With marketplaces are disrupting just about every industry and global growth continues to explode it is an excellent time to be an online marketplace founder or to expand your business to help third party sellers.
Third party sellers sell their products via sites like Amazon or eBay. Sellers are provided with a platform, with a proven ‘footfall’ – and no need to set up their own ecommerce site from scratch. Amazon/eBay, of course, gains revenue without having to stock additional products.
Despite the dominance of the giants we’ve seen many niche marketplaces start and succeed in recent years.
If you already have an ecommerce site attracting third party seller is a great way to expand your offering, increase revenues, and give customers more reasons to come to your site rather than others in your sector. How can you make this happen?
1. Provide valuable incentives
You need to offer incentives to set you apart from the competition. Think about what your target market is lacking; a large proportion of third party sellers will be small businesses, so they won’t have the budget to explore alternative promotional activities and advertising online.
Access to extra traffic activities, e.g. discounted Google ads, and sample products or flyers in subscription boxes can be of huge value to third party sellers who are looking for something more than a space in which to sell.
They will also want to see you provide incentives for customers: Coupons; free delivery; ultra-fast hyper local delivery; etc.
2. Make it easy for sellers
Third party sellers sign up to marketplaces that provide a low barrier to entry, with minimal or no sign up costs and, just as importantly, easy set up. The last thing any small business wants is an extra administrative headache – particularly if they already have a presence on other marketplaces. So, you need to ensure your platform is seamless and easy to use - even for the most inexperienced of sellers.
If you can get them live on the marketplace in 24 hours so they can start making sales quickly so much the better. Also allowing sellers to integrate existing websites and inventories is a huge advantage.
3. Create brand synergy
Brand synergy is about having a common vision, and everything from your design to your company values needs to strike a chord with the third party sellers and the customers they are targeting. Being more thoughtful about whom you target doesn’t restrict your platform; on the contrary it can help create more rewarding, mutually beneficial relationships.
When promoting your marketplace, talk less about hosting and platforms and more about collaboration and community, and get to the bottom of what value you and the seller can provide to the customer as a joint force.
4. Develop a strong marketing plan
A good marketing plan goes beyond reaching your target audience of sellers – those sellers will also want to see that you have a detailed marketing strategy in place that is growing your online audience, which will in turn grow theirs.
Make use of social media targeted marketing to attract sellers, and show sellers you have a strategic approach to marketing that will grow your audience and theirs. You can use live events and video to explain your platform and USPs, and talk about your success stories and testimonials from existing sellers.
5. Ensure trust and transparency
Sellers need to feel that they have honest support and full transparency when it comes to the payment cycle and settling disputes. To establish a trust relationship, you need to show you are able to listen to the concerns of both sellers and customers, and offer full transparency on both payment cycles and commissions. Provide clear, easy to read terms and conditions and a disputes policy that is supportive of both sides. And make sure someone is available to answer questions and concerns.
6. Prioritise safety and security
No seller will trust you with their products and payments without a diligent focus on data privacy and security, so ensure that your procedures and protections are up to scratch.
Choose a payment service provider such as Stripe or Adyen that is compliant with PCI DSS, a set of industry standards for the prevention of fraud.
How about making your site the “must-go-to” for your business niche?
Tomas Zalatoris is CEO and co-founder of Clouder.co.uk, the UK’s first established online vape marketplace. Referred to as the ‘Amazon of vape’, Clouder allows third party sellers and manufacturers to sell vape products directly to customers. Backed by UK vape industry leaders and working with more than 60 vape stores, manufacturers and distributor partners, Clouder offers a large selection of items at some of the most competitive prices to consumers, by aggregating dozens of sellers representing hundreds of products under one platform.