As e-commerce evolves and connects more buyers and sellers around the globe, online marketplaces continue to be a popular choice for retailers trying to reach new consumers. Marketplaces can provide a structured format for organizing product information, handling payments and reaching loyal customers.
Here, Luke Evans, manager of marketplace services at ChannelAdvisor, answers some of the most common questions retailers are asking as they look to grow their presence on marketplaces.
Q: Hi, Luke. Tell us about your experience with marketplaces and how that fits into your role at ChannelAdvisor.
I’ve been at ChannelAdvisor for eight years working with sellers through both digital marketing and marketplaces channels. Currently, I manage a team responsible for overseeing the success of many of our customers that sell on marketplaces.
Q: What general trends are you seeing right now on marketplaces?
Many retailers continue to see strong growth on Amazon, and many are using Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) to further that growth. Many sellers are diversifying more and exploring other marketplaces like Sears, Newegg, Jet and others.
Q: Are there any marketplaces or geographies that are particularly hot right now?
There’s a lot of activity around Jet. This new marketplace is looking to directly compete with Amazon and has an interesting business plan based on passing savings on to buyers. We also get a lot of questions about China. Sellers are learning more about the opportunity there and want to better understand how they might capture a piece of that sizable e-commerce market.
Q: How important is it for retailers to sell their products on multiple marketplaces?
Diversification is an essential strategy for any online retailer. I’ve seen a few retailers rely too heavily on a single marketplace, and then something unforeseen affects their revenue. It causes them to scramble to find a replacement for that loss. Another reason to diversify is that not all consumers shop on the same marketplace. By listing products on multiple marketplaces, you can cast a wider net.
Q: What about cross-border trade? What would you say to a retailer hesitant to expand to international marketplaces?
It’s important to plan for international expansion. You want to be sure that you fully understand the complexities that come with crossing borders. Marketplaces alleviate a lot of that complexity, but you still want to be aware of any requirements for taxes, customs or data translation, as well as evaluate competitive shipping options.
Q: What strategies do you recommend for retailers new to international selling?
Some marketplaces offer a cross-border trade option that gives sellers an opportunity to test their products internationally and learn more about what does and doesn’t work. For example, eBay’s Global Shipping Program allows sellers on the US site to open their products up to international buyers. After a purchase, the retailer ships the product to one of eBay’s domestic fulfillment centers and then eBay takes care of the international logistics from there. Retailers can use this program to identify what markets have demand for their products and then implement a strategy to target those regions.
Q: What general advice do you have for retailers trying to boost sales on marketplaces?
Data quality — I can’t stress it enough. Retailers that meet all the required and recommended listing components will enhance their visibility in both searches and browse navigation. Accurate and thorough data will also provide potential buyers with more detail before their purchase, helping to reduce canceled or returned orders.
This article was originally published in Internet Retailer’s April 2015 magazine.