Following his studies in Engineering at the Ecole des Ponts ParisTech, Stanislas Prigent joined the consultancy Bain & Company, before taking the reins of Operational Strategy and Fulfillment at Cdiscount. In June 2021, he became COO (Chief Operating Officer) and Head of Fulfillment at Octopia
1/ The COO is often compared to the conductor of an orchestra, supervising and structuring operational activities. Can you tell us more about how you work with Octopia’s customers?
We have two types of customers at Octopia:
- Retailers, to whom we provide our technology, expertise and our product catalog.
- Sellers: those we have onboarded thanks to our operating experience at Cdiscount, and which we continue to develop. They form our greatest asset in the market.
I work with this second group of Octopia customers. My teams and I identify suitable sellers, we recruit them, facilitate their onboarding and support them in the development of their sales on the marketplaces we operate in. This obviously includes the logistics aspect, via our Fulfillment service in particular.
2/ It is said that marketplaces are first and foremost a business of volume. Do you think that sellers play a key role in this economic model?
Sellers effectively form the key to a successful marketplace. They provide the products and define the sales strategy in terms of pricing and organization.
It’s not so much a matter of successfully creating a marketplace, but of starting out with the right qualified sellers, the right products, and expertise in delivery and customer management.
This forms the core of Octopia’s value proposition, because that’s what also leads to the success of a marketplace!
3/ Is this the factor that differentiates Octopia from other market players?
In addition to our technological solution, we provide access to a seller base like no other in Europe. The variety of products on offer from our 14,000 qualified sellers, selected on the basis of numerous criteria, is what makes them stand out. They boast marketplace experience and an operational reliability which we can measure using quality, logistics and customer relations indicators, among others.
In practical terms, this allows us to provide an emerging marketplace with the most appropriate types of sellers. This is part of our role as a business partner to the sales channels we operate or work with.
4/ What advice can you give on how to boost an offer with new sellers on a marketplace?
It all depends on the purpose of the marketplace!
Some operators opt for a group of qualified sellers to provide a controlled or premium marketplace offer in addition to their own product range.
Others target a much broader, almost infinite, long tail offer, to meet all the needs of their customers.
In all cases, the important thing is to choose sellers and a marketplace offer that match the brand’s DNA. In this way, the launch of the marketplace will enrich and strengthen the value proposition for customers, without modifying it from a structural perspective.
5/ Can you tell us about the trickiest step for sellers, the onboarding phase?
The onboarding phase can be complicated, and differs from one marketplace to another.
Octopia facilitates this step as much as possible, by assisting its sellers with:
- The creation of product sheets (title, image, description and features, etc.)
- Logistics optimization
- Their account management (quality monitoring and customer interactions, etc.)
…and a host of other adapted services to enable them to get started rapidly!
In addition to this operational support, we also provide sellers with solid business expertise to help them grow in this new marketplace, understand the specificities of a new country or optimize their activity during peak sale periods. In short, Octopia provides sellers with turnkey services from start to finish during the onboarding phase.
6/ The simplicity of the seller interface is also a strong point of Octopia’s service. Could you describe it briefly?
This is the seller’s cockpit, from where they can steer their activity in all Octopia’s sales channels; a single interface through which the seller will create and enrich their products, set prices and stock levels, manage supply and their Fulfillment activity, monitor sale life cycles, process orders or deal with customer queries, and so on.
They can also monitor the main KPIs for sales and operations. This makes it easier for the seller to optimize their activity in all their sales channels, both in France and overseas.
7/ What is the best logistics model to choose for successful marketplace sales?
There’s no right answer to this question.
It depends on each seller’s logistics capacity and growth strategy. Some sellers opt to oversee and ship their stock themselves. Others prefer to entrust their logistics to a Fulfillment solution. Either way, logistics execution has to be perfect.
On the one hand, because the customer transformation rate is correlated to delivery options and lead times, in addition to shipping costs. On the other, because this has a huge influence on the quality ratings of marketplaces; failure to comply with logistics criteria is one of the main causes of penalties among marketplace operators.
In most cases, we recommend a balance between both options, prioritizing Fulfillment for the most popular products. This ensures optimal quality and strengthens the visibility of the best-selling items while controlling related storage costs, which often depend on product turnover.
Furthermore, we provide a Fulfillment service which enables sellers to process, from a single stock, all their orders across all the marketplaces and e-commerce sites they operate in. This optimizes logistics even further, by reducing costs and greatly simplifying operational management. The seller is then free to focus on developing the sales aspect of their activity.
8/ Home deliveries have become faster, meaning that last mile optimization is more than ever a priority for sellers. What is Octopia’s value proposition in this area?
Rapid delivery has become a market standard. Consumers are increasingly demanding when it comes to delivery lead times. This is actually a key factor in choosing between several marketplace offers. That’s why we provide our Octopia Fulfillment sellers with a competitive 1-day express shipping offer.
The last mile is also a key stake in international growth, to ensure delivery to a maximum number of customers within very short lead times and controlled costs.
Octopia currently ships to 22 European countries, thanks to the recent opening of a warehouse in Spain. Other European warehouses are set to open in 2022, and will enable our customers to develop in optimal conditions.