Loblaw is set to become a one-stop destination for all things home.
The grocery retailer is expanding its e-commerce experience, called Loblaw Marketplace, and is looking to add hundreds of new third-party sellers. The marketplace launched in 2019, bringing on 150 lifestyle brands across such categories as toys, home, kitchen and furniture, with items delivered to customers’ homes. By the end of this year, Loblaw is looking to have around 300,000 products listed from third-party sellers.
“We launched quietly at the end of 2019, but we grew our product assortment and as the pandemic hit in early 2020, our customers’ needs changed,” says Niki Starkman, head of merchandising and business development at Loblaw Digital. “They shifted to shopping online and we were there with the products they needed. By the end of 2020, we had seen incredible growth and continue to grow quickly.”
Over the last year, Starkman says customers have been investing in their homes, specifically in outdoor. In this category, Loblaw sells everything from large patio furniture sets to greenhouses to fire pits.
For Starkman, the one surprise was how quickly customers shifted from shopping for food and maybe cookware at Loblaw stores, to buying indoor and outdoor furniture. “We thought that might take a little more time because it’s a big investment item, but it hasn’t,” she says. “So, it’s been surprising how quickly they have been able to trust us to deliver these products to them.”
Loblaw is aiming to expand its offering in a number of categories, including home and living, kitchen and dining, baby, pet toys, sporting goods, consumer electronics and appliances.
The marketplace is “closed,” meaning third-party sellers have to be approved by Loblaw. “That’s a real value to sellers because they know their brand is selected and sitting next to other reputable sellers, which also builds trust with our customers,” says Starkman.
One big benefit for sellers, Starkman says, is instant access to millions of Canadians: Loblaw currently has more than 10 million digitally registered users. Third-party products are listed online at Loblaws.ca and under all Loblaw grocery banners except No Frills. They include Real Canadian Superstore, Real Atlantic Superstore, Loblaw, Zehrs, Maxi, Provigo, Fortinos, Your Independent Grocer and Independent City Market.
Another bonus is sellers can leverage the PC Optimum loyalty program, which has more than 18 million members. “We’re able to engage with our PC Optimum members by awarding points to customers on the purchase of our third party products featured in various seasonal campaigns and weekly offers throughout our marketplace,” says Starkman.
Vendors can apply to join Loblaw Marketplace at Loblaw.ca/sell/. Those that are selected have full control of their listing and can build their catalogues, control their inventory and pricing, and update their product descriptions and images. They also have access to support from the Loblaw team. “There is live access to real people, which is different from our competitors and makes it a really enjoyable experience for sellers as well,” says Starkman.