Loblaw Companies Ltd. is launching an online marketplace featuring toys and furniture from new vendors, as Canada’s largest retailer seeks to be more like Amazon.com Inc. or Walmart Inc. in the home delivery of a multitude of products.

“Through this expanded PC Express offering, we will provide (customers) with a curated, edited assortment of products that complement their current shop, from some exciting new vendors,” Garry Senecal, Loblaw’s chief customer officer, said in a statement.

The new offerings include products by Canadian design and décor firm Umbra and Lennox Furniture Inc. and other products from baby-care to pets.  Items the grocery and pharmacy chain hasn’t traditionally stocked in a bid to boost complementary sales, it said in a statement on November 21st.

“For example, as new parents prepare for a baby with diapers and formula, they would probably find it very convenient to be able to order blankets, wash cloths or even a crib through us,” Hesham Fahmy, vice president of Loblaw Digital, said in the statement.

At launch, new third-party companies will be introduced in five expanded categories and new products will continue to roll out, the company said.

Loblaw bought Las Vegas-based tech company PF Tech this year to help integrate its online marketplace with its delivery service PC Express. The retailer is betting on the expansion of business as online shopping and home delivery become the new normal with giants such as Amazon, much like printed catalogues heralded the consumer age a century ago.

The expanded goods range ‘curated’ from other retailers will be available online through the Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore and Atlantic Superstore banners, the company said.

The online marketplace push comes as the company has scored broad appeal with its nearly 700 click and collect locations that allow people to surf-shop then pick up items at nearby spots such as train stations and Shoppers Drug Marts.

The new marketplace expands the company’s general merchandise offering, which it already sells in store, with complementary goods “that strengthen the core offering and enhance convenience and loyalty,” Irene Nattel, an analyst with RBC Dominion Securities Inc., wrote in a note.

RBC doesn’t anticipate the marketplace will add a meaningful contribution in the short term, she said, but as the company expands the product assortment and the business matures “the initiative should help drive modest top line and margin growth in time.”

Loblaw owns more than 1,050 grocery stores, 1,400 Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix locations and nearly 500 Loblaw outlets. Its offerings also include financial services in PC Financial and clothes with the Joe Fresh label.

Source: Globe and Mail
Source: The Star
Source: Financial Post