The Six Point Plan – Step 3 | Listing – Part 1: Settings

In Step 3 of the plan we’re creating listings but first, we need to set up the channels and listing tool, as some of these settings are referenced by the listings themselves – things like your shipping options and payment policies.

This step tends to overlap with Step 2 because, in order to test, you need to ensure that you have all your settings configured.

In fairness, each platform and channel works differently so we can onlyb talk in generalities here but the principles so tend to be the same and I will use examples to illustrate each point.



Most marketplaces give you a set of fixed options when it comes to your shipping settings. Obviously, they are aware that they need to allow for their sellers having different couriers, pricing and delivery times so they do tend to be fairly comprehensive but they may not always match up to your situation exactly.

On Ebay, for example, you create a Business Policy (or policies) where you select your shipping time, handling time and courier. On Amazon you have the “Shipping Settings” page which works in a similar. In both cases, you tell them where you ship to, how quickly you ship, how much you charge and the shipping service you use.

In each case, you should understand that you are configuring the settings for the buyer so you shouldn’t worry too much if you can’t find your exact courier or your order cut off time, simply match it up as best you can. When it comes to routing the order through your systems you will be able to map these settings to your own. Most listing tools allow for some form of mapping where you can specify that “Other Courier 48 hour” should map to your internal 48 hour delivery service.

It is worth noting a few things here. You can usually specify more than one service (e.g. a 3-5 service that’s is free and a next day service costing and additional £4.99). Free shipping is strongly recommended as is fast shipping. Ebay Premium listings require a free option and Amazon Seller Fulfilled Prime requires both.

💡 TIP: If you build the cost of shipping in to the item price, you can offer multibuy discounts without losing money. If you sell two items, you are effectively charging shipping twice but will typically pack both items into one box. Simply by discounting the cost of shipping for subsequent items you can create an offer and encourage multiple purchases.


Returns & Refunds

I’ve mentioned this before but, a UPS study commissioned by Ebay suggested that 75% of buyers check the returns policy before making a purchase. Treat that as you may but there is a strong case for a generous returns policy.

Standard practice these days is to offer a minimum 15 day returns period, preferably 30 days if you’re feeling brave (remember we’re talking optional returns window here, faulty items etc. are regulated separately). Zalando require their sellers to offer a 100 day returns period which may sound alarming but data shows that very few products are returned after 30 days and you’ll more likely see increased sales with negligible difference in returns rates if you are prepared to risk it.

Most channels make it easy for buyers to initiate a return. Make sure you understand how this works and any time restrictions on issuing refunds. A number of channels require you to issue refunds within a fixed time-frame. You can find your account in hot water if you wait for items to be received back into your warehouse before issuing a refund. If you can, it’s probably best to just issue a refund automatically.



In the main, payment is managed by the marketplace so there is little that sellers need to take care of. The marketplace takes the payment and then reconciles with the sellers on a periodic basis having deducted their fees. In the main, the marketplace is responsible for collecting vat so the main thing to ensure is that they have the details of where to deposit your money.

Sometimes, channels will withold funds in case they need to refund buyers which can cause issues with cashflow. Something to be aware of.


Communications Preferences

It may seem blindingly obvious but it pays to double check your communication preferences to ensure all the relevant people are notified. Pay particular attention to customer messages and cases. Some third party systems can unify messaging from multiple channels but this is only needed if you’re trading numerous channels or have particular issues with returns that you need additional automation.


Brand Building

If you are the brand owner (as opposed to a reseller), you should take the opportunity to register with the marketplace to both build awareness and protect listings from uncscrupulous competitors.

Brand Registry and Ebay’s equivalent VeRO program allow you to report sellers who impinge on your brand. On Amazon, in particular, registering your brand also comes with a number of marketing features not available to other sellers including a Storefront and enhanced descriptions (known as A+).

In all cases, make sure you avail yourselves of any opportunity to talk about your brand and build your presence on the channel. This should include profiles and branded imagery – just be aware of any channel policies here around things like image watermarks and brand claims.


New Account Limits

Most new accounts have restrictions placed on them regarding the number and value of items they can sell. You can often appeal to the channel to have these raised but will either need an Account Manager to fight your corner or enough sales history to prove your trustworthiness.

We’ll discuss this more in when it comes to creating Listings in our next post but, in general, it does make sense to start slowly, ensure you have everything under control and the systems are working as expected before ramping everything up. This is particularly relevant for fulfilment and customer service.


The Six Point Plan – Step 2 | Integration

In Part 1 of Step 1, we discussed options for your integrations and the various systems involved as part of the Planning Phase. In this Step 2 we are implementing that integration. What to expect and what you will need to organise.

If you followed my recommendation in part 1, you will have decided to use a 3rd party listing platform because this means you only need one integration to gain access to many marketplaces and any ongoing maintenance and development will be handled by them.

In this case, you’re main task is to connect your systems to the listing tool – you have some configuration to do on the listing tool and the platform, but we’ll discuss that in Part 5.


Even when using a listing tool, you will still need to build a custom connection which, unless you are a programmer, will need to be done by someone else. If you work for a larger business, you may have an IT team in house if not, you will need to find someone: you might ask your web developers (assuming you have one); you could ask the platform if they can recommend someone; you could place an ad on a freelancer site or use an IPAAS platform (Integration Platform As A Service).

In all cases, the developers will need to understand, in some detail, what their integration will need to do and here, you will need the involvement of someone who knows marketplaces. We can go back to the diagram again but that only tells part of the story: 


There are a few things to look out for here. Your developers, if they’re any good, will pick up on most of these but it’s worth ensuring these aspects are being handled as you require as I’ve been cuaght out by these in the past:

Order Numbers

When integrating marketplaces through middleware, you are effectively adding 2 new order numbers. As well as the one generated by your existing systems, you have one from the marketplace and one from the middleware. In most cases, it’s best to send the channel order number and use that. I’ve seen many instances where the website order number is used in the back end systems which makes it a nightmare to track down when a customer chanses their package using the marketplace order ID.

This can be problematic as some systems have character limits on the length of order number. Amazon orders are 19 characters so worth checking this won’t cause any problems.

Marketplace IDs

While you want every order to follow the same process flow as much as possible, there are instances where you might want to treat channels differently. For example, Amazon has. apolicy where you aren’t allowed to put promotional material in with the package – they view the customer as theirs and take steps to prevent marketplace sellers from luring them away. Amazon are known to spot check orders so, if you have to include a “10% off your first purchase from our website” offer in the box, you should consider including it on the back of the invoice or delivery note so, if you do get spotted, you can claim it was simply an oversight and you will correct the error immediately. So sorry, Mr Amazon Sir!

