eCommerce options are booming with growing numbers of platforms giving consumers more avenues from which to sell. While marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy can be useful places to find an audience, they are deeply competitive. Staying on the up and up requires proper storefront marketing and proper online marketplace analysis.
This article will run you through the best ways to manage your online store and reach the audience you need. It will look into marketplaces on platforms like Amazon and social media sites like Facebook. Then we’ll suggest strategies for running your original marketplace platform.
Strategies for Sellers & Storefronts
eCommerce Platform vs Marketplace
There are 3 different types of marketplaces:
- Horizontal: a place where wide varieties of businesses sell a diverse range of products to a broad range of customers. This is the reason Amazon’s target market is so wide.
- Vertical: Narrower in focus, with products that are closely related to each other for customers with particular interests. Shops like Etsy fit this description, as their primary target group is interested in arts and crafts.
- Global: A shop that has little focus and tends to sell everything, with both consumers and businesses putting up items, like on Ebay. Many of these are C2C marketplace platforms but not exclusively.
It’s important to distinguish between an eCommerce platform on social media and a formalized marketplace. One of the core distinctions between a platform and a marketplace is that they are not mutually inclusive. Not every eCommerce platform is solely or primarily a marketplace.
Often, the market is a component of a wider app or site like in the case of Facebook. Amazon plays by different rules than Facebook when it comes to market options. Know your platform before you decide to devote your time to it.
Ideally, you should be everywhere if you have the time and resources to manage it but few do. While it can be useful to have both these options for maximum outreach, it’s also wise to know when you aren’t getting the returns you expect. Not everything that sells on Facebook will sell on Amazon and vice versa.
Devote your time to those avenues that obtain the highest ROI and focus on them.
Social media store management & eCommerce
Social media stores are best promoted on the same platform where you’re selling from. The advantage of this is that users are far more likely to click on something if it’s on the same app or website. Therefore, there is a massive benefit to having someone on Facebook encounter an ad for a product sold in a store that is a click away.
Social media stores also have great marketing functions built-in. You can post announcements easily, appear on people’s timelines, and run multimedia ads. Platforms like Facebook also obtain effective segmentation through the in-depth data they gather about consumers. Users also tend to spend more time per day on social media than on dedicated marketplaces, giving ads more potential reach.
That said, the downside of a social media approach is that most users are not there to use the store. Most people are there to use the social media functions on the platform. As a result, there will be many people who ignore ads and the store altogether. Furthermore,
We’ve already done a previous article about various ways to optimize social commerce and webshops. For a more in-depth look into these aspects, be sure to check it out. You can also check out our own Marketplace and platform services geared towards helping clients.
Advantages of a dedicated market vs a mass market
While social media has its benefits, don’t write off marketplaces without a fair shake. As mentioned earlier, social media has a lot of users that aren’t there to shop or look at prices. Marketplaces tend not to have this problem. This creates a market with more intent towards consumption.
Vertical marketplaces can specialize in product categories and create a dedicated market of return customers. For example, a market for exotic foods can garner repeat orders if it establishes a unique selling point to consumers. The focused approach means they can also tackle a niche market.
In terms of horizontal and global marketplaces, they can incur the advantages of the opposite approach. A place like Amazon has such a range of products that it can tackle a mass market rather easily. For this reason, their top-selling items range from electronics to books to beauty care.
For both sellers on a marketplace and the marketplace managers, it’s best to know your customer. Here are a few questions to consider:
- How broad will your user base be?
- Are you dedicated to a niche or mass market?
- Will you operate in a dedicated area (this one can be crucial as companies like Bol.com are giving Amazon a run for its money in certain European markets)?
- Are you specialising in B2B or B2C or C2C?
How to Promote Your Own Marketplace
If you’re running your marketplace, there are multiple ways to help it grow. The main thing to remember is that you are attracting two different types of clientele who are supposed to interact with each other. You cannot have one side without the other. This is why your content and page design need to be up to speed.
Content marketing for marketplaces should emphasize precisely how people can both buy and sell. Make it simple for both sides to understand how to use the platform. Run UX tests and monitor your bounce rates and exit rates to optimize the experience. See where people are dropping off and create better ways to transition people towards payment portals or the signup page.
