If you’re starting out online with your own brand or multiple others, you will find out soon enough that the toughest thing is to get people to know about you. It is true that it is easier for consumers to switch between stores from all over the world in minutes online, which you can’t with physical stores. But that is the advantage that internet has for a customer, as a seller, it is your biggest challenge. Your brand new website with all its UI, features and offers, will take months of perseverance with SEO and (in some cases ‘or’) illogical spend on paid campaigns. Yet for your own website to start generating any business worth bragging about will take time and patience.
So is it all a lost cause?
Ofcourse not! eRetail as the name suggests has been derived from Retail, which means conventional wisdom that drives retail also comes in handy in eRetail. Think of the same problem for a retailer who wants to open a store. In order to be discovered by your target audience, you open a store in a (and this is simple) – a Mall. Now imagine the same problem in an online environment and the solution seems simple – sell your products in a marketplace.
What is an Online eCommerce Marketplace
A market place is as the name suggests is a similar online version of a Mall. There are 2 types of eCommerce market places that exist around the world today – Open C2C Marketplaces and Managed Market Places. Example of an open market place is eBay where anyone can put up their listings and sell. eBay takes a service fee out of every sale that happens and facilitate the entire transaction (it’s not that simple ofcourse and I will talk about this in another post in detail). A managed marketplace is where the people running the marketplace aggregate the sellers under its head and sell their products on their behalf (making good use of the drop shipping method). Examples for this model are – flipkart, tradus, snapdeal, infibeam, shopclues etc. The marketplace dictates the terms on which products are sold (unlike the open marketplace where marketplace only influences it). In both cases, the marketplace markets its website so more and more people visit their site; sellers sell on the website because they get access to a wide base of visitors without having to spend on marketing (just like a mall).
How to start selling
Starting to sell on eBay is the easiest. Register as a seller, set-up your store and start listing your products(detailed post to come soon). Your listings could get lost among millions of other listings on eBay so here is some basic advice – (a) List as many products as possible (b) Get your keywords right (c) Put good pictures (d) get in touch with your account manager from eBay and participate in promotions. eBay charges you a fee for listing your products and a certain percentage of the listing price once a product is sold.
Other multi-channels require a different approach. Some multi-channels have a ‘register as a seller/merchant’ tab on their website. Click on it, sign up and you will get a call from the multi-channel in next few days. Make sure you have atleast a 100 products to sell and they should belong to 1-2 general category (and not scattered across) and you need to have your legal requirements, company seal in place. Multi-channels that do not have a ‘register as a seller/merchant’ tab, are harder to reach and usually work with big guys. You need to get in touch with them by calling, asking for their category manager (you might not succeed but what the heck) and selling your value preposition well. Managed market places take a certain percentage (percentage depends on which category you are selling) of the selling price after the sale.
How do you benefit
- Marketplaces spend amazing amounts to money to drive traffic to their website every day
- Mostly there is no listing fee and you only pay a percentage of your profit after you get orders
- Marketplaces help you with shipping – due to size, marketplaces are able to extract great rates, service and coverage from courier providers
- You gain visibility and your brand is seen by hundreds/thousands of visitors every day (something that you will have to spend a lot of money and brands to do on your own website)
Selling on multi-channels is the easiest and smartest way for you to start selling and getting orders from month one, while you spend your resources in building your own website for the long run.