Is this the best time to start a Multi-vendor marketplace of your own?

marketplace

ˈmɑːkɪtpleɪs/

noun

Definition– It is a place where buyers and sellers connect and conduct transactions.

 

The definition holds true in the online setting as well. For example, GrubHub is a marketplace where diners order food from the local restaurant of their choice. Similarly, Airbnb is a marketplace, where the guests select a short-term accommodation for themselves and the owners rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests. The marketplace website acts as a middleman taking care of the payments which makes it convenient for both parties.

 

 

 

For the last decade, the growth in online marketplace businesses does not seem to be slowing down. Business models are constantly evolving. Beyond well-known e-commerce marketplace brands like eBay, Etsy, Amazon, Airbnb, Uber or GrubHub, we saw marketplace models disrupting just about every traditional industry. They are selling everything from diapers to second-hand furniture.

E-commerce on the rise

What if we told you that almost half of U.S. households are now Amazon Prime members? You won’t believe me, will you? Well, it’s true. In fact, if Prime was a country, that would make it the world’s 14th largest by population.

In 2017, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to 2.3 trillion USD. Revenues are projected to grow to 4.88 trillion USD in 2021. The reason is fair enough, consumers now see the couch in their living room as a good-enough replacement for their nearest brick-and-mortar store.

Moreover hassle free return policies have made online shopping easy, and risk-free for consumers. With advantages like these, it’s unlikely that marketplace growth will slow down anytime soon.

 

The demise of brick-and-mortar shops

Sears, Macy’s, J.C. Penney, RadioShack and Toys R Us- What’s common among these retailers which were once household names in the U.S.? All of them announced the closures of their stores, citing one reason or the other.  While more than 5,000 stores were shut down in 2017, there have been around 2,000 store closures announced over the past few months.

Source: CNBC

What lies in the future

The rapid growth in mobile shopping and burgeoning online sales are likely to result in USD 1.1 trillion in spending in China this year. The future of e-commerce definitely looks promising. Once a company enters this online world, there is no turning back.

Whether you’re a single store owner just getting into the game or an e-marketplace owner with multiple vendors selling on your platform, e-commerce is going to give you more than you expected.

How to make your marketplace stand out

The statistics are impressive, but it certainly does not imply that it is going to be a cake walk for every e-marketplace owner out there. You would not want to be just another store waiting to get noticed by the customers who have umpteen choices in front of them. And if there is no customer at your marketplace, how will you convince vendors to open their store at your marketplace? Yes, we are talking about the famous or rather infamous chicken and egg problem.

To have an impact you need innovation and drive so that you have a unique brand that customers want to find. Tweaking your product to make them different for customers, changing how you interact with customers to generally how you do business- All of these could be considered innovative moves if you figure out how to differentiate from your competitors.

 

Get your priorities straight

With demands rapidly evolving, customer experience should always be your number one priority. Your customers expect shopping to be easy, convenient and targeted.

Try making it easier for them to locate the products they want. Strengthen your relationship with customers by embracing dynamic content, which differentiates your brand from your competitors.

Listen to customers in every way that you can. Conduct surveys, engage on social media platforms, develop a persona, create a customer journey map, or good old-fashioned phone surveys are the perfect ways to learn more and become better.

Advantages of e-Marketplaces

E-marketplaces reduce your marketing costs when compared with other sales channels. They provide greater transparency in the purchasing process since availability, prices and stock levels are accessible to all.

The key appeal of the marketplaces is that it enables a large number of retailers to take advantage of the growing e-commerce market through an infrastructure that’s already established and that’s well trusted by shoppers. So retailers can leverage foreign marketplaces, brands, and strategies to appeal to local markets while minimizing their investment risks before fully committing to other countries.

For example, China’s online marketplace Tmall which is operated by Alibaba supports international brands by offering local warehouse spaces and even consulting services on local trends and culture.

Marketplaces provide a flexible entrance to businesses that are looking to expand internationally while taking relatively small risks.

How to begin?

No coding experience? No problem! Don’t want any technical hurdles? Sure! Just follow these simple steps, and become a proud owner of a multi-vendor marketplace.

  1. Purchase a domain

  2. Get web hosting

  3. Install WordPress

  4. Install and activate WooCommerce

  5. Choose a theme of your own choice. (Here’s a list of themes that can be an excellent choice for your marketplace)

  6. Install and activate WC Marketplace

  7. Create Vendor registration form

  8. Configure payment settings

  9. Choose your commission for sales

  10. Add vendors and approve their products

  11. Start selling in your marketplace and earn money.

Why WordPress

If you want to have full control over your site and do not want any professional’s help, then WordPress is just the platform you are looking for! As an OPEN-SOURCE content management system, it has the power of hundreds and thousands of minds contributing to the betterment of the platform.

