While these are important results of a Mirakl Marketplace strategy, there is a bigger, more critical, and more important business driver at play:
Earning, and retaining, the loyalty of your customers should guide every decision across your organization, especially those you make related to your Marketplace. This is one priority that should not only be at the top of your list, it should become your obsession. It is the #1 objective of building a Marketplace business in the first place.
Don’t take our word for it.
“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
Sam Walton, Founder of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Several reasons justify this customer-centric obsession. A survey from Bain & Company and Mainspring on the Value of Online Customer Loyalty found:
Loyal customers not only buy more often, they buy more variety. While one-time shoppers may not always be profitable given high customer acquisition costs, repeat buyers come back regularly, and diversify their basket. In fact, 70% of loyal Gap online shoppers would consider buying furniture from Gap.com. Yes, really.
Long-time loyalty leads to higher spending over time. The more a customer is loyal to the website, the more they spend. According to the study, apparel customers spent 67% more 31-36 months after their first purchase than in the first 6 months. Additional research found that existing customers spend, on average, 31% more when compared to new customers.
Loyal customers drive referrals. There is immense power in a referral from a friend or trusted peer. Among buyers of consumer electronics and major appliances, customers referred 13 people on average after ten purchases, compared to an average of four referrals after their first purchase. Even in B2B, 91% of buyers are influenced by word-of-mouth when making a buying decision.
Loyal customers are highly profitable. Satisfying and delighting existing customers is not only an effective way to attract new customers, it’s highly economical. It costs five times as much to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one. Another study found that the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is between 5 and 20%. Existing customers are also 50% more likely to try new products when compared to new products.
Show me the money: Increasing customer retention rates by 5% has been shown to increase profits by 25-95%.
Today’s customers have new and higher expectations for their e-commerce experience than ever before. When considering an online Marketplace, remember that the three keys to success are all driven by the imperative to keep customers coming back: a large product catalog, great customer experience, and a fair price. Those who can successfully rise to meet these demands will earn what is essentially the Holy Grail of business: the loyalty of customers.
Contact us if you wish to know more about how a Marketplace can help strengthen your customer loyalty.
“It’s been said that there are three kinds of marketers and how they deal with trends: Those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened.”
(Forbes – Brand and Marketing Trends for 2015)
To successfully compete in this space, e-commerce businesses must first understand the expectations of online shoppers. Customer behavior has changed dramatically since the days of traditional shopping in brick and mortar stores. Power has shifted dramatically in favor of shoppers who now demand a broad array of choices, fair prices, and a high quality, convenient shopping experience. Consumers know they have this power and they use it consistently.
This growing trend of multi-channel shopping has radically changed the way buyers shop, and defines the kind of retail customer experience that must be delivered.
Shoppers want to be in control
Online shoppers are savvy, having learned to exploit shopping data and become experts at taking advantage of deals. 46% of Generation Y shoppers and 36% of Generation X shoppers agreed that they can more readily locate information on their personal mobile device rather than asking a salesperson for assistance. This is an absolute sea-change in how retail operates and requires business agility to adapt to this new customer behavior quickly.
E-commerce shoppers have the tools to search, analyze, and decide what is the most suitable option for them, anytime at their convenience. This means they have more control over what to buy, who to buy it from, and all the other options offered to them.
Shoppers want options
Our online buyers are used to selecting from a wide range of products without any constraints. Expanding product inventory is a clear benefit of creating an online Mirakl Marketplace for your business. This matters in an age of instant gratification where shoppers are seeking options — seeking what they want, fast, and for the right price. In this age, retailers are presented with an opportunity to provide consumers with more choices, improving and streamlining the shopping experience and driving incremental revenue, both via net new purchases and the repeat business that comes from satisfied customers.
Buyers want you to keep up with the pack
Expectations are high – just look at the popularity of consumer brands such as Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, and TripAdvisor. These brands have normalized the fluid and frictionless world of giving customers what they want, when they want it. The user experience of these companies is as important to their success as the products or services they provide.
