Online marketplaces such as Amazon, Alibaba, Etsy and the emerging Bonanza continue to become the top destinations for today’s online shopper. Indeed, according to research compiled by Internet Retailer (‘Online Marketplaces: A Global Phenomenon‘), the sales from online marketplaces crossed $1 trillion in 2016, while globally, the value of goods transacted on the top 18 marketplaces around the world amounted to 44% of the $2.44 trillion spent worldwide in 2016.

These figures are only going one way (up!), meaning online marketplaces are a really lucrative platform for brands. And to that end, here are 7 ways to help you get the most from them.

1) Make Consumers Your Brand Advocates

If it’s brand-building you’re after, look no further than online marketplaces as they’re a great way of testing new regions. Brand-building on online marketplaces happens in two ways:

The first is through the quality content you should use on each product listing. Beautiful product pages with high-quality photos, compelling copy and 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 and 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 in or a discount on such a product. This way, you can also re-direct the flow of traffic to your website using the online marketplace of your choice. 

2) Specialize In A Niche, Then Branch Out

To get started in a sustainable manner, as well as gain visibility in the plethora of offers and products available online, brands should specialize in one niche. 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 do the upfront work to attract customers.

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) Start Locally, Grow Globally

If you’re considering eCommerce to enhance sales and ‘go digital’ for even further brand reach, start locally by advertising and building a reputation on your country page first. Once you’ve got a handle on how the online marketplace operates and, again, you’ve cemented your reputation, you can move on to overseas markets by setting up listings on global pages.

For example, if you’re a retailer in Singapore, focus on regional selling before moving on to offering products in the United Kingdom.

4) Choose Fulfillment And Warehouse Partners Carefully

This is all about streamlining the operations of your 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 much as they do the fact that it may not be presented in their own native language.

Language is integral to a customer’s shopping experience online, where no salesperson exists to give them context. And 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’re planning to expand your brand globally, you should opt for online marketplaces that support shipping and payment options that are aligned with the preferences of shoppers in various regions.

Source: Nielsen, ‘Global Connected Commerce Report’

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