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.
- You are a professional seller with repeatable fixed priced items – not one-offs or bespoke products.
- 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.
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.