Warehouse prepares to launch site to rival Iconic, Asos

A screenshot of The Warehouse Group's new business TheMarket. Photo: Screenshot
A screenshot of The Warehouse Group's new business TheMarket. Photo: Screenshot

The Warehouse Group is gearing up to launch an e-commerce business selling a range of Australasian brands next month.

New Zealand's largest retail company, which operates The Warehouse, Noel Leeming, Warehouse Stationery and Torpedo7 stores, is in the final stages of developing an online shopping platform named TheMarket.

Although the company is tight-lipped on the launch, it is understood the e-commerce only business, similar to Asos or The Iconic, but with a much larger selection, will sell clothing, homewares, toys, electronics, books, makeup and stationery from more than 20 brands.

TheMarket appears to be a subscription-based shopping platform and will offer 'rewards' for consumers and influencers active on the marketplace. Interestingly, the lifestyle site does not look to push the company's own retail store brands.

Brands the e-commerce business will sell include Barkers, CryWolf, Tribeca, Huxbaby, Olaplex, Babe Inc, Joco, Buck&Baa, Rains and MiGoals, according to an early Beta version of TheMarket's website.

The online marketplace, which will also feature an "influencer registry", promises brands "access to 3.5 million active customers, localised customer service and a distributed last-mile collect & return network, to provide a frictionless customer experience".

It hopes to "become one of New Zealand's largest marketplace and celebrity influencer platforms" and to give influencers "direct access to collaboration opportunities with some of the biggest and best local and international brands".

The Warehouse was unable to provide any information on TheMarket at this stage but the launch of the business is scheduled for early August.

"We are working on a new e-commerce platform and we're still in the testing phase so we're not quite ready to talk about this," a spokeswoman for the NZX-listed company said.

The Market is currently in the process of hiring staff to run the platform, including e-commerce specialists, software engineers and digital designers. It has already appointed a customer service adviser and e-commerce coordinator.

Grant Cotty, senior equity analyst at Hobson Wealth Partners, said he was surprised the group had positioned the marketplace as an amalgamation of smaller and lesser-known brands, and not necessarily to channel its own.

"To me, that means perhaps they feel their [own] brands don't generate traction or maybe that the product lines aren't really understood by the market.

"If you were to buy cheap priced homeware where would you go? Briscoes. If you're going to buy cheap furniture, where you going to buy it? Kmart. I think The Warehouse has lost a lot of those brand wars," Cotty said.

He said the Warehouse had fallen out of favour with consumers in recent years.

"The Warehouse used to be, and probably still is in rural areas, the marketplace of physical goods back in the day, so being the marketplace of online goods probably isn't too much of a change in mindset for them.

"It does make sense if it can actually offer good prices and make its offer at a product level rather than an actual brand store level. It still does raise concerns to me as to the strength of the underlying business if this is the way you think is best to interact with customers."

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