Best Practices in Choosing Your Marketplace Platform

 

Marketplace platforms include B2C, B2B and specialty platforms such as employee benefits marketplace platforms, distributor and customer portals, car services, house and room shares and peer-to-peer lending networks. Regardless of what kind of marketplace platform a given organization wants to use, it’s critical to select a platform that’s designed for performance, scalability and a high degree of customization. Robust marketplace platforms run on integration in the API layer, so it’s important to choose a platform where the vendor can plug in fully to market products, reduce marketing costs, receive impartial reviews and establish trading partnerships.

 

Choosing an eCommerce Solution for Maximum Performance

Selecting a marketplace platform offers many benefits for wholesalers, retailers and companies supplying specialty products and services such as employee benefits. Marketplaces allow companies to sell products with minimal marketing and expenses, and successful companies can quickly become flourishing businesses. Small vendors can compete with the biggest marketing organizations on a relatively equal footing. However, it’s important to ensure that these companies have strong websites that are well-designed and fully integrated to take advantage of every platform feature.

 

eMarketer predicts that global retail sales will top $27.7 trillion in 2020. [1] That’s a tremendous sales volume, and savvy companies can place products for sale on multiple marketplace sites to extend their reach and capture a significant share of these sales. That’s just the retail market. The wholesale and B2B markets are also served by specialty marketplace platforms for suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and industry services. However, success depends on driving traffic / business to these partner marketplace platforms with informative content, targeted marketing, social media apps and other integrated marketing features.

 

Choosing the right marketplace platform can be a complex job. Some platforms have created their own economies including retail behemoths like Amazon, Google and Airbnb. However, Uber and Airbnb have also generated some horror stories because of tensions created among customers when things go badly. [2] That’s why research is so important to understand the risks, costs and other details. The benefits of participating in marketplace platforms include:

 

Access to Additional Sales Channels

  • With access to additional sales channels, Companies can extend their reach, even globally.

 

Ability to Build a Stronger Brand

  • Respected marketplaces like eBay, Amazon and Facebook can raise a company’s online profile and brand the company positively.

 

Impartial Reviews

  • Many platforms provide impartial reviews of products. That could prove both positive and negative, but effective marketers can overcome negative reviews by dealing with objections and providing high levels of customer service.

 

Operate 24/7

  • Effective round-the-clock operation is possible when selling products on a robust international marketplace platform.

 

Generate Overseas Sales

  • Smaller companies can market their products globally without incurring major upfront expenses and dealing with international marketing challenges.

 

However, marketplace vendors are still responsible for providing integrated shipping solutions, customer service, targeted marketing, returns and other business services. That’s why it’s equally important to choose a robust platform and build a robust vendor website to handle the details of selling. It’s critical to research the marketplace platform and understand the commission structure, site guidelines and other details of selling on a particular site.

 

B2B Marketplaces

Wholesalers typically sell hundreds to thousands of products in large quantities, so it’s critical to integrate inventory figures, drop shipping, product research and content such as demos, videos, photos, catalog descriptions and special pricing tiers for customers who buy at certain levels. Sometimes your products and competitive advantage get lost when you’re trying to sell on Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, Mirakl and other specialty sites. That’s where a robust platform like Clarity eCommerce can come in handy. Create and manage your own products and services. Service your customers and partners better. Finally, you won’t get lost in the shuffle. When you sell on Amazon, they have the exact same listing, product image, description, etc. for all products from all vendors with the same ASIN / UPC code. Make your products really shine by hosting them in your own marketplace.

 

Employee Benefits Platforms

Choosing an eCommerce solution for marketing employee benefits is a relatively new type of marketplace platform. Health companies, insurance agencies, savings investment plans, health management organizations and other types of benefits are brought together on one platform that gives employees a better way to make benefits decisions. The questions to ask before choosing a benefits platform for employees or platform to sell benefit services include: [5]

 

Would a benefits platform deliver too much competition?

  • A benefits marketplace might compete too strongly with the services a given company could offer.

 

Could the platform take over existing clients?

  • Some programs might take over clients after enrollment. It’s critical to understand whether a company remains the point-of-contact for status changes.

 

Does the benefits platform only supply leads?

  • Some platforms run a hands-off operation that only supplies leads. If that’s the case, are leads proprietary or distributed to multiple brokers?

 

Are flexible funding strategies available?

  • These might include self-insured options, defined contribution vs. defined benefits and fully insured.

 

Can part-time employees participate?

  • Part-time employees are often denied benefits, so it’s important to know whether these potential stakeholders can participate and under what conditions they can enroll.

 

Does the platform offer a wide selection of financial, health and ancillary benefits products?

  • Knowing that certain products are pre-integrated into the platform can deliver both positive and negative results depending on a given company’s services.

 

Selecting a marketplace platform depends on many factors that include degree of autonomy, commission rates, reputation of the platform and other considerations. Marketplace platforms are now common throughout all major industries, and some companies have transformed from sites that help small vendors sell products to gatekeepers that deny service in some cases. That’s why it’s critical to do due diligence and choose a reliable, transparent and highly regarded company to sell products or risk becoming associated with an unethical or problematic partner.

 

Preparing for Marketplace Sales

Researching best practices in selecting an eCommerce marketplace is just the first step for building a strong business using marketplace platforms. The most effective marketers create engaging content, appealing catalog descriptions and superior customer service to deal with complaints, bad reviews and other problems. That’s why marketplace marketers need a robust website that’s integrated to connect seamlessly with one or more platforms and manage complex sales processes efficiently. The best practices include creating a site with a responsive API layer and choosing a developer that’s experienced in the rapidly emerging marketplace environment. That’s where an “API-first” developed marketplace platform, like Clarity eCommerce, really shine. Give us a call today and let us show you how you can shine too!

 


References:

[1] Da-14.com: Top 5 Most Popular Online Marketplaces. How to Join the Champions League?

da-14.com/blog/top-5-most-popular-online-marketplaces-how-join-champions-league

[2] Nytimes.com:Platform Companies Are Becoming More Powerful — but What Exactly Do They Want?

www.nytimes.com/2017/03/21/magazine/platform-companies-are-becoming-more-powerful-but-what-exactly-do-they-want.html

[3] Nibusinessinfo.co.uk: Advantages and disadvantages of using online marketplaces

www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/advantages-and-disadvantages-using-online-marketplaces

[4] Venturebeat.com: How SaaS is bringing B2B marketplaces back

venturebeat.com/2016/04/16/how-saas-is-bringing-b2b-marketplaces-back

[5] Employeebenefitadviser.com: 9 questions to ask when considering a benefits marketplace platform

www.employeebenefitadviser.com/slideshow/9-questions-to-ask-when-considering-a-benefits-marketplace-platform?slide=3

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