Retail has become a virtual enterprise driven by mainstream e-commerce sites such as Amazon and Wayfair. Working online isn’t like opening a store at the local strip mall, though. There is much more to consider when your target is a virtual customer base, which is one reason having a partner able to expand your reach makes sense.
Just like traditional consumers drive from store to store to make purchases, virtual bargain hunters will shop different online venues and offer their loyalty to the channels that give them the best service, quality brands and fastest delivery times. Today’s retailer must also plan for multi-vendor sites, which takes expert handling and a little innovative thinking to master.
Each e-commerce channel has different marketing strategies designed to pull in traffic, because even a virtual store needs people to walk through the front door. How can an up and coming retailer determine the right virtual e-commerce storefront?
Finding the Right Retail Channels
It’s a tricky prospect and getting more difficult all the time. Online sales are projected to hit around $500 billion by 2018 — just in the U.S. alone.. A practical place to start is with a channel management program. The goal is to utilize the correct marketplace(s) to create a thriving e-commerce presence.
You want a team able to:
- Set up the various marketplaces for you while understanding the tips and tricks to leverage each one to get the best results while adhering to your brands voice and values
- Provide extensive account oversight and case management to resolve issues quickly
- Provide reporting on trends and results for each marketplace
On top of that, you need an expert able to protect your brand image, because online reviews and word-of-mouth advertising, matter in the virtual world. That takes enthusiastic use of the various channels and targeted campaign management. Of course, you could take on all those tasks yourself, but it will cost you time and lost opportunities. The better option is to hire an expert consultant that will drive sales and save you money in the long run.
Marketing experts offer solutions for businesses whether they are just looking to get into e-commerce sales or have been online for years. It’s about facilitating these marketplaces to get data-driven results — and that takes expertise.
What Marketplaces Stand Out?
Understanding how this continuously changing industry works is the key to finding the right marketplaces for your brand, but where do you start? Here are some of the companies leading the way:
- Amazon — Easily the biggest giant in this growing sector, like eBay, Amazon offers just about everything consumers might shop for, including a few items they don’t even know they need.
- eBay — An online marketplace that caters to a wide audience and retails everything from automobiles to zoology textbooks.
- Walmart – An expansive assortment looking to rival Amazon with it’s prices, and entering into bulk buy with it’s purchase of Jet.com
- Etsy — Etsy is a bit more of a targeted audience, but it has a wide international reach. Think artsy and chic with a grassroots appeal.
- Newegg — Also primary high-end electronics but with very appealing price tags, and trying to grow their assortments past electronics
- Rakuten — A site with a focus on electronics., but expanding into beauty and targeting a female audience
- Sears — It’s not the catalog store it used to be. Today, Sears has a retail marketplace along with a very comfortable brand name to support it.
- Shopify — A growing marketplace that is pulling in more and more traffic every year.
- Target — One of the most effective “big box” brands around, Target has expanded into a just as effective online marketplace.
- Volusion — An e-commerce platform that represents over 400,000 retailers.
- Wayfair — Wayfair is more like an online department store for the chic-minded consumer, but you will likely need a channel consultant to get into its program.
- Zibbet — A good choice for e-commerce brands looking to sell anything handmade.
Ultimately, there are a lot of marketplaces out there and most of them are promising when utilized right. Businesses looking to expand their reach would do well by hiring a channel management consultant such as Digital Brandworks to help decide which marketplaces are right, strategize effective marketing for each, and help develop their e-commerce brand and presence.