Greg Zemor, founder of online marketplace management solution Neteven, gives his tips on how best to prepare your distribution strategy through online marketplaces this Christmas.
Online shopper spend is estimated to climb to £107bn by the end of 2014. The question is how online retailers can ensure that they capitalise on the growth in online sales and make their offering as competitive as possible.
For online retailers that rely on online marketplaces to increase sales and reach new markets, here are my top tips:
Being able to offer the right products at the best price and have flexible and reliable suppliers is the base for every retailer aiming at selling on online marketplaces. Defining your procurement strategy according to the specific requirements of each marketplace is essential. Retailers should make sure they have sufficient stock of any product that they are likely to be best sellers over Christmas, rather than taking up valuable storage space with lots of slow moving products.
The increase of online Christmas traffic increases the importance of having an optimal IT systems in order to prevent any risk of technical problems. A slow website can damage sales, however, there is nothing worse than your website completely crashing during Christmas season.
One of the perks of using a marketplace to distribute products is that it takes advantage of the marketplace’s comprehensive IT infrastructure.
Ensure that your website is fully synced in real-time with your warehouse, with intermediation platforms such as Neteven and marketplace IT systems.
Each marketplace has specific criteria for categorising products. Online retailers need to reference their products in line with the requirements of each marketplace. This ensures that products are correctly displayed for the specific audience.
If merchants want to optimise their referencing on online marketplaces, they must enrich their product data as much as they can. Platinum keywords, category trees, attributions or pictures are essential details to provide for a good referencing.
It’s important to bear in mind that retailers need to be strategic with their pricing strategy on marketplaces to be competitive across categories and product-types.
One way to determine the best strategy is by analysing buyer behaviour. Another is to use competitor analysis tools that are available on intermediary software. Once determined, these tools will automatically match the prices of competitors several times a day.
Logistics solutions should be built within the sales channels, so that they can be adjusted during peak sales across physical stores, websites and marketplaces.
It can be wise to increase delivery slots to avoid customer disappointment and to maintain regular contact with the customer, updating them on the whereabouts of their package.
Being organised is also important in relation to ‘returns’. The number of items being returned is likely to increase dramatically over Christmas and most customers will expect to return items within 14 days.
Customer service goes hand in hand with logistics. It’s advisable to dedicate resources to respond to any customer queries within a certain time frame.
Some marketplaces also ask customers to rate the seller. This rating will be affected by the shipping cost, delivery time, customer service and how the product compares to its description.