What these brands have done for the majority of online retailers is to set the bar high. Your buyers, who are using these services, expect the same convenience, quality products, quality service, fast shipping, and right price point through the online experience. They have little patience for brands who can’t keep up.
Are you prepared?
There’s no doubt our world of online shopping is reshaping how retailers need to operate in order to compete successfully in today’s market and to satisfy and retain consumers. In fact, it’s consumers who are leading and shaping the multichannel trend – not retailers according to PwC.
To avoid lagging behind, we retailers quickly meet and exceed the new expectations of demanding, dynamic, and volatile buyers. After all, they are one click away from our competition.
Are you prepared to earn the loyalty of these shoppers?
Today’s highly-informed consumer wants a simple, convenient shopping experience whether in a brick-and-mortar store, online, via catalogue, TV shopping networks, or on mobile applications. 86% of online shoppers purchase in more than 2 channels, and 74% of US online shoppers shop across at least two different channels from the same retailer, according to PwC.
To meet the demands of these consumers, retailers must build a consistent shopping experience aligned to consumer expectations. The role of a marketplace is to unify many sellers under one umbrella, driving major gains in both revenue as well as improving the customer experience across channels. A strong marketplace strategy can increase customer loyalty and brand advocacy. Here’s how:
Your customers can find everything they expect you to sell.
Customers expect you to provide them with a comprehensive product assortment that covers your entire brand universe. A marketplace increases your assortment and variety, delivering a broader set of products and goods across more categories. Darty, the leading electronics retailer in France, learned that selling bedding online was a hit on their marketplace, and now they sell it in the store.
Watch this 3-minute video where Darty’s CEO Régis Schultz discusses marketplace advantages for their overall customer experience.
With a network of thousands of sellers, you can exponentially increase your product range (without sacrificing data consistency), allowing your buyers to find what they need, whether they’re in-store or online.
Your buyers can access competitor pricing at the click of a button, whether they’re comparing options online or Googling from their mobile device in-store. Product pricing needs to be fair – not necessarily the lowest, but rather always aligned to the market itself. A marketplace allows you to increase your price competitiveness without sacrificing margin by allowing your sellers to compete directly on price. The visibility the sellers have to competitive pricing makes it easy to optimize their pricing against other offers.
You can offer strong customer service.
The customer journey comes with many stops along the way. From product search, to final delivery, and the management of an ongoing relationship, your delivery of “service” takes on a variety of meanings. Buyers must be able to find what they’re looking for, read detailed and quality product information, experience short shipping lead-time, and receive transparent seller information. By controlling the experience a buyer has with your sellers on your marketplace, and ensuring prompt service after the sale, you can safeguard their time spent with you, and earn their loyalty. Your ability to control the quality of everything from assortment to buyer/seller communication, and delivery, ensures a positive holistic experience for your brand.
A marketplace is a proven tactic to improving CX, and helps to future-proof a business against the inevitable but high demands of their increasingly well-informed buyers. For retailers and brands oday, it’s no longer a question of if, but rather, when to make the right moves to improve the overall experience of their shoppers to earn loyal, raving customers.
BOSTON – Aug. 18, 2016 – Mirakl, the leading marketplace platform provider, today announced that Darty, a leading European electronics retailer, is seeing better visibility in search, greater profit margins and new category growth after implementing the Mirakl Marketplace Solution in 2014. According to a new case study published by Forrester Research1, Darty attributes its marketplace success to buy in from C-level support and the foresight to start with non-overlapping product categories, dedicate adequate employee resources and take advantage of Mirakl’s marketplace platform versus custom building their own solution.
Darty’s online marketplace has delivered the following results to date:
The retailer is able to generate €6 to €7 for every €100 sold through the marketplace (including any costs for administering the marketplace), compared to €2 to €3 that it generates from €100 sold in products that it stocks directly.
