Mizuno sneakers and some other brands may soon be using Target.com to sell their products directly to you.
Target is actively reaching out to brands — both national and specialty brands — on an invitation-only basis to ask them to sell on its website. It says it's planning to partner with companies in certain categories, like sporting goods and toys, where it's seeing high shopper demand. For comparison, the barriers to entry to become a third-party seller are much lower on Walmart.com and Amazon: brands fill out an application requesting approval to sell there.
The pivot for Target comes as many bricks-and-mortar retailers are trying to figure out how to make their e-commerce businesses more profitable. Typically, hefty shipping fees, returns and other expenses make it more costly to add customers on the internet than in stores. But working with more third-party sellers is one approach companies are taking to pass on some of those costs. In the case of Target's new initiative, called "Target +," its third-party sellers will be responsible for shipping and other costs.
"We see this as a long-term opportunity to drive profitable growth," said Rick Gomez, Target chief marketing officer and chief digital officer. "This is intended to be a very curated and select group of products and brands. ... We are reaching out to the brands we want."
This invitation-only approach could also help Target avoid some of the PR blunders that Walmart and Amazon have faced over controversial merchandise ending up on their websites. Walmart last year, for example, sparked outrage on social media when a third-party seller sold a shirt that read "Impeach 45," referring to President Donald Trump. Walmart eventually pulled the merchandise. Because of the size of their platforms, it's been harder for Walmart, Amazon and even eBay to monitor all of their third-party sellers — and what they're selling — online.