Similarly, if your account health on a given channel is in need to some urgent remedial action, you may want to prioritise orders from that channel, which means your packing team will need to know where each order came from.

Make sure that, once it reaches the warehouse, each order clearly states the source channel. This may require some adaptation of your order management system.


While it’s ok for product information to be sent on a daily schedule, changes to available quantities should be communicated in as close to real-time as possible to avoid overselling. This is actually the main reason you need a full API integration, full inventory files are too big and cumbersome to process quickly, with api calls you can simply send individual updates or “deltas” – if you sell an item on your website, you want to send that change top the marketplaces as quickly as possible.

A word of warning, I’ve seen stock quantities drift over time – if all your doing is sending a -1 update, if only one these updates is missed (which does happen) then your stock level is then permanently out. To counter this, it’s a good idea to send a full stock sync daily – overnight works. In this way, even if one update is missed, the levels are pulled back into line. This can often be included in your main product feed.

Automated Emails

If you have automated updates set up to notify customers of changes to the status of their deliveries and you route marketplace orders through the same platforms, it’s likely your system will notify Marketplace buyers in the same way. The problem is that the marketplaces themselves will be doing the same thing so the customer could end up with multiple messages all telling them the same thing.

You can’t stop the marketplaces from sending their messages, so it’s a good idea to switch them off in your own systems instead.


Once the integration has been scoped and the developers know what they are to build, they will give you a timescale. There’s not a lot you can do here but make sure you get that in writing and yopu should certainly discuss options should they not hit that deadline. It could have a serious impact if the development goes over and you miss some important selling time.

Once work commences, there’s not much you can do until it comes time for testing. Most channels don’t offer a sandbox so you’ll likely be testing on the live environment. It’s a good idea to only list one, cheap item at a time to test the order flow and make sure all the steps are working.

At this point, while you’re testing orders, it’s a good idea to involve your customer service team so they can get familiar with the new systems and processes before you launch fully. It’s also helpful for them if you do it close to the launch date so everything is fresh in their minds.

I would typically allow a week for testing but this might take longer if you find a complex problem with the integration (which is why you want to get involved and ask questions during scoping to ensure there isn’t anything major getting overlooked.

In the main, you’re testing the order process from end to end. You need to ensure that all the channels are getting updated correctly, items are getting picked and packed properly, tracking numbers are being sent back to the channels and customers are getting the correctc udatesr getting the the correct updates. Once you’re happy, you should be ready to list.

Go Live

One last piece of advice: don’t launch close to a weekend. You want to have everyone around in case something goes wrong. In general, I will only launch new campaigns between Monday – Wednesday.

The Six Point Plan – Step 1 | Planning – Part 2: People & Process

Planning Part 2

In our previous post we focused on the systems. This time around, we’re going to be looking at the other key decisions you need to make.

Logistics and Reverse Logistics:

Even before Amazon introduced Prime and same day delivery, the logistics of sending and returning items has been an important component of the buying decision. Most marketplaces know that poor performance from their sellers can kill their entire business if buyers don’t trust that they will get the goods so, as a seller this one thing you really need to get right.


  1. Accuracy: The main priority for sellers is to ensure that you deliver the products when you say you will. If you miss your deadline, you could find your listings demoted, your account status impacted or account suspended.
  2. Tracking: Using a tracked service offers you protection from buyers acting in bad faith. If you can prove that an item was delivered, most channels will find in your favour in any dispute.
  3. Cost: The issue with tracked services is that they cost more. Nevertheless, you should offer free delivery and either absorb the cost or add it to the price of the item. Items with free shipping are ranked higher and may qualify for loyalty programmes or other promotions. It’s worth noting that, if you build the cost of shipping into the price of the item, you can offer discounts for multiple purchases simply by discounting any additional shipping charges.
  4. Speed: The shorter you set your delivery time, the more appealing the offer and the more customers will consider buying. But you need to deliver as promised. Whatever you do, don’t over-promise and under-deliver. Remember that you can offer more than one option: it’s often best to offer one free and one expedited service and let the customers choose.
  5. Logistics Options: There are, essentially, three ways to go with your logistics operations and the solution you choose depends on your current situation and the countries and channels you plan to use:
    1. You can hold stock in your own warehouse and ship directly to your customers. This option is often best for your home territory but, when it comes to international channels, you’ll be competing with local businesses with locally held stock so, you’ll either need a super-speedy and super-cheap international courier or you’ll need to hold stock in-country. You’ll also need a way to manage returns. (More on that below)
    2. Many marketplaces now offer their own logistics solutions: Amazon with FBA; Zalando with ZFS; Cdiscount; Bol and many others. It’s worth comparing costs with shipping directly because they are often priced competitively and give you access to programmes like Prime while also providing a quick solution to tackling new countries. You also face the issue of needing more stock to feed more warehouses, one for each channel.
    3. The third option is to use a 3rd Party Logistics company (3PL). Many have warehouses in different countries and offer localised returns solutions. Some are even Prime accredited meaning you get the Prime badge on your listings. This solution means you have one stock pool (or at least one additional stock pool) but cost may be a factor.

For international expansion, a 3PL will usually provide the best combination of options but can be an expensive option requiring significant upfront commitment so many businesses will start by shipping from overseas using existing couriers until such time as they see sales that justify the 3PL expense. This is a low-effort option but doesn’t necessary tell you whether a country will work because you may not be generating the sales you would with a fast / free delivery option.

If Amazon is in the mix, I would typically recommend starting any European expansion using FBA. That way you immediately get the Prime badge on Amazon and can also fulfil orders off Amazon. Once you start branching out, you can assess alternatives at that stage.


According to a joint UPS and Ebay study, 75% of shoppers consider the returns options before making a purchase. The key, as with most things with e-commerce, is to be generous towards your customers. In all cases, you should familiarise yourselves with the policies of each channel to ensure you are willing and able to meet their requirements.

  1. Policies: Most customers expect to have at least 30 days to return their products. Any shorter than that could be viewed badly. There is a case to be made for longer periods. Studies show that returns levels drop off dramatically after the first 30 days so, offering a 100 day returns period tends to make little difference to the number of items returned but can increase sales conversion rates. Similarly, covering the cost of the returns instils confidence and can make the difference between a customer buying from you or going to one of your competitors.
  2. Method: Most major marketplaces require buyers to initiate any returns through the channel. That way they can track performance and arbitrate should anything go wrong. There’s nothing to stop you including returns labels in the original package to make returning items easier but most will allow for a variety of returns procedures.
  3. Refunds: There’s a temptation to wait for items to be received back into your warehouse, where they can be inspected before issuing a refund. With marketplaces, this is not always possible. Many put a time-limit on the issuing of refunds: if you’re getting close to the deadline, it’s often best to just issue the refund even if you are still awaiting the item to protect your account status. As with deliveries, using a tracked service can protect you from unscrupulous behaviour.