20% of visits to the Darty website are driven by its marketplace items, which it attributes to increased visibility in search engine results.
An increase from 120,000 owned SKUs on Darty.com to 520,000 SKUs via the marketplace initiative.
Forrester spoke with Darty executives Cecile Helme-Guizon, Strategy Director, and Olivier Godart, Director of E-Commerce.
Based on Darty’s experience, Forrester makes the following recommendations to retailers in order to make the most of their own marketplace:
Analyze the buy- versus -build question carefully
Few retailers truly understand the complexities of managing hundreds or thousands of sellers, and few have the full IT resources to dedicate to this effort. Darty pays a maintenance and service fee to an outside vendor on an ongoing basis – but outsourcing the marketplace project ensured the company spent less upfront on an uncertain technology product and was able to generate a quick win.
Online marketplaces are not “set- and -forget” initiatives. Retailers must constantly manage seller effectiveness, accuracy of seller content and customer satisfaction with seller products. These tasks require dedicated and capable team members whose careful management ensures the overall success of the marketplace program.
Work with most receptive internal partners first
Internal merchants and stores often see marketplace as a sales competitor. To avoid that scenario, it can be wise to begin with non-overlapping categories. This gives the company culture time to digest the marketplace initiative.
“Darty’s marketplace success is the result of three things,” said Adrien Nussenbaum, U.S. CEO and co-founder, Mirakl. “First, Darty had the full support of the C-Suite and the ability to ingratiate the marketplace into company culture. Second, thanks to management’s support, Darty was able to dedicate the proper resources to the project. Finally, Darty chose to use the proven Mirakl Marketplace Solution, avoiding a long and costly custom technology build that ultimately saved the company millions of dollars.”
Mirakl provides a state-of-the-art software solution that allows B2C and B2B organizations to launch and operate an online Marketplace. The Mirakl Marketplace Platform makes it easy for operators to onboard vast numbers of vendors in a single platform to drastically increase their product selection, competitive prices, and a superior shopping experience. Mirakl helps some of the world’s leading organizations, large and small, including Best Buy Canada, Woolworths, Auchan, Carrefour, Condé Nast, Darty, Galeries Lafayette, Halfords, Menlook, Oclio, The Beautyst and Truffaut to drive commerce and offer a greater scope for expansion combined with higher profit growth and lower risk. Founded in 2012, Mirakl drives Marketplace projects in more than 20 countries around the world and closed a $20 million Series B round of funding in July 2015. For more information: www.mirakl.com
Adrienne Newcomb/Mariana Fischbach
Ketner Group PR + Marketing (for Mirakl) firstname.lastname@example.org
Amazon re-invented commerce. They disrupted the world of retail by building the world’s largest marketplace. They offer more products, more competitive prices, and better service than anyone else. Amazon has single-handedly shaped consumer expectations around pricing transparency, and fueled price comparison shopping. Those habits are here to stay.
And it’s time for your organization to truly compete with Amazon. It’s time to launch the #1 weapon in this battle: Your own Marketplace.
Marketplaces are a new way for retailers to engage with customers. They add assortment with few variable costs and have quickly gained traction as a key component of retailers’ e-commerce strategy.
A recent study conducted by Forrester found that Marketplaces — when operated effectively — are likely to boost customer loyalty, increase average order values, and build trust.
89% of consumers already view Online Marketplaces as convenient for their online shopping. Why miss out on an opportunity to improve customer satisfaction, grow your online business, and compete with Amazon?
To plan for the Marketplace revolution, we invite you to join us for a complimentary webinar featuring special guest Sucharita Mulpuru, VP & Principal Analyst at Forrester. The webinar will be on July 26th at 11am ET / 8am PT / 3pm GMT. Attendees will learn:
Why today’s customers have come to expect Marketplaces from e-commerce merchants
How Marketplaces drive customer loyalty and retention
How to properly manage Marketplace operation to achieve profitable growth
In our earlier post introducing findings from the Forrester Research report “Retailers Must Seize The Marketplace Opportunity,” we looked at why Forrester calls on retailers to embrace the Marketplace opportunity. Clearly, one of the main reasons is that customers value the convenience that Marketplaces offer.
