When it comes to raising visibility of your inventory online, there’s no doubt that your e-commerce strategy should involve the publication of the items on marketplaces. How to choose the best selling e-commerce marketplaces for your business? Identifying the right platform to sell your products online can become a challenge when you’re looking into countries for which you don’t know the culture or the language. In this article, we share a few tips that have been helpful to our customers. Nothing revolutionary, only basic common sense, all together.
#1. Discuss with locals
Looking forward to extending your area of influence to northern Europe? Who, better than a Danish can speak with you about Danish’s favourite sales channels and customer’s feelings about the platforms?
Having managed an online retail store distributing in 5 countries in Europe for nearly 5 years, if you are in business for a few years, you most likely have contacts in every country who would be happy to feed you back with that information. Not only with their feelings but also send you a couple of google searches done in their native language which will help you to get a list of the 5 to 10 best channels for their country, using Google translator if needs to be 😉
If you really don’t have any clue, I would recommend identifying start-ups acting in your field and ask them. Start-ups are most likely open to sharing basic market information such as a list of best selling e-commerce marketplaces in their area
When you got the big picture, here is the next step:
#2. Compare traffic
My favourite: Similarweb
Similarweb gives quick “vs” comparison between websites and therefore marketplaces. Similarweb provides key insights such as the global rank, visits and traffic sources.
This is certainly enough data if the goal is set to sell online or increase online sales. However, for brand visibility, the count of unique visitors / month may also be a key reason for deciding where to publish the inventory.
Compete doesn’t have the fancyness of Similarweb but it has the advantage of giving the count of unique visits on a monthly basis:
Alexa, traffic analysis owned by Amazon. Popular for its ranking. Alexa doesn’t give much info about traffic without a paid, expensive, subscription.
While Quantcast has a clear interface, we tend to not use it much as the results are somehow different from the compelling results from the above mentioned websites.
#3. Visit the marketplace
This one may sound obvious: visit the marketplace!
In the real world, when brands and sellers are placing their items on a shelve, the visibility, the placement are likely part of the negotiation. It should be the same online. Marketplaces are public websites. A simple visit of their webstore from your office using a web browser will give a plethora of information:
- Quality: Does the marketplace support unique product detail page? Does it allow display customisation in html? How many attributes are available in seach? What are the quality standards for images?
- Generalist vs. Specialist: How many sub-categories are present for your product range?
- Localisation: what does the marketplace offer in terms of payment methods and
- Is the marketplace design responsive or so called mobile friendly?
- Do they have a mobile app?
- What are the features of the marketplace: Do they have price alerts so frequent short price drops could help winning sales?
- What is the search engine (Google) ranking of the marketplace? Does it appear on first page with competitor products while making a google search?
- What is the marketing involvement of the marketplace to promote your products?
- Competition: When competitors are already there, is there a true place for inventory diversification and for your product range?
In the above example, on eBay:
- image background is not pure white
- image taken on a dead body
- price drop
Inadequate sales channels, leads to lower customer interest. While ebay might be the right place for some products categories or mainstream products, there are other marketplaces for upper shelve items.
Only by visiting the marketplace and getting in touch with their commercial staff, you should be able to find what site out there is best for your very products.
#4. Are competitors already there?
OK, so you identified the top 3 marketplaces for your company to start business in that new location but some of your competitors are already there. Even worse, this enabled you to find about some unknown local competitors, and they seem to have a great deal. Should you refrain your company from selling there?
Absolutely not! Let me give you some examples:
“My brand is selling quality products from the upper shelve. The living standard of the target country is rather lower and local competitors seem to have a good quality / price ratio. Not sure that we can compete.”
No need to compete: you’re not selling the same and rather than trying to standardize your offer to the market, I would recommend on insisting on the specificities:
- Country of production
- Quality standards
- Certifications and standards such as ISO
- Fair trade or bio certifications
- Guarantee and added services
#5. Generalists or specialists
Is it better to push products to a generalist platforms aka. digital supermarkets or to specialists?
At ThePlugBlog, we strongly believe in marketplace growth because customers don’t buy at random, see why? So marketplaces are growing fast. Faster than e-commerce’s average (15%). While it’s difficult to know the exact growth of most e-commerce groups as they have several non-retail or non-ecommerce components, we guesstimate that growth of Amazon marketplace is above 30% on a global scale, Cdiscount, the Cnova flagship seems to grow at 24% YoY. Also, more and more leading sites are becoming marketplaces: when they get traffic, they primarily open to third parties for completing their selection in the historical categories, see the example of go-sport in France. Then they grow the categories as much as they grow their audience like Fnac has done over the past years and continues to grow through 2015.
To keep it short
- Marketplaces are performing better than average e-commerce
- More and more marketplace
- Customer’s don’t buy at random
While e-commerce is growing, the marketplace business is taking off even faster and while it takes time to see this trend on historical markets (marketplaces account for 30% of e-commerce in US in 2014), it’s a clear trend on the emerging markets (marketplaces from the Alibaba group only account for 80% of e-commerce volumes in china in 2014): Most of the e-commerce business will happen on marketplaces in the future.
I personally believe that successful marketplaces will tend to grow generalist, no matter where they come from (electronics, fashion, …) as one of the only as launching new categories is a quick win often encouraged by partners already selling on that marketplace. For example sellers selling sport items and shoes will encourage a marketplace selling sport items to start selling shoes. Seems obvious to me.
#6. Customer feedbacks
One of the last important question is: are people happy to buy on that specific marketplace? E-tailers care a lot about customer feedbacks and aim at 5 stars / 100% positive feedbacks.
So what about checking it in your category? That’s certainly the best way to check if the order process/customer management process at that marketplace is customer friendly enough.
#7. No time to build a professional market study for your e-commerce strategy?
It’s most likely not about time. If you feel like the steps #1 to #6 above are too much time-consuming, your company might just not be ready to get started on marketplaces tomorrow. You may define a deadline for the getting started selling on marketplaces and complete those 6 steps 2 month ahead. This will buy you time enough to care about the marketplace requirements in terms of data quality which is key to the success for selling online.
If it’s not about time, you can contact me and I surely can help with some tips and tricks I use to build valuable sales channels studies that can be used as a healthy base for international e-commerce strategy.