When searching for marketplace solutions, the overarching differentiator brands and retailers should look for is partnership. Look for a platform that’s not merely transactional but has deep experiences working with businesses who have been in your place and helping them become successful in the long term at transforming themselves into marketplaces.
When it comes to discerning which marketplace solutions will make for the ideal partner, four qualities to look for include the ease of seller onboarding, superior training, intuitive seller experiences, and flexible architecture. Here’s what vetting marketplace solutions for each of those qualities entail.
Ease of Seller Onboarding
Attracting third-party sellers is crucial, but success doesn’t just require building a marketplace vendors want to join, it’s about making it easy.
By offering pre-built seller connectors, marketplaces can ensure the smooth onboarding of new business partners and their inventory. This will facilitate seamless and scalable integration of multiple vendors onto your marketplace while freeing up time that would otherwise be spent on registration, training, and creative setup.
Reducing the friction of onboarding sellers helps marketplaces grow faster. Marketplace solutions should transparently present how they will successfully onboard sellers, grow the client’s e-commerce marketplace, and help the marketplace navigate seller relationships over time. This allows retailers or direct-to-consumer brands to focus on merchandising and the customer experience while leaving seller integration concerns to marketplace solutions.
Seller friction is often a barrier to marketplace success. A difficult platform that slows the new marketplace’s operations can be another. So, operational talent needs to be able to get easily trained on the use of the marketplace platform. They should not need to rely on managed services for long. Rather, a strong marketplace partner should help customers figure out their technology and then use it self-sufficiently.
This model — reasonably brief training followed by self-sufficiency — marks an improvement over two other common dynamics among marketplace solutions: throwing an API at customers and forcing them to figure it out or providing technology so complex that micromanagement is required over the long term.
Intuitive Seller Experiences
In addition to helping new marketplaces manage relationships with third-party sellers, marketplace solutions should provide intuitive seller portals that allow organizations to onboard all types of sellers. Sellers should not need large fleets of developers to be able to offer their products on your marketplace.
Better seller experiences increase the ROI for sellers because they do not need to devote as much financial or human capital to sell on your marketplace. This leads sellers to stick around longer and drives better commercial outcomes for the new marketplace, making it easier to scale, retain sellers, and onboard new sellers quickly.
Marketplaces should be built on flexible architecture to allow for speedy adoption and unforeseen adjustments. This means marketplaces should be able to take an API and add what is useful while easily adjusting payloads and reducing latency. This requires a modern API based on graphQL or event-based architecture. The difference can save marketplaces and their sellers a great deal of time, money, and energy.
For example, with legacy infrastructure marketplaces need to orchestrate massive API calls every 10 minutes to get inventory updates and avoid selling customers products their sellers do not have in stock. Frequent API calls across hundreds of sellers could be very expensive.
But with modern architecture, inventory updates only need to happen where there is a specific change that requires the marketplace’s attention. This leads to a better end-customer experience, happier sellers, and a leaner marketplace.
The Big Picture
If you’re a brand or retailer considering adding marketplace functionality, you’re familiar with all the bells and whistles that can help you extend product range and give your customers everything they need in one place. That’s a huge advantage in today’s e-commerce environment.
But a best-in-class marketplace solution won’t just do that. It will come with teams deeply experienced in businesses like yours who can help you navigate the transition and plan for long-term success. Technology is easily commoditized; superior service isn’t. Look for a marketplace provider engineered to provide a better experience and equipped with the people who can accomplish that, too.
Find the marketplace solution to help grow and scale your business here.
About the author: Having watched their quantum growth as Head of Commercial Partnerships at eBay, Richard Hankin joined the rapidly growing Marketplacer team as VP of Sales in March 2020 to accelerate market share and build upon the partnerships and collaborations of this world-leading PaaS company. In March 2022 Hankin relocated to the US as Senior VP of Go to market.
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