Customer Service

Marketplace integration impacts customer service operations. With orders coming in from multiple platforms, your team will need to handle communications from customers in a number of different ways.

In most cases, communications can be forwarded to an external email address and managed that way but there are a few platforms out there that integrate these communications into a single platfrom. Zendesk and eDesk are a couple of the more prominent solutions but there are others.

Regardless of the method, your team will need to be familiar with the rules and regulations so they can effectively protect your account status.

It’s a good idea to monitor your orders closely in the early stages after launching a new channel, at least until you are confident that they are being recived and fulfilled accurately and that shipping updates are making their way to the channel. This is a job you should give to your customer service people. I’d recommend twice daily checks for the first couple of weeks at least.

Listing Automation

Creating listings is one of the most time-consuming aspects of any campaign. And this is an ongoing challenge if you regularly add new products or launch on new marketplaces. Most listing tools require you to provide listing ready data so won’t solve this problem for you. Before we look at your options it may be helpful to run through the typical listing process: at least in outline.

Before you start, you will need to obtain the channels listing requirements (taxonomy) which explains the way that products should be structured. In the main, products are first placed into categories which, in turn, determine the attributes that are required, recommended or optional. When you send your data, the channel will respond with the status of each listing and details of any errors (where your values don’t match their requirements).

Data Formatting

When originating your product data, consistency is key. Different channels may want the same information but in slightly different forms: the valid value for a neck style may be, “crew-neck” one one channel and “crew” on another. Sending a wrong value will likely produce an error.

To format your data in bulk you will want to use logic and that works best if your values are consistent: if you have the same value, sometimes with a space, sometimes with a hyphen and sometimes all in one word, your rules become that much more complex.

Businesses tend to tackle this data conversion task in one of three ways:

  1. Manual: Depending on the size of your inventory, this appraoch may require a lot of people and a lot of time and the task only gets bigger as you add new product or new channels.
  2. Spreadsheet: You can achieve some efficiencies through the careful application of formulas and lookups in programmes like Excel (See my post on Using Excel to Create listings). This approach requires some expertise and may still take some time to complete.
  3. Custom Development: If you have the IT resource, you could get them to convert your data but this can be expensive and doesn’t scale well as you’ll need to repeat the work each time you add a channel.
  4. Dedicated Software: Some listing tools offer some data manipulation functionality but very few claim to fully automate the process and fewer still offer you the full control you’d need to create fully optimised listings that will perform to their potential.

Financial & Legal

When you have sales coming from multiple sources, you create an additional bookkeeping headache where your sales for each channel need to be reconciled. Pretty much every channel will provide a detailed statement but each channel pays out in a slightly different way and at slightly different times so don’t forget to forewarn your finance team/bookkeppers. In truth, I don’t tend to recommend much in terms of  integrations or automation here. While there are some good tools out ther like A2X, they don’t integrate with enough channels to make them a fully comprehensive solution.

Regarding legal considerations, review the terms of service, seller agreements, and policies of each platform to comply with their rules and regulations. When you first create an account, you will be required to declare the business’s beneficial owners and other details which, with bigger businesses, tends to be the responsibility of the Finance team. Additionally, ensure you are aware of any applicable local and international laws related to e-commerce, sales tax, and consumer protection.

Beyond that, each marketplace has its own set of policies that sellers must comply with. You will need to thoroughly understand prohibited items, listing restrictions, and guidelines for product descriptions and images. Complying with these policies is crucial to avoid account suspensions or penalties. Pay close attention to policies regarding intellectual property rights.

When it comes to international expansion things can get even more complex. Many Marketplaces now operate in multiple countries and provide opportunities for international selling. You will need. tofamiliarise yourselves with any import/export regulations, customs duties, and shipping logistics to ensure compliance. Assess the language and cultural considerations to tailor your product listings and customer support accordingly. Determine if you will fulfill international orders yourself or leverage the fulfillment services provided by the platforms.

The Department for International Trade website has some useful information and can provide practical assistance.

Marketing and Promotion

You should develop a marketing and promotion strategy to increase visibility and drive sales. Implementation comes later but, for now, you will need to know what your policies are going to be. How will your new channels work with to the rest of your business: will you run the same promotions that you run on your website or should they be different? You may decide to use Ebay just for clearance, in which case it would probably have independent pricing. For other channels you may want to simply mirror everything exactly but have some leeway to keep things competitive.

It’s worth noting that many channels limit your ability to show markdowns: even if you send Amazon an RRP, they will often not display it and, while Ebay may require you to use their Markdown Manager, you can ask for Strikethrough pricing to be activated on your account.

Most sites offer a range of options to promote your products. Pay Per Click is increasingly popular: Amazon, Ebay and Cdiscount  all offer this type of promotion and, unfortunately, you may well need to avail yourselves of these programmes to get the exposure you’re looking for. Ebay’s Promoted listings does something similar but tends to operate on a Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) model, meaning you only pay once you make a sale. Other sites, like Zalando and Catch in Australia offer black box marketing solutions. Pay them some money and they will do some stuff to get you more exposure. What that stuff is can be a bit vague.

Promotions too can work quite well. Here we’re mainly talking things like multi-buy offers and coupons. Listings included in such promotions are often boosted in search rankings and may display some eye-catching graphics to indicate that there’s an offer so can be quite effective.

As a general rule, traffic to your listings that didn’t come from a standard search click is extra valuable. Listings tend to be ranked based on popularity which typically means its conversion rate.  I have it on good authority that traffic that comes from outside doesn’t get counted as a click but may register a sale. I encourage every business I work with to point their social media and other external marketing channels at their marketplace listings which can push it up the rankings: once it’s in the top 10, it tends to stay there so this only needs to be done for a limited time to produce lasting effects.

Daily Deals have a similar effect. Not only do they produce a quick sales hit but they usually have a lasting beneficial effect on sales long after the deal has ended.

In general, you should aim to build a relationship with the channel and work with them on mutually beneficial promotions.


