christine Iksic, who has used Lightspeed services at her Pittsburgh outdoor-equipment retailer 3 Rivers Outdoor Co. since 2018, said that she had long hoped for a service that would simplify product ordering and data sharing. “It always drove me nuts” to work with vendors to match up UPC codes, prices and descriptions, she said in an interview. “We have so much data clean-up now.”

Though Lightspeed is hailing its B2B service as a panacea for these kinds of issues, and Ms. Iksic is “super excited” about it, she acknowledges that it won’t alleviate all problems with ordering and data matching. “There’s still going to be work that we have to do,” she said, because every store has its own product classifications. Still, she said, having data come in correctly “is at the heart of e-commerce.”

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