Express, Urban Outfitters and J. Crew Open Websites to Third-Party Sellers, Hoping to Win New Shoppers

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  • Express, Urban Outfitters and J. Crew are trying to increase sales by offering products from third-party sellers through their websites.
  • The retailers are trying to compete with Amazon and increase the chances that shoppers will be able to find everything they need.
  • Amazon has had great success with third-party sellers. These products make up around 60% of sales on the platform.

Retailers including Express, Urban Outfitters and J. Crew are trying to better compete with Amazon by offering products from third-party sellers on their websites.

The move is an attempt to capture shoppers as they browse the internet, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The retailers are planning to offer a wider range of products to increase the chances that shoppers can find what they are looking for on their websites and boost sales. However, the retailers plan to stick with products that are more similar to their own offerings, not create a marketplace like Amazon.

Still, Express told the Wall Street Journal it has been able to expand into new categories like beauty, activewear and men's grooming.

"We established Express Marketplace as a way for our customers to discover and shop new brands that complement our existing assortment," Tim Baxter, CEO of Express, said to CNBC in a statement. "Express Marketplace keeps us focused on our strengths, lets us test and learn our way into new categories, and broadens our overall assortment in an interesting and relevant way."

The retailers receive a cut of each transaction made, although the size of that percentage is not known, according to the Journal.

Despite appearing on the retailers' websites, the products are sold and shipped by other sellers, according to the paper.

Retail giants like Amazon, Walmart and Target have been utilizing third-party sellers for years. The model has generated increased revenue for Amazon — which launched its marketplace more than 20 years ago — and given sellers increased exposure.

About 60% of sales on Amazon are from third-party sellers, CEO Jeff Bezos said in his last letter to investors.

J. Crew declined to comment on this story. Urban Outfitters did not immediately respond to a request for comment by CNBC.

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