With over 15 years of experience in data science, François Marical, Head of Products & Development at Octopia, has strong expertise in data valuation. He offers this knowledge to retailers looking to launch their marketplace.

Can you describe the scope of your work?

I am in charge of the teams that design the Octopia product and manage its development.

We look at how to integrate, structure and offer the vendor catalog.
How to propose the products and offers best suited to the specific needs of each sales channel.
And finally, how we can help vendors optimize their business and customer interactions on the various marketplace operator sites.

My role as Head of Products & Development consists in optimizing the different stages of our customers' journeys in a very practical way, whether they are marketplace operators or vendors. Every day, we exchange with the development teams to translate these expectations into operational products!

You explain that data lies at the heart of the e-commerce process. What exactly do you mean?

Data is everywhere in e-commerce.

Of course, there is the catalog itself. This is a digital file containing all the products you want to distribute online, as well as their characteristics:

  • title,
  • description,
  • image,
  • color, etc.

In addition, it presents the characteristics of the vendors' offers: prices, delivery times and rates.
Beyond the catalog, the entire activity of a marketplace is based on data flows. They provide the fuel for free (SEO) and paid (SEA) referencing on general search engines and the internal search engines of e-commerce sites. Not to forget monetization, making visits profitable. Data flows are always at the heart of the activity.

It works very differently from the physical world.

“While we're used to saying that merchants have a colossal amount of data, especially transactional data, this is nothing compared to what is collected on an e-commerce site.”

Why? The consumer's approach is different and generates data automatically. When they arrive on a website, they use the search engine to indicate what they are looking for. This is data. In contrast, in a physical store, they do not give this type of information. Thanks to data, customer acquisition is much more targeted on the Internet than in stores. This shows the power of digital technology.

What about the marketplace?

The marketplace connects a multitude of customers with a large number of vendors through a platform. Here again, the key issue is control and performance of data flows.

Vendors connect to the marketplace and produce a catalog. Each product has several attributes: it belongs to a category, has an image, a price.

Millions of products have to be categorized and indexed so that they can be communicated efficiently to marketplace operators. It is absolutely necessary to structure and harmonize this information so that it can be displayed effectively on e-commerce websites. The products are then purchased, which triggers another series of flows: the discussion thread between the customer and the vendor, the order itself including product tracking and delivery and of course, payment.

In summary, creating a marketplace involves setting up complex data flows. The ability to organize these flows and to analyze this data in an efficient way makes the strength of a marketplace.

Practically speaking, for a vendor, how does the onboarding process on a marketplace work?

Without a doubt, the most delicate phase is constructing the offer on the marketplace by referencing the products (title, image, description, price, etc.). The success of the merchant depends on quality. In order to appear on the algorithms of as many searches as possible by Internet users, the vendor must be able to provide as much detail as possible on the products. The process can be done in two ways:

  • a small vendor may create products manually via interfaces and files;
  • a larger vendor may create products automatically via APIs or using an integrator that performs this operation for them.

Of course, our teams support the vendor throughout the onboarding phase, helping them complete their catalog.

What are the main features of Octopia?

Marketplace operators are confronted with managing product data. Each vendor has their own rules, which are obviously different from those of the operator. Consolidating the data of numerous vendors into a single database adapted to the specificities of the marketplace operator is a daunting task for both the operator and the vendors. This is a major obstacle to the development of a marketplace, especially for a new marketplace that will have difficulty encouraging vendors to undertake the complex preparation process with little guarantee of the result.

This is where Octopia offers a unique solution. We have more than 14,000 vendors connected to our platform, who have already carried out the administrative procedures and developed product catalogs in our system.
Thus, if an operator chooses Octopia, they will have easy access to these 14,000 vendors. We take care of automating all the complex and time-consuming processes required when an operator and a vendor decide to work together. In addition, we classify the products in the sales channel categories and translate the product information files.

Octopia is more than just a technical solution, it is positioned as a genuine business accelerator for marketplaces:

  • we facilitate the process of matching sales channels and vendors
  • we radically accelerate the flow of massive catalogs to customers

What about the future? What are the features you would like to work on in the medium term?

We have the essential features in place. We currently operate in a simplified matchmaking scheme, but we are working on adding artificial intelligence to facilitate matching and develop a real decision support tool for retailers and vendors.

“Specifically, in the near future, we will be able to tell the retailer which vendors they should take on, based on their positioning.”

We can even make recommendations on the choice of products. Another possibility is that we will be able to detect the products that work best and propose them directly to a retailer who does not already offer them on their marketplace.

We can help vendors optimize their sales, for example by showing them elements of the product descriptions that they could improve, or by pointing out the most promising sales channels in relation to their catalog.

Finally, can you give some advice to retailers on the challenges of data for marketplaces?

It is important to keep in mind that the product catalog is not just about filling in fields, but about providing massive, consistent and good quality data. This is conducive to a good customer experience... and therefore future sales! In its report on 2022 Media Trends and Predictions, Kantar recommends investing in data to meet consumers' needs in terms of convenience. This clearly echoes our convenience marketplace offering

 

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