How to Grow an Online Marketplace in 2020

A lot of online businesses take the jump from an online store to an online marketplace. What does this mean? We can take a recent example of Amazon, who started allowing vendors to sell through their marketplace. Currently, when you search for an item on Amazon, you will not only get products that are in Amazon’s inventory but also products produced and sold by other companies. This shift has some strong points and some drawbacks that need to be taken into consideration.

A lot of online businesses take the jump from an online store to an online marketplace. What does this mean? We can take a recent example of Amazon, who started allowing vendors to sell through their marketplace. Currently, when you search for an item on Amazon, you will not only get products that are in Amazon’s inventory but also products produced and sold by other companies. This shift has some strong points and some drawbacks that need to be taken into consideration.

One of the main advantages of allowing other vendors and authors to your store is increasing the range of your products. Your products will multiply and your customers will have more chances to find exactly what they are looking for. And the more people can rely on finding what they want on your site, the more they will return. Another strong point is creating a profit without investing the time and resources to create a full-stack solution for new products. Creating products is much more expensive than allowing the products to be sold on your marketplace. If you are looking to create your own marketplace, You can use a Multi Vendor eCommerce Marketplace Development Company to help you create one.

Of course, there are also drawbacks to opening your store to other authors. I own a marketplace for Bootstrap resources (bootstrapbay.com) and me and my team have encountered some of them.  However, we have found ways to shape the customer experience around them. I have listed below some of the most important parts of our work at bootstrapbay.com and the reason for our design choices.

Where to Start?

If you are starting a marketplace from scratch, you will very soon find the problem of where to start? Should you start with attracting authors or should you start with attracting customers? The tricky part if that without customers, authors have no incentive to join and without products, customers have no reason to come. 

There are a few ways to approach this. The first one is to start creating products yourself to attract customers. Once you have some people using your store, it will be easier to estimate how other authors might do and invite them.

Another approach is to try to create content that is related to the products that will be sold in the marketplace. Creating in-depth and informative blog posts with useful information about the field will rank high in search results and attract people who are interested in the subject. You will then be able to convert some of the readers and promote your website to other creators.

Focus on Quality Content

If your online marketplace starts getting some traffic and people are interested in your content, you can start focusing on adding more content. When you reach out to other creators, it might prove useful to let them know what they gain from joining your marketplace. You can let them know some numbers about projected sales or you can offer them a flat sum as an incentive. Getting the first creators to provide quality content is key to creating your brand. If you are very thorough with the first creators, you will establish a standard that all other participants will need to follow.

In order for the value of the products on your marketplace not to drop, you will need to establish some rules for the submission process and apply them to all authors. When reviewing a submission, it is useful to let the authors know exactly where they are coming short and if there is anything they can do to fix it.

Help Users Filter the Content

Once you have content up to your standards, you can focus more on the customer experience. More content means it will get harder for people to chose from the variety.

The first step is to have a search form that takes search terms and returns results that are related to the input. Another useful option is to integrate multiple categories and subcategories. When searching inside a category, users will be able to see similar products and pick the one best suited for their needs. If you want to include items in multiple groups of products, tags are very useful. 

Ensure Customer Support

I believe support for your clients is the most important part of your business. It is the area that sets apart small, strong companies from bigger corporations, with more resources. If you focus and care about your clients, they will be able to trust you and continue to choose you over other options. 

One way to show you care for your clients is to offer full refunds if the clients are unhappy with a product they have purchased. And another one is to have a fast response time to their messages. While you will not be able to control when the authors respond to a request, you can make sure to respond to their messages first.

Offer the Possibility For Reviews

Even if you have a great submission process, you might still end up with sub-par products on your marketplace. The best way to find out if this happens is to give the customers the possibility to rate their purchases. Besides the standard star rating, you can also give them different boxes to tick and let other customers know more precisely what to expect from the product. 

It is very important not to mess with this process, not to influence client reviews or reject negative reviews. Feedback is the way authors will get better and it is entirely their responsibility to deal with their customers. You are just providing the medium for both parties to express themselves. 

Keep Up With the Trends

With enough time and effort, you will get to a stable workflow. There will be authors posting products and customers buying them. You might think your work is only in ensuring all processed run smoothly. And this is surely part of your work, but there is more. If you want to maintain your role in the market, you have to constantly keep up with the new trends. That means you should always be careful about the news in your field and keep an eye on your competition. Chances are your market demands will be changing over time and you should be the driver of change in the marketplace. You might need to incentivize authors to post certain kinds of products, for example. You might need to set an example and create innovative products. No matter the technique you will apply, you should make sure there are always fresh products that are in demand on your marketplace. It’s also best conduct market research.

These are some of the lessons we have learned in our experience managing a marketplace. We would love to hear about your own experience with marketplaces, the issues you have encountered and how you moved past them. Let us know in the comments below 🙂

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