Working out what resources you will need can be tricky as it is dependent on so many factors. I would recommend that you think in terms of activities and combine or separate roles depending:

  1. Channel Management: This involves configuring settings on the channel, raising support tickets, managing users that sort of thing.
  2. Listing Creation and Management: Titles need to be optimised, products categorised, attribute values converted. This can be big and time-consuming but it often makes sense to combine this role with the Channel Management role.
  3. Merchandising: Marketplaces need to be traded and someone needs to decide what products to make available on which channel or source products for deals or decide on pricing policies. For these, the Merchandiser role is a pretty important position. 
  4. Warehouse: In the beginnning, you will likely be able to absorb any additional sales into your existing set up but, over time, we have to assume that this will grow into a significant part of your business which may require additional people to ship the extra orders and maybe even a bigger warehouse to hold additional stock.
  5. Marketing: In fairness, most channels offer decent automation but, if you want to do it well, PPC should be managed by someone who knows what they’re doing.
  6. Reconciliation: The more channels you add, the more cmplex the bookkeeping task becomes. You may need to add resource to account for the additional paperwork.

Many of these roles can be outsourced or managed in house while automation can make some of them much more efficient freeing up time and reducing you salary overhead.



    The Six Point Plan – Step 1 | Planning – Part 1: Systems Planning

    The first decision you should make is what kind of campaign you want to build because that will help you decide what your infrastructure should look like.

    If you are simply intending to put your products into FBA and limit yourselves to Amazon, you probably don’t need any kind of integration since you simply send them your stock, create your listings and Amazon takes care of the rest. If, however, you want to sell on more than one channel fulfilling from your own warehouse, you will need to build integration: mainly because you will need to ensure that the stock levels on each channel are accurate at all times.

    I’ve made no secret of my opinion that your goal should be to build an infrastructure to support multi-channel campaign so let’s look at the options.

    Listing overview


    When it comes to marketplaces, the main thing you need to get right is your order management. You will quickly find your listings demoted or, worse, your account suspended if you can’t fulfil your orders as promised. Defective orders are most commonly caused if your stock levels on the channel are inaccurate: if you tell Amazon you have 2 in stock but then sell one on your website and one on Ebay, you need to quickly tell Amazon that you’ve sold out. And for this you need to connect your stock control system to the channels – potentially hundreds of channels.

    You could outsource your logistics to a 3PL (third party logistics) company which would initially save you the headache and cost of building some additional systems integrations but you would need to segment your inventory – meaning you ring-fence a certain proportion of your stock. In the short run, this may feel like an easier solution but, in the long run, it costs more and you risk creating product silos where you have a stock available for Amazon but have none left for your warehouse which in turn ties up more of your cash.


    Loosely, there are two ways to automatically pull in orders:

    1. Native Plugin/Extension

    Some of the bigger platforms like Shopify or Salesforce, offer extensions that allow you to connect your system with specific marketplaces. These provide a hassle-free way to create listings and mange orders but there are a couple of things to looks out for: firstly, it’s not enough to just create listings: marketplaces are competitive environments and you need to be able to control the way they are structured (optimised) to ensure they show up in searches and convert browsers into buyers (more on listings later); secondly, most plugins only connect to one channel and you want to be able to connect to lots of them.

    2. API .

    API (Application Programming Interface) integrations in this context are custom built connections using pre-existing architecture to send information back and forth. There is typically a one off fee to get them built and often a small ongoing maintenance cost.

    Both of these options will allow your system to update stock levels in “real-time” which is the minimum requirement.

    The optimal set up

    For the majority of e-commerce businesses, the systems set up tends to look something like this:


    In more complex scenarios, you may already be receiving orders from other channels or may have an ERP system as the main hub but, in each case, the orders are sent to the warehouse which will likely have some kind of WMS (Warehouse Management System) for printing picklists shipping labels and manifests. there is then communication back again with shipping information so that the customer remains informed.

    To add a single marketplaces to this set up would more likely look like this:


      In this scenario, the listings are being created using the data already stored in the website (more on that later). Order details are sent back to the website and then sent with the website’s own order data to the warehouse for dispatch while tracking information follows the same path back until it reaches the website when tracking information for eBay orders goes one way and website orders another.

      Then, if you want to add a second channel…


        Each time we add a new channel, we need to build a new integration. And if you want to keep expanding, you end up with something like this:


          This is why you should use a listing tool. They already integrate with the Marketplaces: creating listings and unifying orders. This means you just need one set of connections instead of multiple.

          So, instead, your integration map looks like this:


            Creating listings

            Every sales channel, whether it’s a marketplace, comparison shopping site or affiliate network, requires you to send your data in a pre-determined structure: Ebay’s titles can be no longer than 80 characters long, Amazon requires a barcode to create new listings, Fruugo want prices excluding VAT. For every site you go on you will need to completely reformat your product data supplying the right category and attribute values and this is your biggest anchor on scalability.

            To list a pair of Jeans, Amazon’s upload template lists 44 required fields. And that doesn’t include any that are recommended.

            Good quality listings matter – they help your products surface when shoppers search, listings rich in data convert better and the best quality listings rise yo the top of search results.

            But creating quality listings is tricky. You first need to learn what the requirements are which takes time and then apply that knowledge to a lots of products. That work is ongoing as new ranges and products are added and multiplies every time you add another channel.

            Businesses tend to solve this problem in different ways.

            Option 1 – Throw people at it

            The most common solution is to dump your data into a spreadsheet and get someone to go through line by line adjusting the values for every product. Assuming the person in question knows what they are doing, this approach can produce the best results but it is slow, inaccurate and expensive.

            It does depend on the size of inventory, if you’ve only got 20 products, creating elaborate descriptions and well-structured titles is more feasible than if you add 200 new products a week.

            Option 2 – Ask your developers:

            Coders can create rules to automatically transform your data – turn Charcoal into Black or a size 9 shoe into a European size 42. This type of mapping works well for simple transformations like these but tends to write horrible copy.

            In most companies that I’ve worked with, getting time from the IT team is like getting help from Amazon Seller Support – almost impossible. And, even if you do manage to get enough time to generate the right data, the chance are that the requirements will then change and you will need to call on them again to update their mappings.

            Option 3 – Use a Data mapping tool

            Most listing tools require you to provide ready formatted product data but a handful include Business Rule functionality where you can create your data mapping without the need for any coding skills. You may still want to write your titles and descriptions by hand by you can save considerable costs by automating the lion’s share of the work.

            There is still a considerable time investment required as you need to learn the requirements of each marketplace, learn how the listing tool works and spend time constructing the rules you want, which needs to be done afresh every time you add a new channel.

            Listing platforms with this kind of functionality are almost universally expensive and require long contracts. Fine if you’re an enterprise business but not, perhaps, if you’re a small independent where a large, up-front investment is not an option. 

            Option 4 – Managed Services:

            Agencies that specialise in listing optimisation and channel management are becoming more prevalent. Some like Feedonomics and Listabl have their own technology meaning costs can be kept to a minimum.

