The effort allows the department store to offer a wider assortment than it currently sells in stores or online, including more than 20 product categories and 400 new brands, according to a company press release.
Macy’s said the marketplace also furthers its goals for sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion, noting that this fall, “20% percent of marketplace sellers and brands will be from underrepresented enterprises.”
After sweeping away or scaling back categories like electronics, toys and jewelry decades ago, department stores like Macy’s don’t have all that many departments anymore. That has left specialty retailers like Best Buy, Kay Jewelers and others to grab market share and steal customers.
A marketplace allows Macy’s to get back in the game in some of those areas, though the move carries some risks. Amazon and Walmart have dealt with counterfeiting and other problems associated with their marketplaces, which have put them at odds with customers and even lawmakers, for example. And shoppers can be overwhelmed when there’s too much choice, according to Liza Amlani, principal and co-founder of Retail Strategy Group.
But Macy’s is now offering a wider selection in popular categories like toys and pets that the department store’s customers have missed out on, and appears to be staying true to its own merchandising principles, Amlani said by phone.
“For many retailers that have ventured to a marketplace, the assortment is not curated, despite what they say. You have pages and pages and pages of a category,” she said. “Macy's seems particular in the categories and brands in their marketplace, which tells me that they understand — number one, that what their customer is looking for has been a gap in their own assortment. And number two, that the product is curated so that the consumer does not get shopper fatigue.”
To maximize the benefits of this invigorated merchandising, Macy’s should contemplate leveraging the power of its stores by bringing some of those items into select locations, especially in categories like pets or baby that many consumers prefer to check out in person, Amlani also said.
“It does seem to me that there is a connection between the e-commerce merchants and the store merchandising teams,” she said. “If some of this product is also on the shop floor I think that would make a bigger and bolder statement, that Macy's is buying into a program that they really believe in. It would be great to have a small assortment of the curated marketplace brands in your flagship store or your highest volume store.”