Because consumers are more empowered and informed than ever, they are in control. A shopper can get to the competition in one click. As a result, retailers must provide what customers want. Not only do they want convenience, but they also want a fair price and a high level of service – all things they are used to the Amazon experience now.
Omni-channel and pure-play e-retailers need to deliver convenience, fair prices, and high quality service. The Forrester report specifically shows that price is one area where Marketplaces truly deliver on what customers want. The report states that survey data shows “competitive prices as being a very important attribute when shopping on a marketplace. In fact, 58% of respondents indicated that they had found competitive prices buying through marketplaces versus with an online retailer.”
It is important to note that competitive prices means fair – it is not necessarily a race to the bottom. With the Marketplace model, the innate competition between sellers will ensure price optimization and equilibrium. And, because retailers pay nothing upfront for Marketplace products, the commission received is pure profit. With the Mirakl Marketplace Platform, retailers can control and curate what products make it to the Marketplace. If a retailer does not want to carry items that are too low priced to fit with the brand, they can eliminate those or not work with sellers that only offer low price products. What is important is using the Marketplace model as a way to expand assortment and get the fairest prices because it is the most cost-effective and efficient method.
It is interesting to note that hundreds of European retailers have opened Marketplaces for selling 3rd party products, while only a handful of North American retailers have. Is it possible that North American retailers have already surrendered to Amazon? In the report 20 Startups All Retail eBusiness Executives Should Know In 2016, Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru notes that, “Amazon’s biggest retail weapon is its third-party marketplace: the company increases the selection for customers but avoids incurring large expenses because it doesn’t own the inventory.”
Given the profitability of Marketplace revenue, it is a surprise that North American retailers lag behind Europe. Consumers today demand frictionless commerce. Educated, informed, and empowered, they are also short of time and easily frustrated by even the slightest hiccup in the purchasing process. Simply put, consumers have come to expect a wide array of product choices with high availability and a fair, competitive price. This can be a tall order for a retailer to efficiently deliver directly to the customer.
A recent report by Forrester Research, “Retailers Must Seize The Marketplace Opportunity” recommends that retailers “develop a strategy and build their own Marketplace, enhance technology capabilities to support the Marketplace strategy, and include additional layers of sophistication such as seller management, quality control, and catalog integration.”
Specifically, the study found that Marketplace purchases are already common because of the convenience they provide to shoppers.
With a Marketplace, retailers enhance customers’ shopping experiences by allowing “consumers to explore, discover, and purchase multiple products and services on a single website.” Marketplaces are the most efficient and agile way to extend product assortment and offer customers more choice.
Eric Chemouny, Senior Vice President EMEA of Mirakl, gives his view on the IMRG Fashion Connect event 2016
The recent IMRG Fashion Connect event in London served up plenty of food for thought for the fashion industry, with interesting market data, and comments from attendees. Much was discussed in terms of the online shopping experience for fashion retailers including sales, mobile commerce and the thorny issues of abandoned transactions. One of the most interesting stats I saw was on Black Friday, which in the UK was by far the biggest sales day of the whole Christmas period. Not only did Black Friday prove to be the biggest day in the retail calendar, but Amazon UK was used by half of online shoppers, with household name retailers trading a much smaller percentage of the online market for their goods (typically under 10%).
It was very interesting to discuss established Marketplaces such as Amazon with attendees, many felt they understood the role of the online marketplace and how being on a site like Amazon can help lift their transaction volumes, but this underlines one of the big misunderstandings about marketplaces: Retailers have the opportunity to build and run their own Marketplaces – being on a third party’s Marketplace is not the only option. Department stores, fashion retailers and fashion brands in general should not just rely on Amazon or other big marketplaces, grabbing low revenues and having a lack of control of their relationship with the customer and taking the risk of poor customer feedback.
