J.Crew quietly launched a new platform that takes a page out of Amazon's playbook

  • J.Crew has quietly launched a new selling platform that is similar to Amazon Marketplace.

  • The new service, known as J.Crew Marketplace, enables third-party sellers to list items for sale on its website. J.Crew handles payment for these items, but they are shipped directly to customers from sellers.

  • The new platform is part of J.Crew's strategy to make the brand more diverse in its offerings and appeal to more customers.

  • Amazon Marketplace has become one of the most successful areas of the e-commerce giant's business, and it is now responsible for more than half of all units sold on Amazon.

J.Crew has quietly launched its own version of Amazon Marketplace.

The new service, which is appropriately called J.Crew Marketplace, soft-launched this spring, according to J.Crew.

It functions in the same way as Amazon's own Marketplace. Customers can purchase an item through the third-party seller on J.Crew's website. That item is then shipped directly to the customer from the seller. If the customer decides to return the item, it is shipped back directly to the seller. J.Crew handles the payment on both transactions.

A spokesperson for the company would not confirm what percentage of sales J.Crew deducts from each purchase or why its website says that these items cannot be shipped to Washington, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania or Oklahoma.

The partnered brands include a mix of smaller, boutique labels including New York-based jewelry brand Odette and swimwear company Onia. Neither of these brands has its own store, but their products are sold online and in other retailers. Both brands said they launched on J.Crew's website in May.

It's hard to spot anything different on its website, especially as J.Crew already partners with other brands such as Gola, Nike, and New Balance, which are listed in an almost identical way. The only difference here is the note that informs the shopper that this is a "J.Crew Marketplace" item and will be shipped directly from the seller.

However, there's a big difference behind the scenes. J.Crew doesn't hold the inventory of these brands, which means it doesn't need to worry about shipping, returns, or whether it will be left with unsold stock that is prone to discounting.

This new marketplace is part of J.Crew's new strategy to make the brand more diverse in its offerings and appeal to more customers. Amazon's own marketplace has become one of the most successful areas of its business and is now responsible for more than half of all units sold on Amazon.

"We must reflect the America of today, which is significantly more diverse than the America of 20 years ago," new J.Crew CEO James Brett told The Wall Street Journal in August. "You can't be one price. You can't be one aesthetic. You can't be one fit."

J.Crew's new look

Brett has been leading the charge in J.Crew's turnaround efforts after several years of flagging sales. The store had been accused of becoming unaffordable and impractical under the leadership of its former CEO, Mickey Drexler, and longtime creative director, Jenna Lyons. To combat this, Brett has lowered prices, added plus-sizes, and most recently started selling its low-cost Mercantile collection on Amazon.

His strategy seems to be paying off, as J.Crew's same-store sales numbers turned a corner in the company's most recent quarterly results after dropping for the last three years. In August, J.Crew's namesake brand reported a 1% increase in comparable sales for the second quarter.

On Monday, J.Crew unveiled its new look with a diversity-driven ad campaign that features groups of people from creative and non-profit organizations dressed in J.Crew clothing.

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