Leverage third-party niche marketplaces with the best strategies for success
As an established eCommerce retailer, are you happy with where your business is at? The answer for many, if not all, is probably no and for good reason. To grow your brand, successful companies are always looking for new opportunities to expand their sales and diversify their marketplace.
While you investigate additional opportunities to grow your eCommerce marketing strategy, one option to consider is third-party niche marketplaces. Branching out to third-party marketplaces such as Walmart.com, Jet.com, eBay, and Etsy can be a great opportunity to further build your business and grow your brand. All you need is the right strategy to increase ROI and grow your customer base.
Here is what you need to know to increase sales and find the best potential opportunities for eCommerce growth.
Browse a specific category by clicking on any of the quick links below:
- The Pros & Cons of Selling in a Third-party Marketplace
- Rules & Regulations You Need to Know
- Top 7 Big Volume Product Niches
- Your eCommerce Marketing Strategy
- What to Look for in Potential Marketplace Opportunities
The Pros & Cons of Selling in a Third-party Marketplace
As a growing eCommerce company, by now you understand the importance of increasing your presence for greater profit and ROI. The key is to continue to explore new opportunities and resources to expand your reach, grow your audience and customer base, and streamline the process for greater customer service and delivery in a competitive market.
One option to consider as you look to expand your sales is through a third-party marketplaces. These types of marketplaces can offer big opportunities for you to build out your brand more and reach a larger audience. In addition, selling your products on a third-party marketplace platform can also lead to more revenue compared to going the more traditional direct retail path.
While selling your products through a third-party marketplace can be considered a needed step towards growing your eCommerce business, there are many pros and cons to this strategy. Some to be aware of:
- By virtue of the scale and existing presence of 3rd party marketplaces, the niche marketplace will already have a broad customer base, helping you expand your reach.
- Many of your costs for advertising and driving traffic are absorbed by the 3rd party marketplace. At the same time, services and structure already exist so you don’t have to set up your own checkout, support, or shipping.
- You will gain credibility since shoppers tend to purchase from well-known marketplaces.
- Diversifying your risk between marketplaces allows you to test your products and gives you financial protection.
- Marketplace fees are deducted as a percentage of each sale and can add up to be more than you are willing to spend. Marketplace requirements can change frequently and it can be tricky to keep up on all of the details.
- To a certain degree, you will have to give up part of your company’s unique identity since your products are sold through the marketplace and not a website you own.
- Tracking your data with third-party marketplaces can be a big challenge, especially if you sell many different types of products. Keeping quantities, inventory, and prices up to date can take a lot of effort and time.
- There can be a lot of competition between sellers in each product category so you’ll want to develop an eCommerce marketing strategy for growing your customer base and staying ahead of your competitors.
Rules & Regulations You Need to Know
As with any business dealing, due diligence is critical before selling on any third-party marketplace. Before you sign any contract or agreement, take some time to read and understand every rule and regulation put forth from each 3rd party marketplace you are considering doing business with.
Check out the following pages for specifics about selling in these online marketplaces.Walmart Marketplace Frequently Asked Questions
Jet.com Partner Help Center
eBay Seller Hub
Etsy Support and Education
Newegg Seller Platform
Rakuten Merchant Tools
As far as general terms to know, here are a few:
- Reselling: The act of purchasing a good with the intention of selling the product for profit. In the eCommerce business model, reselling is a more traditional way of selling a product—branded or generic—which can be sold by various retailers.
- White Label: A product produced by one company but then rebranded by another company to make it appear as if they had produced the item themselves. This strategy is often used in mass-produced items such as DVD players, televisions, and web applications.
- Private Label: Also known as a “phantom brand,” this is when a product manufactured by one company is sold under another company’s brand. For independent online sellers, this strategy focuses on determining a niche space away from where your competitors are engaging.
- MAP Pricing: Manufacturer Advertised Price (MAP) pricing is the minimum price a manufacturer allows a retailer to advertise the price of a product. This price is set by the manufacturer and a retailer is forbidden (legally) to go lower than the set price. It is also important to know that MAP pricing is only regulated in the United States.
If you are selling on Amazon, one thing to be aware of is with their regulations you are unable to capture any customer data analytics. For eCommerce retailers who are interested in capturing customer or prospect data, one strategy is to offer customers a free downloadable guide or resource. This way you can build your email list and offer customers discounts and other incentives down the road.
Big Volume Product Niches & Trends
According to eComdash, the top eCommerce niches which have the greatest potential for big volume in 2017 are:
- Baby Equipment
- Self-Care Products and Cosmetics
- Craft Supplies
- Food (think specialty foods like vegan, gluten-free, and organic)
- Men’s Grooming Products
So how do you decide what you should sell?
Google Trends is a great, free place to start and it gives you an overall picture of the sellability of a product. You will see search volume, trends over time, and the level of popularity.
For example, a quick search on Google Trends for “cat mug” shows interest in that item has steadily risen from a popularity level of 50% in 2012 to 100% in 2016. The data also shows both the United Kingdom and United States dominate the marketplace in interest for cat mugs.
