If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them: Online Marketplaces

Retailers tend to view online marketplaces such as Amazon or Walmart as threats, however the savvier retailers are shifting their mindset and starting to look at these conglomerates more as opportunities. This is where the age old saying comes into play, ‘if you can’t beat them, join them.’  By partnering with these marketplaces, merchants can sell more products, expand their brand and develop a larger customer base all by leveraging the massive recognition and marketing these platforms bring.

Change your mindset
Retailers naturally see Amazon, the largest marketplace in the world, as competition to the SMB’s who have established themselves in local communities. What many small businesses don’t recognize is that these sites can, and should be, turned into partners; by using marketplace integrations retailers can increase their reach exponentially. Marketplaces increase brand awareness, capturing shoppers that otherwise would have never found you.  And while, yes, a percentage of your sale goes to the marketplace, the potential increase in overall sales (with minimal overhead) should out pay itself and then some. E-Commerce is rapidly becoming the medium of choice for consumers, with comparative marketplaces becoming the norm, so leveraging these sites is an easy way for retailers to be more successful.

Expand your brand
In 2016, it was reported that there were more than 310 million active customer accounts on Amazon. That means if you are able to sell a 1 dollar product to 1/100 of Amazon’s customer base within the year, you could have 3 million in additional sales. One of our clients sold over 8 million dollars last year through Amazon alone, on top of their more traditional brick and mortar and online sales.

Take the load off
Some marketplaces, such as Amazon, use their massive infrastructure to take on the burden of fulfillment and service. Retailers participating in FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) send their merchandise to the Amazon warehouse to fulfill, taking advantage of Amazon ‘Prime’ member orders with free 2-day shipping.  In today’s world of instant gratification, leveraging this subset of Amazon shoppers can bring a significant increase in your Amazon orders, without having to coordinate fulfillment efforts or added expenses.

Make sales while you sleep
Since these marketplaces are taking on the heavy lifting with their marketing efforts, brand recognition and endless budgets, you can be making sales without doing much of anything.  While you are possibly revamping your own website with responsive design to fit any size screen,  or have your staff fulfilling web orders from your store locations, or strategizing how to get orders out the door faster and at a lower cost; take advantage of the abundant resources that these marketplaces can offerith a marketplace integration you gain the resources needed to make and manage additional sales with no limits.

Integrate with your POS system
With a properly integrated platform, retailers are able to easily post products, manage inventory, track marketplace sales, and know exactly when and where sales are coming from- all from within their retail management system. While it is, of course, possible to sell on marketplaces without having integration to your point of sale platform, it takes time and effort to manually post products and enter orders; plus with any manual process comes increased risk for errors.

The retail market is changing.  As consumers become more independent and their expectations increase, the savviest of retailers who can shift along with the market- which might mean doing things today they might not have done years ago- are the ones who will succeed long term.

Ian Goldman is CEO of  Celerant Technology Corp.

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