It comes with thousands of plugins, tools, themes, and integrations with plenty of modern online services. Need any particular functionality for our site? You name it, and there will be a plugin for it! Not satisfied with ready-made themes? You can edit and modify any theme in WordPress to your heart’s content.

An added advantage, WordPress is compatible with almost everything present on the world wide web. All these features make it the most preferred ecommerce platform. More than 30% of the top million sites (by traffic), that use a content management system, are powered by WordPress.

Why WooCommerce

 

WooCommerce today leads the ecommerce market, powering 42% of all Ecommerce sites worldwide. Isn’t that impressive? With that number, it’s way-way ahead of its competitors, the closest being Shopify which powers 7% of all Ecommerce sites.

WooCommerce provides great services, powerful features and it’s easily manageable. It comes with a large variety of customization options that are easy to use.

Why WC-Marketplace

 

While WooCommerce adds e-commerce functionality to your WordPress site, this amazing WooCommerce plugin called WC Marketplace allows you to set up a site like Amazon or eBay as it allows vendors to create individual stores, manage their inventories and shipping while you can earn commission on their sales.

Unlimited number of vendors can be managed at your store using this plugin. New vendor registration can be approved manually or automatically and can be managed with ease multiple aspects using bulk actions. In addition, you can set commission specific to a product, vendor or globally through the entire site. Payments can be done instantly with the click of a button, or schedule it automatically for a later time. Moreover, the plugin provides a form builder where admins can easily customize forms for the vendors.

The best part about WC Marketplace- It has several features (Eg. ‘Single product Multiple vendors’) in its FREE version, which the other multi-vendor plugins offer only in their premium versions. With over 180 five star rating and 9000+ active installs, it is one of the most popular marketplace plugins in the WordPress community.

In a nutshell

This is the best time to start an online Marketplace if you have picked your niche and have a clear vision on how to proceed further. When the CEO of one of the biggest sportswear brand says that “Our website is the most important store we have in the world”, you know that the time for starting a marketplace is here! Begin carefully, don’t promise or showcase what you can not deliver. Besides the combination of WordPress, WooCommerce, and WC Marketplace, all you need is the correct idea and right motivation. Think of a robust & smart plan & start enlisting vendors!

So what are you waiting for?

 

How Instagram can create the engagement required for your online marketplace

Much like the rhetoric saying goes, “A picture speaks a thousand words,” the social media universe has recently upgraded from textual ‘status updates’ to visual ‘stories’. If you will look at the most popular photo-sharing social platform, Instagram, it now boasts of a large community of 800 million members. More than 500 million daily users are actively engaging on Instagram, which definitely makes digital marketers all over the world go gaga over it.

But, why is Instagram stealing the limelight in digital marketing?

First things first, the takeaway is visual and it leaves a lingering imprint of the minds of the user. Humans absorb more knowledge when they have a visual aid in addition to reading about the matter. Vloggers and bloggers have been milking this aspect of audience’s attention for years. That makes product reviews and tutorial videos popular on the internet.

Secondly, engagement strategies become easier to materialize when you can have your target customers interact with your campaigns on the go. Instagram, which is essentially a mobile application, provides its users the virtue of mobility and it is extremely flexible that way. The instantaneous approach is what makes it really unique and appealing to the users.

Thirdly, let us talk about the ‘Insta’ vibe that has come into play. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Instagram has a refreshingly youthful vibe. With a relatively large number of users below the age of 30, digital marketing in Instagram has to be extremely youth-centric. New brands are coming in every day and are aggressively hitting the adventurous side of young people, which older brands have yet refrained to do.

Fourth. Instagram is live, yet uniform in nature. Instagram hashtags let your posts become easier to discover as they appear in hashtag searches, ‘Explore’ tabs or on your followers’ Instagram feeds. And voila, instant feedbacks! Who doesn’t love that?

Also, it is not about the wide-screen visibility anymore, it is about anything that can fit into a square view. Be it videos or photos, everything is set into a uniform square format in Instagram making it soothingly simplistic.

Results?

In November 2017, Instagram had 25 million businesses actively engaging with their target customers, which was a jump from 15 million in July 2017. The numbers speak for themselves, don’t they? 80% users are following at least one business on Instagram and statistics suggest that in the first half of 2017 over 120 million Instagrammers visited a website, received directions, called, emailed or direct-messaged to learn about a business. Hence, even SME businesses are not shying away from using Instagram as a visual call-out to their web stores, because of its simplistic yet prepossessing vibe.

