B&Q launches Mirakl online marketplace to bring third party suppliers into the fold

Gary Flood Profile picture for user gflood June 22, 2022
Mirakl’s enterprise marketplace platform has been key to B&Q onboarding thousands of new products from third parties into one integrated purchase

An image of a B&Q store
(Image sourced via B&Q’s Twitter account)

B&Q has integrated its offline and online channels into one unified omnichannel solution, using cloud-based e-commerce software company Mirakl. This has allowed the home improvement and garden retailer to set up a new e-marketplace, which has tripled the range of items customers can choose from online. 

diginomica also recently covered the company’s work with Macy’s, which worked with Mirakl to launch a new marketplace that allows third party merchants to sell their products via macys.com and bloomingdales.com, including brands that the retailer doesn’t currently offer.

Similarly, when B&Q upgraded its website, diy.com, it saw the opportunity to incorporate 100,000-plus home improvement products that come from third-party sellers, complementing the 40,000 products B&Q itself sells.

The contract also means B&Q’s parent company Kingfisher has access to Mirakl’s technology in order to deploy digital marketplaces in other markets, which potentially includes 1,300 stores in nine countries.

The new channel, which launched in March, is there to let customers decide if they want items for either home delivery or, eventually, click and collect in-store. B&Q’s Marketplace Director, Tristan Commecy, said: 

Within a couple of years, we'll be talking about millions of products, especially once we venture deeper into categories and ranges.

So, we needed a partner that could help us get to that level, because it's not an easy thing to.

Having a network of 300 stores nationwide means customers can also return items purchased from the marketplace to their local branch, he added, as B&Q believes its customers want choice, combined with convenience.

Other benefits to B&Q customers include a wider choice of wallpaper, lighting, and power tools, as well as a new range of small domestic appliances, which is a whole new category for the brand. Commecy also notes new ranges, such as Graham and Brown, TopToolsDirect, Philips, Breville, and Bosch, are also now going to be there for his customers.

Commecy said:

We are bringing a marketplace into our portfolio because we want to bring broader deeper choice and convenience to consumers. We're seeing a lot of customers that are looking for one-stop shops where they can find everything. An online marketplace seems to us as the best way to deliver this to our consumers, as it offers more choice, more products and convenience.

A marketplace is simply the most straightforward and fastest way to bring additional products to our consumers that would otherwise require a lot of a lot of resource and effort if we wanted to source everything ourselves. Now, we can instead work with brands and partners who already have these products, who can source them much faster than we could.

Headless and seamless

B&Q has been offering an online shop for some time, as well as an app.

What Mirakl allows it to do, Commency said, is to help B&Q easily integrate third party merchant catalogs onto the platform. He stated that the specific technology being used was chosen due to his new partner’s experience, the product’s potential to scale, and suitability for being rolled out easily to other Kingfisher businesses internationally.

Another attractor was the vendor’s ‘headless’ architecture, which means back-end functionality can easily work with B&Q’s existing front end, as well as its ability to offer a seamless buying experience. Commency added: 

Our consumers are used to buying online or on our app, so we didn't want to create a separate process to purchase products from third party merchants via B&Q. We wanted a single journey, where they can go and buy products from B&Q and a marketplace, but still have one checkout and one payment process, with delivery being carried out by the respective parties. This way, we get maximum simplicity.

What converts and what doesn’t

Since the March launch of the new omnichannel service, Commecy said merchants have already been contacting him to get on to the marketplace. Some are already reaching the level of hundreds of products ready for purchase. 

He added,

One thing that has been striking is that as soon as we've been able to surface the products onto our platform, we see sales without even doing much marketing. That reinforces the idea that a marketplace will help us bring what customers are looking for, but were previously not there, so they weren’t purchasing from us. 

It also makes us want to go faster on opening more categories up and to do marketing together with the merchant. That will give us good results - and will also be great for the merchants, because they’re also looking for a strong return on investment when they join our platform.

Returning items bought from a merchant online in-store is already an option, but the next extension of diy.com will be ordering online and having the option to collect at a local B&Q. Commency added:

Farther down the line, we are thinking about ways to let the customers know we have millions of products online that they can also access from their phone, from their desktop, probably by displaying the best sellers. We're looking at browsing patterns and what converts and what doesn’t convert, to try and always bring the most relevant choice to consumers. 

But yes, the next immediate focus is delivering click and collect.

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