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Mathis Home Is the Latest to See the Logic in Running a Marketplace

For independent furniture retailers, one of the limitations on their growth is simply a matter of space—floorspace, showroom space, warehouse space. Even if they want to expand their business with additional products or categories, that often means eliminating something from their existing offering.

But Oklahoma City-based furnishings retailer Mathis Home found a way around its space constraints by launching a digital marketplace that includes a curated selection of third-party vendors alongside the store’s furniture.

“We’ve all watched the business impact that a marketplace had for Amazon and what it unlocked for them,” said Rit Mathis, chief marketing officer, Mathis Home. “Furniture by nature is big and bulky and takes up a lot of space, and it’s expensive. We’ve got big enough warehouses—some of the biggest in the industry—to be able to hold as big a first-party selection as anybody. But even that has its limits. And the marketplace for us is an opportunity just to completely scale up our business.”

Mathis said the marketplace, which is operated by the Mirakl platform, will offer products such as kitchen accessories, top of bed, garage organization and blinds, among other items. The marketplace will allow Mathis Home to dip a toe into other categories without making a huge investment.

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“It’s great to be able to test adjacent product categories in a way where you don’t have to create a showroom floor plan for it, create a visual display, invest in the inventory, train all of your in-store sales associates on it,” Mathis said.

Mathis said data collected from the marketplace will allow the retailer to determine which products and categories should be integrated into its 34 brick-and-mortar stores.

“In some cases, the customers will be able to dictate through their behavior on our e-commerce website which of these categories are going to produce results if we do test handling them in store,” he said.

Mathis Home sees the marketplace as a selling tool for its in-person salespeople, as well, and wants them to view it as a way to add onto sales.

“We want all of our 700-plus retail sales associates to think of the marketplace items as just an expanded tool in their tool belt, so that they’re able to offer even more to their customers,” Mathis said.

And while Mathis said he sees this marketplace working in complement with the in-store experience, he also believes furniture retailers must have a robust e-commerce option if they want to not only survive, but grow in an increasingly competitive category.

“We aim to be one of the leaders when it comes to having a world-class web experience, and selection is a big part of that,” Mathis said. “Scale matters—that’s part of the game in e-commerce. We certainly think this marketplace can be a big answer to that.”