"[Suppliers] have to know about Wal-Mart," said Don Longo, director of editorial and content development for VNU Business Media's retail group. "For large companies, business with Wal-Mart can make or break their year, especially if they lose the Wal-Mart account. A small company can become a major player by getting into Wal-Mart."
VNU charges $195 annually, or $19.95 a month, for access to the VNU Smart Supplier Web site. VNU is also publishing a free e-mail newsletter with headlines from the site.
The Smart Supplier venture illuminates two key trends in b-to-b media. First, it is an attempt to generate subscription revenue to supplement ad revenue, which have become less reliable in recent years. VNU as a whole has been particularly adept at reducing its reliance on advertising revenue with its purchase of such information companies as AC Nielsen Co. and Nielsen Media Research, which rely on subscription revenue.
Second, the Smart Supplier Web site is an example of repurposing existing content. Longo said the site uses previously published material from a number of VNU Business Media publications, ranging from The Hollywood Reporter to Billboard to Convenience Store News, all of which occasionally write news stories or trend pieces on Wal-Mart. "VNU has about 52 b-to-b magazines," Longo said. "It's amazing the high number of them that do something on Wal-Mart."
With Smart Supplier, VNU is still in the early stages; but already the company is entertaining thoughts of launching similar products. "If this is a success, it's very possible we will do something like this on Carrefour, which is the second-largest retailer in the world. There's also Albertson's or Target."