New BTB Sweetener for Confectionery Market

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After indulging the consumer sweet tooth for only four months, Inc. now has cast an eye on the business-to-business end of the $23 billion candy and confectionery market.

The Los Angeles-based online retailer of supermarket candy and European chocolates is in talks with confectionery marketers such as Nestle USA, Hershey Foods, Nabisco and M&M/Mars for a June launch.

"The starting point is to hook in the big players," said Rani Aliahmad, co-founder of eCandy. "Once you get in bed with the big manufacturers, you can do a lot of things."

Called, the new BTB site will connect retailers directly with manufacturers. Buyers can buy the showcased products through auctions or buyer groups in which prices fall as more people agree to purchase.

"Since candy is a fairly perishable product, auctions are the best way to get rid of your product," Aliahmad said.

Aliahmad said the traditional market for confectionery products is layered with intermediaries, lacks adequate information to understand consumption habits, uses antiquated technology and is regional in nature.

"It's really a push economy, rather than a pull economy," he said.

ECandy has drawn a modest marketing plan to reach its target audience of assorted retailers and about 800 U.S. manufacturers.

First off the blocks is the announcement at the candy expo in Chicago this June of's debut. Sponsorship of the House of Blues in Chicago and ads in trade magazines like Candy Business and Candy Industry will follow.

As an incentive to lure retailers and manufacturers, will not charge a transaction fee to early participants.

Aliahmad said his company would like to streamline and spur growth in the BTB confectionery market, which is estimated to grow 5 percent a year.

"Right now, the confectionery business is growing, but it can grow much faster," he said. "We're going to evolutionize it, not revolutionize."

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