3 Best Practices for Long-Term Growth on E-Commerce Marketplaces
If you look at the mindset of modern consumers, many of their expectations have evolved from their experiences on marketplaces: Endless choices. Low, competitive prices. Easy checkout. Fast, free shipping.
In some ways, marketplaces represent a perfect microcosm of the entire e-commerce space.
To begin with, they’re in a constant state of innovation. Many of the industry’s biggest players are evolving to meet the demands of consumers, while also trying to replicate each other’s success. According to eMarketer, Amazon has grown its advertising business to become the third largest advertising platform in the US. Search giant Google now allows direct purchases via Google Shopping Actions. And social media juggernaut Facebook has just launched a marketplace.
The channel lines are blurring, and it’s important for brands and retailers to experiment with new strategies on every channel they can.
But every e-commerce opportunity still revolves around one thing: the empowered consumer.
If you aren’t taking steps to understand how your potential customers are searching, shopping and buying on marketplaces, you’re probably falling behind. To be successful, brands and retailers need to put empowered consumers at the center of their efforts and develop advanced strategies across the full buying cycle — from marketing, to selling, to fulfilling.
The days of just listing on marketplaces are long gone. There are advertising campaigns to manage, buy box positions to compete for and fulfillment processes to streamline.
Here are three best practices to help you reach more empowered consumers on marketplaces:
1. Marketing: Develop a Targeted Advertising Strategy
In recent years, as more real estate on search results pages became flooded with ads, many sellers started to realize how essential advertising would become to their bottom line.
Now, everyone is doing it. And rightly so.
There are millions of sellers fighting for minimal consumer attention on an increasingly limited screen space (and even less when you consider mobile screen space). Whichever marketplace you sell on, make sure you’re taking advantage of the full suite of advertising options available to you.
On Amazon, that means building campaigns for Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands and Product Display Ads, but also using your search term reports to mine new keywords, experiment with bidding, target your competitors’ ASINs and drive traffic to your brand Store. Every seller is different, so the key is to experiment, develop and measure targeted ad strategies that work for you and your products.
On eBay, advertising means leveraging features like Promotions Manager and Promoted Listings to create compelling offers that grab the attention of buyers and encourage them to spend more.
2. Selling: Structure Your Pricing Strategies
As shoppers become more attuned to the wide array of options for purchasing the same product at different prices, it’s no longer your item details and imagery that will capture their attention. Pricing plays a central role. And having a structured pricing strategy is essential to marketplace success. Two key areas include:
A rule-based or algorithmic repricer is a must for competing on any major marketplace. Whether you want to adjust pricing based on the competition or guarantee more Buy Box wins without sacrificing revenue, repricing tools will ensure those changes are made without delay. The key is to use a system or tool that aligns your competitive prices across channels — think Amazon and eBay as well as Walmart and Google Express — so you can reduce your risk of breaching marketplace policies.
Develop a strategy that leverages business rules to create a dynamic pricing structure that’s automatically adjusted based on sales performance. If sales dip, so does the price. When orders occur with more frequency, the cost of that item rises once again. So if you want to keep a product moving, for example, you might set a product’s price to be automatically lowered by 10% when no more than five are sold in a week.
3. Fulfilling: Diversify Your Carrier Strategy
Today’s marketplace consumers don’t just expect fast and reliable fulfillment. They demand it.
Having consistent access to the most competitive carrier pricing and delivery options is imperative if you want to stay ahead of these demands. It’s important to have a full range of options at your fingertips, so you can go with the fastest, most affordable delivery method for each and every order.
For many shipping scenarios, it’s best to use private carriers like UPS and FedEx. For others, a lower-cost option like USPS may be ideal. Diversifying your carrier strategy — rather than relying on one single option — is now a necessity when selling on marketplaces.
There’s no one right way to deliver orders, but as a general rule you should test out different options until you land on a mix that consistently gets the job done quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively. Consider all of your options, including:
- Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA): Entrusting Amazon’s fulfillment centers with packing and shipping to ensure the marketplace’s high standards for delivery and returns are always met.
- Third-Party Logistics (3PLs): Relying on fulfillment experts to warehouse, pick, pack and ship your goods for you.
- Drop Shipping: Expanding your catalog far faster than you would by housing or handling more inventory yourself.
When approaching marketplaces, it’s essential to always put your consumer first. If you don’t provide them the right product, at the right price, with the right shipping option at the right time, someone else will.
For more strategies on finding consumers on marketplaces, check out our eBook: 7 Best Practices for Selling on E-Commerce Marketplaces.