Catch Marketplace ups the ante

online shopping, e-commerceAustralia’s largest pureplay e-commerce company, Catch Group, is expanding its Marketplace offering, as competition in the space heats up ahead of Amazon’s arrival.

Following Ebay’s launch last week of two new features – image search and faster delivery – and its reported trial of price-match guarantee, Catch Marketplace has now made it easier for brands and retailers to sign up and sell on its platform.

The company announced yesterday that US-based e-commerce software provider ChannelAdvisor has agreed to offer support to marketplace sellers on Catch.com.au.

Retailers can now manage their Catch Marketplace product data, inventory and order flow through ChannelAdvisor, which means they don’t run the risk of overselling products listed on Catch, other marketplaces and their own e-commerce site, and they don’t have to update multiple platforms when new stock comes in.

The integration comes on the heels of Catch Group’s deal with Commerce Connect, another major marketplace aggregator.

“It’s critical on a few fronts,” Adam Kron, general manager at Catch.com.au, told Internet Retailing, noting that the partnerships will broaden the range of products and categories available through Catch Marketplace and help accelerate growth.

“We are increasing our suite of options to make it seamless for sellers to sell on Catch,” he said.

More than 200 new sellers

Catch Marketplace has added more than 200 new sellers, since it launched in June, with another 250 currently pending. It offers more than 50,000 new products, with that number expected to reach 100,000 by the end of October.

This includes product categories Catch has never offered before, including home and outdoor furniture, video games, musical instruments, and hardware.

According to Kron, growth so far is “just the beginning”.

He said Catch will soon begin to promote deals from its marketplace sellers in daily emails to customers and through push notifications.

“Right now, [the marketplace deals] are up there [on the website] passively. Obviously our strength is in marketing sales opportunities. We’ll start doing it more and more with marketplace sellers,” he said.

Catch has also begun to let certain sellers offer free shipping through its Club Catch loyalty program.

Kron said thousands of marketplace products now qualify for free shipping through Club Catch, in addition to the 25,000 products Catch offers itself.

Kron said it’s an attractive deal for sellers, since they get access to Catch’s most loyal customers for free. They just have to wear the cost of free shipping.

Meanwhile, by expanding the range of products that qualify for free shipping, Catch is able to compete more directly with Amazon Prime.

The company does not currently warehouse or deliver those products on behalf of sellers – a la Fulfilment by Amazon – but Kron said that is “definitely something we’re looking into”.

“It’s just a variation of holding stock on consignment. Keep an eye on this space. We will have more and more sellers we will partner with on the warehousing side as well. What we do in this space will evolve over the coming years,” he said.

Ebay more “aspirational than realistic”

Noting the “extremely high percentage of new visitors” coming to Catch.com.au through Marketplace, Kron is optimistic about the company’s position in the increasingly competitive marketplace space.

He dismissed Ebay’s recent announcements as more “aspirational than realistic”.

“They’re just a platform, they don’t control shipping. If they think they’re going to take control of the logistics of their sellers, that’s going to be very tricky to do,” he said, in reference to the launch of Ebay Guaranteed Delivery.

“There’s not much scope for Ebay to have anything outside of what they’re doing now. They don’t have a ‘buy box’ like Amazon and Catch do. There are too many duplicate listings [on Ebay]. They’re more in a catch-up stage,” he said.

Catch Group CEO Nati Harpaz is chairman of Octomedia, Inside Retail and Internet Retailing’s parent company.

This story first appeared on sister site, Internet Retailing.

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