Have you tried selling on online marketplaces before? Not your old table and chairs on eBay, but actually supporting your business by accessing hundreds of thousands of potential customers?
The importance of being involved with online marketplaces is not hard to convey, it is a must. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately) people are getting lazier and when a one stop shop presents itself for occasions such as Christmas shopping, it is a very tempting proposition. If your brand is not yet well established it is a great way of getting people to see your name. Free publicity, if there is such a thing!
To get going, open a business account. These are typically designed for higher volume sellers, but become more cost effective after fewer sales than you would think as they reduce insertion and sale price fees. You may as well start as you mean to go on.
It is imperative that you personalize all contact with customers. Yes, we know that this is online shopping and there is no sales assistant ready to pounce! But customers still thrive for a relationship of some kind and, if you can deliver that to them without face-to-face contact, you will earn something very valuable… their trust.
Another top tip for expanding your business (if your product allows) is to approach international customers. It is very easy on Amazon.co.uk to transfer your inventory over to another of their sites, Amazon.de or Amazon.fr for example. This is a shrewd manner of testing the demand for your product in other markets. In fact, if you have considered going international but don’t really know where to start then this is a great way of dipping your toes in the international waters!
Marketplaces can be a superb way to complement and expand your business. However, do not let them be your means to an end. They should remain something that complements your existing strategy or indeed allows growth, but you should not be reliant upon them as they have the power to change the very rules you live by… They could increase commission or block sellers in your category and even undercut you on your best-selling product. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get involved, but you should be discouraged from being reliant on this income.
Finally, the marketplaces may try to sell you some services. Typically some kind of picking and packing service with the added bonus of increasing your visibility. However, if you are using marketplaces to support an already existing business where the logistics are all in place, then please… don’t bother. A tempting sales pitch will lead you to believe such a program will increase traffic and be rather lucrative for your business, but remember… they make the rules. What is there to stop the marketplace undercutting you on the very items they have shortlisted. What makes you think that they won’t be calling everyone and anyone to offer them this same ‘exclusive’ deal?
So yes be shrewd and cautious but don’t miss out on the potential to expand your business.
Sami Rowett has a passion for all things online. She runs her own online businesses in her spare time and has extensive experience in eCommerce and eMarketing. A graduate of Business, French and Spanish she loves languages and travels alongside a splash of Ballroom and Latin dancing!
Image courtesy LookAfterYourself