Virtual Learning Series
Marketplaces: Where Opportunity Awaits

Read Time: 4 Minutes 30 Seconds

By Fred Maude, Head of Product Development

As we ramp up preparations for Q4, Marketplaces offer a huge opportunity for retailers in this key shopping period. To give you an overview of the platforms available, as well as insight into best practices, we teamed up with Feedonomics for our latest webinar: “Marketplaces: Where Opportunity Awaits”. We covered what marketplaces are, why they are important, how and when to consider marketplaces, and the impact of selling through these channels.

The Importance of Marketplace

Understanding how Amazon, in particular, has shaped the landscape of online retail is a crucial foundation for any marketplace strategy. 55% of all product searches originate from Amazon, while 92% of users who start on Amazon will make their purchase on Amazon. Finally, 80% of sales on Amazon happen through the buy box – the first highlighted seller. 

With these stats in mind, the importance of getting on to as many of these marketplaces as you can, and the opportunity available is huge. Outside of Amazon, there is a huge variety of channels that you can make use of, and a lot of the smaller and mid tier marketplaces are getting creative with their proposition in order to build their market share. Facebook’s commerce options, for example, have been particularly popular; and while Instagram checkout hasn’t launched globally yet, it’s certainly one to get on early if you can.

Getting your Feeds in Shape

The downside of having this much opportunity is that each marketplace will come with its own, very specific, set of requirements. Amazon, in particular, has it’s own best practices to get acquainted with. Brands selling products in categories such as automotive, jewellery and groceries should be aware that these will need approval before they can be pushed live. You also will need to give some consideration to whether orders will be fulfilled by you, the merchant (FBM), or by Amazon (FBA). The default setting for your listings will be FBM, but you can add a new attribute to the listing template called Fulfilment CentreID to change this to FBA. Before you push your products across to Amazon, ensure that all of your SKUs are  identified as “child” rather than “parent” variant IDs – as this is a distinct requirement from the channel. 

Speaking more generally, optimising is a huge part of making your feeds successful. It’s very rare that you will send your feed’s raw data to a platform. To get your feeds into the best shape, you’ll want to ensure that brand, product nouns, descriptive adjectives, colour, size, and other attributes are in your title. The first letter of each word should be capitalised, and you can A/B test your performance to find what works best. It’s important to note that if there are multiple sellers, you don’t always get to control attributes like the title and product details unless you are the brand. This is important to keep in mind if you’re a reseller, as it means your optimisation efforts will be limited. 

Winning the Buy Box

As we’ve already highlighted, the Buy Box is an incredibly lucrative opportunity for retailers; with a huge number of sales coming through this specifically. Aside from the price of your product (which is the key Buy Box driver), there are a number of other factors that will play a role in whether or not you will appear in this placement. This includes having the item in stock and quick turnaround times for order fulfilment. It’s important to avoid overselling situations; where you only have one item in stock but you sell one on your website and one through Amazon. You can prevent this by either introducing shorter time-lags between polling Amazon for orders and submitting tracking numbers, or distributing product inventory across multiple channels using rules. 

Setting up Best Practices

When setting up your feed strategy, as with any other strategy, it’s crucial that you lay solid foundations to provide you support as you scale up. There are four key principles to master before you get creative. First is consistency: it is absolutely vital that there is a consistent customer experience across all channels and touchpoints. All of your feeds should be updated whenever there is a change in price, delivery, availability or associated promotions. 

Secondly is selection, which means factoring in all relevant product restrictions. While eBay, for example, is almost entirely free reign, other marketplaces are much more stringent. Third, you’ll need to ensure quality: that the feed has a full set of attributes and is being continually optimised towards any marketplace-specific characteristics. Finally, build in a robust attitude and approach to monitoring your feeds. This means running regular auditing to check for any disapprovals, and even automating the process to flag any issues that arise and to stop you from pushing any data that doesn’t meet your standards.

With these solid foundations in place, you can begin to add more and more depth to your feeds strategy. We have huge amounts of data at our disposal, so your next natural step is to leverage things like your performance data, any information on stock and returns, and even your margins, all as part of your wider feeds strategy. This, in turn, makes it easier to share insights between channels; helping to break down the silos that often hinder digital marketing strategies across the industry. For those who are further along in their feeds journey, you can begin to utilise external data to take your feeds to the next level.

For more information, or to watch our webinar, click here.