Tagged in: Feeds

How to Launch Marketplaces for Your Company

(Originally published by me in 2015 at http://ecommerceconsulting.com/2015/08/launch-marketplaces-company.html)

If your company sells consumer goods, there’s a near 100% chance you want to sell those products online. Selling online is increasingly competitive. For most companies it makes little sense to invest a couple million dollars in a website to compete with eCommerce giants such as Amazon. Instead you should look at launching your products on all the major marketplaces.

What are the Major Marketplaces?

Amazon eBay Sears Rakuten Walmart

 

These links will take you to the requirements and steps for each marketplace:

No matter how many products or SKUs you have to sell, Amazon, eBay, and most likely Sears are the three marketplaces you should consider launching first. Most products are sellable on Amazon and eBay. Sears is more of a home goods focus – so technology items are less applicable there. (Technology marketplaces are a completely different ballgame, see Best Buy and NewEgg.) So whether you’re selling kitchen knives, or party supplies, you can sell practically anything on a marketplace. I’ve sold on these marketplaces with products including clothing, kitchen equipment, paper supplies, and more.

Why Should My Company Launch Marketplaces?

  1. Low Cost
  2. Easy
  3. Fast

First it’s super cost effective. Fees vary slightly but you can estimate a monthly hard cost of about $40 per marketplace, and a percentage on successful sales ranging from 8-12% plus 1-3% for payment services such as PayPal (eBay specifically). It roughly washes out to 10-12% overall. You could spend 2-million dollars on a state of the art website, or you could pay 10% of your sale to get your product in front of customers who are already in the purchase mood (that’s why they are at a marketplace afterall) and get essentially free advertising.

Dropshipping

Second it’s super easy. There is essentially no barrier to entry for the major marketplaces except Walmart. Drop shipping is the future of eCommerce. All the marketplaces are adding literally millions of products from anybody and everybody because consumers are flocking to the top tier eCommerce models. How long does it take you make a purchase on a random company website? 2-5 minutes if it’s decent, 10 minutes if it’s bad. On Amazon it’s 10 seconds. You can’t compete with that. Because of this marketplaces need you as much as you need them. So they make your barrier to entry to launch on them incredibly easy. You can pay a consultant such as myself to launch your products, which is the most cost effective and time effective method, or you can go to each marketplace and follow their guides to launch your products. The value of utilizing a consultant comes from the value of the optimization from using an expert. Just like a website has SEO, so do marketplaces. So experts can help you optimize your products from the get go and see huge lifts.

Third it’s fast. Most have a super easy application process and you can be live within 72 hours. eBay has the lowest barrier and you can start selling within minutes of creating an account. Some people don’t realize eBay is a marketplace, but it is. There’s major differences but in the end, it’s still a website people go to, are in a buying mood, and can find your product.

Steps to launch marketplaces:

  1. Have a product that can be shipped
  2. File applications at the marketplace websites (links to each application above)
  3. Satisfy launch requirements, including filling out product information, company information, payment and receivable constraints, and any policies on shipping and/or restrictions. (This is where a consultant comes in really handy)
  4. There isn’t a lot of post launch maintenance. Customer service is about all you need besides actually shipping products.
  5. Profit

Amazon Prime

 

Bonus – Go Prime

Marketplaces are increasingly adding warehouses across the country. Both Amazon and eBay have fulfillment services. Advantages include fast shipping (2 day), increased competitive product listings, and possibly even international sales potential (eBay especially.)

 

If you’re ready to launch on any of these marketplaces and need help, email our leading marketplace expert Steven Pope, or add him on LinkedIn.

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Feed Me – A Guide to Feeds for Shopping Engines, Market Places, & PLAs

The conundrum of digital marketing is you need several departments to work harmoniously toward the same goal. And in the case of eCommerce feeds, you need the marrying of entrepreneurship, online sales, and technical aptitude. A feed is information that it sent from one point to another, translated carefully to be understandable at the end point. The consequence of which if not done right is the like of playing the children’s game of telephone.

