Australian retail chain Myer has launched a new online marketplace in an apparent bid to remain competitive against retail giant Amazon.
The Myer Market is a new online platform that stocks a curated range of home, entertainment and lifestyle products and experiences.
It will operate independently from myer.com.au, but purchases will still qualify for Myer One loyalty points and rewards.
Most goods purchased on Myer Market can also be returned in Myer stores. It will be launched as a beta and is being developed in partnership with Marketplacer, the team behind Bike Exchange.
Myer's chief digital and data officer Mark Cripsey said the offering was a "new frontier" for the brand.
"Some of the world's fastest growing companies are marketplaces — selling products and services without owning the asset," he said.
"Myer has a tradition of curation and The Myer Market is an exciting new frontier, to leverage our brand and expand our range and offer as we continue to strive to provide our customers with innovative retail environments and experiences both in-store and online.
"Myer encourages Australia's best and brightest brands to get in contact with the team at Myer today to discuss featuring on this exciting new online destination. This is a wonderful opportunity for Australian brands who are seeking new distribution avenues to engage directly with customers around their brand stories, while also benefiting from Myer's store network and the market leading Myer One loyalty program."
However, some retail experts have questioned the initiative.
Queensland University of Technology retail expert Gary Mortimer said it appeared Myer was failing to take a proactive approach to shifting consumer trends.
"Myer doesn't seem to have a very clear strategy. It currently appears to be quite reactive to what's happening in the market," he said.
"To compete against Amazon, the world's largest online marketplace, is more of a reactive response to a global competitor in the market. When it comes to competition and strategy it's better to focus on your point of difference and how you are different to your competitor.
"Amazon has a very good transactional platform with hundreds of brands at generally low prices, so you can't compete against them on range and price — it's better to focus on in-store relevant and positive customer experiences, and focus on what can't be replicated."
Retail analyst Geoff Dart, of DGC Advisory, said the launch of the Myer Market represented a "disconnect" between the brand and consumer expectations.
"It's like building a house on sand. The company is struggling … their customers are going into nursing homes and retirement villages and they haven't captured the younger market. The way in which Myer is now putting forward a marketplace is a disconnect when you look at the brand's perception of who their customers are and who they are trying to attract," he said.
"In my opinion, I can't understand why they would try to do that when the company's future is questionable. It's a matter of going back to basics to bring younger people back into stores and brands."