Bunnings has partnered with several kitchen, homeware and furniture retailers to offer thousands of products from leading brands like Braun, Tefal, Jamie Oliver and Sheridan on MarketLink, its new online marketplace which launched on Wednesday.
The launch represents a significant expansion beyond Bunnings’ core categories of home improvement and outdoor living, and customers are responding positively to the new range of cookware, electronics, appliances, indoor furniture and home decor, according to Bunnings’ MD Michael Schneider.
“Already we’re seeing some early favourites with our customers, including manchester and bedding,” Schneider said in a statement about the launch.
Bunnings’ marketplace products are available online only and will not be stocked in stores. This means the specialty retailer will be competing with the likes of eBay, rather than Harvey Norman, according to Nathan Bush, founder of e-commerce consultancy 12High and former group digital manager of at Super Retail Group.
“Given it is an online-only play, I think it is going to compete mostly with the eBays, Kogans and JB Hi-Fis of the world,” Bush told Inside Retail.
“As we have seen in the most recent SimilarWeb research, eBay is losing marketshare to Amazon, but also the marketplaces found[ed] by existing retailers, such as Myer, Kogan and Catch. With Bunnings’ brand name and huge traffic, expect this move to impact eBay the most.”
Bunnings was the most visited retail website in Australia in May of this year, according to a ranking by CupoNation, despite only launching a transactional website in March.
This will help the marketplace to hit the ground running, according to Peter Macaulay, CEO of KitchenWarehouse, one of the retailers selling through MarketLink.
“It makes a lot of sense to me for Bunnings to leverage the brand reputation they’ve established and the strength of their internet presence to facilitate sales in new categories,” Macaulay told Inside Retail.
He said the partnership with Bunnings would help KitchenWarehouse to reach a larger audience. The retailer, which stocks thousands of cookware, appliances, tableware and other kitchen products, has an online presence and 15 bricks-and-mortar stores and also sells through eBay and Catch Marketplace.
“For us, it’s relatively simple to bolt on marketplaces to our existing business model,” Macaulay said.
Managing inventory to prevent stock outages is not an issue for KitchenWarehouse, he said.
Like most marketplaces, Bunnings’ MarketLink works on a drop-ship basis. This means the sellers are responsible for fulfilling orders, as well as managing returns and handling customer service requests.
Traditionally, this has put marketplace operators at a disadvantage compared to retailers, which are able to provide a more consistent customer experience.
But Macaulay said the vetting process to become a MarketLink seller was more in-depth than most.
“It’s not necessarily always the case that the marketplace operator strongly vets the third-party sellers [on their platforms], but in Bunnings’ case, it was quite an in-depth conversation to ensure that our customer proposition was aligned to their expectations…it really feels like more of a partnership,” he said.