            This combination of technology and human oversight is ideal. Expensive human intervention is reserved for where it really matters like constructing high performing titles or quality images that attract buyers.


            Hopefully, by now, I’ve done well enough to explain my reasoning but I tried to explain your options which may have muddied the waters a little. So, rather than leave you to come to your own conclusions, allow me to nail my colours to the mast:

            1. Don’t just think in terms of Amazon. Build an infrastructure that can support many channels.
            2. Built an integration that utilises what you already have in place as much as possible.
            3. Don’t try and build your own connections. Use a listing tool. I won’t pretend that I’ve used them all but I’m into double digits and here are my observations:
              • ChannelAdvisor – the market leader offers solid software and great global coverage but it’s a pricey option
              • Product Up – good mapping capabilities but, like ChannelAdvisor, it’s more aimed at Enterprise level sellers
              • Channable – Great price and solid functionalaity. Relatively easy to use but at the expense of some control/flexibility.
              • Listabl – I can’t not include my own software. It promises to be the best and offers more automation than any other platform but it’s young and boasts relatively few connections at this time.
            4. Work out how you’re going to create your listings as this is the most work and the hardest to automate.

            Using Excel to create listings

            As I was thinking about the subject of this post, it occurred to me that, while there are lots of articles telling you what you should do to optimise your marketplace listings – you should create titles in a certain way or make sure everything is listed with as many attributes as possible -I haven’t seen anything that talks about how you go about doing that when you’ve never done it before or how do you do that for 30,000 Skus.

            So, this is practical advice on “how” to create optimised listings and how to do that for large inventories that change often. With this process it is then possible and practical to create campaigns on as many channels as you want.
            In writing this, my hope is that I can both provide practical guidance to anyone who might need to do this while, at the same time, being able to provide practical marketplace services to sellers.

            For the sake of a clear narrative, I’m going to use a fictional Brand, “Superfly” (yeah, sorry) as an example so we can see some actual – but not really actual, if you get my drift – product data and discuss some real-world examples.


            BEFORE WE START

            We’re going to need to start with some ground rules. I’m going to be talking about product data and how I go about manipulating it at scale so that the listings perform. This means using software.

            Of the software that one could use for this sort of thing, I am most familiar with Excel so will reference that but, in the real world, I would always use a listing tool to manage the order side of the equation.

            If you aren’t familiar with Spreadsheets and Excel formulas, you might struggle to keep up but I explicity want to discuss how to build the logic that can then be run automatically so you might not get full value form this article if that’s the case.

            I’ve included a Glossary of terms as a separate article so that I can just talk about things rather than stop to explain something that some of you will already know.

            Right, here are the salient points about Superfly:

            • Product Type: Sportswear – Shorts, t-shirts, trainers etc.
            • No. of SKUs: 10,000
            • Target Marketplace: Amazon UK – (eBay titles probably require special mention thanks to their restriction to 80 characters but I might tackle that at the end).



            Most retail businesses already have this licked (although not all). Most have a website where people can buy their products so this usually where we get our source data but essentially we just need a product feed from the best source of data we can get.

            If you’re a reseller, the chances are that the data you are given is either a) almost nothing or b) compromised. When I say compromised I mean shared by a load of other sellers removing any competitive advantage and probably seen by Google as duplicate content.

            For the purposes of this article we will assume we have a source data file from which we can work.

            The goal is to have a spreadsheet with one worksheet which Contains the source data and a second that contains all of the columns we are going to need to send to Amazon. This second sheet contains all of the rules to transform the data into the formats that we want. In this way, we can simply paste any new products into the Source data worksheet and the data will be automatically converted.

            In point of fact, we will have a couple of other worksheets but we’ll come to those.


            Start by familiarising yourself with the requirements of the channel. Amazon provides this information in the help section of Seller Central. The page titled: Inventory file templates contains a table where you can download 3 types of file:

            Style Guides: This is a pdf suggesting how you should structure your ads.

            Inventory file templates: This is a multi-tabbed spreadsheet that enables you to create a bulk upload file specifically for the product type selected.

            Browse Tree Guides: Browse Nodes is Amazon’s name for product categories. This file contains a list of available categories along with its unique Node ID.

            In the case of Superfly, we’re looking at two categories: Clothing and Shoes so we’ll need both sets.

            Take your time with this because it really helps to plan and, the more familiar you are with the data requirements, the more mistakes you will avoid down the line.

            The Amazon fields are listed on the Data Definitions tab of the Inventory Template. I tend to place the field name in the first row and the Required? values in the second. Like this (Fig 1):



            The quickest way to do this is to simply copy the values from Template worksheet and then use a vlookup to match the Required values:

            =VLOOKUP(A1,'[]Data Definitions’!$C:$G,5,0)

            With the Required? values on the page, it is relatively straightforward to then remove unwanted columns. You don’t want to touch any that are Required (at this stage) so we’re only looking at removing the Optional ones.

            You’re looking for fields where you don’t have any source data or which aren’t relevant: obviously, you won’t need to specify the Skirt Size Value if you don’t have any skirts.

            Once you have your framework, it helps to break your work down into sections:

            • SKU relationships and structure
            • Categorisation
            • Attribute mapping
            • Titles
            • Search Terms.
            • The rest

            This is pretty much the order to work in but it can help to look ahead so you can see where you might have some missing data points that you’ll need to research.

            For the sake of this example, I’ll be working with a simplified version of the client’s file with only 3 products (31 SKUs) but the structure is real and starts like this (Fig 2):





            Ok, so the first thing we need is for every item to have a unique SKU number. This is shown clearly in column B. However, we will need Parent SKUs in the same column as the Child SKUs: instead, they are listed in column A as an attribute of each child SKU. This means we’re going to need to create them.

            TRICK 1: PIVOT TABLES

            We can use the sku_ref values as parent SKUs but we’ll need to remove any duplicates first. We can do this in a few ways but the simplest is to create pivot table: highlight the first column, go to the Insert Menu and select Pivot table.


            FIG 3: PIVOT TABLE POP UP


            Create the table in a new worksheet (this is third of four mentioned earlier) and then click on the field name in the Pivot table fields sidebar. If you drag it from the values to rows box, you end up with a deduplicated list of values which can be copied and pasted into a new worksheet (this is the fourth of four). So my end list looks like this:

            In this case we only have 3 values but it works just as easily for hundreds and thousands of values.

            We then copy and paste these values below the existing list of SKUs in column B on the original worksheet. We then write a simple cell reference formula in the first available cell in the Seller SKU column of our Amazon worksheet like this: =’Source Data’!B2 and then drag down by grabbing the bottom right corner which should then copy the formula into the rows below.

