Marketplacer secures millions in funding from Woolies, topping off 12 months of growth and the dawn of “e-commerce 2.0”

Marketplacer Co-Founder Jason Wyatt and Ingrid Maes, Managing Director of W23. Source: supplied. Photographer: Esteban LaTessa.

Melbourne startup Marketplacer has secured a multimillion-dollar investment from W23, the venture capital firm of groceries giant Woolworths, as well as a partnership with the Aussie behemoth itself.

The dollar value of the investment has not been disclosed. But, speaking to SmartCompany, Marketplacer co-founder Jason Wyatt confirms it’s in the millions, and “pretty exciting” for the startup to attract the attention of such a massive retailer.

The startup had already won the tender for building Woolies’ marketplace before any investment discussions began, Wyatt explains. Now, the cash injection follows a $5 million investment from Salesforce Ventures just weeks ago, and a $20 million boost back in November.

All of this gives the startup credibility on a global scale, Wyatt explains.

The deals with Woolies are also indicative of a shift in the Australian retail space, and the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Founded in 2016, Marketplacer was born out of cycle marketplace BikeExchange, as Wyatt and co-founder Sam Salter started licensing out the technology behind the business.

It allows retailers to build their own marketplaces, meaning they can sell products they don’t actually own or have in their inventory.

It’s about creating what Wyatt calls “a connected commerce strategy, which is really e-commerce 2.0”.

Over the past 12 months, Marketplacer has doubled its customer base, and its clients have also enjoyed “extraordinary growth”.

The restaurant delivery platform Providoor, for example, was seeing a $100 million run rate within 12 weeks of its launch, Wyatt says.

“I’ve never seen that in this country before.”

Marketplacer welcomes digital revolution

We may be past the worst of the COVID-19 crisis in Australia, but some of the changes it sparked in retail are here to stay.

Typically, it can take about a decade for a societal change in behaviour to take effect. When the pandemic hit, however, “we had this catastrophic event that forced behaviours to change overnight”.

Now that Australia is in the recovery phase, people will go back to their old habits, Wyatt suggests. But even people who had previously never shopped online before are now comfortable browsing the web as well as the shopping centres. That’s a change that likely won’t be undone.

“They’ve been there once so they’ll come again.”

At the same time, the co-founder notes that logistics networks were forced “to make five years’ worth of growth in three weeks”.

That stretched them, but it means there has been a shift in delivery infrastructure to maintain a good customer experience.

Wyatt believes we’re living through a “digital revolution” in retail.

And, he was fortunate enough to be in a good spot to take advantage of it. It’s been a whirlwind of a 12 months, and he puts the startup’s success solely down to the team behind it.

“We were in the right place in the right time, but we also had the right product at the right time,” he says.

“That’s a testament to the great people we have.”

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