Temple & Webster is Australia’s # 1 online retailer of furniture and homewares. Established in Sydney in 2011 by four founders – Mark Coulter (Chief Executive Officer), Adam McWhinney (Group Chief Experience Officer), Conrad Yiu (Non-Executive Director) and Brian Shanahan (former Chief Executive Officer). It was named after William Temple and John Webster, convict artisans who were commissioned to make fine furniture for Governor Lachlan Macquarie in the early 1820s. The site was initially a members-only sales site established as a content-driven platform for limited-time offers.
In mid-2015, Temple & Webster acquired Wayfair Australia, the local arm of the successful US business Wayfair.com, rebranding the business as Zizo.com.au and changing the format of the website to an open platform. In late 2015, the business also acquired Melbourne-based online furniture retailer and importer Milan Direct. These two acquisitions led to the formation of the Temple & Webster Group ahead of their IPO on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).
After merging with Wayfair and becoming an open e-commerce store, Temple & Webster started to operate a much larger catalogue going from approximately 12,000 product SKUs to more than 130,000. “We needed a robust feed management platform that would allow us to launch and scale our marketplace activity in Australia,” Carole El-Rahi, Senior Marketing Manager at Temple & Webster tells us.
In order to manage the much larger SKU count and new direction, Temple & Webster turned to ChannelAdvisor in 2015. Initially it began by using a self-service marketplace solution, but in June 2017 changed to the Managed Marketplaces Premium offering.
Temple & Webster looked for the right strategy powered by the right tech vendor. “Technology is really key for us and working with innovative and best-in-class vendors is definitely part of our strategy. For example, advanced feed management has great potential to help us grow,” continued El-Rahi.
For a company managing such a large SKU count, it needed to ensure it had the right balance between its internal team and external processes and procedures. “Managed Marketplace has been really helpful in the context of running a lean and agile marketing team,” El-Rahi explains. “We have been able to free up resources, shifting from spending time on day-to-day feed management, to focussing on being more strategic in running promotions and projects.”
While Temple & Webster currently only sells on eBay, other marketplace launches are being considered. “eBay has a set of customers that are really loyal. Being part of this marketplace offers a complementary pipeline of customers to the ones originating from our other marketing channels,” says El-Rahi.
For Temple & Webster, engaging ChannelAdvisor is about a true strategic partnership, not just a platform. “Besides the resource optimisation aspect, being on a Managed Service contract we also benefit from ChannelAdvisor’s internal experts,” El-Rahi says. “For instance the team was incredibly helpful when we had to transition to our new store on eBay on a tight deadline,” El-Rahi explains.
So what should other retailers consider when deciding if partnering with a solution provider is right for them? “I would recommend other retailers to consider what level of expertise is available in their team before deciding to bring marketplace management inhouse. Feed management for a marketplace requires both technical and analytical skills. There’s also a learning curve and training required to run a marketplace account efficiently. All this needs to be considered when choosing between a self-managed account and the Managed Service.”