NEWS: Australian retail giant Bunnings have launched ‘Marketlink’, a major online marketplace which further bolsters their e-commerce presence in furniture and homewares.
A pre-shop pit stop at a Bunnings sausage sizzle is now as much of an Australian institution as the Boxing Day test. Pioneers in experiential shopping, what started out as a simple hardware store has become a major family shopping destination. Whilst not popular with Vegans, it’s also testament to the power of a meaty snack! The sausage is to Bunnings what the Swedish meatball is to Ikea.
Bunnings’ website is also the third most visited shopping site in Australia after eBay and Amazon (Australian Financial Review), which makes it an enviable platform for wholesalers and manufacturers.
It’s an impressive stat, given that they only launched e-commerce in 2018 and still haven’t taken all of their products online – that’s slated to take place over the next 18 months. By the time they’ve finished, 60,000 products will be available online. They’re an example how a successful bricks and mortar business can parlay that into online success, while maintaining a strong, community-based brand in real life.
Major Online Expansion with Marketlink
For those who love the convenience and choice of shopping for affordable homewares and design online, Bunnings has made it a lot easier by partnering with third parties to create ‘Marketlink’, which is already stocking over 8000 products. Many of the products are not available in store.
It means the company’s e-commerce platform now offers a huge variety of products, with some shipped by Bunnings and others directly from ‘Trusted Sellers’. In a world when buyers are looking to streamline their experience, it enables shoppers the luxury of staying on one platform.
The Marketlink offering includes leading brands like Scanpan, Royal Doulton, Sheridan, Riedel, Sunbeam and Braun, across categories such as furniture, homewares, kitchenware, bedding and home entertainment.
An Australian Success Story
Bunnings was founded in Perth in 1907 by English emigres Arthur and Robert Bunnings, who were active in the sawmill industry. Over the course of the twentieth century, they moved into building supplies and then hardware retail.
Bunnings opened its first warehouse-style store in Melbourne in 1994, the same year that ASX20 company Wesfarmers took 100% ownership. The brand now boasts around 377 trading locations across Australia and New Zealand, with 44,000 employees. They have also moved into the UK with the purchase of Homebase in 2016.
Now considered an Australian institution – despite a dodgy moment last year when they decided to serve onions before snags – Bunnings has become one of the most trusted consumer brands in Australia.
Affordable Furniture & Homewares
The Australian design and furniture industry at large has mixed feelings about Bunnings’ growing power in the market. Many designers and independent retail stores have questioned the provenance and quality of its own-range designs. Like its mass-market US cousin Walmart, Bunnings offers homewares and furniture at unbelievably low prices, and have been accused of taking heavy inspiration from other people’s original designs.
The counter argument is that – for those who have more dash than cash – Bunnings and their ilk offer people the chance to furnish their homes with style, within budget.
Marketlink will also connect buyers with more expensive premium brands who fall into their ‘Trusted Seller’ category.
Buying representatives from Bunnings attended the 2019 Australian International Furniture Fair (AIFF) in Melbourne, which is the furniture industry’s premier buying and networking destination. Co-located with Decor + Design, together the shows form the only 360-degree view of the Australian interiors industry, with 500+ brands across indoor and outdoor furniture, lighting, textiles, art and homewares.
The show is an important opportunity for retailers to experience products in real life, particularly for online retailers. Ultimately, the decision for wholesalers and manufacturers to go with mass market retailers like Bunnings, or choose smaller independent retailers, is one they must make in line with their product and business direction.
The 17th edition of AIFF will take place 16 – 19 July 2020 in Melbourne and will boast featured attractions such as VIVID, which is Australia’s longest running competition for emerging furniture and product designers.
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