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Makro marketplace chaos

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By: Hanno Labuschagne - MyBroadband

Makro’s migration to an interim marketplace platform for third-party sellers has been plagued with issues that frustrate businesses selling their products on its online store.

In addition to selling products from its own stores, Marko’s online marketplace has been open to products from third-party sellers since 2017.

Similar to Amazon or Takealot, Makro levies a commission on the sale of products in return for access to its logistics and delivery services.

MyBroadband was first made aware of the issues with the new marketplace platform by a Makro seller in early June 2024.

The seller pointed us to a Facebook group for online sellers on major marketplaces in South Africa, including Marko, Amazon, and Takealot.

We found multiple posts with sellers complaining about glitches and lacking features on the new platform, which Makro moved to on 16 May 2024.

That was just two days after Makro notified sellers they would be migrated to the new platform.

Many sellers’ biggest problems were being underpaid or not receiving payments for fulfilled sales in the first half of May.

Among the other major issues encountered on the new platform included:

  • Inability to log in or change email addresses
  • Lack of multiple profiles, so all the seller’s staff have to use the same login details
  • Inability to create/edit listed products
  • Activating/deactivating listings randomly stops functioning
  • Stock quantity and prices randomly change, dropping well below their listed values
  • Orders randomly getting cancelled
  • Inability to view sales history on old or new portal, making proof of purchases difficult
  • Missing product listings

Many sellers said they complained about the problems to Marko Marketplace’s support team but had received little valuable feedback other than a recommendation that they join a webinar explaining the new portal.

In a notice sent to some sellers at a later stage, Makro Marketplace said that proceeds of sales delivered between 1 and 15 May 2024 would be processed immediately, while sales from 16 to 31 May were to be processed on 18 June 2024.

The company apologised for any frustration caused but did not acknowledge issues with the new platform.

As of 10 June 2024, several sellers reported they had still not received their disbursements for May 2024.

The migration is also believed to be behind a glitch that caused the Makro app and website to incorrectly drop the prices of hundreds of expensive products — including Apple MacBooks and Saeco Espresso machines — to R55 per on Saturday, 25 May 2024.

Makro cancelled the orders and brushed the pricing error off, calling it “entirely unintentional and obvious”.

“We have subsequently apologised most sincerely to affected customers, who have also been notified that the impacted portion of their orders will unfortunately not be fulfilled,” Massmart said.

Only an interim portal

Massmart told MyBroadband it was keenly aware of the issues and sincerely sorry for the inconvenience sellers have experienced with the portal.

“We are very focused on resolving these issues and are in close contact with our sellers to whom we are providing regular updates,” said Massmart corporate affairs head Brian Leroni.

Leroni explained that Massmart had communicated the current platform was only an interim system, which would be replaced by a new feature-rich seller platform at a later stage.

“This communication highlighted short-term functional limitations that included, for example, that there would be a single user login per seller account,” Leroni said.

“At the time of this response, we have, in addition to one-on-one seller engagement, provided 14 seller-wide updates and access to 16 opportunities to attend live online training sessions.”

“We have also appointed an additional 40 agents in our Seller Call Centre to provide a faster, more personalised service during this transitionary period.”

Leroni said the new fully-fledged seller platform would be launched in the third quarter of 2024 and will use technology and advanced functionality from the Flipkart e-commerce platform in India.

Massmart previously told sellers this platform will provide a host of benefits, including fee discounts over the launch period, more promotional tools, and improved access to Makro marketing campaigns.

It will also feature an API allowing them to integrate their seller portals with their own systems for seamless product and order management.

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