A 5-step Guide to Winning with Marketplaces

May 23, 2014 10:30 AM  By

amazon ebay mobile apps iconMarketplaces like Amazon and eBay have become an essential part of running an e-commerce business. But like so many things, they come with their pros and cons.

Pro: You gain greater visibility for your business and products.

Con: Your pricing is often dictated by the marketplace, and your profit margins can suffer.

To offset the potential downside, there are a few things you can do to get the most out of selling on marketplaces. All it takes is a plan.

Here’s the step-by-step on how you can effectively launch your products on marketplaces, and better manage your marketplace presence with the help of technology.

Do Your Research

Like any good plan, your marketplace strategy begins with research – specifically, product pricing research.

Whether you’re selling books or buttons, you need to take a close look at what your product is going for on the marketplace. Can you compete with the market price? Does your product fill a niche that is not being served? These are just some of the questions you should be asking before you launch your marketplace storefront.

Build Your Website

After you’ve done the research and maybe dabbled with selling a product or two on the marketplace, you should focus your efforts on building your own website.

Keep in mind that the marketplace should serve as an extension of your website – not a replacement. It should ideally work to drive traffic to your business’ site, which is where you retain greatest control over your products’ pricing and profit margins.

One way to drive traffic to your site is by including a website link in all email correspondence with marketplace customers (hint: marketplace management software can help you do this automatically).

It’s also worth noting the importance of having a site that’s optimized for mobile viewing. People are increasingly shopping from their phones and tablets, and mobile commerce is expected to reach $626 billion by 2018.

Get Smart About Shipping

It’s not enough to just launch on a marketplace and let the internet take its course – you need to ensure that your customers have a superb experience, even after they make a purchase. If they don’t, your ratings may suffer and your storefront could get shut down. The best way to do this is with technology.

Shipping is one of the most critical decision makers for customers, so it’s important for online retailers to offer a variety of options – such as free, next-day or standard shipping.

Giving customers the option to select the type of shipping they want can give online retailers a competitive edge. With shipping software, e-tailers can compare rates and select the least expensive shipping method to offer as “free” (note: this is often the slowest delivery option as well). If customers want their packages faster, they can always opt to pay a little more.

Look for shipping software that can integrate directly with a marketplace storefront. That way, you won’t have to check for new orders or manually post-back mandatory tracking information. The software will do this for you automatically – freeing up time, eliminating manual error and simplifying the order fulfillment process.

Manage Your Listings

Another piece of technology that ensures customers have a superb shopping experience is marketplace management software.

Software from companies such as Solid Commerce ensures up-to-the-minute inventory updates, which is especially important if you sell the same product on multiple sites or marketplaces, preventing oversell situations that can impact customer satisfaction. It can also alert shop owners to price changes in their product category, allowing them to keep their marketplace prices competitive.

Yet another perk provided by marketplace management software is automatic customer emails. These automatic emails solicit reviews (the lifeblood of the online business) on your behalf – not to mention automatically linking to your business’ website so that you can drive traffic to your homepage.

Get Social with Your Business

Lastly, it pays to look into social media for your business; especially since 84 percent of online shoppers use at least one form of social media.

Sites like Facebook and Twitter provide platforms to experiment with promos and online giveaways. Plus, they provide a “human” face to a business, and help connect you directly with the customer.

Take a leaf out of The Purple Store’s book. This quirky goods and apparel business selling purple items went viral with one simple Facebook post – leading to a massive uptick in orders from around the globe.

With these tips in mind, you need not fear the potential downside of marketplace selling. Instead, you can launch your product with confidence and reap the full benefits that the marketplace has to offer.

Amine Khechfe is General Manager and Co-Founder of Endicia.

  • http://blog.vendhq.com/ Francesca Nicasio

    Excellent tips, Amine. Your post provides an easy guide for merchants who want to win in online marketplaces. One thing I’d add is to make sure that the merchant’s inventory management system integrates with the marketplace that they’re using. Solutions such as Stitch and Zappier enable them to do this.

    Thanks for the great piece!

  • http://blog.vendhq.com/ Francesca Nicasio

    BTW, I think our community of retailers could really use this post so I included it in our “This Week in Retail” roundup. Thanks for giving me some material. :) http://blog.vendhq.com/post/64901825997/week-retail-30-may-2014