Online marketplace businesses are thriving, courtesy Instagram

Online marketplaces are trending among retail, tourism and food businesses. An online marketplace is a platform that enables vendors or brands to put their goods or products on display and sale in your store. It is almost like a shopping mall, only virtual, where consumers can make the purchase decision after browsing through a wide range of products from different brands. Globally recognized e-commerce giant, Amazon’s online marketplace is probably the most notable of such an online business model.

Beauty and cosmetic brands marketplace, Ipsy, has a particularly intriguing Instagram success story. With 2.1 million followers on Instagram now, Ipsy’s digital engagement strategy of building an influencer community of its own worked out really well for their business. When popular beauty vloggers collaborated with Ipsy, they brought in their followers to the campaign as well making Ipsy one of the most popular businesses on Instagram.

 

@micaelakbeauty, can you teach us your natural glam ways? || #ipsy

A post shared by ˗ˏˋ 💄 ˎˊ˗ (@ipsy) on

 

 

Popular online fashion store, Nordstrom, has 2.7 million followers and what is unique about their Instagram profile is that they are selling what they are showing. They let you in on their Instagram photos through a ‘like2buy’ URL in their intro and you can literally purchase those exact looks and outfits from their website. It is like having a stylist at your favorite store to assist you with your purchase decisions.

 

Well-rounded #shelfie. What’s on your shelf? #beauty

A post shared by Nordstrom (@nordstrom) on

 

Help us pick! Left or right?

A post shared by Nordstrom (@nordstrom) on

 

Getting the best out of Instagram for an online marketplace

It is a great time to be on Instagram if you have an online marketplace business. The number of paid marketing messages has reached a saturation level on Facebook and the percentage of Facebook users engaging with businesses is drastically falling every day. On the other hand, Instagram marketing strategies have proven themselves to be extremely engaging, yet relatively inexpensive to fathom. To a digital marketer’s delight, organic marketing still works pretty well for Instagram if only one knows how to get the best out of this platform.

Successfully promoting your brand identity on Instagram will be a cakewalk with some of these handy tips.

    • Look around you: Whether you are a newbie or fairly familiar with Instagram marketing, once in a while you need to stop and take a look at what strategies have worked out for others. You can start with listing out your competitors in the market and research their methodologies. It is also healthy to learn about the industry best practices and trends in Instagram marketing.
    • Building a comprehensive strategy: Once you are acquainted with your competitor’s strategy, industry best practices, and trends, it will be time for you to brainstorm over a primary strategy for your Instagram profile. Since the experience on Instagram appeals to the eye; clarity, simplicity, and uniformity should be key elements of your images. Think of your profile as a canvas, which needs to be painted with beautiful pictures that have compelling themes and messages. Decide early on the color palette, themes, and typography that compliments your brand and products.
    • Master the art of Hashtagging: Hashtags allow your posts to appear on organic searches and be discovered by Instagram users. This functionality makes choosing the right hashtags extremely important. Hashtags have to be relevant to your target user segment, your posts and your brand identity apart from being popular. Instagram lets you add 30 hashtags to your posts but research suggests that for optimal results 11 wisely selected hashtags will do the trick. In addition, the stats suggest that among all the popularly used hashtags, 70% are branded hashtags. Create your own brand hashtag and weave the hashtag seamlessly into your campaigns to increase visibility.Online websites like All Hashtag and Iconosquare let you find and analyze hashtags for your Instagram profile.
    • Keep a bird’s eye watch on the analytics: Whether you are spending money on paid promotions or just your time and effort, you should be able to measure the outcome of it all. Even though, Instagram provides user engagement data under the ‘Insights’ tab, with Iconosquare you can also keep an eye on the analytics front in depth. Keep tabs on your posts’ performance, user engagement metrics, follower count and churn rate data all at one place.
    • Be original and creative: Phenomenal photography and photo-editing skills are extremely important when you are trying to stand out in the crowd. Be very creative and keep A/B testing till you find the nerve of your followers and what kind of images work well for them. You can also find or purchase stock images on Pexels, Shutterstock or Flickr. Online editing software like Pixlr and Canva can be useful for editing photos for Instagram if you don’t have one installed.
    • Mind the time: You can’t really narrow down a particular day or time to ensure that your Instagram posts get the maximum traffic. However, if you follow the Instagram insights and your engagement data closely, you will find a pattern after a while. The pattern will suggest which days of the week and time of the day works best for your posts. This will give you an idea of what should be the ideal time for you to post on Instagram.
    • Remember the ‘social’ aspect of social media: If you have learned anything from the Ipsy success story, you will know the significance of collaborating with influencers on Instagram. Influencer marketing is one of the trending practices in social media these days. Influencers have their own set of loyal followers and collaborating with them would mean phenomenal outcomes as far as expanding engagement is concerned. Build a community of influencers. Start small and show compassion for other businesses in the community.
    • Contests will keep’em hooked: Plan fun and interactive giveaway contests. Prizes work as incentives for users to connect with your brand. It’s also a great opportunity to introduce your brand hashtags and use ‘tag-a-friend’ strategy to improve visibility organically.