Other ways to find the best items to sell is through online marketplaces’ most popular products searches, researching niche influencers (the most popular companies within a niche), and reading trend publications such as TrendHunter.
While it can be beneficial to your company and brand to be aware of the product and seasonal trends, there are some other important trends to know about in the eCommerce industry. These trends include same-day delivery, free shipping, and even voice generated search. Technology is growing at a rapid pace and brands who aren’t staying up with technology are missing huge opportunities to connect with and grow their customer base.
Your eCommerce Marketing Strategy
In today’s world, a marketing strategy is a must for reaching more customers, increasing the amount of money they spend while on your site, and getting them to purchase from your company more frequently.
As you build out your eCommerce marketing strategy, there are many things you can begin implementing today to hit each of those items. Some ideas include:
Reaching More Customers
A big part of business includes growing your audience base and bringing new customers to your site. As more people move to online shopping, one way to attract them to your business is through a defined or niche marketing strategy which provides potential (and even current) customers with high-quality content which helps you stand out as an authority or expert in your field of business.
While you track trends to know which products and services are popular with your customers (both current and potential), you should also pay attention to the trends in eCommerce marketing and the industry as a whole. This includes:
- Engaging content. Write content that is engaging and valuable to your customers. The key when creating content is to produce something that resonates (makes an emotional connection) with the reader or is educational and informative, so they return to your site because they trust your expertise.
- Speedier shipping & product sourcing. We live in a fast pace world, so the quicker you can deliver a product to a customer the better. The more you can streamline and shorten your speed to market through agile product sourcing, the more you’ll be able to stay ahead of your competitors and not miss out on seasonal trends and other fads.
- Personalized shopping experience. Regardless if people are shopping online or off, they still want a personalized shopping experience. Connect with your customers through newsletters, Facebook Live, and other platforms to interact with them.
In your marketing strategy you could also see if there are any frequently asked questions customers are asking that you could answer. Perhaps you could hold a Facebook Live event or webinar to address the top 5-10 questions people are asking and provide valuable insights. Marketing with authoritative content can help you stand out from your competitors, identify yourself as a thought leader, and earn trust from both your customers and vendors.
Another aspect of running a business and increasing profit is by selling more products or services. Some great strategies for this include upselling or cross-selling, which are sales techniques to either get the customer to buy a more expensive product or to purchase some additional items they’ve already viewed or that would interest them. Amazon does a great job with this by including their “Customers Also Bought…” section.
More Frequent Purchases
In addition to increasing sales, it’s important to attract current customers to keep coming back and making more frequent purchases. Some strategies include limited time offers, BOGOs, discounts or promos, creative seasonal promotions, or any incentives or bonus offers to keep interest in your brand high.
While you craft a strategy to increase purchases, some questions to consider are:
- How successful have you been at standing out from your competitors?
- What strategies are your competitors utilizing that you’re not?
- What are the demographics of your customer base and how can you reach them to improve sales?
- Are you reaching your target audience? If not, what strategies should you start implementing to ensure you’re reaching them?
For an in-depth look at how to develop a successful strategy, follow the suggestions given in the Shopify Plus article “How to Write a Marketing Plan.”
As you build out your eCommerce marketing strategy, take some time to construct how you want to advertise your products for greater ROI. Some ideas for advertising your product include:
- Optimize your product page for relevant and valuable keywords. Using 2-3 relevant keywords in your content can help your rank higher in search engines and help customers find your products and services.
- Setup and monitor paid campaigns (pay-per-click advertising or PPC).
- Include customer reviews and testimonials along with high-quality images of your product.
What to Look for in Potential Marketplace Opportunities
There are many great third-party niche marketplace opportunities out there for you to explore and determine which would be a good fit your brand and business model.
Begin your search by seeking answers to the right technical questions, such as:
- What types of items can I sell in this marketplace?
- How are the items priced?
- What will my items look like on the site?
- How does fulfillment work?
- How are returns processed?
- How does customer service operate?
- What are the fees?
- How is sales tax handled?
- Is there any fraud protection?
You should also ensure the answers to the following strategic questions align with your goals as a business owner:
- Why should my business partner with this marketplace?
- Do the costs and fees seem fair compared to the features and services offered?
- Is my niche saturated in this marketplace and are there enough customers for me?
- Does this marketplace offer the level of service I want for my customers?
- Do the values of this marketplace line up with my own?
As you consider these questions, don’t forget how important data is to determining your next course of action and what steps will take you closer to your desired company goals and objectives. Take time to identify who your customers are and why they are shopping for your company, products, and services.
Look at their demographics, their interests, and other valuable data which will give you a clearer insight on who they are and their needs. The more you can identify and understand your customers, the better you’ll be able to create campaigns and messaging that aligns both with your company’s core values and those of your customers.
While you’re pulling in customer data for new opportunities to provide value to them, remember to watch what the competition is doing and where you think you can do better than them. Is there an angle they haven’t addressed that you can, or is there an idea you can expand on? The important aspect to remember is not to steal or plagiarize content but to find new opportunities to take an idea and expand on it.
For more information on third-party niche marketplaces including a list of potential opportunities, download our detailed PDF guide and checklist.
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