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Strategy

Building an Online Marketplace Strategy

Online marketplaces are grabbing a significant proportion of eCommerce sales. Use these tips to design a strategy that will make you stand out.

Adebisi Adewusi
July 20 2019

Driven by the search for more options at better prices, consumers are bypassing retail websites and shopping at marketplaces. 97% of consumers who shop online do so at online marketplaces such as Amazon, Walmart, and eBay.

To maintain their advantage, brands are leveraging marketplaces to build their reach, drives sales, and access new customer segments. We examined the key areas companies should consider when building their marketplace strategy:

Marketing

With marketplaces offering endless virtual produce aisles, you need to optimize the following for a streamlined customer experience.

 Paid Advertising: Make the most of available marketplace advertising opportunities to attract consumers at various stages of the buying journey. Just be sure to start small and promote your fastest moving products. Allow your campaigns to build traction and gauge your ROI before increasing spend.

Optimized Product Content: To raise your listing to the top of search results, optimize your product content. A few best practices: include search-friendly titles, strong calls to action, accurate descriptions, and high-quality images. If product content delivery isn’t feasible in-house, consider outsourcing your efforts to an agency.

 Customer Reviews: Product reviews build trust, allow consumers to make informed buying decisions, and increase conversion. Encourage shoppers to leave product reviews by sending them emails or using feedback tools. Before soliciting any feedback, however, ensure your delivery and customer experience have minimal potholes.

Pricing

Price remains the most significant factor when purchasing goods. 65% of customers ranked better prices as the main reason for marketplace purchases. Strategic pricing will prevent product erosion and help your brand remain in good standing with your audience. A few applicable strategies to consider:

Automate Repricing and Monitoring Your Competition: Automatically reprice your products to suit market demand and remain competitive. Use a rule-based platform that notifies marketing team members of increases, automatically adjusts pricing, and aligns competitive prices across channels. In addition, choose an analytics tool that benchmarks your prices against the competition and grants visibility to historical trends.

Leverage Promotions: Marketplace promotions can increase sales and draw attention to your value proposition and other offerings.

Test out these approaches to find out what works best for your business, and continuously monitor marketplace pricing to remain compliant and competitive.

Fulfillment

For the US, Asia, Canada, and Mexico, the major draw of many marketplaces is free and discounted shipping. When building an online strategy, fast and affordable are the two magic words. Below are three options to consider:

Self-Fulfillment: With this strategy, sellers are responsible for order fulfillment. This approach gives you total control over the delivery process and allows for quick response to demand. To ship items quickly and affordably, set up automated fulfillment centers in urban areas and consider utilizing retail outposts with store-like layouts to fulfill online orders. Allowing consumers to track their packages and notifying them of delays are musts in today’s retail climate.

Marketplace Fulfillment: Here, the marketplaces themselves are responsible for delivery, and as a bonus, using this option can help your brand gain visibility. Sellers who use Fulfillment by Amazon, for instance, are eligible for Prime, exposing their company and products to over 100 million consumers.

Third Party Logistics (3PLs): If you want to reduce costs and save time, outsourcing your fulfillment to a 3PL such as DHL or UPS may be your best option. Select a carrier with a proven process, the right resources to meet changing consumer demands, and the ability to integrate with your systems.

Vet these three options against your business needs and choose an affordable fulfillment model that also provides flexible shipping options.

Brand Protection

Online marketplaces are fertile ground for fraudsters selling cheap counterfeit products. In fact, 70% of counterfeit products are purchased from online marketplaces. Not only do counterfeits erode prices, they can also destroy your brand reputation and damage customer relationships. Take the following proactive measures to protect your brand on marketplaces:

Educate Your Customers: Create a program to educate consumers about counterfeit goods and inform them of outlets where your products are available. Teach them how to distinguish between original and fakes and provide tools—like a specific email address—so customers can report counterfeits.

Invest in Monitoring Tools: Invest in monitoring software to detect counterfeits on marketplaces. Find a tool that can locate counterfeit products based on photos, and screen all platforms that post ads for your company’s products.

 Join Marketplace Anti-Counterfeit Programs: Stop criminals from hijacking your brand by joining anti-counterfeiting programs designed to detect fake products. Alibaba’s AI-powered program detects anomalies in customer reviews, product listings, and specs.

Leverage Marketplace Momentum

Online marketplaces are a great channel to expand your reach and access new markets. While there is no one trick that will ensure success, a great strategy is to hold a designated team responsible for marketplace sales. Choose representatives from your digital, eCommerce and wholesale departments to measure performance KPIs like average order value, Net Promoter Score, and total activity cost. Eventually, once you’ve conquered one marketplace, diversify your sales and stay competitive by joining other marketplaces.

 

Customer marketing challenges and opportunities

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Adebisi Adewusi

Adebisi Adewusi is a freelance B2B writer and a Huffington Post Contributor. When she’s not creating compelling content for businesses, you’ll find her capturing moments with her Nikon d600.

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