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Michaels launches third party marketplace
The arts and crafts retailer is aiming to quadruple its online assortment.
Michaels is the latest retailer to add third-party sellers to its online store.
The news: Arts and crafts retailer Michaels launched a new online marketplace this week. It offers a curated selection from third party sellers that is designed to grow the number of items available through ecommerce.
By the numbers: Michaels is growing its online assortment from 250,000 SKUs to more than one million. The third-party marketplace is playing a big role in that effort.
How it works:
Categories offered in the marketplace include arts and crafts supplies, candle and soap making, leather and wood work, baking, tools and tech, yarn, stitchery, kids, toys, education, journaling and seasonal products.
Commission: Instead of a subscription or listing fees, Michaels is opting for curation of sellers. They receive a standard commission.
Integrations: For sellers, Michaels built a full-service portal to manage each aspect of their marketplace sales and enable integration. This also provides access to APIs and connections from ChannelAdvisor and ShipStation.
Key quote from Heather Bennett, EVP of marketing and ecommerce at Michaels: "The launch of Michaels’ curated marketplace for arts, crafts, and décor is the next phase of our ongoing digital transformation to be the destination for all creatives to get inspired, learn, shop and create. By more than quadrupling our online assortment across categories including candle and soap making, leather work and more, Michaels will ensure every customer can find what they need to bring their creative dreams to life no matter their craft."
What it shows
Third-party marketplaces: The third-party marketplace model provides space for sellers on a well-trafficked ecommerce site. While a retailer maintains the site, sellers are responsible for ensuring availability, as well as fulfilling and shipping. The model supercharged growth at Amazon, and now Michaels is joining a growing number of retailers adopting this model. Michaels is aiming to grow the number of items on the site, which will in turn provide more reasons for consumers to keep shopping and coming back to its ecommerce site, while also having the potential to create advantages in pricing.
Retail media opportunity: Marketplaces can also become engines for advertising. With a growing number of items available, retailers can offer sponsored placements for sellers and brands seeking to stand out. It’s why many retailers are launching retail media networks that power these advertising capabilities. Michaels stood up its own retail media network last year through a partnership with Criteo. Look for potential growth now that a marketplace is up and running.
Further reading: Macys launched its own marketplace last year, and Walmart is making notable moves to expand its own assortment with a drive to sign up more sellers. As sellers have more options, competition could increase between marketplaces.
Trending in Retail Channels
US ecommerce sales grow 8.5% in February, outpacing overall retail
US retail sales were up 5.4%, but a slowdown in some discretionary categories is emerging.
US retail sales couldn’t keep the post-holiday bounce of January going into February.
The US Commerce Department reported the following data on US retail sales totals for February 2023:
On a monthly basis, sales declined by 0.4% from January, totaling $697.9 billion.
On an annual basis, sales increased 5.4%. That’s below the January annualized growth of 6.4%.
Core retail sales, which exclude foodservice and auto-related items, grew 6.5% year-over-year and 0.5% month-over-month, according to the National Retail Federation.
Nonstore retailers, which includes ecommerce, outpaced overall sales to grow at 1.6%. On an annual basis, sales in this category grew 8.5% over February 2022.
January totals were revised upward to growth of 3.2% month-over-month. Previously, the Department said growth was 3%.
In part, the month-to-month fluctuations are a result of seasonality, said NRF Economist Jack Kleinhenz. Despite the presence of Valentine's Day, February tends to be one of the slowest months in retail as the holiday bounce gives way to a winter lull.
“Sales are higher than last year and that’s due in large part to the strong labor market, which means more income and spending," said Kleinhenz, in a statement. "We are seeing a decent trend for retail sales growth built on the upward revisions to December and January sales. Nonetheless, seasonal adjustment factors the government is applying to the monthly data to account for irregular post-pandemic spending patterns make it difficult to accurately measure the strength of the consumer.”
Still, the data offers some signals that behavioral shifts are emerging. The results offer a mixed picture at a time when stubborn inflation is continuing to drag on the economy.
“Consumers continue to dig deep to fund consumption and are showing remarkable resilience despite various unfavorable economic factors,” said GlobalData Managing Director Neil Saunders. “That said, the devil is in the detail and there are definite signs that shoppers are gradually changing behaviors to cope with higher inflation and numerous pressures on their household budgets.”
With food and rent prices elevated on top of rising interest rates, the results on a category level offer signs that consumers are cutting back on some discretionary spending in goods.
Stores that are destinations for bigger ticket purchases saw declines. Furniture stores were down 2.5% for the month and grew a slight 0.1% for the year. Electronics and appliance stores were down 2.8% for the year, and declined 0.3% for the month.
But not all discretionary categories are suffering. Clothing stores declined 0.8% for the month, but posted 4.3% growth for the year. Sporting goods and hobby stores followed a similar pattern, declining 0.5% for the month, but growing 3.9% for the year.
The categories that fit into more essential, every day needs continue to see the most growth. Grocery stores grew 0.6% on the month, and 5.6% for the year. Health and personal care was up 0.9% for the month, and 8% for the year. The latter reflects the continuing strength of beauty, which is often seen by consumers as an affordable luxury during tougher economic times.
If the predictions from retailers and economists of a slowdown in consumer spending continue to pan out this year, look for this dichotomy to continue.
The bright spot in the report comes from the category that includes ecommerce. While the growth of ecommerce slowed in 2022, the report offers confirmation that steady continued spending can keep it on an upward trajectory. Ecommerce sales tend toward the discretionary, so a sign that consumers are seeking out online channels even as they become more cautious is a welcome one.
Wholesale inflation inches down, eggs drop
A forward-looking measure of inflation showed signs of cooling in February.
The Producer Price Index, which offers data on the price of goods before they reach retail, showed the following for February 2023:
- Prices declined 0.1% overall on a monthly basis.
- On an annual basis, prices increased 4.6% from February 2022. That’s down notably from 5.7% in January.
- Prices for goods declined 0.2%, driving the decrease.
While the PPI is a one-to-one predictor of the future inflation rate, it shows signs in the pipeline that prices may be coming down. Notably, one of the most high-profile products to see inflation is finally getting some relief. Egg prices dropped 36.1%. This accounted for 80% of the decline in goods for the month, and offers a sign that price drops could be on the way to grocery store shelves soon.