How to use online markets to gain an edge on Cyber Monday

Greg Zemor, co-founder of marketplace distribution solution, Neteven, discusses how online retailers can use online marketplaces to gain an edge over their competitors on Cyber Monday.

A good Cyber Monday can make Christmas come early for online retailers. Arguably, it is the most important day of the year for the online retail sector as a whole. This is not only because the Christmas period is when a lot of retailers turn a profit, but also because Cyber Monday is a bell weather for consumer sentiment and, crucially, for individual retailers, an indication of the strength of their online offering. Put simply, if your online store does not see a surge of visitors and conversions in the days leading up to Cyber Monday, it’s a strong sign something is not right with your site, product or marketing effort.

Turning specifically to online marketing, there’s plenty that can be done in preparation for the festive period and Cyber Monday, and much of this revolves around the reach of an online store’s products. Unless thousands of pounds are spent on SEO, it’s difficult for an online retailer to drive visitors directly to its website. Therefore, one of the keys to success is getting products distributed far and wide so that as many consumers see them as possible. One of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to do this is via online marketplaces.

The important factor to consider is that many festive shoppers will visit websites on a one-off basis in search of presents, and therefore will generally visit a multitude of marketplaces. Exposing products on only one marketplace, no matter how large its consumer base, is a flawed strategy.

The best approach is a multi-marketplace distribution strategy. Of course, many online retailers are put off at the thought of the cost and time needed to distribute their goods on several marketplaces at once. However, there are now a whole host of marketplace management platforms that can centralise and automate this process, and ensure that product lines are put in front of new audiences. As the process is automated via advanced programmes, the marketing campaign can be tailored to maximise value, even if there is only a small budget available.

To get the right technology for your company, it’s essential to start researching and speaking to experts in the area as soon as possible. This will ensure that the best technology is in place well ahead of the Christmas rush, and any teething problems are ironed out. Having advanced knowledge of the marketing campaign will also enable online shop owners to buy new product lines to close gaps in their offering.

The most successful multi-channel retailers choose an assortment of their product catalogues to distribute across a range of specialist and general marketplaces. By carefully controlling the price, promotions, and shipping, the most attractive offering can be tailored to each marketplace. In addition, by choosing marketplaces, which offer additional services, such as customer service and delivery, online retailers can make substantial savings on infrastructure costs, and enable much more efficient delivery of products to customers.

For retailers seeking to distribute their products across Europe, a useful tool is European Article Number (EAN) matching. This means that merchants do not need to translate their product data into different languages. The input one data set with an EAN, and the marketplace does the rest. Many marketplaces, such as PriceMinister, Cdiscount, Rakuten, FNAC, and Rue du Commerce offer EAN matching.

Of course, embarking upon a multi-marketplace distribution project will count for nothing if your company is under-prepared for a surge in orders. Ensuring that you have prepared your stock levels accordingly may sound like a no-brainer, but with the day-to-day hassle of running an e-commerce site, many retailers can be caught short. After all, it’s important to think of both the marketing campaign, and Cyber Monday in the long term. A potential boost in sales is just one benefit, reaching millions of potential new customers across Europe, and encouraging them to return to your store continuously is the real goal. Therefore, making sure your customers have the best possible experience is crucial. Making sure that the products on your site are still in stock, that delivery and customer service are speedy and efficient, and that product information and offers are localised is fundamental.

Luckily, the strategy I outlined above will take care of most of these problems for Cyber Monday and beyond.

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