In 2020, the world's top hundred marketplaces recorded sales equivalent to 2,670 billion dollars, a year on rise of 29%.[1] Marketplaces are an exceptional business opportunity for retailers. What is the key success factor of these leaders in online sales? Their seller community! Although the quality of the products is important, the quality of your sellers is equally so, as they play a key role in the marketplace economic model by enhancing your catalog, ensuring that the offering is competitive, and delivering to customers. Given this strategic role, the management and coordination of your ecosystem of online sellers will require particular attention.

It is a fact that is often overlooked, but in order to attract customers to your marketplace, you must first attract and gain the loyalty of good sellers. This process can sometimes be complex both for the retailer, who must manage hundreds of online sellers, and for the seller, who must also coordinate their range of products on dozens or even hundreds of e-commerce sites.

While this first step is critical to the marketplace's success, it is not the only one. Once sourced, they need to be onboarded by creating their accounts on your marketplace, then their performance must be continuously managed with a team of account managers and efficient monitoring tools.  You therefore need the right tools, processes and human resources to help you throughout the process of coordinating your seller community.

 

Selecting and recruiting good sellers

No sellers means no products, and no products means no customers! The success of your marketplace depends on maintaining a continuous balance between supply, demand and the seller ecosystem. To ensure that the whole operates seamlessly, the product catalog must be in line with your market positioning and your brand's DNA so that you can strengthen your customer base.

Don't forget that your seller portfolio should complement your offering, not compete with it! So take care to list sellers based on their complementarity or their level of product innovation, which could bring added value to your initial offering.

 

Quick and easy onboarding

It is not, however, simply a question of selecting sellers according to your criteria to bring them onboard your e-commerce venture. You are not the only ones in the market and, due to the success of marketplaces, sellers now have their pick of platforms. Increasingly sought after, you must differentiate yourself from your competition in order to convince them. Bear in mind that selling on a marketplace also takes time and money for future online sellers.

One of the key selling points that will help you stand out is the ease and speed with which they can create their accounts and integrate their products into your platform. Using an intuitive and ergonomic interface, the seller can access a designated space where they can configure their products, provide essential information for their account, and track their sales in real time. The majority of sellers, and particularly top sellers, opt to connect via APIs. The quality of these APIs, which allow them to interface with their management tools (stock, pricing, invoicing, etc.), is essential. All these key points must be taken into consideration so that you can offer your community of sellers the best possible experience.

At the end of the onboarding stage, we recommend supporting them throughout their first few weeks on your marketplace, by guiding them and familiarizing them with your sales processes and your marketplace's specific operation. This so-called "nursery" phase helps accelerate the strategic launch phase and significantly improves your sellers' long-term performance. This may seem time-consuming, but it is essential to the relationship of trust you need to develop with your community.

 

Coordinating your community of marketplace sellers

Have you already identified, recruited and integrated your sellers into your marketplace? Congratulations! However, although difficult and long, this is only the first stage. Now comes the coordination of your seller community: monitoring, quality control, etc.

 

Monitoring your sellers

Seller monitoring is a key component in the operation of your marketplace. What is it exactly? Monitoring means continuously assessing your sellers, an essential link in the overall performance of your marketplace. One of the first points to verify is the quality and compliance of the product information provided.

The more information the consumer has, the more reassured and the more inclined to buy they are. The main information to provide is:

  • Product visuals: different formats and angles, alternating between wide and close-up shots, etc.
  • Product specifications: dimensions, available colors, possibilities for customization
  • Possibly the components (materials, origin, etc.)
  • Any non-compliant information: weapons, disrespectful images, etc.
  • The delivery options available and other associated services

 

However, while this detailed description is important, it is not the only decisive buying factor. In fact, 82% of consumers read the online reviews before going through with their purchase.[2] That is why it is essential to regularly monitor your sellers: response rates and times, quality of the service offered or of the final product, value for money, clarity of the explanations provided, easy returns process, compliance with delivery times, customer interaction, etc. Everything counts!

How can you monitor your sellers? Several methods are possible: you can associate a number of stars with your seller's name, display the number of sales already made, specify the number of comments received, etc. The key thing is to give a clear picture of the sellers' rating and to systematically offer every customer the chance to leave a comment or rate the seller once they receive their order.

 

How can you develop the loyalty of your sellers?

Now that your marketplace is launched, you need to sustain it.  As with the recruitment stage, earning customer loyalty depends on your ability to retain your sellers. Because, while not always easy to attract, keeping them active and engaged requires a certain amount of investment from the retailer.

How? By offering designated services such as CRM, automatic product translation, fulfillment and delivery, particularly abroad, and integrated invoicing.  You will facilitate their business by providing relevant solutions throughout the sales cycle and by enabling them to grow their sales without the complexity.

Over the past 10 years, the Octopia teams have developed a catalog of more than 14,000 sellers and acquired unique expertise in providing support and services for sellers.  Our teams can advise you on setting up services or provide them on your behalf.

 

[1] Digital Commerce 360 Online Marketplaces Database, 2021

[2] Local Consumer Review Survey 2020, BrightLocal