We hear a lot about marketplaces, but is it really interesting for a trader to go down this route?
six examples of e-commerce marketplaces
Popularized by online retail giants such as Amazon and by mobile application stores such as the Apple AppStore, these intermediation platforms allow e-merchants to find new customers by facilitating their access. to a large audience.

The e-commerce marketplaces can concern both BtoB and BtoC activities as well as physical and immaterial products (services, applications, ebooks, etc.). Distributors with their own marketplace offer e-merchants to integrate their products into their catalog, or even to have their own mini-store within the distributor’s site.

From the customer’s point of view, marketplaces offer the advantage of centralizing the offers of different sellers on the same site, making it easier to compare between the products offered. Thanks to an offer thus enlarged by those of its partner sellers, a market place is also gaining in audience, thereby strengthening its attractiveness for new sellers.

Actors offering marketplaces therefore offer e-merchants access to broad demand, for a fee. This remuneration takes the form of a commission which can vary from 5 to 30% depending on the players and products, commission to which can also be added an annual or monthly subscription. This is enough to inflate your financial forecasts!

Marketplaces, a real opportunity for e-merchants

For a neo e-merchant it is often difficult to quickly and inexpensively develop the audience of their site to see their online turnover take off. Optimizing natural referencing is generally long and complex, paid referencing (eg Google Adwords) is not necessarily profitable, social media are not able to generate “business” for all types of activities,…

On the other hand, joining a marketplace offers real advantages to e-merchants to develop their activity:

  • Benefit from the audience of large commercial sites: Many large e-commerce distributors such as Fnac and Amazon have developed a market place to widen the range of products distributed on their site. These are sites that often benefit from several million monthly visitors, who represent as many potential customers for e-merchants selling their products on the marketplaces of these distributors.
  • Diversify its acquisition channels online at low cost: As explained in this SeoMix article, small e-merchants quickly become dependent on Google because of the weight of their SEO and their investments in Adwords. It is not uncommon for Google to account for a total of 60 to 80% of the traffic of an e-merchant. A dependency that represents a source of risk when you know the potential impact of modifications to Google’s search engine algorithm on natural traffic. Expanding your audience by registering in one or more marketplaces therefore becomes an attractive and inexpensive way to reduce your dependence on Google. It is recalled that the economic model which links the seller to a marketplace is essentially based on a commission system. In other words, if you don’t sell, you don’t pay much. At worst you will have lost a little time to register on the marketplaces and integrate part of your product catalog.
  • Rely on a trusted third party: It is the marketplace that provides the technical environment in which transactions are carried out on the products of its partner sellers. They therefore provide the payment infrastructure and manage transaction security themselves, thereby acting as a trusted third party between the customer and the partner e-merchant. Marketplaces also provide a first level of after-sales service to customers and can intervene in the event of a dispute.

Many distributors have developed their own marketplace

The large web retailers, generalists as well as specialists, are more and more numerous to propose a marketplace offering a certain visibility to the partner sellers:

  • Amazon (14M visitors per month *): We no longer present Amazon, the world leader in e-commerce, selling all types of products, from high-tech to clothing, cultural and household appliances. Amazon has one of the most advanced marketplaces in terms of services for partner sellers and customers.
  • Cdiscount (9M visitors per month *): Offering a range of products almost as extensive as Amazon, Cdiscount differs from its American competitor by an openly “discount” positioning attracting visitors always looking for the best deal.
  • Fnac (8M visitors per month *): Unlike the two players already presented, Fnac is not a pure web player. After developing its physical stores, the brand turned to e-commerce and then seized the opportunity to open its own marketplace.
  • Ebay (8M visitors per month *): Originally conceived as an auction system between individuals, Ebay now also offers new outlets to professional sellers.

Among the distributors with a strong online audience offering e-commerce marketplaces we can also cite the generalists Pixmania, Price Minister or Rue du Commerce as well as some clothing specialists: Galeries Lafayettes, 3 Suisses, ASOS, La Redoute or again Brandalley.

* Source: FEVAD, Quarterly barometer of the e-commerce audience in London 3rd quarter 2013

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Some recommendations for selling well on e-commerce marketplaces

Becoming a seller on marketplaces adapted to your market therefore seems an opportunity to be seized for many e-merchants. Some precautions must however be taken before launching to avoid unpleasant surprises.

  • We must not misunderstand the role of marketplaces for an e-merchant. The marketplaces alone will probably not allow you to make a fortune! On the other hand, they can constitute an excellent additional income to your other sales channels. It is therefore a question of not putting all your eggs in one basket while ceasing to invest in marketing, but of integrating the deployment of your offer on the relevant platforms into your action plan.
  • What products to sell on marketplaces? Please note that the selection of products that you will sell on one or more marketplaces should be given a little thought. You have to take into consideration the competition from other sellers in the marketplace. If you sell the same references as your competitors, you may have to engage in a price war to capture customers who are ever more sensitive to the price factor, which could quickly prove problematic with regard to your margin levels. Differentiation will therefore play in your favor mainly on products for which you have a very competitive price positioning as well as on rare references that you are the only one or almost to offer.
  • The good management of your stocks is a key success factor. The availability of products and the speed of delivery are key elements in the purchasing decision of visitors to market places. Working just in time on the references you offer in the marketplace is almost a guarantee of failure, as it will often force you to have to reimburse dissatisfied customers with delivery times. As the reimbursement rate is a criterion for evaluating the quality of its partner sellers for marketplaces, poor stock management may expose you to account suspension. So you need to have the necessary inventory, or at least some flexibility, to be able to cope with the potential growth in demand from your new sales channels.
  • Monitoring your activity is a necessity. When you start selling on marketplaces it is imperative to have regular monitoring of the contribution of these marketplaces to your turnover and your sales volume. You pay close attention to the marketplaces that contribute and grow the most (by monitoring the risk of addiction!), As well as those that are less effective. Also monitor the evolution of your profitability by marketplace and product line share. Integrating a few marketplace indicators into your e-commerce dashboard is certainly a very good idea!

Selling through a “marketplaces manager”

What is a marketplaces manager?

It is a software solution that makes it easier for an e-merchant to sell simultaneously on several marketplaces. Marketplaces managers allow you to load your entire catalog of products simultaneously on several marketplaces such as Amazon, E-bay or Pixmania. They then allow you to track orders placed on each platform and centrally manage all of your sales activity in marketplaces.

There are two types of marketplaces managers

  • On the one hand, there are a few online store creation solutions like Oxatis which offer marketplaces manager functionalities which are natively integrated.
  • On the other hand, several companies have developed independent software, real online distribution solutions capable of distributing your products simultaneously on a multitude of general and sectoral marketplaces. Among the most developed we can cite: Neteven, Sellermania or Izi-Flux.

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