By Adrien Nussenbaum, Co-Founder, Mirakl

Maintaining the sales pipeline is arguably the most important aspect of any retail business, large or small. But perhaps even more so for emerging retail businesses, that may not yet have their own premises and are always looking for new channels to reach potential customers.

One of the biggest current trends in retail is the emergence of online marketplaces, with the best known of these, Amazon Marketplace, accounting for more than 50% of Amazon’s overall business. It just makes sense. It gives Amazon additional e-commerce channels without inventory or logistic constraints and its customers see increased product choice and more competitive pricing.

Having seen such success, other retailers have cottoned to how an online marketplace can also be a major opportunity for them to expand their product range, improve customer service and of course, increase profits. And the exact same is true for the sellers that use online marketplaces to sell their products, whether that’s via Amazon Marketplace or elsewhere. It is a new and potentially vast channel for smaller retailers to improve sales and reach a new customer base. But how can they make the most from online marketplaces?

Make sure your chosen marketplace suits your products

There is so much choice for the small retailer looking to sell via an online marketplace, including Amazon, many high street retailers and specialists such as Etsy and notonthehighstreet.com, where all sales are conducted via a marketplace.

A temptation could be to use several of these, but it is important for a seller’s products to be complimentary to the main retailer - no-one wants to be seen as an interesting curio. Sellers should also be mindful to pick marketplaces with a solid technical platform and the right tools to ease catalogue integration and listings management. If listings are chaotic and unwieldy, then customers may struggle to find a product, let alone buy one.

Don’t skimp on product photography

The right photography of your products is hugely important. A seller will be competing with other sellers of similar products, and they won’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons. High quality visuals can be an important point of differentiation and poor quality shots could mean that potential customers are put off. Any seller must choose the best images possible, making sure that they fit in with the overall feel of the site and main retailer brand.

Offer as large a range of products as possible

One of the principal benefits of an online marketplace is to ensure complementarity and long tail. A seller will be pleasantly surprised at the range of products that they can sell at a given time. So with this is mind, they should try different products and increase sales opportunities by offering as large a range as possible, rather than sticking to the tried and tested.

Make good use of a marketplace’s pricing tools

People buy for many reasons but inevitably price is a significant factor – people love a bargain. Most good marketplaces will provide a pricing tool, which allows sellers to compare their price with the current best price on each product. Prices can then be adjusted accordingly and gives a seller the chance to be positioned in the Buy Box position, the section on a marketplace that highlights the most competitive prices available at that time.

The rules of SEO still apply

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) principals should absolutely still be applied to listing products on an online marketplace. A seller should ask their marketplace account manager what would be an efficient title on that particular product category, both in terms of being attention-grabbing and doing well with SEO.
For example, when buying consumer electronics, most consumers have been shown to search for a product using the brand name. So including the brand at the beginning of a product’s title is an obvious step and would be critical in getting picked up in searches on that marketplace.

Mirakl supplies online marketplace software to some of the world’s biggest retailers.