They should federate around their significant brands an ecosystem of sellers, generating more revenues and having direct impact on their customers’ expectations.
A Marketplace is a powerful e-commerce channel for any retailer, bringing together buyers and sellers under that retailer’s brand. Many retailers in fashion are laser focused on improving their profits and margins through constant website tweaking, implementing click & collect offerings or adjusting their supply chain to enable drop shipments, but all of these changes offer only small incremental benefits. Building a marketplace, rather than simply operating on one can be a powerful way for any brand to extend its reach and quickly boost margin and profitability.
Building a fashion Marketplace using established technology, can be fast and enable a brand to quickly take sales directly from consumers, but not just for its own products. What about accessories, footwear, coats, make-up and even storage solutions – all the things a consumer might want. The power of the Marketplace is being able to bring other categories from new suppliers into your retail experience without needing to understand those products in detail, hold stock, or make substantial and risky investments. A Marketplace becomes a rich, one stop shop for consumers that they want to revisit because of its diversity, and your suppliers will also benefit from increased sales and exposure. Adding new products and suppliers is easy and helps drive repeat business, as well as new buyers, all the time increasing gross margins by avoiding increased costs.
Outside the UK, Marketplaces are thriving. In France for example, Amazon has 9 or 10 large competitors, all of whom are a success story. For the fashion conscious UK consumer, if they love your style, and they can come to your online Marketplace, buy your dresses and buy great accessories that you recommend, why wouldn’t they? As fashions change, a Marketplace gives you a way to quickly move with the market, expand and change categories, and excite your customers, at no financial risk.
Building a Marketplace is a fast process, and doesn’t need an army of experts to develop or maintain. If building your margins and customer base is a priority over the coming years, then a Marketplace, could well be on the fashion pulse for you, rather than grappling around for tiny marginal revenue increments
The Auchan Marketplace project: an example of digital transformation of an historic retailer
An interview of Denis Vanbeselaere, e-commerce development director at Auchan by Eric Chemouny, VP Sales EMEA at Mirakl, during the Digital Innovation (19/11/2015).
Abstract of the exchanges
Denis Vanbeselaere: We all know Auchan for its hypermarkets, around 120 in France, but also in many countries, mainly in Eastern Europe and Asia. In France, the brand achieves more than 16 billion euros of turnover. Auchan also has supermarkets, real estate, banking and e-commerce activities. Our goal is to come together intelligently to improve our service for the customers, in a complete omnichannel approach.
E. Chemouny:It is a great example of digital transformation of a traditional retail player. I’ll mention that a marketplace is an online space that connects merchants and consumers. So when your business is to operate hypermarkets, supermarkets, e-commerce, why do you launch a marketplace?
D. Vanbeselaere: Because the attributes of the Auchan brand include price, choice, pleasure and the human touch, and the marketplace nurtures all these attributes. Regarding the choice, the role of the marketplace is obvious: it helps us to broaden our product ranges, what is indispensable so that tomorrow we can be part of the customer’s digital reflex.
Concerning the price, the marketplace is helpful because there are different merchants who compete with each other, it leads to propose more competitive price. For the pleasure part, it is to know you can easily find all products in one place. And finally there is the human touch that we want to bring with the marketplace, and this is why we want the marketplace to be completely cross-channel. We want to be different from pure-players, give a different client experience.
E. Chemouny:What will we find on this marketplace and how the offer will be different from the one on others formats?
D. Vanbeselaere: Auchan is mainly known for food, the heart of our business. But we have decided to attack in priority the non-food segment and try to conquer it: this is indispensable to feed our generalist model. Today, you can find already some toys, technical products, childcare, gardening, etc. There is a limited number of sellers but to date there are more than 30,000 references online. It is still small compared to our objective, but we have hundreds of merchants in the pipeline.
