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Whatever happened to "Where everyone gets a bargain"?

Sarah Putt, Contributor. 02 August 2019, 8:00 am

Most New Zealanders live within 30 minutes of a store owned by The Warehouse Group, and yet 9% (and growing) of all retail spending in this country is online. Which is no doubt why the company has launched its latest e-commerce venture TheMarket.

It's billed in the announcement as "an inspirational online shopping experience giving New Zealanders more choice of local, international and niche brands", and it feels very different to the traditional 'red sheds'.

"TheMarket has launched with 1,500+ brands and 1m+ products, including local brands Karen Walker, WORLD, Father Rabbit, Citta and Barkers, and Australian and international brands PE Nation, Cue, Billabong, Cotton On and The Nile, and many more," touts the NZX release.

The website is sleek and as high-end as many of the brands name-checked in the press release. The shopping cart's distribution service (1-3 days at a cost of $5, judging from the examples I tried) is similar to the terms offered by the Smith & Caughey department store (which stocks some of the same brands) on its site.

It seems that TheMarket is to be a separate venture to the bricks and mortar stores that we have come to expect from this company.

"TheMarket is a subsidiary of The Warehouse Group, operating under a structurally separate operating model, with its own Board (The Warehouse Group Investments Limited) made up of non-executive directors and management appointed by the Group board," notes the release.

Although the stores we are so familiar with will be used as places for people to pick up goods - enabling TheMarket to take advantage of the Group's high street presence.

"The Warehouse Group will use its extensive store footprint to support TheMarket's business model. Currently 19 Noel Leeming, Warehouse Stationery, The Warehouse and Torpedo7 stores act as 'MarketPoints' for pick up, return and click and collect, with remaining stores to be rolled out over the next 12 months."

It's an interesting move from The Warehouse Group, whose red sheds once reigned supreme in every New Zealand town and city, promising to be the place "where everyone gets a bargain". But the company has faced huge competition from international online retailers in recent years.

Online marketplaces are becoming more dominant, and the company is wise to get onboard. The annual eCommerce Review by NZ Post noted that 1.8 million Kiwis shopped online in 2018, but the stat that stands out in the report is that the average basket size is $118. Maybe The Warehouse is right to eschew 'everyday lowest prices' online, and pitch its new e-commece site at the expensive end of the market.


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