04 June 2021
Hudson’s Bay, Lands’ End, and United Natural Foods (UNFI) have all recently launched online marketplaces. Saks.com is also exploring one.
Hudson’s Bay said its launch was part of its digital-focused strategic evolution. The Canada-based department store retailer wrote in a declaration, “Whether it’s an offer that is part of the current Hudson’s Bay clothing, homeware, beauty and accessories assortment, or an introduction to a new category, quality sellers are encouraged to join the hundreds of new merchants to be launched on the Marketplace on labaie.com in 2021.. “
Lands’ End Marketplace covers categories such as footwear, home decor and underwear, as well as the full assortment of the brand’s products. Lands’ End said in a declaration as its market platform “has a small catalog of products which allows greater visibility with partner brands. It also allows new providers to take advantage of Lands’ End’s qualified traffic and the highest conversion rate in the industry.
UNFI mentionned its new marketplace will allow the retailer to “extend its product line, improve the customer experience and streamline supplier integration.”
In a quarterly letter to suppliers obtained by WWDSaks.com CEO Marc Metrick said the luxury website will test a marketplace in the coming weeks. He wrote that the format will allow Saks “to better understand and refine the experience of customers and brand partners as we identify opportunities to broaden the breadth and depth of our assortment while maintaining the ‘organized experience for which Saks is known’.
Amazon.com taps into the dominant online marketplace with Walmart and eBay have major platforms. Google, Target, Instacart and Kroger have been identified as emerging markets in Feedvisor’s “Brands, Amazon and the rise of electronic markets” study.
Express, Urban Outfitters, Crate & Barrel, J. Crew and Ahold Delhaize are some of the niche retailers with marketplaces. Macy’s drop is shipping certain categories and is considering a formal market.
For retailers, third-party handling of delivery, returns and other aspects of the customer experience creates operational and reputational risks. Third party sellers are also introduced to their customers.
Expanding assortments by adding third-party vendors capitalizes on the potential of the Internet’s “endless aisles” to provide customers with more choice and can accelerate growth online.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see more advantages than disadvantages for niche retailers launching third-party markets? Which of the retailers cited in the article (Hudson’s Bay, Lands’ End, UNFI, Saks.com) would benefit the most from a market?
“For some there are definitely benefits. But doing what everyone else is, how they do it, because they do it is never the best strategy for meaningful growth.”