Effective eCommerce marketplace management requires gathering feedback from both sides as well. Get product reviews, set up a helpline, pay attention to customer service, and
Marketplace Optimization Strategies for Attracting Buyers
It can be useful to enlist buyers before you launch. You can do this by creating a mailing list for potential offers once the platform launches. This is also great for illustrating to potential sellers that there is interest in your platform. You could also improve the response to these sign-ups by offering early bird discounts or gift vouchers.
Another way to attract additional buyers is to make deals with companies to offer their products free or at a discount. This could be useful for your brand and the company involved if they wish to sample their products to create repeat customers. Such products could also be sent as free samples along with goods your company might want to promote.
For buyers, there should be an easy workflow. It’s also best to minimize the number of steps to the actual payment. Additionally, you need to incentivize returning to the storefront after signing up. This can be done through remarketing and retargeting using the emails customers created their accounts with.
Email marketing has other purposes as well. Send out new offers, regular updates, product launches, and promotions to entice repeat customers. On a similar note, manage your existing audience data to create value for them. Get to know what they like and lean into it.
Your sellers are your lifeblood, especially if you don’t sell original products and only host other businesses. Signing up should be secure and convenient with an easy way to receive orders. You can attract more sellers early on by creating favorable terms and conditions. For example, sellers will be more willing to use a platform if it doesn’t demand exclusivity and they can sell elsewhere as well.
Sellers are going to have very different UX design needs when compared to buyers. Make sure you have a great seller management portal with ways to track orders, keep track of revenue, gather data, and other sales support options. Make sure you have a support or helpline on hand in case of supply chain or customer support issues.
You can create a feedback loop of buyers and sellers if you start with a niche. Using secondary research, you can target certain buyers to make your market more hospitable towards particular sellers. With 2nd party data, marketplaces can target (for example) the best age range for buying electronics. If you can effectively get customers to sign up, sellers will follow.
Online Marketplace Marketing Options
Advertising your marketplace platforms on social media can be effective but it should always be accompanied by SEO. A general rule about the difference between SEO and online advertising is that they target different levels of purchase intent. PPC ads will get people who are more sure about what they want to buy, while SEO will attract those that are browsing for products.
General horizontal marketplaces can be a crowded and competitive field with a lot of monopolies. Luring in customers can require special offers, discounts, and unique selling propositions. Promoting such deals front and centre can get your foot in the door. These attract users on both SEO and online ads.
In terms of online advertising, marketplaces should never count out the power of emails. Email advertising can attract new customers, create mailing lists for updates, and remind customers of leftover items in their carts. There are a whole bunch of ways you can maintain contact with sellers and buyers once you have their email addresses.
Physical Promotion Options
While the go-to-market strategy for marketplaces is usually digital, there are advantages to a low-tech approach. Sometimes, gaining a customer’s interest might require sending out physical media like pamphlets or brochures. This can be particularly effective during shopping-heavy occasions like Valentine’s Day or Black Friday. However, most people will ignore direct mail or not receive it at all.
A good way of getting people to interact with these sorts of offers is to bundle them with something people ordered. You can always partner with other companies or brands to give out discount codes for your marketplace or website when people order their goods. This would be more effective for companies in different niches because competitors wouldn’t promote the competition.
B2B marketplace platforms could always try to send out physical promotional packages. This can be effective as workplaces may be more receptive to direct forms of communication, particularly in driving awareness. For example, if your market specializes in office supplies, you could send out catalogues to various workplaces.
Marketplace Marketing Tools
Here are a few tools to help you build a managed marketplace.
- Inventory Management Software: Such programs can help streamline your supply chain systems. We recommend basing your choice of inventory management solutions on your specific industry. Research each tool because there may be very specific ones for the product you want to sell.
- Google Analytics: While everyone with a website should be using GA, the main thing you want to be on the lookout for is exit rates. Find out where your last interaction with potential customers is and try to get that conversion.
- Keyword Analytics tools: Tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush can be handy here. You’ll need these to optimise your SEO and measure what products you’re topping the list for. They are also useful for any content you might want to publicise, particularly if you are looking to find a niche in the marketplace.
- Marketplace Optimization Tools: These optimization tools are great for operating on other platforms. They aid in specific market research and analyzing trends across platforms among other features. If you’re planning on selling on Amazon, Jungle Scout can be of great use to you.