E. Chemouny:When you decide to launch such kind of project, how do you structure it between the sales team in the store, and the e-commerce team? Do you have built a dedicated team or did the project fit into the existing system?
D. Vanbeselaere: There are two things. First, the need to set up a specialized, dedicated team. We’ve hired people with experience, either as merchants or as marketplace operators. We have grouped everyone – the managers of the merchants, sales representatives, IT teams, so they can work together as efficiently as possible.
Secondly, there has been a lot of work on persuasion and communication, since for 50 years Auchan’s business has consisted in buying, stocking, delivering, and selling in stores. We’ve had to explain why the marketplace is beneficial and not competing with our core business. So it is a new team, at the service of a project and a brand.
E. Chemouny: Can you tell me more about the coherence between the online marketplace and the physical stores?
D. Vanbeselaere: All our stores are proposing the entire offer of Auchan.fr. As a sales associate in store, I can sell the whole online offer, including the offer of the marketplace merchants, which represent a significant number of our orders in our stores on Auchan.fr. This means that we guide the customer and try to respond to his needs rather than sell the products in stock. It allowed us to reduce the sales area and increase the number of products, and above all introduced a digital reflex to our advisers. Our advisers now are encouraged to rely on the website to meet the customer’s requirements. It’s the best tool to aid the sales process.
E. Chemouny: When launching a marketplace as a large company with a strong historic regarding its information system, you can choose between using an internal team to develop the marketplace technology or using a product like Mirakl, which is turnkey and based on the best practices. You have ve chosen to use Mirakl. What are the benefits for you?
D. Vanbeselaere: First, it has allowed us to work faster. I think there are few companies as old as Auchan who can say they are comfortable with IT and that their systems are up to date. We wondered 3 years ago if we could do it ourselves. But after discussing it with experts, we renounced. Mirakl has brought such a strong value, as it is a simple tool to use and plug. Of course it interacts with all the components of the IT architecture, which is important, but most of all it’s easy. The fact that Mirakl has many clients is also an asset: there are frequent updates, which allow us to constantly improve and it is more than necessary.
E. Chemouny:You told me something that struck me that it is “better to sell via a merchant than to lose a client”. Why is it important to you to stay in touch with clients in any way, including the marketplace?
D. Vanbeselaere: Because you have to maintain a relationship with the customers and it is essential that they trust us. We prefer helping our customers to buy what they are looking for, even if we don’t sell it directly, and conserve their trust. This is essential to build loyalty.
E. Chemouny:What areas of development do you see next for Auchan? You mentioned food, what about international development? Could it be interesting to develop this model further, internationally?
D. Vanbeselaere: We have a lot of exchanges between the e-commerce division of all the countries to build e-commerce activity in different countries, and many are ready to open up to the marketplace. I’m in favor of doing this directly with an integrated marketplace module. We imagined this module during the phase of implementation with Mirakl, we wondered if the marketplace could have another function. Potentially, it can help to upload all the stock in our stores, considering them as merchants of the marketplace. This can also help us to build a catalog or replace the direct home delivery modules. It has to be integrated into the basic architecture when we want to develop e-commerce activity in a country.
E. Chemouny:I will conclude with this figure: in the top 15 sites with the most traffic named by the FEVAD, there are no less than 8 marketplaces. The marketplace model is interesting to launch and gain traffic rapidly. As seen with Auchan, it needs a certain number of prerequisites and reflections but it’s a model that works, which has been shown in every industry.
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Customer service: one of the pilar of online marketplaces success
Customer service is an indisputably important factor when it comes to online retail. Good customer service can be the greatest sales asset a retailer can have, encouraging loyalty and word-of-mouth recommendations. But bad customer service cannot only see a particular sale lost in an instant, but long-term irreparable damage done to the brand.
Discover Adrien Nussenbaum’s view point and advice on what constitutes good customer service on an online marketplace and how can retailers ensure sellers deliver it.