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Loblaw Adding Hundreds of Vendors Amid Online Marketplace Expansion: Interview

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Grocery store giant Loblaw is expanding its online shopping experience, Loblaw Marketplace, and is looking to add hundreds of new sellers before the end of the year.

Since launching the curated assortment from third party sellers in November 2019, the online shopping platform has seen significant growth, welcoming 150 reputable lifestyle brands, such as Henckels, Staub, Evenflo, and Umbra to its roster. Currently there are about 65,000 products.

Niki Starkman, Head of Merchandising and Business Development at Loblaw Digital, said the retailer is now ready to increase its offerings even further to meet the growing demand from its customers – and is calling on Canadian vendors to apply.

“We’re trying to grow that really quickly because the demand is coming in now that customers are starting to understand that we have this marketplace,” said Starkman. “We’re targeting to get to about 300,000 products by the end of the year.”

Loblaw Marketplace
Image: Loblaw Marketplace

That could be upwards of about 400 sellers.

Starkman said marketplace vendors have access to one of the largest networks of brand-loyal decision makers across Canadian households and the opportunity to be introduced to Canada’s largest and most engaging customer loyalty programs. Products are also listed online under all Loblaw grocery banners: Real Canadian Superstore, Real Atlantic Superstore, Loblaw, Zehrs, Maxi, Provigo, Fortinos, Your Independent Grocer and Independent City Market.

“We are embedded into the PC Express platform and also each grocery banner. So if you’re a shopper of loblaw.ca or realcanadiansuperstore.ca or Provigo.ca all the Marketplace products, third-party seller products, show up on all of the platforms,” added Starkman.

Loblaw Digital has more than 10 million digital users and more than 18 million PC Optimum members.

“The reason we launched this business is really twofold. The first is we really believe our customers want their shopping experience to be easy and convenient and come from a retailer they can trust. We know that we have millions of loyal customers who trust Loblaw so we wanted to offer them more than what we have in store, all in one place, one easy shopping experience and have it delivered to their door,” said Starkman. “There’s no reason why we can’t offer them grocery plus everything they need really to live their life well ,which is the mandate we work on every day at Loblaw.

Image: Loblaw Marketplace

“The other side of it is we believe the power of our brand has the ability to provide sellers a platform to grow their businesses. When we launched we didn’t know how relevant that would become. Now obviously with the pandemic it’s really important to give Canadian businesses the opportunity to get their product in front of Canadians and we can do that for sellers as well.

“We have two customers. We always talk about our customer on the front who is shopping and our sellers on  the back end, who are hoping to sell their products to Canadians.”

In response to customer demographics and demand, Loblaw is aiming to expand its offering of items in the following categories: home and living, baby, pet toys, sporting goods and consumer electronics, and is encouraging vendors selling these products to apply.

“We’re looking to expand into all non-food categories . . . And really our investment in these categories is to make sure that we can offer our customers everything they need for their every day. So those are our focus categories for now. They will grow and expand as we go and looking for sellers to fill out those places for us, those spots for us,” added Starkman.

“It is good for sellers to know that listing with us is really, really easy. We’ve built our own in-house platform that sellers enroll in and we have a live sellers’ success team who offers any type of help that sellers need to get on board and be a success when they are on our platform. It’s a big difference maker for us from some of our competitors because we offer live support and we have a team dedicated just for this which I know not all our competitors do – just so it’s really easy to sell with us. So that’s our hope is we attract sellers to our platform and get them on board.”

Vendors can apply to be listed on the platform at www.loblaw.ca/sell/.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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