In the world of coronavirus, online retail has quickly become the main trading format: in the first half of 2020, online sales grew 92%, while offline sales grew by only 5%. E-commerce is especially relevant for small businesses, which – unlike large companies – can rarely afford to bear the costs of opening brick-and-mortar stores.
Online marketplaces come to the rescue: large-scale websites with a large flow of customers. Such services become a real boon for small entrepreneurs: no need to spend money on a serious marketing campaign and store development, you just need to create your own showcase and start taking orders.
In this article, we will tell you what mistakes a small business makes when integrating with an online marketplace and how to avoid them.
Mistake 1: choosing a website at random
The first and main mistake: choosing a marketplace based on general characteristics. This can be the site’s traffic, the total number of sales, search engine positions – the data marketplaces provide about themselves. The problem is that the popularity of the marketplace does not guarantee high sales of your product in any way: no one puts the real demand for niches into the public domain.
To choose the right platform, you need to carefully study information about available marketplaces in all open sources. You can:
- request information from the marketplace itself through customer service;
- attend a conference or other event at which representatives of marketplaces speak;
- find profile chats and communities where entrepreneurs exchange information about sales channels;
- consult with colleagues who have already used this marketplace.
Please note that even after registering on the marketplace, you are unlikely to receive complete statistics on the sales of your own products: the data is usually very fragmented, and you have to compile it manually. For demand analysis, there are no tools at all, it remains to order analytics on the side: buy services that cost from $ 120 per month, or use the services of specialized companies (the budget is calculated individually). Pay as much attention to the choice of marketplace – and try to obtain first and foremost the data on sales in your particular market segment. This is a key factor.
Mistake 2: carelessness when loading products
When you start using the marketplace, the first thing to do is to upload your products so that they appear on the site. The difficulty is that each platform has its own requirements for presenting product information that must be followed. If you don’t pay attention to this, the process of publishing the assortment drags on for months – trade is idle and you lose money.
Take a look at the following points:
- photo requirements: resolution, background, number of shots and the ability to use video;
- product name and description: number of characters, prohibited words and phrases;
- blocks that must be present: tags, specifications.
Remember: it’s your product card that will be the main sales tool. Make sure it looks attractive and gives potential buyers an accurate picture of the product – beautiful photos, a detailed and structured description. We recommend researching your competitors’ offers in advance, gathering descriptions and photos of their bestsellers, thinking about why they were successful and how you can do better.
If your catalog is large, hire a content manager – someone who has a good understanding of the specifics of marketplaces, their API, DAM and PIM tools. Provide him with comprehensive data about your product range and the company’s corporate identity.
Mistake 3: Infrequent assortment updates
For consistently high sales it is not enough to upload your catalog to the marketplace; it must be regularly updated: change the information about stocks, availability of goods, their properties. A customer who sees irrelevant information on the site will have a negative experience and leave (and in the worst case, even leave a negative feedback).
The solution is one: paying close attention to the relevance of their proposal, as fully and correctly filled out product cards. For this is responsible content manager. You can always contact him with a request ‘help me write my paper’.
Have you got difficulties with the quality and relevance of the information? Pay attention to the qualifications of the content manager.
We recommend that you constantly improve it by maintaining knowledge of new opportunities sites, electronic catalogs that help automate these processes, reducing the number of errors and speeding up the process of working with marketplace at times. If the specialist does his work qualitatively, there will be no obstacles to successful sales.
Top tip: be vigilant
Feedback is your main asset: it allows you to understand how things are going and what you need to work on. How quickly the customer received the product, what kind of feedback he left, whether he is satisfied with the purchase: gather all the data and compile them into a single analytical corpus. For small businesses with a small assortment, manual checks of search engine positions and basic Google analytics are sufficient, while medium and large businesses need advanced analytical systems that track:
- feedback on your products and competitors’ products;
- positions in the search engine;
- price level in the category.
As for automatic analytics and reporting systems on marketplaces, they still leave much to be desired. Many operations have to be performed manually, it is labor-intensive, so the demand for experts in working with marketplaces exceeds supply.
- Actively use the support service of the marketplace itself: find out what it can give you, and use it;
- Sign up for Telegram chats and social networking communities dedicated to Marketplace: you can always ask your colleagues for help;
- Take advantage of the external monitoring systems we wrote about above.
Never leave a marketplace unattended, and it will become a very effective sales channel.