Woolworths venture fund invests in Marketplacer

Woolworths venture fund invests in Marketplacer

Marketplacer co-founder Jason Wyatt and W23 managing director Ingrid Maes.

An online marketplace developed by the founders of recently listed Bike Exchange (ASX: BEX) has today announced a multi-million dollar backing from Woolworths Group (ASX: WOW) venture capital arm W23, in a move aimed at extending the retail giant's offering for customers and suppliers.

Almost a decade after setting up global online cycling marketplace Bike Exchange, in 2016 Jason Wyatt and Sam Salter started applying their expertise and licensed technology to other business ventures through the foundation of Marketplacer.

In the space of four years the Melbourne-based trailblazing company has now worked with the likes of Nokia, Myer, SurfStitch, Providoor, Fishbrain, Global Sisters and Cellarspace, providing a "plug-and-play" platform to create marketplaces for products, services, events and bookings.

Wyatt, Marketplacer's executive chairman, says strategic and mutually beneficial partnerships are key to Marketplacer's growth trajectory as it extends its offering globally.

"To that end, we're thrilled to count iconic retailer Woolworths as both a Marketplacer client and investor," he says.

"This deeply collaborative partnership will see our team and technology drive a monumental digital transformation moment for the brand, while also supporting our own ability to expand, simplifying growth for businesses the world over."

W23 managing director Ingrid Maes describes Marketplacer as a leading platform for an increasing number of global retailers exploring third-party marketplace strategies, adding it will play a key role in powering Woolworths' own digital improvements.

"W23 invests in innovative startups that accelerate our ecosystem strategy, and where long term win-win partnerships are an inherent advantage for both parties," Maes says.

The investment comes as Woolworths prepares to launch a marketplace offering on Woolworths.com.au to improve the depth and breadth of its everyday needs range for customers in the near future.

"As more of our customers start their shopping journey digitally and buy groceries online, we know their expectations will only continue to rise," says Woolworths director of new business Faye Ilhan.

"Together with Marketplacer, we're building a marketplace for Woolworths.com.au, which will help extend our range of everyday needs products for online customers.

"As well as offering more choice to the millions of customers who visit our website each week, our marketplace will provide existing and new suppliers with fresh opportunities to partner with us to grow their business."

Ilhan says the marketplace will be highly curated, focused on extending Woolworths' core everyday needs categories.

"We look forward to exploring opportunities with supply partners," says Ilhan.

Woolworths.com.au will initially pilot an extended everyday needs range with BIG W later this year. This will help Woolworths gauge customer demand for an expanded range, while allowing it to test delivery logistics with another retailer in the group.

W23 was established by Woolworths Group in 2019 to access external innovation that accelerates the group's ecosystem strategy. Key investments to date include Sherpa, Eucalyptus, Spoon Guru and Longtail UX.

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