Selling on Marketplaces: Do’s & Dont’s

The way we sell products online has drastically changed over the years. Single-store online storefronts are increasingly dismissed in favour of platforms & aggregate storefronts or as you may better know them, marketplaces. Some examples include, Ebay, Amazon, Facebook & Etsy to name a few.

Considering that 90% of shoppers begin their product searches on digital channels, this is hardly surprising. What’s even less surprising, is the year-on-year increase of these numbers.

As it currently stands, around 40-50% of shoppers now start out on marketplaces such as Amazon or Ebay. At the current pace, practically everyone has or will have shifted to the marketplace ecosystem over the next few years – if not sooner.

Marketplaces have the innate ability to benefit both the users / sellers / online shops as well as the marketplace itself. By listing your store or products, and depending on your desired goals, marketplaces can help with a plethora of desired objectives such as brand awareness, product visibility, or customer outreach.

Speaking strictly of marketplaces, there are various goals which can apply to different situations, depending on where you are in your seller journey. As such, setting your goals and objectives should be the first thing to work out and consider. For example:

  • Increase distribution – By offering a wider range of products on the marketplace front and focusing on getting those products more exposure & to a larger bracket of users, you may be able to increase distribution exponentially.
  • Increase Brand Awareness – By using the marketplace to focus on a specific item – or subset of items – you can largely tailor the experience to complement your brand, rather than focus on sales and distribution specifically. Think of it as a way to guide customers further down your conversion funnel by offering another point of entry.
  • Access New Customer Segments – By pushing a specific product category that was otherwise restricted to you with brand limitations, etc., you can run experiments and test these products that could allow access to entirely new customer segments.

Ultimately, the goals and objectives you set are entirely up to you and what exactly you want to get out of the marketplace paradigm.

Goals, objectives & set-up only make up one side of the marketplace coin. On the other, lie a different set of elements that should be considered prior to launching on your desired platform. For example, how will you deal with:

  • Customer questions.
  • Negative Feedback.
  • Finance
  • Legal Issues
  • Ad Campaigns

These are all the constantly moving parts that make up the core marketplace experience – and like any machine, it will only run as well as the sum of its parts.

Before moving on to the Do’s, it’s worth touching on the Dont’s, which include:

  • Setting unclear objectives.
    We touched on this briefly. Think about your marketplace approach & plan ahead, don’t go rushing into things.
  • Pushing the Wrong products.
    Consider your marketplace audience. Some items may simply be unsuitable for the way the marketplace is structured (or may simply be unsustainable altogether, based on competition, price, or market saturation).
  • Inconsistency between different channels.
    This is arguably the most important factor to be aware of as it pertains directly to your brand image as a whole. If different marketplaces / platforms (Facebook, Amazon, etc.) are managed by different people, it could lead to discrepancies such as brand image inconsistencies, or more importantly, fluctuations in pricing. This is particularly important as the customer journey is now more fluid than ever, often moving from one channel to the next for more ideas and an enhanced experience.

Now, what about the Do’s?

Choosing the right marketplace

We’ve mentioned this a few times already but that’s how important it is. Choosing the right marketplace is integral to your success.

Pay close attention to the entry requirements for each marketplace. Each has varying criteria that you’ll need to follow to avoid possible account suspension.

Next you should very carefully select your products. They should be fewer in number to begin with, easily identifiable to consumers, and should sell well (in a general consumer sens). Ideally these should also be products with low return rates and high ROI.

Creating Your Account

When creating your account, look into all the settings and tools that could help you in any way or give you an edge over your competition. For example, if you are an already-established brand, you can let the marketplace know and they could give you more control or access over your account.

Listing Your Products & Optimising your content

When listing your products, make sure you do everything by the book. Make sure they are in the right category, have appropriate tags and stand out compared to the competition. As you will now be constantly directly competing with other brands & suppliers, you’ll need to establish yourself clearly & as early as possible.

You want to tailor these optimisations (images, titles, keywords, descriptions & tags) to your customers. Specifically towards the audience you’re targeting on the specific platform you are on.

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews!

Reviews are one of, if not the most, integral parts of selling online, especially within a marketplace. You could say that reviews are the currency of online marketplaces.

This means that as soon as you start making sales, it is important to start gathering reviews immediately. This includes finding ways to engage your customers and guide them to various ways to engage and review your products.

Ad Campaigns and You

Once you have reached a comfortable stage in your current marketplace, it’s time to run some ads. No matter how well you are doing, you could always be doing better (especially if your sales are going well to begin with).

By running these ad campaigns and reviewing the overall results, you can then further optimise both your listings and your ad campaigns based on the data you collect. This data is invaluable as it will not only allow you to better your image, but also allow you to bolster your sales, reach a wider demographic / audience and more importantly, allow you to expand beyond your normal/current customer segments.

Reaching this stage is a wonderful thing as it allows you to start experimenting. Maybe you have a new product you’re not quite sure of and want to see how well it engages with a segment of your current audience. Most marketplaces have analytics and tools that allow you to run any test you like & be the judge of what works and what doesn’t.

More is more

There are limits in what you can achieve per marketplace. As each marketplace targets different aspects or may be more focused on certain objectives over others, it’s worth expanding beyond the single marketplace. Do not limit yourself or your products to one marketplace only.

Now that you’ve set everything up, run tests, seen what works and what doesn’t, and optimised your content & products, it will be much easier to take what you have learned – and apply it to other marketplaces that are compatible your objectives.

Selling on Marketplaces: Do’s & Dont’s