An Introduction to Successful Marketplace Selling
For any online retailer, selling goods online and reaching as many customers as possible is clearly key. As well as selling directly to customers through their own website, many brands also join marketplaces. But what are these, and how do you make sales and grow your brand by using them?
What is a marketplace?
A marketplace is an online store that acts as an intermediary between seller and customer. Browsing the aisles of a supermarket, you’ll see hundreds of products. Some of these brands sell direct to the public but also use shelf space to get in front customers. Other brands only sell through intermediaries such as supermarkets.
The same is true online. A brand can sell through their own website and/or marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon and social media sites such as Facebook Marketplace.
But listing products on these sites doesn’t guarantee success. Optimising listings and placing the item in the correct product category will improve the chances of your products being found, but you still need to clinch the sale by standing out against similar items.
Selling in marketplaces – the ingredients for success
Marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon, are busy places. Products and brands compete and even with optimised listings, coming high up the search results doesn’t guarantee people will make a purchase. What do customers look for?
1. Payment options
An important aspect of buying online is being able to pay securely. That means using a payment system that is recognised by customers as being familiar, secure and accessible. Most marketplaces offer their own versions of payment systems and so sticking with this sends an important signal to customers.
2. Product listings
Online selling platforms are busy places and are highly competitive. Therefore, product listings need to be optimised and searchable.
- Descriptive, optimised product description - The product description needs to be written in such a way that it answers all the questions that a potential customer would have about the product. To make a purchase, customers make an informed choice, and if they have all the information they need about a product, they are more likely to hit the buy button. But there is another angle to a descriptive product listing in the shape of searchability and SEO. Online selling platforms are highly searchable, so make sure listings have keywords and terms that customers use to find a product like yours.
- Pay attention to the product headline - Black shoes, for example, is not a helpful headline. But ‘women’s black shoes, sizes 3 to 8, wide and extra-wide fitting’ is more descriptive and certainly a lot more helpful. If you can also suggest a use for your product in the headline, it helps customers narrow their search even more. In this case, adding ‘idea work shoe’ could make all the difference to whether a customer opens the full listing or not. Once they open the listing, they are more likely to add the product to their basket.
3. Product photos and video
Equally as important as the product description and headline are product photos. Consumers don’t want to be at a disadvantage when they buy online. They want to be able to ‘see’ the product. Excellent quality photos that attract them to items are essential, but they also need to show the detail of the product. As well as good quality photos, brands also use:
- 360˚ photos – These allow the customer to see around the product. As well as being a great tool to examine your product, this type of photography also gives a good impression of your brand.
- Video – Short pieces of video are ideal for showcasing your product and how it can be used. For example, a video that shows how to use your product or its benefits is a great way of hooking customers to buy your product.
4. Reviews and feedback
92% of customers make purchasing decisions based on recommendations of family and friends, but knowing what other people think about your business and products is just as important. Online reviews are the digital equivalent of word of mouth. The importance of online reviews can be underestimated. This is why Amazon and eBay amongst many will often contact customers after a purchase inviting them to leave a review. Using a simple star system, customers can rate the product as well as their buying experience and can also leave written feedback.
You can also encourage customers to leave a review by asking them to do so with a prompt card in their order or by emailing them after their purchase asking if they would consider doing so. Customers are likely to share a good purchasing experience when the product and service meet their expectations.
Products and brands that score highly don’t go unnoticed by potential buyers nor by online marketplace algorithms. The more reviews you have – and the more positive they are – the more likely your product listings are to feature higher up the search rankings.
Beware, however, as disgruntled customers are also likely to use online reviews to air their grievances too. Be prepared to meet poor reviews by acknowledging them but also by learning from them.
5. Customer service
When customers buy online, they expect a high level of customer service, just as they would if they were buying in store. For online purchases this means:
- Responding promptly to email enquiries or phone calls regarding the products on offer
- Professional interaction from all staff involved in customer services
- Being knowledgeable about the product, how problems can be resolved and the answers to other important questions
- Swift resolution of problems and issues with the opportunity for them to provide feedback on how you’re doing
In other words, as an online retailer, you need to be responsive and willing to connect with customers, whether they want more information or to make a complaint.
Successful marketplace selling
Selling on a marketplace can significantly boost online sales. But to do so successfully means investing in the platform with products that are well photographed and with searchable and descriptive listings. In other words, committing to the marketplace and optimising products is key to being found, especially when the selling site is popular with buyers.