Before we can give one decent answer to this question, we must first consider the importance of digitisation. More and more, the world is evolving into an easily accessible sales place where you can, perhaps even have to, integrate different sales channels. If you want to develop such an international omni-channel strategy, first of all make sure that your company and organisation are digitally integrated. If you don’t do this, your digital sales strategy will be doomed to fail.
The advantages of online marketplaces
When working out this strategy, you ask yourself the question, is selling through marketplaces an important part of my strategy for both BtoC and BtoB? After all, marketplaces increase their market share every year. The reasons for this are easy to explain, as they offer an answer to what today’s consumers are asking for:
- A wide range so the customer can have a one-stop-shop experience.
- Often the consumer buys the products at a lower price.
- Comfort of ordering followed by fast home delivery is the norm.
Moreover, we notice that marketplaces are increasingly taking on a more prominent role as online search engines. Online marketplaces such as Amazon, Bol.com … offer, thanks to their wide range of products, a clear overview of similar products. These are often followed by real user reviews of the products themselves. This allows people to make a quick and easy decision and they are certainly sufficiently informed about the quality and price of a product. And of course, that’s where the problem lies.
The “disadvantages” of online marketplaces
Selling via marketplaces also comes with a number of disadvantages, which we think you can turn to your advantage. This is because the disadvantages you experience as a company are very valuable from the consumer’s point of view:
- There is total transparency regarding product/price. Although this is not only due to marketplaces, it is rather the result of living in a digital world where all the information is up for grabs.
- The international competition is increasing due to marketplaces. But conversely, it also gives us the opportunity to operate more easily on an international level ourselves.
- The customer’s power increases as he effectively consumes what he wants and our influence on this decision is more limited. Because the customer is now much more central in the decision making process, this means that we can create added value with regard to the customer independently of the product. This added value is in turn less comparable and can therefore give you a competitive advantage.
- Selling via marketplaces does mean that you have less contact with your customers, because this connection is made between the marketplace and the buyer. Still, by being smart in your logistic processing of orders, you can lure this customer to your other points of sale, both online and offline.
In short, ignoring marketplaces in your strategy is as pernicious as being blind to the increased power of the consumer. After all, both oblige us to think differently about the entire chain with which we create value for the consumer.
Is it something for me?
Still, it doesn’t mean that you have to use marketplaces thoughtlessly, even if you can handle it digitally. Always ask yourself the right questions before placing your bets on marketplaces:
- What do you want to achieve with a marketplace? Turnover, internationalisation, brand awareness? After all, these are completely different objectives and therefore also require a different approach.
- How do you cope with losing control of your consumer and still bend it to your advantage? Can you motivate the consumer to buy within your own sales channels?
- Which marketplaces give you the best reach with your target audience? Not every marketplace has the same user or specialises in a specific part or country.
- How are you going to stand out? Is your product sufficiently distinctive or are you going to make the difference with the price or the service you offer concerning your product? In order to answer this question, you must always start from the expectations of your consumer, because these exceed the expectations of the product.
In short, marketplaces are indeed a crucial part of building your digital strategy. Whether you effectively integrate them depends on the extent to which you can offer an answer to the above questions. After all, marketplaces must be able to contribute to the objectives of your company and the return on investment of your own sales channels.
That is why we, as BME, a logistics fulfilment centre, together with our partner Channel Engine, offer several marketplaces. In this way we can always offer the right market place in function of the answers to these questions.