eCommerce demand is skyrocketing in unexpected categories in 2020, as non-essential businesses temporarily close their doors and consumers settle into the routines of working from home. Online marketplaces are shaping up to be a big opportunity for large retailers and boutique brands alike, presenting a new channel to sell inventory as storefronts are shuttered.
To get the most of online marketplaces, sellers need to stay focused on delivering a high-quality experience, from the product listing all the way through fulfillment and beyond. The marketplace experts at Mirakl have compiled 9 tips to help brands and retailers ride the marketplace wave during the COVID-19 eCommerce surge and beyond.
1. Diversify your marketplace channels
Disruptions to business-as-usual during COVID-19 shows just how important it is to keep your marketplace options open. Relying on one or two big-name marketplaces for sales puts you at risk when they experience fulfillment issues of their own. Consider the news that Amazon is deprioritizing non-essential categories, a move that is impacting thousands of its third-party sellers.
Now is the time to explore opportunities to join more curated marketplaces, many of which are actively looking for new sellers that can quickly meet customer demand. Start by joining Mirakl Connect, which dozens of Mirakl-powered Marketplaces use to find sellers and accelerate marketplace activity.
2. Prioritize flexibility so you can quickly meet demand
Unpredictable demand means in-demand products are out of stock and difficult to source on the eCommerce sites consumers trust. Sellers on Mirakl-powered Marketplaces are reporting that, in some cases, 20% or more of their suppliers are shutting down due to the current situation.
But if you’re prepared to be flexible about your assortment, that presents an opportunity: work with your open suppliers to quickly source the products consumers want, and you’ll have a leg up on the competition.
3. Focus on your product content
In a competitive marketplace, products with concise, exact descriptions and high-quality images are more likely to sell, regardless of the economic situation. Make sure that your content is focused on the product elements that customers are excited about, and keep the rest simple.
Kid Made Modern offers detailed information about the contents of its Egg Painting Party Craft Kit, along with a note that they are operating with a 5-day delay due to coronavirus, on Maisonette's marketplace.
4. Optimizing search terms & listings
Listing as many products as you can, as quickly as you can, is important in a high-demand environment. But don’t lose sight of the things that help consumers find your products, like optimizing search terms and product listings. This is important for every marketplace, but it’s especially critical when you’re selling on marketplaces with large assortments.
5. Get smart about pricing
Adjust your pricing based on the price of similar products on your marketplace and others. By staying flexible and updating your pricing in response to supply & demand, you’re competing more prominently for the coveted “buy box,” which leads to more sales.
You’re also building trust with the operator of the marketplace: they know that you’re staying competitive, which helps them retain customers who would otherwise buy the product from another marketplace at a lower price. Marketplace seller NAME wins the "buy box" for this refurbished laptop on BestBuy.ca
6. Automate inventory and order updates
To maintain good standing in the eyes of a marketplace, you need to keep your order acceptance rate as close to 100% as possible. You’ll simplify your life, and help your marketplace business scale, by investing in automation for your inventory and real-time order updates.
7. Prioritize on-time shipping
Customers expect accurate, on-time shipping estimates when they’re buying online, whether through a first-party eCommerce site or through a marketplace. The sellers that can meet, or even surpass, expectations usually achieve the highest ratings on marketplaces, which means they’re more likely to be promoted. To get the highest possible rating and grow your marketplace sales, clearly communicate your current shipping timelines, and dedicate resources to making sure they don’t slip.
One example comes from online seller Ergode, which sells on 22 marketplaces worldwide. The seller has invested the resources to maintain a 2-4 day lead time to ship in the U.S., and has extended international lead time to 14 days. At the same time, Ergode has updated its expected delivery time to a 30-day maximum to manage expectations just in case packages are delayed during the shipping process.
8. Invest in durable packaging
Your job isn’t done when you send a customer’s order out in the world. You need to make sure that products get to the customer safely intact – and flimsy packaging won’t get the job done. Make sure that your packaging is durable to ensure that items aren’t damaged in transit, so that the products that your buyer ordered arrive intact.
9. Take a "customer is always right" approach to customer service
“The customer is always right” is a saying for a reason! When you go above and beyond to satisfy the customer with flexible returns and refunds, you leave them with a positive impression, which can lead to better reviews down the road. It also proves to marketplace operators that you’re committed to giving their customers a great experience.