Tundra: Democratizing the Wholesale Marketplace

Arnold Engel
Jun 25 · 3 min read

In 2017, we founded Tundra after years of facing inefficiencies buying and selling products as a supply chain company. We moved shipments through more than 100 countries and saw that certain patterns were universal: pricing was opaque, order processing and fulfillment was cumbersome, and the few intermediaries attempting to solve these issues offered terms that put too much pressure on the margins of both buyers and suppliers — often taking a 10–30% cut of each transaction. It became clear to us that small and medium-sized businesses have significant structural disadvantages when participating in the wholesale market.

Leveling The Playing Field

So much of wholesale as we know it today is built for the benefit of very big businesses. Big box retailers get lower pricing, robust data on suppliers, and responsive service. Big suppliers are able to navigate working with big box retailers and Amazon to better weather the onerous terms and swings in volume. On both sides of the table, large players are able to create advantages over their smaller competitors. Wasted time and money often becomes the norm as players have to absorb additional costs to participate.

We asked ourselves how we could create a marketplace that gave independent businesses the same advantages that bigger businesses have long enjoyed. The answer was a zero-commission marketplace where savvy businesses have all the information at their fingertips to make smart, confident buying decisions.

Empowering Independent Retailers with Transparency

Designing Tundra to be the best platform for buyers meant developing technology to streamline complex processes — driving down costs and allowing Tundra to be a platform that has no membership or transaction fees. Our background in logistics allows us to offer fast shipping with easy tracking and the best shipping rates. We’ve created a transparent buying process so that store owners know the fully-loaded cost of their order before they buy. And with supplier metrics and ratings, buyers can purchase with confidence. For example, a local spa has the ability to choose the best new beauty products based on real feedback and reviews from other wholesale buyers just like them.

Buyers can select from thousands of US and Canadian brands and shipping is available worldwide. Our community of over 10,000 businesses shop from a broad assortment in popular categories including kids, home, beauty, apparel, and general merchandise.

One of our favorite moments was when we realized that many buyers on Tundra have Main Street addresses. As a husband-and-wife team, we understand the importance that independent businesses play in building strong communities. We feel privileged to play a part in helping businesses access great products at the best prices so they can be a part of a thriving Main Street economy.

Helping Suppliers Thrive and Scale

We built Tundra on the basic principle that we would never take a commission from any transactions on our platform and this key distinction has made all the difference. Suppliers pass on the cost savings to buyers so that all parts of the ecosystem can thrive. While the wholesale model in the past was always designed for large enterprises, our zero-commission model makes it possible for independent, local businesses to be profitable and to directly access a great selection of products. We make money by providing optional services that enhance the buying and selling experience: promotion, advanced supplier tools and support. We’ve provided suppliers with exposure to tens of thousands of businesses in the US and internationally to help them grow.

From the launch of our first beta site until now, we’ve seen tremendous growth as more buyers and suppliers find true value on Tundra. Our vision for reshaping the wholesale industry has also resonated with many like-minded investors and we’re excited to share that Redpoint Ventures has led a $12M Series A round investment and is joined by existing investors Initialized Capital, Peterson Ventures, Switch Ventures, and Background Capital who had previously invested $4M in our Seed round. This latest round allows us to scale our marketplace and transform the wholesale experience. We have a big mission: to put $1 billion dollars back into the pockets of independent businesses over the next five years. We’ve already begun modernizing wholesale for thousands of businesses and we’re just getting started. Come be a part of the future of wholesale.

Katie and Arnold

Co-Founders, Tundra

Tundra Wholesale

Where Wholesale Happens

Arnold Engel

Written by

CEO & Founder of Tundra, the online marketplace where wholesale happens.

Tundra Wholesale

Where Wholesale Happens

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