In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Jason Wyatt, the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Marketplacer which, in his words, allows you to “sell shit that you don’t own”. Put another way, Marketplacer allows retailers to create marketplaces to dramatically expand the product range and serve every need of your customer. The platform currently powers 100 marketplaces in 10 countries across the world and connects about 25,000 businesses. In Australia, they are used by leading retailers including Woolowrths, Surfstitch., Myer and Petstock and have recently got investment from Woolworths and Salesforce. They are currently focused on their US expansion as they aim to take over the retail world! But this isn’t his first parade!Jason also started Bike Exchange which is a leading online cycling marketplace in 10 countries and valued at $32m on the ASX. In today’s chat we cover the different types of marketplaces retailers can consider for growth, why marketplaces are a customer strategy – not a product strategy and why Jason starts his Melbourne mornings off with a surf.
“When you’ve got a brand site and you can connect to everyone in the world selling your products…it’s unbelievably powerful.“Jason Wyatt
Questions answered in this episode include…
- How did your idea for Marketplacer become a reality?
- If brands want to spin up a marketplace, what investment would you recommend they start with? How much technical work is involved?
- How do you see marketplaces evolving in the next 2-3 years?
Two mates and a bike classifieds site
So a best mate and I, Sam Salter, we actually went to primary school together. We’ve been thick as thieves for an incredibly long period of time, and his family was heavily into cycling. They actually owned a bike store. And just through that family connection, we’ve been really familiar with the cycling industry for an incredibly long period of time, and Sam’s mum actually ran classified businesses from a magazine perspective in Australia. So, Sam was working in classified magazines, and then I was just, I probably took a more traditional route. I did university then I worked at KPMG and Morgan Stanley and others around the world, and then we were just talking one day and said, “There’s more bikes sold than cars. It’s a passionate enthusiast market.”
People in some instances can’t really afford it. They’re paying up to $20,000 for a bike, so they’re going to want to try it, if that makes sense? You’re going to upgrade, downgrade, hide it from your wife or hide it from your husband! The Lance Armstrong phenomenon, the rise of cycling on the back of Lance Armstrong, and one of Australia’s greatest sportsmen in Cadel Evans. So we had the tide coming in when you think about business and you think of a problem, we had the tide coming in. We had this massive supply base, we had this massive consumer base, and then we had these wonderful small businesses, but how did they get online? How did they get a channel in this online world?
And we just saw this opportunity to create a community, create a sense of belonging behind it, that we could create an amazing marketplace. And BikeExchange, it’s a really interesting one because it’s actually now in 10 countries around the world, and it’s in the USA, Benelux in Europe, in South America. And there’s actually very few marketplaces globally that have actually got that larger geographic coverage. So in doing all of that, we just kind of looked back and said, “This is way too hard. So, if you’re in a startup, how do you create a sales strategy, execute a marketing plan, hire people, become HR experts?” There’s so much learning, and you’re faking it until you make it. You’ve got the hustle, you’ve got everything you’ve got in there, but at the same time, we’re building a technology to use and consume every single day to solve our problems.
In 2012, we won Telstra Business of the Year, and we thought then there was a really big opportunity to make it easier for people to solve these types of problems, and that has evolved massively over time, but effectively where we really, really, really struck it out is when we made it easy for people to sell things that they don’t own, no matter who they were, whether they’re a tribe, whether they were a retailer, or whether they were a brand or wholesaler. That’s where that true scale came through.
A marketplace by any other name…
So if you’ve got a large cohort of customers, or you know how to attract a large cohort of customers, then if you can make it easy to sell them things on a scalable basis, then you might not call yourself a marketplace. You may call it range extension, you may call it drop shipping, you may call it whatever you like, but if you can pull that together in a really cohesive experience, then you can employ a marketplace strategy.
Now Marketplacer powers 100 marketplaces in 10 countries around the world with 25,000 businesses connected into the ecosystem. And our community, the more people we get, the more customers we get, the stronger our community gets together, and that’s really something we’re deeply trying to achieve.
Know your customer and play in that space
It’s actually all about the customer. So, it’s mapping that customer journey, it’s actually trying to solve the problems that customers want you to solve for them within your ecosystem. There’ll always be a place for what we call mega marketplaces, these big everything stores out there, but what we’re finding is if you can actually get that whole customer experience and you can own that channel for the things that you want to be famous for, that makes sense in a curated basis for your customer journey, and you don’t have to have that in your warehouse, you don’t have to link it up, you don’t have to take the risk around it. We’re finding that in spades.
SurfStich is a great example, right? SurfStitch aren’t going to sell baby prams on SurfStich, right? But they know their customer is in a mindset. Their mindset is, “I love the outdoors and I love surfing,” and if you love surfing, chances are you love the outdoors and camping and some fringe products around that. You love wellness and health. It’s not the type of sport you can physically do unless you’re pretty fit, and that’s exactly where they’ve gone. And what they’re learning out of that is what their customers want to do and don’t do and what categories can they play in and not play in, but they can do it with speed and scale and profit, which is one of the most important things.