Online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, Etsy and the emerging Bonanza continue to become the top destinations for today’s online shopper. In 2019 retail eCommerce sales amounted to $3.53 trillion worldwide. As a result of the acceleration of eCommerce caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this number is likely to be much higher in 2021.
For brands all over the world, getting your online marketplace strategy right is critically important in 2021. Here are seven ways to ensure you’re on the right track!
1) Make consumers your brand advocates
Brand building should form an integral part of your brand’s online marketplace strategy.
You may think that you have minimal control over this as you’re on another site, but there are several ways you can enhance your brand on a marketplace. Here are two of the most important.
The first is through the quality content you should use on each product listing. Beautiful product pages with high-quality photos, compelling copy, an FAQ section, and reviews for each product can really build trust in your brand and see you rise through the ranks quickly.
The second is to include business cards, discounts or promotional cards within the package when you’re shipping. These cards should be branded with your logo, perhaps a message of gratitude, and an incentivized offer for your customer to gain a new discount by shopping on your site. They can also incorporate QR codes.
If you want to go one better, consider adding a degree of personalization by using their name, or listing a related product they might be interested with a discount on the product. This way, you can also re-direct the flow of traffic to your website using the online marketplace of your choice.
Giving consumers the option to move seamlessly from your brand’s website to the product page on a marketplace is another great hack for maximizing online sales.
During the consideration stage of the consumer journey, a shopper might be browsing the product pages of your website, but with the intention to purchase on Amazon. With use of a ‘Where to Buy solution‘ you give them the option to do this at the touch of a button.
2) Specialize in a niche, then branch Out
If your brand is just getting started selling on online marketplaces, specializing in one niche is a good strategy to begin with. This can mean offering a few related products in one niche, or only offering one product.
Besides being better able to control sales and perfect the selling and shipping cycle, specializing in one product can allow you to build your reputation, one successful sale at a time. From here, you can take your reviews and add more products without having to attract completely new customers from scratch.
Starting small and scaling is a marketplace strategy that you can apply to international expansion as well.
Your seller reputation will already be firmly cemented and you can branch out with faster growth, learning about your consumer in overseas markets with greater clarity.
3) Grow globally, one step at a time
If you’re using eCommerce to enhance sales internationally for even further brand reach, start small and move one country or region at a time.
Once you’ve got a handle on how your strategy is progressing in a particular focus region, you can add more and move further afield. This will open up a wider pool of customers and help you to boost your revenue.
A huge strategic advantage of marketplace selling, is the ability to scale internationally with minimal effort. If you went with a D2C approach instead, you would have a lot more logistical challenges on your hands.
4) Choose fulfillment and warehouse partners carefully
This is all about streamlining the operations of your online marketplace strategy. Many of the techniques for improvement here focus on the end customer and the selling experience.
However, shipping the actual product — and executing all the promises made by your global brand — rests in the hands of your shippers, warehouse partners, and suppliers. After all, it’s only once the product arrives with the customer that it can delight them, right?
International warehouses must be inspected by you or employees of your company. While onsite, you should ask to speak to business owners who have products in a niche similar to yours.
You should also be looking for a process that focuses on the reduction of errors and timely deliveries rather than simply weighing in on price.
Part of a successful process, of course, is the technical support that they have within the warehouse. Make sure this is flexible and you know how it runs.
5) Focus on localization
When expanding globally, go native.
According to a study of 3,000 online shoppers in 10 countries by CSA research, did you know that:
- 75% of customers want to buy products on an online marketplace in their own language
- 59% rarely or never buy from English-only sites
- 67% prefer navigation and content in their language
Localization goes beyond just setting up Google Translate. Global sales count on the experience of ‘localization’ from language on product descriptions to language on a site’s navigation.
In other words, consumers don’t mind so much about purchasing a product from an overseas brand or business, as long as it’s presented in their own native language.
Language is integral to a customer’s shopping experience online, where no salesperson exists to give them context.
Localization also concerns currency. According to a study of 30,000 online shoppers, 92.2% of consumers surveyed from Canada, the UK, Australia, and Germany said they prefer to shop on sites where prices are listed in their local currency. Furthermore, 33% are likely to abandon a purchase if pricing is listed in USD only.
6) Set up payment systems according to a region’s preference
When you’ve decided that expanding your brand globally is part of your online marketplace strategy, you should use one that supports shipping and payment options that are aligned with the preferences of shoppers in various regions.
For example, ‘COD’ or ‘Cash on Delivery‘ is a popular option in countries or regions where the infrastructure to support digital payments, red cards or even gift cards may not exist yet. India, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe are particularly notable for this.
Does this mean you can’t or shouldn’t cater to them? Not at all! That’s the beauty of using an online marketplace — the platform will define and determine where you can reach customers and what payment and shipping options are open to them.
7) Aim to win ‘Buy Box’ or ‘Lightning Deal’ status
To support top sellers, meet consumer demands and keep their reputation as a trustworthy online marketplace, Amazon puts into place two specific tools to help brands gain visibility.
The first is the ‘Lightning Deal’, which is a time-sensitive, promotional offer where a couple of products are featured on the ‘Deals’ page of Amazon.
To be eligible, your business will have to:
- Have a professional account
- Have received a minimum of 5 ratings a month with an overall 3.5-star rating
- Have products that have a sales history and at least a 3-star rating
- Have products that are Amazon Prime eligible and are in ‘New Condition’
- Have a deal with multiple product variations (such as style, size, color, etc.)
Buy Boxes, on the other hand, are a placement of your product in a box on the product detail page. When more than one seller offers the same product, they compete to be featured in this prime position.
Performance-based criteria include:
- A professional account
- A low Order Defect Rate, Cancellation Rate, and Late Shipment Rate, along with price, positive customer feedback and inventory matters
- Sufficient order volume (which varies among categories).
About the author:
Emma Knightly is a Digital Marketing Specialist at the Digital Marketing Institute. Before embarking on an online business, learn how to market it with a course compiled by an advisory council made up of professionals from top internationally respected organizations like Facebook, Twitter and Google. The DMI offers marketing education and certification to over 20,000 marketing professionals and students worldwide. Enrolling now at digitalmarketinginstitute.com