This is a guest post from Daniel Sodkiewicz, Co-founder of GeekSeller, a multi-channel eCommerce platform.
Marketplace sales account for 50% of global online retail sales. This means that no matter how popular your official online store is, you still have an opportunity to grow by listing your products on sites like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Jet or Walmart.
Many eCommerce merchants generate a majority of their sales outside of their own website, making them dependent on marketplaces. Marketplaces present a great opportunity, but they also place heavy restrictions and expectations on merchants. Even if you have a well-established brand, getting banned from marketplaces is relatively easy…while getting back onto them, if it’s even possible for you, can be a time-consuming process.
If you search “Amazon suspended my account,” you’ll find horror stories all across the Internet. Sellers have been kicked off of the marketplace for making silly mistakes, small missteps, or getting bad reviews from nasty customers. For many, this could mean the end of their business.
Here are a few reasons not to rely on a single marketplace for your eCommerce sales.
- You put yourself at the mercy of that channel. If something goes wrong, it affects your entire revenue stream. If a marketplace changes their rules, and you are unprepared, it could take days or even weeks to get up to speed. In eCommerce, time is money, and these delays will cost you.
- If you only have a website and don’t sell on any marketplaces, marketing your own site can be difficult. Driving traffic is expensive and shoppers may prefer to use marketplaces since they can offer conveniences that a single-merchant site cannot (and vice versa).
- Being on only one channel means you only reach a small segment of all potential buyers. Each marketplace has their own loyal customer base, and going multi-channel will expand your reach.
Action plan for going multi-channel
Explore new marketplaces
Entering a new marketplace is usually pretty simple once you get accepted. Try to get your products listed on Amazon, eBay, Jet, Walmart and keep an eye out for new marketplaces. Right now the hot names are Tophatter and Google Express.
Learn the rules
Make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the each marketplaces. Do a weekly review of your key performance indicators on each one. Most marketplaces have a dashboard that illustrates the health of your seller account.
Invest in solid logistics
Late shipping and overselling are the most common reasons why marketplaces ban sellers. Be sure to select a 3PL that can guarantee on-time shipment and keep each marketplace’s inventory levels up to date to prevent overselling.
Build a loyal customer base
Try to build a list of loyal customers and get them to shop on your official website. Communicate with them via newsletter; Engage, but do not spam.
Protect your data
Keep your data well organized. Keep your SKUs consistent and updated. Back up your data. When you move to a new marketplace, having a well-maintained catalog data will make the expansion much simpler. Also, inventory synchronization requires you to have well organized products and consistent SKUs across marketplaces.
Marketplaces represent a crucial part of how we buy and sell online, and with the right approach you can stop potential difficulties before they start and capitalize on their existing infrastructure and reputation. Investing your time and resources to start out strong can save you in the end.