If you’re looking for an alternative to building a site to sell your products, an online marketplace may be easier to implement.
Why online marketplaces?
The idea of an online marketplace might seem counterintuitive. If you sell flowers, you wouldn’t necessarily sell flowers next to another florist would you, right? Or would you?
Think about in a farmer’s market or a street fair. A single florist isn’t likely to draw a big crowd, but having a number of florists, each with different products and prices would draw a crowd of dedicated flower buyers eager to see everything that’s available.
An online marketplace transfers that experience to the web. With thousands of other products, buyers are given variety and selection to browse through and buy.
Three reasons to use an online marketplace
Reach new customers
Online marketplaces feature built-in audiences that are already using the site.
Spend less attracting new customers
With an online marketplace, your business becomes easier to find—motivated searchers can find your business alongside other similar sellers.
Skip the work of setting up a website
Setting up a site for online sales might not fit your business at the moment. Online marketplaces help you get to market faster by providing a site and tools to make selling simpler.
How to choose an online marketplace
The first step to online success is picking which online marketplace you’re going to use. And you may not want to use just one. Some sites might fit your business better than others. Also, the number of online marketplaces grows each year, so this is not necessarily a simple choice.
Here are some of the factors you should keep in mind when evaluating if a marketplace is a good choice:
Quantity and quality of visitors: Some marketplaces aim to sell every type of product and service you can imagine; others focus on specific categories. The more focused marketplaces will offer fewer potential customers, but those customers may be more likely to buy from you.
Overall cost: Typically, marketplaces will charge a flat fee for listing your products, a percentage of any sales you make or a combination of the two.
Customer resolution policy: One of the functions of an online marketplace is to mediate in the case of a dispute between a buyer and a seller. Familiarize yourself with the policy of the marketplace you intend to use, as these policies differ and can be more or less generous to the buyer or seller.
Branding opportunities: Some marketplaces offer more options for you to display elements of your brand to customers. If you have a very distinctive or well-known brand, you should prioritize this when choosing a marketplace.
Making the most of your marketplace presence
Now you have the right marketplace for your business, the next step is making the most of it. The benefit of a marketplace is a steady flow of potential customers—on the other hand, your products are listed alongside your competitors. So, it’s important to make sure you stand out.
Sell more by adding photography: When consumers shop online, they like to see clear product images. With this in mind, a small investment to make sure you have professional-looking photos of your products can help you really stand out from your competition.
Don’t ignore reviews: Reviews are also key to helping you sell more, so make sure you encourage your best customers to leave a positive review.
Master the art of “tagging”: Online marketplaces all have a search function that customers can use to find your products. These search functions are usually based on “tags” – which are the labels you give to your products. The secret to picking good tags is to put yourself in the shoes of your customers: what words would they use to find your products?
Tagging, part 2: An online marketplace offers you a great opportunity to see what your competitors are doing, too. What tags are they using? Identifying what they’re doing and establishing your niche could be an important part of your overall strategy.
Start small, test and learn: Getting your presence right in an online marketplace will take time, and you may not get it right the first time. A good approach is to start small, with just a single product. This will give you enough time to ensure that you have the product and product description, specifications and photography right.