For years, Facebook has been a go-to platform for digital marketers but seems like Instagram is slowly upping its game to accommodate more and more businesses, especially online marketplaces. Moreover, the prevalent ideas of social media marketing are slowly dwindling because users appreciate visuals more than words, the reason why Instagram is the best marketing platform today. How do you use Instagram for your business? Let us know in the comments below.

 

How To Make Your Marketplace Stand Out In The Crowd

The phenomenal growth of ecommerce over the last half decade means two things, right off the bat – there is great opportunity to exploit and grow, and it’s a crowded street at the Sunday bazaar. Given the scope of ecommerce, it should come as no surprise that selling online is growing progressively more competitive.  With each day, new players are entering the market, pushing prices down and giving customers a wider playing field.

(more…)

Making-your-marketplace-stand-out-in-the-crowd

Mobile, Millennials and Personalization: The Future of Marketplace

In 2017, we witnessed a huge surge in online shopping and the rise of online marketplaces. This, among many other business and technology trends, made a significant impact on how business takes place both offline and online. Now, it comes as no surprise that online sales will continue to rise. Compared to the $1.85 trillion sales recorded from 2016, E-commerce revenue will more than double its worth in only 5 short years.

Considering this scenario, it is likely that the number of entrants to this evolving and slightly volatile marketplace will keep increasing. Hence, e-commerce marketplace players will need to plan ahead. As a marketplace owner, you will have to analyze and understand the consumer data, find out why and when they buy a product or abandon a purchase within your site. And with this, you will need to keep track of the emerging trends.

(more…)

mobile marketplace

Why a Good eCommerce Return Policy is More Important Than Ever

We already know that as much as 80% of the global population with access to the internet shops online. Those numbers are growing every day as the internet reaches more people across the world. Needless to say, e-commerce is already a trillion dollar business and is more than likely to keep on growing with each year. Back in 2014 when it was already a $220 billion dollar industry in the United States alone, Americommerce projected that it’d hit $370 billion by just 2017.
(more…)

marketplace-return-policy

What does Trust Mean for Ecommerce?

Ecommerce penetration is growing progressively and at an ever increasing pace. More than 85% of the world’s population with access to the internet is already shopping online. The average global spending amounts to as much as 22% of disposable income across the board. B2C ecommerce sales in the United States alone totaled a record $304.19 billion in 2014, a year over year increase of 15.4%. Although the figures for 2015 aren’t in yet, there is more than a good chance that the trend has continued and will see us through this year as well.

(more…)

e-commerce-marketplace

Tackle Marketplace Challenges With Big Data

Business intelligence and how we understand what we need to deliver has come a long way since the early days of ecommerce. Gone are the days when predicting customer behavior was all about taking random stabs in the dark, trying to figure out the next trend. What we had back then can only be described as a mostly inefficient ecommerce machinery at best. Fast forward half a decade and we are well into an age where data driven decisions are valued above all else. The fundamental tendency of data being more accurate than human intuition in a wide variety of situations is what makes data driven decisions the better option on the table. As far as ecommerce is concerned, big data is not just a buzzword that we need to take a passive glance at. Given how every soul across sectors have been touting it as the ultimate tool to drive growth, we should do well to take a closer look at it and what it can do for ecommerce.

(more…)

Why Your Marketplace Needs to Appeal to Millennials?

Now we have read enough trade articles, news reports and marketing blogs to know that millennials are THE market segment that any B2C venture should be targeting right now. I have to agree with each and every one of them too. The numbers say it all. They are larger than the Baby Boomer generation – one of the most economically prolific segments in history, and at least three times larger than Generation X. Add to that the fact that the average millennial’s purchasing power which totals to $1.3 trillion annually far exceeds that of the preceding Generation Y which capped out at a nominal $600 billion per annum.

(more…)

»