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Arts and crafts chain Michael's has announced that it is launching a new online marketplace that will use third-party sellers to triple the number of products it makes available to shoppers - at the moment, the SKU count stands at 250,000, and the marketplace should add another 750,000.

The move is part of what Michaels has been calling its "digital transformation."

For the moment, admission to the marketplace for sellers to invitation-only, limited to "experienced, professional sellers in the arts and crafts space." 

All shipping, refunds and return policies will be up to the individual marketplace sellers.

KC's View:

Timing is everything, and in this case, Michaels may be a little late to the party.

Just got a press release saying that "according to Digital Commerce 360’s 2023 Global Online Marketplaces Database, consumer spending through platforms of the big four - Taobao, Tmall, Amazon and - alone represented an astonishing 77% of total GMV by the Top 100 online marketplaces globally."

In other words, if you are not one of the global big four, you've got some work to do to attract consumer spending.

This isn't to say that other companies shouldn't try.  Certainly Walmart is developing its own marketplace offering, and Michaels has a big enough customer base that maybe it can make this work.

But I'd also argue that while Michaels believes that leaving things like shipping up to the individual vendors will be less expensive and give it deniability, it may in fact not be so.  Shoppers who make purchases on Michaels' marketplace may not make the distinction, and mishaps, mistakes and even malfeasance could erode its brand equity.