            You want to cover more rows than there are SKUs so you don’t miss any. It will be fairly apparent where the SKUs end:

            By doing it in this roundabout way, instead of simply copying and pasting the skus into the Amazon Sheet directly, we can replace the SKUs on the Source Data worksheet with new ones and the Amazon sheet will update itself.

            TRICK 2: USING LOOKUPS

            Ok, with Trick 1 we use Pivot tables to identify the values we have to work with. Now we’re going to use Lookup functions to pull the data into the export (Amazon) worksheet.

            Here is the variation structure that Amazon wants (as specified in the Inventory file template for Apparel):



            The Parentage column is asking us to specify whether a product is a Parent or Child SKU.

            Again, we want to use a formula to populate this data. Since we know that only the Parent SKU values exist in column A, we can write a formula to use this:

            =IFNA(IF(VLOOKUP(B3,’Source Data’!A:A,1,0)=B3,”Parent”,””),”Child”)

            Note the VLOOKUP function that we’re using to identify whether the SKU number we’re looking up exists in column A of the Source Data sheet

            And for the Parent SKU we can use an Xlookup:

            =IF(XLOOKUP(B3,’Source Data’!B:B,’Sample Data’!A:A)=0,””,XLOOKUP(B3,’Source Data’!B:B,’Sample Data’!A:A))

            The key is to ensure that we use formulas to create the values rather than putting text in as, this way, we can change what goes into the master sheet and the Export sheet will take care of itself.

            If we extend this to all the variation fields we end up with this (Fig 5):



            Lookups really come into their own when you combine them with a Pivot. Let’s look at Categorisation by way of example.



            Unless you’re only selling one type of product, I always use a lookup to map categories. Especially with large inventories, where there’s a large chance you want to avoid inconsistencies. This means we need a set of values that we can match to Amazon’s Browse nodes.

            This file has a lot of data points that we can potentially use to create our mappings. It’s quite common for data files to include values that we don’t need. Most data sets have grown over time as the business grows. Here are the relevant fields from our Source data:



            There is clearly some duplication where we have a code and a value that are effectively telling us the same thing so let’s remove these. I tend to keep the values rather than codes as these are potentially useful by themselves:

            This file has a lot of data points that we can potentially use to create our mappings. It’s quite common for data files to include values that we don’t need. Most data sets have grown over time as the business grows. Here are the relevant fields from our Source data:



            Ok, it looks as though the Webtype is a combination of the Classification and the Gender-name so that field looks like a good candidate. But, hang on, that field tells me that the second product is a men’s T-shirt. But the Type column says it’s a Polo. Polo’s and T-shirts have different Browse nodes so that’s not going to work.

            I think a combination of the Webtype and type fields will give us enough information to build a category map. For this, I’m going to insert a column at the end of the Source Data and write a concatenate function like this:


            I can then pivot the results to get the unique values which I can then manually map to Amazon’s Product Type, Department and Browse Node resulting in a table on the Lookups worksheet like this:



            Doing it this way instead of individually for every line means that I only need to map each value once and that mapping will work for any new items we add to the list in future.

            We can now use a lookup to populate the mapping back to the main worksheet. Using a formula like this one which gives us the Browse node ID:

            =VLOOKUP((IFNA(VLOOKUP(B3,’Source Data’!A:BM,65,0),VLOOKUP(B3,’Source Data’!B:BM,64,0))),Lookups!A:D,4,0)

            It may look complicated if you’re not used to Excel formulas but it’s really quite simple. This rule only has 2 functions: VLOOKUP (look up the value in B3 in the first column of a table and then count a number of columns across and tell me what’s there) and the IFNA (if the result you get is #N/A – a calculation error – then do something else).

            In this case, the rule first needs to find the Source Category value we created and does that by looking in the Parent SKU column but, if that fails, looking in the Child SKU column and then looks up the result in the table above. Simples.

            In the end we get this:



            STEP 4: ATTRIBUTES

            Atttributes typically fall into 2 groups: those that can use any value and those that need to use an Amazon value. The former tend to be infinitely variable where choosing a value from a list makes no sense like the Brand. The latter tend to be used as filters on search results pages like the Colour Map and can be set up the same way as the Category lookups – with a pivot table and lookups.

            Registered Brands tend to be case sensitive so, even though we can use a straight vlookup to pull on the values, again, we have some inconsistencies to clean up. Here are the unique values we have:


            We have Superfly written with an Initial capital letter and all in caps. We want them with just the first letter capitalised. could use a lookup table to fix it but it’s simpler to just add a Proper function. Like this:

            =PROPER(IFNA(VLOOKUP(B3,’Source Data’!A:L,12,0),VLOOKUP(B3,’Source Data’!B:L,11,0)))

            For the Colour Map, we can use the same principal of building a lookup table for each attribute that needs to be mapped.

            First we use a pivot table to get a list of unique values Then we choose the closest matching value from Amazon’s list of Valid Values for Shirts:



            For the Colour Map, we can use the same principal of building a lookup table for each attribute that needs to be mapped.

            First we use a pivot table to get a list of unique values Then we choose the closest matching value from Amazon’s list of Valid Values for Shirts (Fig 11).



            I would then use an IF statement to select which lookup table to use:

            IFNA(VLOOKUP(VLOOKUP($B3,’Source Data’!B:U,20,0),Lookups!I:J,2,0),””),
            IFNA(VLOOKUP(VLOOKUP($B3,’Source Data’!B:U,20,0),Lookups!F:G,2,0),””))

            Ignore the line breaks, I just spread the rule over three rows to make it easier to read. IF statements go, IF(Logical test, Value if true, Value if false). The logical test is, IF the product is a shoe, look up the colour in the table in columns I to J, if not, look up the colour in the table in columns F to G.

            These techniques can be combined to cater for pretty much all category and attribute mappings.


            STEP 5: TITLES

            Alright, automating titles can be tricky. Particularly when you’re mapping to eBay where they are so important in search but you have a character limit. It often depends on the quality and consistency of the source data.

            Superfly already have a couple of title fields in their feed file (Fig 12).



            However, the Short Title looks inconsistent and has issues with the case and double spaces and has clearly been built for internal use so they aren’t values I would trust to always be set out the same way.

            The Title field is also problematic. According to the Amazon Style Guide for Clothing, Parent titles should look like this:

            [brand_name] + [department_name] + [style_name] + [product_name] + [model_name] + [opacity] + “pack of” + [number of items]

            For Child SKUs, you just add the colour and size:

            [Parent ASIN Name] + [color_name] + [size_name]

            So, our Titles are missing size and colour. There is also an issue with length: “Limit ‘Parent ASIN’ titles to 60 characters and ‘Child ASIN’ titles to 150 characters maximum”.

