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2015: the year of the online marketplace

marketplace
Adrien Nussenbaum
January27/ 2015

Online marketplaces have been around for a while now. Amazon Marketplace launched in 2000 and is now the world’s biggest marketplace and responsible for more than 50% of all Amazon sales.

eBay, the original marketplace, is still one of the most known e-commerce sites, and there are numerous pure marketplaces, such as notonthehightstret.com, that do not have any products of their own. The last few years has also seen many high street retailers launching their own marketplaces, attracted by the chance to widen their product range and increase profits, without inventory and hassle.

When you factor in the Q4 2014 UK launch of the Rakuten marketplace – one of the biggest e-commerce companies in Japan – it means that online marketplaces have never been so much in the spotlight. This also means, that for smaller retailers, there have never been so many routes to reaching a bigger audience and potential customer base.

A Royal Mail survey of small retailers in January 2015, showed that more than one-quarter of respondents planned to sell via an online marketplace in 2015. The only surprise is that figure is so small – perhaps the other three-quarters already sell via online marketplaces!

It’s almost a no-brainer for a small retailer to sell via a marketplace. In a Mirakl survey of British online shoppers in 2014, over six in ten shoppers had bought from an online marketplace in the previous 12 months, so the opportunity is vast. If you are thinking of selling via a marketplace you can be sure that similar sellers will be doing the same, or perhaps already are. We have posted before on how to sell via an online marketplace, but as marketplaces become even more commonplace in 2015, here are three further tips to make your store stand out:

Have a distinctive homepage. A good online marketplace will have scope for each seller to create their own homepage. While this will often have to adhere to the brand guidelines of the overall retailer, that’s not to say there is no opportunity to let your store be noticed. This should include information about how and where you started, a range of striking and attention grabbing photography, as well as all manner of videos and other content that communicate your brand values. This is where the story (see below) should start.

Tell a story to build a connection with your customers. This applies to both you as a seller, and the products that you sell. The story should include why you started your business and what was your inspiration. This is particularly important if you are selling something handmade, or something likely to be bought as a gift for someone else. It creates a personal brand and will help create a bond with any potential customers.

You should then try and tell a story for each particular listing. How did you create that product, why is it meaningful and what were you trying to achieve? This is easier with certain products than others, but it all helps a customer identify with you and your products.

Be known for great service. Having a wonderful product is one thing. But the chances are, there are other products out there that are equally as good. So another way to differentiate yourself on a marketplace, is to be known for having the very best service. This means prompt responses to any queries, and being honest and transparent about your policies for shipping, handling and returns.

And don’t forget to say thanks! Customers appreciate this and if you do it via Twitter or Faceook they will have the chance to acknowledge you back. This is great marketing for you, as their networks will see that not only has their contact bought a nice product, but that they have got first class service too.

Adrien Nussenbaum

Adrien Nussenbaum is co-founder of Mirakl, and has more than 14 years' entrepreneurial and business development experience. After completing his studies at the HEC School of Management in Paris, Adrien Nussenbaum started his career with PARIBAS Investissement in Hong-Kong. After time spent on his own businesses – instant messaging solution All Instant – and also at Deloitte and Fnac, he founded Mirakl with his business partner Philippe Corrot in 2012. Since then it has become the leading provider of online marketplace technology to European retailers.