Alex Lawson

This weeks guest blog post is from Helen de Souza, Marketing Manager at ChannelAdvisor APAC. ChannelAdvisor has been on the front lines of e-commerce since 2001, helping retailers and brands connect with customers, optimise operations and grow sales channels through marketplaces. They have grown from a small company in a young industry to an industry leader at the forefront of a global revolution — with thousands of clients and billions of dollars in transactional revenue flowing through their marketplace platform every year.

Retailers and brands know that to succeed in e-commerce, it’s vital to focus on the consumer. You need to understand how your customers are searching and purchasing on marketplaces in order to stay ahead of the competition.

Much of marketplace strategy revolves around data structure, advertising opportunities and best practice guidelines. Yet a focus on ‘the empowered consumer’ is what should be at the centre of it all. The empowered consumer has access to everything at their fingertips via their smartphone. They can browse worldwide offerings, price compare, look at delivery options and check reviews in an instant. They jump across devices and leap from retailer websites to marketplaces to social media. They purchase via whatever channel works best for them. The empowered consumer knows what’s important to them, whether that’s sustainability, fast delivery times, customer service or all of the above. It’s about developing advanced strategies across the full buying cycle — from marketing, to selling, to fulfilling.

Here are five best practices to help you reach more empowered consumers on marketplaces:

1. Targeted Advertising

It’s no secret that there are millions of sellers fighting for consumer attention on an increasingly limited screen space (both figuratively and literally). Whichever marketplace you sell on, make sure you’re taking advantage of the full suite of advertising options available to you. This includes not just within the marketplace itself but also via eDMs, alerts and catalogues. Many marketplaces use push and pull advertising methods and these benefit retailers and brand enormously.  

On eBay, advertising means leveraging features like Promotions and Promoted Listings to create compelling offers that grab the attention of buyers and encourage them to spend more. You also have the ability to take advantage of Spotlight Deals or Weekly Deals as well as other promotions such as ad placements and eDMs to boost your visibility.

Catch also offers advertising options through other channels like eDMs and catalogues. Taking part in these types of promotions can make a big difference to your sales.

On Amazon, this means understanding how Amazon Advertising can help you now (with Display Ads and Video) but also the opportunities that are available through Amazon Sponsored Products and Amazon Sponsored Brands. It’s also essential to use your search term reports to mine new keywords, experiment with bidding, target your competitors’ ASINs and drive traffic to your products.

The key is to test, measure and optimise targeted ad strategies that work for you and your products.

2. Optimise

Product titles, images and descriptions not only help consumers find your products but also inspire shoppers to purchase from you by giving them the information required to make more informed decisions. This is why it’s vital to list according to marketplace requirements. These not only change from marketplace to marketplace but also within categories. Complying with marketplace rules is essential to ensure that you’re fully optimised and stand out from the competition.

3. Pricing Strategies

The competitive nature of marketplaces drives value for consumers. However, it doesn’t always mean the lowest price wins. With price comparison as easy as a simple click, having a structured pricing strategy is essential to marketplace success. This is where automated repricing and performance-based pricing comes into play.

A rule-based or algorithmic repricer is a must for competing on any major marketplace. Whether you want to adjust pricing based on the competition (their price, stock or feedback) or guarantee more Buy Box wins without sacrificing revenue, repricing tools will ensure those changes are made without delay. The key is to use a system or tool that aligns your competitive pricing strategy across channels.

4. Fulfilment

Delivery is the next battle-field for online retailers! When it comes to marketplaces, it’s essential to ensure that you are able to not just meet, but exceed your customers’ expectations.

Differentiate yourself by leveraging marketplace offerings when it comes to fulfilment via programs such as Amazon Prime, Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), eBay Guaranteed Delivery and eBay Plus or Club Catch. Whether you want your marketplace to take care of the picking, packing and shopping for you, or you want to become part of the membership programs which promote free and/or fast delivery, it’s really about understanding the power of fulfilment.

Delivery costs and speeds impact conversions. Why? Because fulfilment and memberships programs change how people search and the way they shop. Your consumer isn’t just looking for your product, they’re filtering results by delivery options as well. More often than not, they want it quickly.

5. Connect

We’ve said that the consumer is at the heart of your marketplace strategy, which means you need to develop a relationship with that consumer. Contact Response Times are vital for these relationships. If your customer has a complaint or query, make sure you respond, and make sure you respond quickly! While exceptional service across the board is important to your customer, it’s also best practice when it comes to marketplaces. Poor CRTs can even lead to account suspensions while good CRTs can increase your chances of winning top selling positions! Encourage positive reviews and rating and don’t forget the importance of after-sales contact as well. Engage, engage, engage at every opportunity possible.

Putting your customer first and aligning this with overall marketplace best practice means you will have the best chance of success.

Connect with Helen de Souza and the ChannelAdvisor APAC team on LinkedIn