LONDON — Boots is joining fellow British retail giants, opening an online marketplace to drive volume, update its image and build up its offer via third-party brands.
The British pharmacy and beauty chain said Tuesday that Boots Marketplace will open in spring 2023, further extending the range of boots.com, which it described as the U.K.’s most visited health and beauty website.
The retail giant, which remains part of Walgreens Boots Alliance after its U.S. parent failed to find a buyer, said the new marketplace would give customers access to more brands and products, and offer “suppliers of all sizes” an opportunity to reach Boots customers.
The company said the Boots Marketplace will allow “brands of any size” to list their products on boots.com. Boots said it plans to take on hundreds of new brands, including established and new names.
Boots described the new platform as part of its “ongoing digital strategy to rapidly extend the range of the current website,” and explore new and diverse categories for its customers.
The new marketplace will be powered by the platform system Mirakl, and allow customers to use a single checkout for mixed baskets. It will also give all customers access to the benefits of shopping with Boots, including the store’s loyalty points.
Boots said brands will be able to join the platform and, depending on how they perform, will have the opportunity to be stocked in store.
Paula Bobbett, chief digital officer at Boots, said the company was approaching the new project “with a deep understanding of our customers and the health, beauty and wellness products that they want to buy. It helps us to work with new, smaller and entrepreneurial brands. Marketplace will allow us to build on the strength of our existing business to offer an even bigger range of choice for consumers and be the first to market with emerging brands and new products.”
Boots said that since 2020 it has launched around 70 new and cult beauty brands, including Elemis, which landed in 10 stores and on boots.com last week, as well as smaller up-and-coming brands.
Boots is the latest British retailer to embrace the marketplace model in a bid to grab market share from the likes of Amazon. Next and Marks & Spencer are just some of the traditional retailers that have begun offering a variety of third-party brands. Those retailers are even taking stakes in the brands and stocking them at their physical stores.
As reported in June, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. decided to shelve the sale of Boots, and its in-house brand No7 Beauty, due to the tough macroeconomic environment and a threat of recession in the U.S.
The company said that while there had been buyer interest, no third party was able to make an offer that “adequately reflects the high potential value of Boots and No7 Beauty Company.”
WBA added that the decision to retain the businesses has also been supported by the ongoing strong performance and growth of Boots and No7, which have exceeded expectations despite challenging conditions.