Online marketplaces are great option for those who want to start an ecommerce business but perhaps don’t yet have the inventory to warrant a large and expensive dedicated ecommerce site. Marketplaces help them if they want to sell casually or they just want to take advantage of all the great opportunities that marketplace selling can bring.
One of the greatest assets marketplaces have over other channels of e-commerce are their wide reach stemming from their existing customer bases. These sites already have vast databases of current and potential customers who search for products and buy from these sites on a regular basis.
This also means that these sites also do all the hard work when it comes to increasing visibility for your products. People are already aware of these marketplaces which means there’s no need to blow half your budget on getting people to visit your store in the first place. The most you need to do is optimize your listings so your items are easily found. The search engines on these marketplaces will make it easy for people to find your items, and in some cases your products might even be featured (free advertising!)
Amazon is currently the world’s largest eCommerce marketplace with around 168 million users every month. Amazon gives you the option to choose whether you want to be a Professional or Individual seller, which depends on how many items you estimate you will sell each month.
Amazon charges 15% commission to its sellers, plus $0.99/79p per sale to Individual sellers, but if you’re a Professional Merchant, you only need to pay $39.99/£25 per month and you’re only charged the commission instead of paying per sale – this might sound expensive, but if you’re selling more than 40 items a month, you’ll actually save money.
Pros sellers get additional benefits, including the ability to customize your shipping rates, offer gift wrapping and promotions for customers, use of Amazon’s listing tool and reporting tool, and more. Amazon pro sellers are also eligible for top placement on product detail pages and can choose to sell products from a wider range of categories which can be restricted for Individual sellers.
Amazon also offers a fulfillment service called FBA which deals with all handling and shipping of your items and could potentially save you money on shipping fees – of course you don’t have to choose this option, and a fee calculator is provided so you can know exactly how much shipping with FBA will cost you.
eBay is the second biggest e-commerce marketplace out there. All transactions brokered by eBay and fulfilled by third-party merchants. There are options for “Buy It Now” or for traditional auctions. The fee structure on eBay is complex: insertion fees, subscription fees and final value fees all vary from plan to plan. It’s easy to setup a seller account to get started, and there is a large variety of products you can sell and categories you can sell them in.
To set-up an eBay store, simply begin by creating seller account and confirming your contact details. You also need to specify which automatic payment method you will be using for your seller fees and eBay’s Money Back Guarantee reimbursements. Additionally, eBay recommends you get verified by PayPal in order to raise sending and withdrawal limits, increase your credibility and have the ability to list on international eBay sites.
Once your account is set up, you can then create and manage your product listings and interact with customers. Your eBay fees will depend on the type of item it is, category it is sold under, any shipping costs added, etc, and will vary accordingly.
Etsy is a more specialized marketplace compared to Amazon or eBay. It is aimed at craft workers, artists and those who sell vintage items, handmade creations and craft supplies. Setting up shop is quite simple – you can use Facebook Connect which can make things a lot easier and after that all you need to do is name your store.
Etsy has a simplistic listing process in which the site will guide you throughout the entire process and ask questions like what type of item it is, who made the product, when was it created. The only other information you need to submit is a description, some photos, and shipping details (pretty standard stuff).
There is no monthly membership fees with Etsy, but there is a $0.20 USD charge for a listing an item for four months and Etsy takes a 3.5% cut of the selling price. Fees vary for direct checkout, promoted listings, multi-quantities, etc all depending on what you’re selling.
Rakuten is Japan’s largest e-commerce company. It lets merchants to customize their stores and product pages and to conduct post-sale marketing to their customers. Merchants can build and embellish their brands with Rakuten’s marketplace which allows a lot more creative freedom than Amazon and eBay. It also allows sellers to customise their storefronts. Although this can also be done within eBay, the general look and feel of storefronts is dictated by eBay.
The other marketplaces control product and store content closely. Store plans start at $33 per month, with commissions from 8 to 15 percent, plus a $.99 per item fee that is waived under certain plans and conditions. Rakuten also offers customer reward points of 1 percent of purchases.
Merchants can email their customers, design their own stores and products and can also host their own blog- all within the Rakuten eCommerce platform. The marketplace encourages direct communication with prospects and customers throughout the buying cycle. It also offers tools that allow participating merchants to promote products and stores within the marketplace search results, home page, and category pages. The other marketplaces mentioned here do not freely allow this. We had tremendous feedback on this article eCommerce in India From 1999-2015 [Infographic].
How to sell better on online marketplaces
Okay, so once you’ve set up your shop online, you want to become a great seller which is important because great sellers get better ratings and more customers.
Communicate with your customers – While You may not be able to customize the look and feel of your shop, you can let your personality shine through in other ways like how you communicate with customers. Always send them a thank you email for using your store, reply to them promptly and answer questions quickly in an engaging manner.
Optimize your listings – The ways in which you can optimize your listings will vary, from marketplace to marketplace, but generally speaking, you want to include the right keywords and make sure that you’re able to describe the items in an engaging but informative way.
Product descriptions are an important element and will differ depending on the marketplace you’re using – Etsy, for example, encourages its sellers to share the story behind each item- but the key is to be accurate and to give lots of detail.
Take great photos – Having high quality pictures will help stand out and sell more. One of the biggest problems with online shopping is that people can’t see or touch products but sellers can help by showcasing various product views and angles in the photos, and by showing the product in its proper context to let the shopper see it in action.
Try inventory management software – If you’re selling on multiple marketplaces, your inventory can become difficult and confusing to manage. It might be worth investing in a multi-channel inventory and order management software to sync your data across your multiple channels, so you can track everything from one easy-to-use system.