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Retailers today must be agile and flexible in how, when, where and even why they sell in various channels. Yes, you want visitors coming to your site, experiencing your brand and becoming valuable lifetime customers. After all, you’ve spent the majority of your time creating a beautiful website with a high quality customer experience.
However, if your items are not showing up where the customer is choosing to search for them (Google, Amazon, mobile, etc), then your company isn’t even in the running to win their business. Today’s commerce industry is multichannel, and it is the retailers quickly embracing the “sell anywhere to sell more attitude” that are the most successful.
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So, of all the marketing strategies your business can pursue in 2016 to increase your bottom line, one of the most important is listing your products on online marketplaces. These platforms put you directly in the path of consumers who are looking for products with wallets in hand.
The Marketplace Giants
- Amazon: Boasting nearly 85 million unique monthly visitors, Amazon is the 800 pound gorilla in ecommerce and Amazon is a must-sell marketplace. Based on the scale of shoppers it attracts, retailers find it easy to get people in front of their products. Other advantages include gaining new consumers who may purchase from you again, and an easy checkout and fulfillment process for retailers and customers alike. The downsides of selling on Amazon include marketplace fees (which can vary by category), restrictions on branding your business, and an inability to capture personal information from customers that will allow you to market to them in the future.
- eBay: Like Amazon, eBay commands a huge base of avid shoppers. It also has an easy-to-use interface for selling, listing and managing inventory. It's particular strength is in international ecommerce, allowing your brand to test out the international arena on the marketplace most readily used for those outside the North America and Europe. The disadvantages include fees that can vary based on the items you sell and the methods you use to sell them. Some retailers are also frustrated by policies they feel are overly generous to buyers, including eBay’s 180-day return policy.
- Etsy: This marketplace offers a substantial user base that is interested in hand-crafted, artisanal or vintage items. Etsy is credited for having a passionate community of like-minded shoppers, and retailers find it easy to launch a store on the site. Disadvantages include vendor fees which, coupled with PayPal processing charges, can add up quickly. Retailers also complain of having few options to customize their shops. Lastly, because Etsy has very specific categories, it tends to be very competitive.
Other Marketplace Options for Online Sellers
- Newegg offers automotive supplies, electronics, sporting products and office goods
- Sears has electronics, home products, fitness and toys, to name a few
- Rakuten.com specializes in computers and electronics, but also features categories like sporting goods, home and garden, health and beauty, and many others
- iOffer.com is a commission-based marketplace, offering a variety of categories from fashion, to electronics, to sporting goods
- eCrater offers free online stores and unlimited products and categories
- ArtFire.com is for sellers of handmade crafts and products
- Offeritem.com is a free marketplace that offers a large selection of categories
- Shopandmade.com is a marketplace created for handmade items
- Zibbet.com focuses on handmade items, art, crafting supplies and vintage products
- Atomicmall.com offers auction or fixed-price selling with no listing fees
- 3tailer.com is for sellers and buyers of niche products
- Sell.com is formatted similarly to classified advertisements
- Houzz is a Pinterest-like site geared toward home remodeling
Social Shopping Sites: Like, Share, Purchase
What do you get when you mix social media, ecommerce and a passionate audience that loves niche products? Social shopping sites are quickly becoming a major attraction to buyers and sellers, bringing together the intimacy of social media sites like Pinterest with a digital shopping mall experience.
Here are some creative websites that are helping brands find new buyers in a variety of different markets, making a great addition to your multichannel selling repertoire.
- Fancy.com: Trends are front and center on this platform, which offers products ranging from fashion to novelty items. They have even created their own “Fancy” button for users to tag different items online. Fancy gives users customization options that provide a personalized shopping experience in the dashboard, search functionality and checkout options.
- Wanelo: Similar to Fancy, Wanelo allows users to shop a catalog of over 20 million products in one centralized place. It's gained a large audience of female college-aged shoppers, who often find products using hashtags and the Wanelo Save Button. Small businesses and other online merchants can claim their store page and upload their product feed to begin selling their products on this platform.
- ShopStyle: Billing itself as a search engine devoted to fashion, ShopStyle is a popular digital marketplace that features everything from big-name designer brands to up-and-coming boutique stores. Like other social shopping sites, ShopStyle empowers its users to create their own personal brand of fashion and interior design.
- Fab: This social shopping site is like a digital department store, providing many of the same categories and items you would find in Walmart or Target. Fab seems focused on capturing bargain hunters, offering flash sales and price matching on products.
- Polyvore: Focusing on fashion and home décor, Polyvore is a community site where shoppers can create collections that others can browse, shop and follow (5). The site uses themes that makes it easy to browse and share products. It even offers an option to get alerts when items go on sale.
- OpenSky: This site offers mainstream products ranging from apparel, to healthy living, to tech items. Users can add items to their newsfeed and follow individual sellers, who can create a storefront that looks similar to a Facebook brand page.
- Ownza: Drawing inspiration from Pinterest, Ownza relies heavily on a pinboard-style layout, allowing users to pull content from anywhere on the web and put it on virtual shelves. Retailers create profiles where they can post links to products that are owned and shared by the users.
- The Grommet: This platform stands out as a curated marketplace where shoppers can explore and buy products from independent retailers. The site seeks out unique products, tests them and publishes video reviews that also tell the story behind the product’s creation. They don’t allow every merchant to feature products on their site, though. They tend to favor working with manufacturers instead of merchants, but that doesn’t exclude small shops that create their own products.
Not all of these channels will be ideal for your business. You’ll need to determine ROI based on time-spent and fees associated with hosting your items in these marketplaces.
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It is likely that even if you do use these marketplaces as an extension of your online store, you won’t want to push all of your products there. Instead, figure out which products you can compete on with price (likely good contenders for Amazon and eBay) and which maintain a unique status. These two points are differentiators for both the Amazon and eBay marketplaces, where both third-party and unique SKUs are sold. Non-unique items must compete on price or you won’t win the Buy Box (on Amazon), or the marketplace will already be too saturated (on eBay). Unique, items, on the other hand do not need to compete on price, but you will want to do your research to see how similar items are priced.
We’ll have more marketplace education available soon. Stay tuned and feel free to leave any questions you might have about any of these marketplaces in the comments below. We’ll take these to our partners and get answers from the companies themselves on how to efficiently and effectively sell more via a marketplace channel strategy.
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