Online marketplaces are a great way to reach customers but some careful thought is required when choosing the right space for your digital offering. James Gilbert shares some tips for finding a partner site that will help propel your brand and products into the e-commerce sphere.
Also known as aggregators, affiliate or third party sites, marketplace integration is becoming an increasingly important tool for driving traffic and sales for ecommerce websites. It typically comprises of feeding your products into other webstores, or e-commerce portal sites in order to pick up customers who may have never engaged with your brand before. It also involves making strategic choices in terms of partners, and leveraging e-commerce investment to make a product and brand more visible in the online retail market.
An e-commerce platform is far more powerful when it is well connected with the online community around it, and as sites pick up their game with customised storefronts just for retailers, it is time to think about where to place your brand to generate quality lead exposure.
As a retailer, the statistics are hard to ignore as a retailer–eBay Australia alone attracts seven million Australian viewers a month, which equates to 40% of Australian internet users. Balance the spread by researching the hundreds of smaller, more specific e-commerce portal sites as well. There are strong e-retail presences in more niche markets and sites such as fashion retailer Polyvore are great ways to get product in front of people actively looking to buy apparel online.
So, what should be considered when selecting a marketplace to sell through?
Who owns the customer? While any sales may be better than none, the way to make repeat business is by keeping in contact with customers. If your chosen affiliate site is selling your product, be sure to implement a process that ensures you receive a copy of the customer details. Otherwise the partnering website becomes the one to own customers, their details and their future sales.
While having online stockists is not necessarily a bad thing, make sure you’re connecting with some sites that allow YOU customer ownership. A good example of this is again Polyvore, which is essentially a portal website, where a large range of products can be browsed within it. Yet when product is clicked on, customers are redirected to that product page on the actual retailer’s website. Sites like these are invaluable for reaching international shoppers, or those unfamiliar with your e-commerce offering.
Positioning. It is vital that a brand is not damaged by the site you connect with. Take note of the design of the site (the look and feel, and the usability), other brands selling on the site, and the robustness and security of the checkout process. Ensure the partnering website is hosted through a trusted payment provider. Critically, look at the product pricing structure. Depending on the brand, there is a good chance you don’t want it greatly discounted on some kind of outlet website. Don’t select a site that leverages themselves using your brand name while undercutting stockists and ultimately cheapening brand reputation.
Strength of site. Look for a solid brand name, high traffic volumes, and reputable retailers. Westfield’s online mall ticks a lot of these boxes, and it is these kind of sites that really have the ability to generate new leads for webstores. The more people that know of your strong e-retail offering, the more quality traffic you’ll get on site, which is the crux of a good marketplace strategy. Online shoppers have so much choice these days that services need to be top of mind to encourage sales and repeat business.
Embrace eBay. With eBay selling a fashion item every 3.5 seconds, this is a great marketplace to efficiently get any apparel e-commerce offering under the noses of eager fashionistas. eBay’s new Fashion Gallery allows retailers to set up eBay storefronts with a surprising amount of design flexibility. In fact, in many cases the eBay stores appear to be design copies of the retailer’s actual webstore within the eBay framework. Your e-commerce provider should be able to easily integrate your webstore with eBay, greatly reducing management costs as products will flow directly into the eBay store.
AdWords and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Partnering up with other websites, while mostly beneficial, can have some drawbacks. It is not uncommon for affiliate websites to possess a stronger Google ranking than the brand itself, or to take out AdWords for your brand name. Putting some marketing spend towards a robust SEO and/or Google AdWords strategy is more important than ever with the amount of websites and webstores cropping up with targeted SEO. For obvious reasons, you always want YOUR website to be the first port of call for customers researching your stores, brand or product. Set up a Google product feed to ensure your products are fully optimised to stream straight into Google, allowing customers searching for a particular item are sent straight to the “Buy Now” button.