GC Buying Group has debuted CreateMyPlace (CMP), an online platform designed to help the independent housewares channel take advantage of the demand for online convenience. The platform was developed to allow consumers to purchase goods from local retailers that can be picked up at the store, keeping local consumers shopping locally. Additionally, products will also ship for free in the continental U.S.
GOURMET INSIDER® executive managing editor, Emily Cappiello, recently spoke with Stephanie Rogers, online coordinator for the buying group, about the development of the project as well as what GC hopes it will do for the changing landscape of independent retail.
GI: How long have you all been working on this type of program?
SR: GC Buying Group developed a program with Cooking.com as fulfillment for GC member’s stores’ online presence. After the acquisition of Cooking.com to Target, the program faded out. GC spent time talking to members, researching companies and coming up with a solution to replace the previous program. Out of this prior experience and what was learned from it, GC determined that an online marketplace would be the best solution for all of our members.
GI: Can you tell us a little bit about the program and the operations?
SR: Working just like any other online marketplace, GC store members can go in and create their own storefront. There is a list of products that retailers can choose from that are part of the Gourmet Catalog program and they can add them into their shopping platform for the customer to purchase from. They can also add products from other manufacturers that are not part of the Gourmet Catalog program. We have about 50,000 pre-loaded products on the site that they can just take from and make small tweaks, if they want.
With Cooking.com, a lot of retailers had a dual shopping cart that [would allow them to shop a wider variety on Cooking.com], so it will work similarly to that. I think our stores are so unique that they will end up doing a combination of different things in collaboration with CMP.
GI: What is different about this platform than other online purchasing platforms?
SR: One of the unique things about this platform is that we are protecting MAP pricing. One of the biggest things that our stores and vendors are seeing is that other online marketplaces will sell below MAP, even if it’s just a couple of pennies. Having created a MAP feature that cannot be changed is one of the unique features of CreateMyPlace.
The second thing we wanted to do with this is keep local shopping alive. That’s what we’re here for and it’s so important for us to be able to drive that traffic into stores. We do it through multiple ways throughout our program, but why not through the marketplace? So, we worked with our developer and came up with a geo-based product search so that the stores that are the closest to you will come up first. It also has an in-store pick-up option. You can purchase online for convenience, but you can then go and pick it up in the store.
For the full story, check out the September/October 2019 edition of GOURMET INSIDER.