Building a feed for Amazon, eBay, shopping engines, marketplaces, and more

So do you sell frozen peas or do you sell flea repellent? Well that depends on what your feed told the third party where your information is being seen. A feed should be refreshed on a request basis. Especially if you have price changes, limited inventory, or new products coming in.

eCommerce Requires MANY Feeds

The reason eCommerce requires multiple feeds is in this day and age you aren’t just selling products at one storefront. You’re selling on 11 types of channels. Most people would get 2 of these right off the bat, websites and marketplaces. But there’s many more to consider such as shopping engines, product listing ads, and even display banner advertising.

Optional Fields Are Mandatory

If you’ve ever built a feed, you’ve probably seen that only a few fields are mandatory. And many more are optional. The thing is, if all you do is send a PDF of the feed requirements to your IT team, all they are going to do is fill in mandatory fields and call it a day. I’ve seen this at several companies. It really isn’t their fault because they have piles and piles of requests on their desks and as long as the feed goes live they can move onto the next project.

Examples of Mandatory Fields:

  • Product Title
  • Product Description
  • Inventory (Stock)

Examples of Optional Fields:

  • Color
  • Material
  • Manufacturer

Findability is Key to Accessibility

The reason optional fields matter? In an information age, the more you inform the consumer, the more transparency you use, the more likely they will be able to…

  1. Find your product
  2. Understand your product
  3. Buy your product

Example: Let’s say your company sells clothing. Well if you don’t list color in the attribute field, and the consumer is looking for a black dress, and not just a dress, then they’re going to find your competitor’s item and buy it, not yours. Simply putting “black” in the title of the product, or the description is insufficient. Take a look at this screen shot where it shows how on Amazon you can filter for color:

Optional field attributes make a big difference in feeds for marketplaces

None of these products in this screen shot have black in the title, but they all probably uploaded black in the field for color. On the bottom left you can see where black has a check mark, indicating this particular search is for only items that are black.

One of the Fastest Ways to Grow eCommerce is Feeds

I’ve talked about how there’s a lot of money to be made selling in marketplaces in two other articles.  How to Launch Marketplaces like Amazon/eBay/Sears and If you’re not on Amazon, you’re irrelevant.

But you can build feeds for many other channels. I’ll briefly touch base on shopping engines and product listing ads. Both are basically the same thing. PLAs are just Google’s shoping engine.  Shopping engines include websites like Shopzilla, Pricegrabber, Become.com, and hundreds of others. A user interacts with these shopping engines by searching for a product they want, they find multiple companies to compare from, and then go to the company’s website to finish the purchase.

The distinction here, between a marketplace and a shopping engine, is where the consumer makes the purchase. With a marketplace, they buy directly from the marketplace. A user shops directly on Amazon/eBay/Sears etc. But with a shopping engine, you control the transaction. And generally, you are paying these shopping engines by CPC (Cost Per Click). Then there’s also affiliates, which you pay a cut of the actual transaction. Feeds aren’t as necessary in an affiliate model, but could also be valuable depending on the partnership.

The reason feeds help you grow eCommerce is you’re going directly to where the user is already comfortable shopping, and presenting the information they are looking for. They’re already in the buying pattern, and they’re likely going to buy regardless – the question is, did you build your feed so they can find your product – instead of your competitors?

Okay, Feeds are Important, What Now?

If you already have a feed in place, audit it. Map every attribute, and read the documentation for that feed’s setup. If you need to set a feed up, it’s probably easier to just hire a consultant to do the work for you. A person outside of your company can also audit your feed to make sure it’s accurate and getting you as many sales as possible. I’ve setup feeds for practically every type of product-based industry and can help you out.

To Get Help With Feeds, Email eCommerce Expert Steven Pope

Ecommerce Consultant Steven Pope can help you build feeds to Amazon, eBay, Rakuten, Shopping Engines, to help you sell products

You may also like:

How to Launch Marketplaces like Amazon/eBay/Sears
If you’re not on Amazon, you’re irrelevant.

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