With a week to go until peak kicks off in earnest and as retailers find themselves facing tough restrictions this golden quarter – particularly during the cyber weekend – many may be considering how to gain extra reach and drive sales with marketplaces.
Ciaran Bollard, CEO, Kooomo explains: “While most retailers will have had their plans in place for the cyber weekend for some time, some preparations are still being finalised. With a range of different restrictions, lockdowns and tiered approaches across England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, it’s important retailers have considered every avenue in order to ensure they maximise sales. With this in mind, marketplaces offer a great opportunity to enhance sales this cyber weekend.”
Ciaran advises retailers to consider the following key aspects for taking advantage of marketplaces during this year’s cyber weekend:
- Define your cyber weekend success
What is it that a “successful” cyber weekend means to you? Is it to have increased sales? Increased conversions? Increased traffic? Increased customer retention rates? Perhaps this year your goal is to shift stock that was stuck during lockdown? In an ideal world, you would satisfy all of these goals in a single swoop, but different elements of your strategy can impact each of these targets differently, and so too can utilising marketplaces.
With a clear focus in mind, marketplaces are a great way to increase your reach – particularly if you’re seeking to increase overall sales or want to move unwanted stock. However, if you have longer-term goals such as building your brand, you may want to steer your consumers directly to your website. So, make sure the purpose, justifies the means. For increased sales, reach and conversions opt for marketplaces. For increased traffic and customer retention, it might be better to focus on your website customer experience (CX) and its offerings.
- Choose the right marketplace for your product
Different sales channels have different subscription costs and plans and, in return, they also offer different services. It is better to shortlist a few channels and then carefully go through their specific plans to choose the ones that you want to go for. For example, sellers of beauty products might want to opt for the likes of BeautyBay.com, while those in fashion could lean more towards sites like Yocabe.
Each platform has unique user behaviours and features that brands must recognise – social is a good place to start for even small retailers, as it removes the intimidation of dealing with massive conglomerates such as Amazon or eBay. You can use social marketplaces to your advantage by gauging audience demographics and where they might be and even at what times of the day. Whether you want to showcase a range of products via a carousel ad or to create ‘buy the lifestyle’ envy with video or ‘Shop the Pins’, social media images are impactful sales drivers.
So, when it comes to choosing your marketplace, consider your time, your audience and your product in order to find the channel that works best for you.
- Consider the customer experience
Ensure the marketplace you select offers top-notch customer experience. Whether they are on your website or not, the consumer is still likely to associate the experience with your product, and a negative experience will hinder your customer retention. When you’re selling on a marketplace, you can’t tailor the entire sales experience like you can on your own eCommerce site. But there are elements you can control and with these, consistency is vital.
Use your logo, colours, and other branding elements where you can and ensure all copy is consistent with your brand’s voice and image. Overall, make sure you’re providing the same high-quality customer service marketplace sales that you do for sales on your own site – If any online marketplace provides poor customer service, it is going to harm your brand or product reputation as well.
- Organise your marketplace marketing
Marketplaces are busy places, with lots of potential customers – but also a lot of competition, so you have to ensure your products stand out if you want to be found by the right people. Focusing on your product descriptions and images is the first place to start, not only in terms of standing out, but context will improve the customer experience and increase initial trust in your products.
Detailed sizing guides, product specifications, and additional benefits should be included wherever necessary. For example, if you’re selling a dress and you have all of these fabulous images on your product pages of a model wearing it, you need to list the model’s height in the product description, so that potential customers can gauge how long or short it would be on them.
- Optimise your stock and warehouses
If you are a retailer with an eCommerce site as well as a marketplace presence, it’s vital to optimise your product selection and order fulfilment process, because synchronised stock lists are vital for minimising errors and disruptions. Nothing will annoy your consumer more than being given the ability to purchase an item, only to find it is sold out upon checking out.
Manually managing your orders is a time-intensive task as it includes manually listing products across all channels and updating them each time you make a sale, as well as the requirement to monitor, manage and fulfil orders on individual channels. The use of an inventory and order management solution reduces these risks, enabling you to synchronise your stock across all channels, automate processes and manage your orders with ease.
Bollard concludes: “Marketplaces offer a great opportunity to retailers, especially those who find themselves a little bit more restricted ahead of cyber weekend – but be sure to take all aspects into consideration. While they are a great fit for some products, for some retailers the end may not justify the means. Know your objectives, have a balanced strategy and learn from the statistics.”