How to Sell on Multiple Marketplaces
Every company has a different path to success. While many e-commerce companies focus on selling direct to consumers from their website, other companies use dropshipping, rely on wholesale, or exclusively sell on specific marketplaces. While every company has found what works for them, we will explain how and why selling on multiple marketplaces has its benefits.
Defined by Investopedia, marketplaces are the world of trade or economic activity. Essentially meaning the exchanging of goods for money. e-commerce marketplaces are more similar to in-person marketplaces than one might think—a mix of multiple vendors and products (or businesses) selling in one place. Though online marketplaces mean that you can be in more than one place at one time, consumers tend to come to a specific marketplace to look for particular items.
Why Should You Sell on A Marketplace?
They Are Very Popular
Online marketplaces are wildly popular—Amazon projects to gain a 51% market share by 2021. Whether consumers shop online or in-person, they are equally likely to visit an online marketplace to compare and contrast their options before purchasing.
Instant Level of Trust
Marketplaces that have a large market share have a very high level of trust. If you list approved products on these marketplaces, you automatically gain trust in the consumer’s eye. It is similar to an influencer backing your products—instant influence and authority.
Quick and Easy Start
Marketplaces design their UI to be easy-to-use plug-in-play models. Shops utilizing a specific marketplace have to enter information into the site to retain the same look and feel as the rest of the online marketplace.
Many marketplaces operate internationally, meaning that you have instantly started selling to multiple countries with low overhead once selling a product on a marketplace.
Good Testing Ground
Sometimes companies sell some of their products on their sites as well as on their marketplaces. When you have low overhead and low entry fees, you can place items on these marketplaces before investing in the item for your own website.
A lot of these marketplaces have billions of returning customers. Whether customers only shop for your products on a marketplace or refer over to your online store directly, delivering a reliable product to their customers instantly gains you new customers.
How to get on a Marketplace?
Know Your Market
Knowing your market is vital for marketplace success. Nothing is worse than going to a marketplace that your target market is not using. You are wasting time, money, and confusing consumers. Sticking to your brand and understanding your market will help determine where your customers are online shopping. You might think that all consumers shop on a marketplace, but you must weigh the cost to benefit from running a successful company through your own e-commerce site. Marketplaces require a membership fee as well as they take a percentage of proceeds. If you can grow on your site without splitting profits, it might be best to skip the marketplace route altogether.
Know the Entry Costs
Every marketplace has different fees and price structures. Not every market asks for an initial payment to sign up as a vendor, but most marketplaces require a monthly cost, an expense to list items, or a price per sale. Some marketplaces will reduce their fees or percentage of costs based on how popular your sales are - doing this is a benefit to your company, but it also benefits the marketplace. It is helpful to do a deep dive into which marketplaces your company chooses to sell and understand if you can negotiate pricing or fees. Remember that if you are a newer company, it will take a bit of time to see a large investment return.
#ShipTip: With some marketplaces, such as Amazon, you can sell your products to wholesale, meaning they store the product in their warehouse. Wholesale is usually for larger companies, and unfortunately, information is not found on their regular entry page. It is best to contact a salesperson or rep to see your options.
Establish Marketplace Goals
Even if one is planning on entering an online marketplace with a few items as a matter of experiment, it is important to establish goals. Many marketplaces are great e-commerce tools and work similarly to a search engine, using keywords and descriptions to give the customer what they want, but marketplaces can also be saturated spaces. Sometimes a company will not be successful in a marketplace because they aren’t willing to invest the money in advertising, pushing a “chosen product,” or being the first to appear on a search. There can be a variety of business-related goals when joining a marketplace, such as:
Grow your customer base by 25%
Increase overall customers by 14%
Re-cop overall investment in 2 months
Get 100 customer reviews in 3 months
Have 100 products on the marketplace after a month
Goals can be different based on growth percentage, length of time, and how much you invest in this venture. Ensure that you have clear and actionable plans that include short and long-term goals before entering a marketplace.
Create an Account
Creating an account might seem like a no-brainer step, but it can take a bit of time to complete. Depending on the marketplace, vendors might have to wait to see their products, or company as a whole, approved to sell. It is not unlikely that individual products might not meet the terms or conditions. Other times, marketplaces make money by requiring a percentage of vendor profits and no entry barriers.
The most challenging marketplaces to get into would be Amazon, Alibaba, and Google Express. The easier marketplaces are Etsy, eBay, TopHatter, and Facebook Marketplace. It is best to create an account assuming that you will get accepted without any restrictions. Once accepted, payments begin, and you can start selling that day.