Our regular series of previews ahead of this year’s InternetRetailing Expo (IRX 2016) today culminates in a double-bill installment of interviews with IRX speakers in our last but one newsletter before the event. Here, we hear from Dieter Kindl, chief executive of Rakuten Austria .
Internet Retailing: In your IRX keynote presentation, you’re speaking on achieving growth through online marketplaces. Can you single out one or two opportunities that you believe marketplaces particularly offer to retailers?
Dieter Kindl, CEO, Rakuten Austria: Historically marketplaces have always been seen as the domain of hobby and casual sellers, but in the last decade there has been a fundamental shift in the use of marketplaces, both by retailers and consumers. For consumers they are no longer purely there to source deals on used or unwanted items, but are now often the first port of call for those on the hunt for quality products at the most competitive prices. For retailers and brands, marketplaces now represent an important additional retail channel, offering access to huge potential customer bases and an efficient way to drive incremental sales.
One opportunity we see on marketplaces, especially for the smaller retailers, is the ability to grow your brand. Marketplaces now offer professional storefronts and product listings, giving sellers the chance to present their business and products in a similar way to larger retailers, without the need for heavy investment in web design. This in turn not only helps to drive significantly higher sales volumes at greater efficiency, but also helps expose customers to new sellers and drive brand loyalty away from the existing household-name retailers.
In addition to brand building, marketplaces offer retailers of any size an avenue for customer acquisition at a fraction of the cost that they can achieve through their own website. The marketplace model usually means that customer acquisition campaigns, be they through AdWords, Google Shopping or other channels, are fully funded for retailers as marketplaces know that they only succeed when their sellers succeed. This means that retailers reap the benefits of new customer acquisition with none of the associated cost.
IR: Do you have one or two tips on making the most of selling via marketplaces?
DK: The two major pieces of advice I would give to anyone who is currently selling on marketplaces or is looking to start would be to invest time and effort in making your marketplace activity a success, and to take advantage of all the training and support that marketplaces offer.
It can be said for all Rakuten marketplaces worldwide that merchants who put the most in, get the most out. If you take the time to ensure that you have a professional storefront, great product listings and a wide catalogue of products listed, and also get involved with as many deals and promotions as possible, then you’ll maximise your exposure on the marketplace and enhance your chances of developing a long-term, sustainable business.
IR: Can you tell us about one challenge of selling through a marketplace – how can retailers best approach this?
DK: One major challenge that we see is the level of expectation that sellers have for marketplaces to be ‘plug-and-play’ solutions that will immediately drive huge sales volumes with minimal effort. The growth of marketplaces over the last decade means that they are incredibly saturated with products, and sellers are competing against 100s of other for every sale. Rakuten.co.uk is a newer, less saturated marketplace but there is still a lot of competition for sales. As said above it’s the sellers that are willing to put the most in to make their presence as professional and attractive as possible that end up getting the most out.
IR: Aside from your own presentation, what are you most looking forward to at IRX 2016?
DK: I’m really interested in the types of concepts and ideas that will be presented at the Innovation Pavilion. Rakuten is an incredibly future-facing global business, and we’re always on the lookout for the next great idea that could revolutionise the online experience for both buyers and sellers.
Dieter Kindl is speaking in the International and Cross Border Conference on April 27 at IRX 2016. His keynote presentation, Achieving growth through online marketplaces, is at 10.05am.
Visit InternetRetailingExpo 2016 for more information about the expo and the series of eight conferences, workshops and clinics that run alongside it – and to register for the free event.