Global eCommerce sales are estimated to have skyrocketed in 2017, reaching nearly 2.3 trillion dollars. Predictions are that this number is only going to keep rising, crossing the $3 trillion threshold in 2019, with numerous competitors to Amazon trying to steal market share from the online marketplace mammoth. With that in mind, diversifying your eCommerce business to other marketplaces besides Amazon makes a great deal of sense for driving exposure and profitable sales.
There are ever-increasing ways to diversify your eCommerce presence, amplifying your reach to potential customers far beyond the Amazon marketplaces. Sellers are diversifying to highly customizable platforms like Etsy and Shopify (although technically, Shopify is now part of Amazon). Artists are using the onsite shops of DeviantArt and Café Press to sell their paintings and images. But those aren’t the only places that you should have your eyes on.
Numerous companies, such as Walmart, now offer room on their websites for sellers to list their products, returning search results alongside the hosting company’s inventory. With enough diversification, you can make sure that your product is seen by a shopper, no matter what their preferred store is.
However before you immediately make plans to shift inventory to ten different markets, there are some things that you need to consider. Going from one marketplace to two, or even three, involves a bit of planning. Here are three things you should consider when scaling your eCommerce business to other marketplaces.
Product visibility: It’s not “the greatest” if nobody sees it
You know the saying; “It might be the greatest book in the world, but if nobody reads it, is it really that great?” The same idea goes with your forays into other marketplaces. If potential customers aren’t aware that you’re there, even the greatest product is going to languish.
When you branch out, you need a marketing plan to get traffic to your products, so do research about how each marketplace’s search parameters work. For example, you know that Amazon’s search takes into account things like misspelling, or changes in plurality. That is, if your product has the search parameter of “black tshirt,” you’ll also get hits from “balck tshirt” and “black tshirts.” Knowing how different marketplaces handle search parameters will ensure that you don’t miss out on valuable page views.
From your time on Amazon, you should already have a starting campaign that includes long tail keywords that generate a good click through percentage. To ensure that these keywords and phrases are also going to work on your new marketplace, you should start with small Pay per Click (PPC) ads that let you test the efficacy of your existing strategies. The opportunity then arises for you to tweak your marketing campaign to take advantage of the new PPC ads that your new marketplaces have. These tweaks will let you fine tune your product pages on the individual marketplaces to get the best and most useful conversions.
As you increase your exposure to new customers, you’re going to gain valuable insight into what will and won’t work in your new sales arenas. This will prevent you from unnecessary marketing costs associated with your diversification.
While you’re tweaking the search metrics of your new marketplaces, don’t neglect your existing organic marketing plan. Continue to create original content for your current website, and don’t neglect your social media strategy either. Linking posts to those companies that your new marketplaces are part of can help build connections between your brand and theirs.
Delegate what you can
When you first start to expand your business into other marketplaces, you’re going to find your workload increase in proportion to your expansion. Sometimes the increase will seem exponential as you learn to navigate different platforms and their selling requirements. To successfully handle this increased workload, you’re going to have to learn to delegate some of the tasks you’re used to doing.
Delegation at these times is often one of the most difficult parts of scaling your eCommerce business to other marketplaces. After all, your business is your baby, likely one that you’ve seen grow from just an idea to something big enough to warrant transitioning and scaling upward. But much like anything that grows, you’re going to need to get someone or something else to handle these tasks so that you can focus on the things that really matter.
If you have products across multiple marketplaces, you don’t want to have to manually adjust pricing. There are companies that specialize in automating the process of constantly optimizing your products’ prices with strategic price changes, helping you stay ahead of the competition without being glued to a computer 24/7.
One area where you should definitely be delegating or outsourcing is fulfillment and shipping. If you’ve been doing self-fulfillment with Amazon, now is the time to stop. After all, you’re scaling upward for a reason. You can’t allow yourself to be stuck at a weighing and shipping station when you could be focusing on a new ad campaign or creating something original that will draw in even more traffic.
If one of your new marketplaces allows you the choice between self-fulfillment or letting them handle it (like Amazon FBA), this gives you the chance to comparison shop. While paying someone else to handle your shipping may be expensive, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a reasonable deal for fulfillment and shipping for your company where the benefits outweigh the price tag.
While you may get a case of short-term sticker shock, over time you should find that the increase in sales from your company’s growth should more than cover the costs associated with outsourced fulfillment, not to mention the relief of not having to deal with the headaches of doing it yourself.
Don’t neglect your customers
As you start to see the increased volume from scaling your business up, you can’t forget who’s paying for everything in this. Your customers should remain your primary focus. As your business scales upward, so will the number of dissatisfied customers. It doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong; it’s simply a natural progression.
Consider this: if you have 100 sales and one customer who is dissatisfied, you’ve got an excellent satisfaction rating. Now scale that upwards with your business and if you have 1000 sales, you have 10 customers who are unhappy. Again, it’s just a part of your business’ growth.
Customer service can be automated only to a point. For example, setting up a toll-free line for customer concerns that only transfers calls to you during business hours makes sense. It’s also sensible to use a batch form on your business’ website to funnel customer complaints to a specific email address. But remember that you should still take the time to address each customer’s needs.
Poor customer service may save you time in the short term, but it generates negative feedback and bad word-of-mouth. In a world as competitive as eCommerce, the last thing you want is for your brand to be associated with a negative experience. Take each complaint as it comes in and handle it as soon as possible.
For most customers with a negative takeaway from a company, it isn’t the original complaint that they remember most. It’s how their complaint was handled that becomes the big takeaway. Treat a customer’s concerns quickly and with empathy, and you can create a passionate ambassador for your brand.
This guest post is by Andrew Maff, Director of Marketing and Operations for Seller’s Choice, a full-service digital marketing agency for eCommerce sellers. Seller’s Choice provides uniquely personalized marketing and managed services for digital marketplace sellers, e-commerce merchants, and brand builders worldwide. You can learn more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting here.