How do you run a sales project on a marketplace?
How do you launch your sales project on a marketplace? What are the key steps to success? Cécile, VISEO's e-commerce project manager, gives you the advice and the basics you need to launch your activity. Check out her expert opinions.
First of all, what is a marketplace? It is an intermediary website that allows sellers, or "e-merchants", to sell their products or services via advertisements on the site. Stock and the management of products/services are the seller's responsibility. The business model is based on a commission levied on each sale and/or fixed fees, such as monthly subscriptions. An e-merchant can decide to sell on marketplaces in order to increase its turnover and/or increase their online visibility via this additional distribution channel.
According to an article in the Journal du Net, 70% of online sales will be made on marketplaces in 2022 worldwide and 35% of French people are currently buying on marketplaces according to a Mirakl study.
Before embarking on an integration project on a marketplace, it is important to define a strategy with a business plan (choice of marketplaces, monitoring of KPIs, compliance with criteria, implementation of flows, choice of product assortment, etc).
Integration of marketplace flows
Once the strategy has been developed and the marketplaces selected on a roadmap, it is recommended to analyze the management of marketplace flows (catalog, stock, prices, orders). Depending on the marketplaces, there are back offices to directly manage these flows independently, but the data must be updated for each marketplace. Their back offices may require different integration or update modes.
Where the project roadmap provides for the integration of several marketplaces in the long term, it is strongly advised to consider the option of a marketplace integrator (feed aggregator such as Channel Advisor, Lengow, TradeByte, Neteven, Shopping Flux, etc.) which allows (through a SaaS solution) to centralize a single catalog, a stock inventory with management rules, price management according to the markets as well as order management (validation, shipping, cancellation, refund.)
Among integrators, there is no perfect solution because the strengths of one may be the weaknesses of another in terms of functionalities and types of services. For example, depending on the budgets to be allocated to an integrator, total autonomy in marketplace management can be achieved via Lengow (fixed monthly subscription) against full support with Channel Advisor (fixed subscription + commission on sales).
Management of marketplace operations
On the operational side, the management of marketplaces represents an additional workload. An assessment must be made to find out if someone on the team can take on the workload or if there is a need to recruit a marketplace supervisor, or even a marketplace manager. Depending on the number of marketplaces, looking after projects and operational management can quickly become a full-time job.
During the marketplace integration project phase, it is important to start with the organization of the various workshops with the business teams (logistics, accounting, purchasing, e-commerce, marketing, etc.) as well as the IT teams (connection of flows with the aggregator, implementation of WebServices or an SFTP for the automation of stock flows, prices, catalog and order statuses). The marketplace constraints and KPIs to be integrated must be raised during these workshops in order to anticipate as much as possible the impacts at the operational level when the seller is online. It is particularly important to fully clarify all the logistics flows for the marketplace activity. An error on the part of the seller or bad KPIs can lead to an account suspension or penalties, depending on the marketplace. Among other constraints, a marketplace may require a catalog with specific fields and values, as well as a specific product image format. If these constraints are not met, the products can be blocked for publication, in other words when the seller account is opened. Depending on the marketplace, the product publication process may be different (creation of the product with the required fields and specific values then sending the stock and the price later, for example).
Selecting products for marketplaces
When it comes to defining the assortment of products to be advertised on the marketplaces, management rules on the integrator side make it is possible to prepare a different assortment for each marketplace. An assortment may depend on the stock available in e-commerce (whether there is dedicated stock or not) or if the marketplace already sells products of the brand in Wholesale (products of the same brand sold by the marketplace directly). It would be useful to complete the marketplace offer with additional flagship products or to complement product ranges (so as not to cannibalize your business). A study of the marketplace market is to be done in order to prepare the assortment as well as possible.
Here are the tips and the basics you need to launch your activity on the marketplaces. You are recommended to work with a dedicated project manager who will work in coordination with the technical and business teams.
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