By Adrien Nussenbaum, co-founder Mirakl
For small retailers, it used to be that Amazon Marketplace and eBay were the two main places to sell products online. But it has proved both interesting and profitable for them to diversify, and to also sell on more specialised marketplaces, which have more qualified traffic.
Because many of the largest retailers in the UK (and indeed all over the world), now operate their own online marketplace. In the UK, we work with GAME and Halfords among others, and the marketplace model is versatile - from supermarkets to electrical retailers and department stores to sports & leisure shops - all see the benefit that utilising third-party sellers can bring to their customer service and e-commerce revenues.
This also means that there is a major opportunity for those third-party sellers, the small retail businesses – whether independent stores or home-based one-person operations – to increase their own sales and turnover by listing on an online marketplace. A good online marketplace will offer tools for their vendors such as advanced catalogue integration and sales management portals, that help the sales process all year round.
But there is a particular opportunity at this time of year, where most retailers will be gearing up for Black Friday (now a global phenomenon) and Christmas promotions and may well be looking to incorporate their online marketplace sellers in these promotions. So how can small retailers achieve the best return from their online marketplace listing during the busiest time of year in the retail calendar?
Ensure you collaborate with the marketplace operator. A retailer will plan its Christmas and Black Friday promotions well in advance so it should be fairly straight forward for a third-party seller to be able to tap into that. Any good online marketplace should provide each small retail business that sells on it with an account manager, so communication can be regular throughout the year.
But this becomes especially important now, as it allows the third-party seller to learn what the retailer has planned and how the seller can work with those plans. It might be that that the retailer is unable to offer a certain product and requires its marketplace sellers to not only cover that shortfall, but also wants to include them in any seasonal promotional offers.
Tailor your offers with those of the retailer. Even if there is not the opportunity to become directly involved in the seasonal promotion, then there is no reason at all that the third-party seller cannot look at what the retailer is promoting and tailor their own offers accordingly. One reason that so many major retailers are turning to an online marketplace is to ensure complementarity and long tail. So if an electrical retailer is running a major sales promotion on TVs, then a third-party seller could highlight its own complimentary products, whether that’s DVDs, comfy sofa cushions or even TV snacks.
Seasonalise your photography and copy. Part of tailoring your offering with the retailer will mean adjusting your product descriptions and perhaps the photography too. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) principals should absolutely still be applied to listing products on an online marketplace, so at Christmas the seller should not only mention the product’s brand but also make sure it is tagged as a ‘gift for him’ or ‘gift for her’ – this is how many people search.
Visuals are just as important as the copy in an online marketplace list and while it is unrealistic to re-do your entire product photography, adding a festive element to some of your biggest sellers could be a worthwhile exercise in terms of getting noticed.
Ensure you are ready to cope with additional demand. A retailer may well conduct its own seller performance review before Christmas or Black Friday, as it is important for them to identify any sellers at risk and help them to improve their performance. But third-party sellers can help themselves by being pro-active about this and ensuring they are ready to meet the additional demand.
Delivering good service is not only important for the overall reputation of the retailer, but the online marketplace sellers that consistently deliver good service are the ones that the retailer will want to highlight and include as part of their own promotions. Christmas and Black Friday are such important times in the retail calendar. Ensuring that these are included in a retailer’s promotion could make a significant difference to that small retail business’ turnover that year.