As the marketplace evolution continues to accelerate, companies around the world are facing growing pressure to get in on the action. It’s no secret that platforming your business has the potential to accelerate sales, dramatically expand product selection and broaden your customer base—all of which drive business growth. But beyond these tactical justifications, there’s also a strong strategic play as well, one that’s been brought into focus by the COVID-19 crisis that turned everything we know upside down.
What we’ve learned from those who were ahead of the game is that a marketplace strategy isn’t just about driving sales. It’s about embracing transformation. It means discovering the framework and capabilities to solve new challenges, reduce business constraints and operate with a more agile approach – one that allows you to put your key advantages to work when the time is just right.
In a session sponsored by Kearney at the Platform Pioneer Summit by Mirakl, three of the world’s leading B2C Platform Pioneers shared how their marketplace strategies not only solved their current challenges, but also prepared them for a future where anything can happen. While it remains to be seen how consumer habits will normalize as the world learns to live with COVID, it’s clear that these pioneering strategies have laid the foundation for a more agile, adaptable, future-ready business approach.
Adopt a mindset, not just a marketplace
Bolting on a marketplace to an existing eCommerce program might give you a quick boost in sales, but more strategic, long-term success comes from adopting a marketplace mindset across the entire company. With investment and resources from across the organization, a marketplace supports an omnichannel strategy that drives business, audience affinity and brand relevance across every customer touchpoint.
“We knew that a main driver of success for our marketplace would be to have a lot of traffic, but we had to adjust our entire organization’s mindset to support it and boost our omnichannel strategy,” said Pedro Devesa, head of digital business at Worten. Beginning as the number one electronics retailer in Portugal, Worten has reinvented itself through a marketplace strategy to now become the most visited and highest performing eCommerce store in Portugal across all categories.
“Across eCommerce, sales, operations…We created an integration that allowed us to rapidly deploy new categories and new products, even those we hadn’t thought of,” he said. “At Christmastime, we were approached by a perfume company, and because we had the infrastructure, we were able to add perfumes to our lineup, even though it wasn’t part of our initial plan. It ended up being quite successful.”
Having a marketplace mindset allows companies like Worten to capitalize quickly on opportunities to expand target audiences and become relevant to more customers.
Put the customer at the center of the process
“Kroger has a very clear strategy about having a seamless experience for our customers so they can get what they want, how they want it,” says Jody Kalmbach, Group Vice President of Product Experience at Kroger, the number-one grocery retailer in the U.S. “To do that, we knew we needed to create one digital experience that has all of the assortment choices that are available to our customer, and they can decide how they want to access it.”
For Kroger, blurring the line between digital and physical is critical for delivering on customer expectations. Deploying one platform that could enable that seamlessness without diluting trust was also essential.
“We needed to balance the integration by providing real transparency to our customers. Yes, the experience is so deeply integrated that the product shows up as any other item, but it’s also clear that this is a third-party seller. They know what they’re getting. There are ratings associated with that seller,” Kalmbach said. “It’s important that we stay true to who we are and able to continue the trust that we've worked hard to earn with our customers.”
A marketplace is a catalyst for innovation
“A marketplace is a bridge that connects the physical and the digital in the Carrefour ecosystem, and it’s giving us a huge opportunity to become the most valuable ecosystem in the Brazil market,” said Jose Nilson Ferreira, marketplace director of Carrefour Brazil. “Right now, you can buy a TV or smartphone on our website and do your grocery purchase together in the same place at the same time. We’re the only provider in Brazil that’s enabling that, and it’s positioning us to be the market winner.”
Facing an increasingly competitive market, Ferreira says this agility is a catalyst for driving the innovation that will keep Carrefour at the forefront, changing the entire game for what’s possible in delivering on customer needs.
“I believe a marketplace is the center of the digital transformation strategy, the protagonist of the transformation in any business. We’re talking about the business integrations, the technology, the partnerships, good people…it all creates a virtual circle with the tools we need to change and move fast,” he continued. “And, with that change underway, the innovation will spread across all our other formats, including stores, drug stores, et cetera.”
With a global market that continues to evolve at a breakneck pace, there’s only one thing that’s certain: being able to adapt quickly is the key differentiator between winners and losers. As these Platform Pioneers have shown, adopting a marketplace mindset that puts the customer’s needs front and center with an attitude toward innovation is a smart, agile strategy that can position your company for stability, growth and success in the face of any new challenge or opportunity.
Thanks to leading global management consulting firm Kearney for supporting the Platform Pioneer Insights B2C track at this year's Summit. Learn more about Kearney.