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August 11, 2023

Ecommerce for commodity products: Interviewing Mickey CTO Weston Stewart-Tennes

Empowering global trade and the potential of Ecommerce marketplaces for wholesale and commodity products

For a long time, those trading in wholesale and commodity products have stuck rigidly to an old-fashioned model of acquiring hard goods and materials with outdated ordering processes, where only those with significant capital could trade overseas. The nature of the industry meant bulk selling, and suppliers needed efficient and established distribution networks to move large quantities of products to various locations.

A new approach was needed. Step up, Mickey. As technology has developed, we now witness a more level playing field for companies. Through the Mickey platform, small-to-midsize (SME) suppliers in the U.S. can connect with global buyers through a tailored commodities platform. Mickey's innovative approach to addressing trade imbalances and providing accessible solutions for smaller suppliers is shown in its commitment to modernizing trade in the international marketplace. We sit down with Mickey CTO, Weston Stewart-Tennes, to discuss the tech behind this.

Mickey CTO Weston Stewart-Tennes
Mickey CTO Weston Stewart-Tennes

Neil Hodgson-Coyle: Well, nice to meet you. I just have a few questions for you. So maybe you can start by talking about Mickey. The first question I have is how does your platform integrate with the company's website or existing technology?

Weston Stewart-Tennes: Yeah, totally. And so, Mickey started out wanting to be kind of reverse Alibaba for the US. So the United States exports a lot of commodities. And so that's sort of where we focused our energy. We found an opportunity in lumber with the expansion of materials exchange and now contractor direct. And now, we develop SaaS for all sorts of wholesale and commodity businesses. We integrate with people in various ways, we can be kind of an add-on to their existing site just a marketplace that can be clicked on and visited. We can be a full backend CRM. We can plug into their ERP or we can kind of take over their whole online presence and kind of be their Internet marketplace home page, etc.

Neil Hodgson-Coyle: And how do you customize each Marketplace for them?

Weston Stewart-Tennes: Yeah, it's a good question. This is kind of the hardest part of working in different industries while building a single platform, and our general goal is not to customize too much, to build things pretty abstractly, and build with the entire economy in mind, and the potential for our platform to support any sort of commodity product. That being said, obviously, there are times where we do have to sort of do these. Various little customizations things, like custom attributes that are very specific to an industry. And we just kind of make sure to put those in their own place within our application and make sure that they're built for specific customers.

Neil Hodgson-Coyle: Okay, cool. And can you maybe tell me a little bit more about your background in particular and how you implement this in your current role now?

Weston Stewart-Tennes: So I've taken a funny route towards where I am now. out of college I actually started a food truck. The food turned into a business called City Flavor, which is basically a food truck marketplace and hospitality operating system. So I built that from scratch, grew that business, and it's been used in a lot of Fortune 500 hospitality situations. So after that, I worked a few other software jobs, and then I ended up here at Mickey, where I'm the CTO helping to build all the tech.

Neil Hodgson-Coyle: Maybe you could explain a little bit more about how your automated logistics function works.

Weston Stewart-Tennes: Yeah, so we partner with various US leading logistics and shipping companies, and through these partnerships when a buyer makes a purchase, we basically can manage the entire logistics transaction. So we pre-populate our entire system with rates from every supplier to every buyer. We've got basically all of the pricing built into our pricing on the marketplace. And then, when a match hits, we can automatically book, track, deal with any issues, and so forth via these partners. We're also able to sort of integrate with any new partners that are needed based on our client's needs.

Neil Hodgson-Coyle: Could you maybe tell me a bit more about your future plans for expanding the platforms of each regarding providing coverage and customer base? And are there any specific regions on markets your targeting for future growth?

Weston Stewart-Tennes: Yeah. So kind of like I mentioned, the platform works for any commodity product, any instance where there's wholesale activity going on. So it allows for lots of different industries, lumber, metals, agriculture, plastics, chemicals, and we're definitely looking to expand into those different areas. We've only hit a few of those. We do some scrap metals. We do a few other smaller industries, but definitely, we’re looking to expand into any of these other commodities.

Neil Hodgson-Coyle: Okay, and are there any features or innovations on the horizon that you can share with us?

Weston Stewart-Tennes: Yes. So we recently launched Contractor Direct, which is basically our system for helping to construct and deliver the product on larger multifamily homes and other sorts of larger products. So things that have contracts that are built upon many materials. and aren't sort of good for the spot marketplace that our current exchange has. So we recently launched that, and we've been running both an internal business as well as the SaaS platform sales as well. And we've also just built out our materials exchange even more so we've enhanced the products available. They can kind of drill into the products a little more. We've got custom attributes, custom links and just continuously building more features to support that.

Neil Hodgson-Coyle: One last question. Something that we always ask the people that we interview at Tech News. In terms of sustainability, do you have anything also on the roadmap or any features that you're optimizing for that?

Weston Stewart-Tennes: Yeah, definitely. Because we work in the lumber industry, we follow closely, and we're working on some integrations with carbon credits. So there's a lot that you can do with the sawmills anD The kind of landowners of lumber properties in order to kind of integrate the carbon credit system, especially here in the U. S, that is part of the law in certain places, and we're still waiting on it to be part of the law in other places, at least in the US, but we're working on integrating that into our platform.

Neil Hodgson-Coyle: That's perfect. I think I've covered all my questions.

Weston Stewart-Tennes: No, I think that's good. I think I covered everything.

Neil Hodgson Coyle
Neil Hodgson-Coyle
Editorial chief at TechNews180
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