            OK, so if we don’t like these, let’s look at what we could construct with the available data. We have the Brand, the Department, the Style: Adidas Mens Trail Runner. The opacity and number of items isn’t relevant here so this leaves the Product name and Model Name. These are problematic as we don’t have these in their own fields.

            The thing to understand is that some of these rules aren’t fixed. If you don’t provide the information exactly as Amazon specifies, they aren’t necessarily going to block your listing – they will if you use offensive language or exceed 150 characters or break any of the other Prohibited rules listed on the style sheet – but we do have some leeway.

            In this case, it seems to me that the best option is to use a shortened version of the Title. Maybe everything up to the hyphen:

            Adidas Bionic Waterproof Mens Running Sneakers

            That’s not bad. And we can then add the size and colour for the child skus. But how about this one:

            Superfly Supersonic Womens Crew Neck Top 100% Cotton with Breathable fabric & Easy Care

            It’s OK, but it’s already 87 characters long and, because it doesn’t have the same structure as the previous 2 products, it tells me that these titles don’t follow a strict pattern so I’m likely to find further issues with the future products.

            That’s the thing about creating titles with rules, the source data is usually inconsistent meaning the titles themselves are inconsistent and you need to build in all kinds of exceptions: if it’s longer than 60 characters, remove anything after a “with”. In this case that would result in:

            Superfly Supersonic Womens Crew Neck Top 100% Cotton

            Which is fine, but I’m pretty certain there’ll be an instance in future which breaks the rule.

            You have a few options here:

            1. Write your rule and keep tinkering with it when you find issues – I have written exception lists in the past: if the SKU is in this list, lookup the hand-written title from this table here…
            2. Write your titles by hand – While this does tend to produce the best results, as people can make complex adjustments and find key attributes to squeeze in when space allows, it can be slow and expensive.
            3. Use a hybrid of the two. Write a rule that gets you 70% there are then flag those that don’t work (usually too long or too short) and send them to your people.

            For this example, let’s run through a couple of the more common tricks:


            Alright, let’s say we want to remove everything after the hyphen. For this I would use a combination of a FIND and a LEFT function.

            What you want is all of the characters left of the hyphen so, the first thing to do, is work out where that hyphen is. For this we use FIND:

            =FIND(” – “,’Source Data’!E2)

            This rule says, in cell E2, tell me where the “ – “ text is. This brings back a number – 47 in case you are wondering. I.e. this text starts at character 47. Note, I included the spaces because I don’t want those either and it would exclude cases where there is a hyphenated word.

            So, now, I can use this number to specify the number of characters of text I want:

            =LEFT(‘Source Data’!E2,FIND(” – “,’Source Data’!E2)-1)

            Which gives me the left 46 characters or:

            Adidas Bionic Waterproof Mens Running Sneakers

            Ok, that’s fine but not ideal: I think Trainers is a better keyword than Sneakers in the UK but the description of the product is clear and it’s their brand. I do have the Search Terms field where I can ensure the keyword, “Trainers” gets indexed.

            In point of fact I would use a vlookup in place of ‘Source Data’!E2 but you can work that out for yourselves.

            But, when I copy down, I can see three, must fix issues (Fig 13):

            1. The Parent SKUs aren’t working
            2. The Title for the, “Supersonic” is too long
            3. The Child SKUs need the size and the colour.

            This is where rules start to become unwieldy. We can fix all of these, but the rules can grow quite long and difficult to decipher and I’m not going to do that here. This article’s quite long enough already and I still have a few things left to cover.

            Suffice to say, if you are populating the Search Terms field with proper care and have a good set of product features, unlike on eBay, your title doesn’t need to be perfect for the product to perform well.

            Fig 13: Calculated Titles

            STEP 6: SEARCH TERMS

            I don’t want to talk too much about Search Terms save to say do your research. Just google, “Keyword Research” and you’ll get a load of platforms that can help you think of the right terms but I’ve found most to be of limited help.

            If you have a Google Adwords account you could use that on the assumption that buyers use the same search queries across platforms. Or, if you have registered Brand with Amazon, you could use their Search Terms Report

            Most of the keywords that are unique to one shirt over another tend to be in the listing anyway so you can cover a lot of ground applying Search terms to groups of products. Group your products by type or category and again use a lookup to apply them.

            You can always go back later and look for improvements once you have more performance data to look at.

            There are a couple of common errors to call out. These are all listed in Amazon’s help section but I’m drawing attention to them as so many sellers seem to ignore these particular points:

            1. DON’T REPEAT KEYWORDS

            I saw this recently:

            Baby buggy baby pram baby stroller

            You don’t need the word, “baby” in there 3 times. Once is enough. Similarly, you don’t need to repeat words from the title or feature bullets. Repeating keywords isn’t bad, necessarily, you’re just using up limited space that could be put to better use.


            This is against Amazon’s terms and could result in punitive action. I’ve seen many people doing this and getting away with it but this chicken will come home to roost at some point and, I for one, wouldn’t want to risk account suspension.

            3. DON’T USE PUNCTUATION

            Amazon’s Search engine (A9) is an ever-changing and complex set of algorithms that recognise text strings (a collection of characters) separated by spaces. By adding a character to the end of a word, you change the string.

            Amazon have built in a load of exceptions. and refinements so they can often recognise and handle such eventualities, but don’t rely on them to fix everything. Just follow their advice and you won’t go too far wrong.


            There are a few points to make about these fields before I sign off.


            Amazon doesn’t allow html in its descriptions any more so, if yours are tagged in this way you will need to remove it. There are a number of online tools that can do this but results can be imperfect so check any results thoroughly.

            You may prefer to use an online tool like Listabl if this is an issue as you may struggle to fully automate using Excel.


            Images don’t tend to cause too many problems but there are a couple of issues to be aware of:

            If you’re image urls have been supplied in a single field you will need to separate them. This can be done with a simple function in ChannelAdvisor and Listabl but with Excel you need to go round the houses. I tend to use a FIND function as described above but if there are many images all joined, you may need to use a set of nested LEFT and RIGHT Functions and repeat the process to get what you need.

            Let’s say I have this value for the images:


            This rule: =LEFT(AC34,FIND(“;”,AC34)-1) brings back this result:

   – that’s good.

            I can then subtract the FIND value from the length to get everything to the Right of the semi-colon. So:


            gives me:; I can then apply the same to rules to the result of that RIGHT rule to split these two images.

            If I have a lot of images, I will often create a new worksheet to build this out.


            Pricing on Amazon is competitive. If you’re selling the same item as other businesses, in theory, you should all be using the same listing page (ASIN). If this is the case, you should be using a repricer.

            Repricer automatically change your pricing based on the parameters you set (what’s your minimum price? how much do you want to undercut your competition? do you want to compete with Amazon themselves etc.).

            While there is always a risk allowing software to set your pricing, I would recommend using a Repricer, preferably an algorithmic one. These versions are more sophisticated than their rules-based counterparts and can actually increase your margin while growing sales.


            Depending on the sales velocity, sending a feed once a day may not be enough.

            Let’s say you have 1 unit left of a given item and that item has been listed on eBay and Amazon. If you sell that item on Amazon, you need to tell eBay you have none left. If you only update your quantities once a day, eBay might not get the update for 24 hours.

            For this reason, I tend to recommend that quantity updates are kept separate from the main product feed so that you can process changes quickly (as close to real-time as you can get).

            Typically this means using an API but, if you have a small inventory you might get away with using a feed file.

            The other option would be to buffer your stock: in this way you subtract a fixed amount from the actual quantity so that you always have at least one (or more) left over. You have 5, you subtract 1 before you before you tell eBay so they think you have 4. If you sell 4, eBay thinks you’ve sold out when, in fact, you have 1 left.

            You still run the risk of overselling if you sell more than the buffer quantity before you send an update but the risk is lessened and you can always apply a bigger buffer.


            FINAL THOUGHTS

            This method means that, once you’ve set it up, as long as any new product data is structured the same way, with the same columns, you can simply paste it into the Source Data worksheet and optimised data will miraculously appear on the Output worksheet. Turning a task that might take weeks into something that can be done in 5 minutes.

            Systems like ChannelAdvisor and Listabl enable you to automatically send and receive data as well as manipulate the data in the process (Excel can do this too btw, you just need to really know what you’re doing and the process is easily disrupted).

            There is a lot to learn and the set up can take some time but, if your inventory is constantly changing, or you’re managing more than just Amazon, you need an efficient way to manage your data.

            The Six Point Plan – Introduction

            Over the years, I’ve helped many businesses to sell on marketplaces and, in the vast majority of these cases, I will start by managing their expectations. What does success look like? What if things go well? Well if they don’t go well? In each case, I am trying to encourage the seller to think in terms of an ever multi-channel campaign where new channels are constantly being added, existing channels are being effectively traded and every year we’re generating more and more sales. The logic is simple: regardless of whether the initial campaign goes well, you will want to do it again: if it goes well, you will want to repeat the success; if it goes badly, you will look at other channels as a way to recover your costs. The Six point plan is a way to break down the complexities of a multi-channel campaign into manageable sections. It’s aimed at sellers big and small, whether you’ve been selling on marketplaces for years or are new to the channel, there will be something here for you. Over the coming weeks, I’m going to give you everything you need to know to set up a campaign that scales. None of the vague but real, practical advice that, if you’re at all undecided or unclear, will answer your questions and give you a clear path forward. If I’ve done this properly, you’ll come to view this series as too good to be true and the answer to all your marketplace prayers. That said, this structure is mainly aimed at traditional e-commerce businesses with the following properties.
            1. You are a professional seller with repeatable fixed priced items – not one-offs or bespoke products.
            2. You will need people to manage things – we aim to automate as much as possible but you still need to pay attention and don’t want ChatGPT making decisions for you.
            If that isn’t you, there will still be stuff of value here but you will need to adapt in certain places. Last point before we get into it: we strongly advocate automating where possible. It’s the only way to scale. This, in turn, means some up-front cost: marketplaces differ from other sales channels in that the transaction takes place outside of your systems which has all kinds of ramifications. In short, this means you will need to be able to handle three potentially new types of data exchange with external systems:  
              • Product information going out to create ads. This is the biggest piece of work and the hardest to automate.
              • Completed order information coming back. You want to ensure that, as much as possible, this ends up following the same process as your other orders – at least as far as pick, pack and dispatch is concerned.
              • Order confirmation and shipping information going out. This includes tracking numbers and courier details.
              • There is a fourth which is the whole returns process but, for now, we’re going to park that.
            Typical Integration

            THE PLAN

            Right, if you’re still reading, I know you haven;’t found this page by accident and we can get down to brass tacks. We’ll go into more detail about each stage in future posts but, in outline the plan is linear with each stage being tackled one at a time.

            Step 1 | PLANNING

            Define your Goals and prepare your Foundations
            Make sure you’re clear on why you want to sell on marketplaces. Profitability may seem the obvious objective but what about brand awareness or sales volume. Your objectives may change over time and that’s ok but be clear what you want because sometimes your decisions will be different. Aligning internal systems, people, and processes is also key at this stage and your choices will largely this is depend on your goals. If you only plan to list on Amazon (don’t) then you may not need any dedicated systems but, as soon as you add a second channel, you will need a way to keep your stock levels accurate.

            STEP 2 | Integration

            Integrate your systems and prepare your people
            Efficient integration is the key to marketplace success but can be costly. You can choose between building in-house integration solutions or outsourcing to experienced professionals. We’ll discuss the benefits of pre-built integrations and the role of software teams in simplifying the process in future posts we’ll even recommend which a few systems we like and name a few we don’t (no doubt burning a few bridges a long the way).

            Step 3 | Listing

            Format your data and fix listing errors
            Preparing product listings for marketplaces can be time-consuming and challenging. We’ll provide strategies to streamline the process, fix errors, and create initial optimisations for maximum visibility and conversion. Building a strong listing history from the start is essential.

            Step 4 | Optimisation

            Boost Performance through improvements to your listings
            Marketplaces often provide recommendations to improve listing performance. We’ll share effective optimisation techniques to help you enhance your listings and increase conversions. Incorporating these suggestions early on will set the stage for success.

            Step 5 | Marketing

            Maximise Efficiency and Drive Traffic
            Marketplaces offer paid traffic options to increase visibility. We’ll explore efficient marketing strategies that deliver a high return on investment. By aligning your marketing efforts with your goals, you can attract and convert customers effectively.

            Step 6 | Expansion

            Sieze Growth Opportunities
            The global marketplace landscape offers countless channels to reach new customers. However, expansion requires proper planning and integration. We’ll guide you in setting up your marketplace presence for seamless channel additions, enabling sustainable growth and increased market penetration. Success can never be guaranteed (if you try and sell a coffee mug for £100 you may struggle for sales) but, if you have products for which you already know there’s demand and you follow this plan, you’ll be giving yourself the best chance of success… and you’ll save yourself a tonne of money in the process because it’s super-efficient. In my next post, I’ll be discussing the Planning Phase: specifically, the technology involved, points to consider and options to keep your costs down.