Setting up an e-commerce marketplace is a lucrative business. More and more people shop online. Customers search the web before they buy. Almost everything is now available online. Payment methods nowadays are more secure. Deliveries are smooth.
But customers expect more. They need a very smooth shopping experience. Shopping on any device should be a seamless experience.
Customers expect personalized service. For an e-commerce marketplace, both buyers and sellers are customers. You have to please both. We have to see how things need handling from the time you start building the e-commerce platform.
— TRIBE (@madebytribe) January 31, 2019
Steps to E-Commerce Marketplace Development
- Selecting The Right Product And Sellers
- Product Presentation & Placement
- Generating Leads & Engaging Them
- Customer Segmentation & Development
- Converting Lead To Purchase
- Retaining Customers
- Customer Service & Grievance Redressal
- Logistics And Product Returns
- Detecting Fake Customers
- Tackling Competition
- Growth & Profitability
- The Conclusion
1. Selecting The Right Product And Sellers
Finding the right products for your e-commerce marketplace. Getting the sellers of these products on your e-commerce platform. This problem exists throughout the life of the e-commerce platform.
Try to get as many sellers on board in the beginning. You can attract them by reduced fees and attractive terms. Try to get a good product mix. Don’t restrict your products to the same category. The more products you have, your customers get a better selection.
2. Product Presentation & Placement
How to present the products? You should give enough details about the products. There should be many images of the product for the customer to get a complete idea. Unlike shops, there is no way they can feel the product. How to enter so many product details and photos?
It is better to allow the sellers to decide what they want to show. They should have the freedom to place images or videos of their products. It will give your customers a better experience. They will get full details and description of the product. Choose an e-commerce platform which comes with import/export feature. It will allow easy entry of product details.
3. Generating Leads & Engaging Them
Building an e-commerce marketplace is only the beginning. You have to get people to visit the website. How can you divert traffic to your e-commerce marketplace? How can you generate enough leads? How can you convert these leads into sales?
There are many e-commerce platforms. You have to use many methods to divert traffic to your website. SEO and PPC help in bringing traffic from search engines. You should start collecting e-mail addresses. Advertising on social media sites helps a lot. Your customers should be able to see you where they are present.
Acquiring the leads is not enough. You should follow it up with engaging these prospects. Sending e-mails is one way. Offering them discounts on the first purchase or other attractions is another way. You should effectively use social media.
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4. Customer Segmentation & Development
When you have many products, it is difficult to develop buyer personas. You cannot identify patterns and create a standardized representation of the ideal customer. But it is must if you want to give them a better experience. It is not practical for a new e-commerce marketplace to start with too many buyer personas. You won’t be able to handle them all.
Create four buyer personas based on your website and e-commerce analytics. You can base this on their location, behavior, and interests. Divide your audience among these four personas.
Check if your assumptions are correct. You can conduct surveys with target groups and alter your segmentation. You can enter this into your customer relationship management tools.
It will help your interaction with these segments. You can give your customers a more personalized experience. That is the best way to ensure a purchase. It will reduce the number of customers leaving the purchase process midway.
5. Converting Lead To Purchase
Your customer will purchase several visits to the e-commerce marketplace. They try finding products through different marketing channels. At some point, there may be some problem that will prompt them to leave midway.
There is no human element to start a conversation and solve the issue. If the customer doesn’t get an immediate response, he or she will leave without purchasing. It will be difficult to bring the customer back. It may take a long time.
You must provide more channels for communication. You can introduce chatbots, ticketing systems or VOIP customer support system to improve interaction. It will give a shortcut to your customer’s purchase journey. You can engage with him and provide solutions.
You should find out the problem the customer faced. You can explain it. You can also offer an alternate product that could meet the customer’s requirements. You can create an FAQ page offering solutions to most common problems faced by the customers.
An important factor in customers today is that they are more used to mobile devices. Your website must be equally attractive and responsive to mobile devices. You should ensure that it gives the same good experience on mobile phones also.
6. Retaining Customers
It is a nice feeling every time you get a new customer. But you should not let go of your existing customers. It is more expensive to get a new customer than retaining an old one.
You should pamper existing customers. You should work hard to earn their loyalty. You should give much focus on retaining existing customers.
You cannot engage with your customers when you don’t have a direct communication channel. Most of your customers make only one visit. The main issue is trust. Communication delay is another problem. Some customers expect your help even after the purchase.
Your communication should not end with sales. You should continue engaging with your customers. You can send them emails about new products or offers. Send them your regular newsletters.
You can make them offers on their next purchase. You can also reward them for referring new customers.
You can even get some customers to write product reviews. They can become your ambassadors on social media. Customers enjoy such opportunities. These could create a long-term relationship with them.
7. Customer Service & Grievance Redressal
How can you protect your reputation if sellers don’t please the customers? Customers identify the product with the e-commerce marketplace. That is where they purchased the product. Their complaints and ire will be direct at you.
The seller must take responsibility for the complaints. They should be the one to redress the grievance. If you have more products and sellers, then the problem will be severe. You should make customers understand that the seller makes the products.
Some E-commerce marketplaces allow direct communication between the buyers and sellers. It helps to solve the problems. This problem is common to all e-commerce marketplaces.
You should open a channel of communication between seller and buyer. You could help start chat communication between the two on the e-commerce marketplace. Customers can clear their doubts about products, delivery dates, and warranty details.
If there are regular complaints from a seller, it is better to remove access to them. There should not be repeat complaints about products bought from your e-commerce marketplace. It will spoil your reputation.
8. Logistics And Product Returns
How do you handle logistics issues? Your sellers are at different locations. Who will be responsible for timely delivery? It is especially crucial if you have customers in different countries. There should be methods to handle customs clearance and other issues.
Product returns is another issue. Where will the customer return the product? Who will bear the costs of recovery and replacement of a defective product? You have to address these concerns.
The seller should interact with the buyer for custom clearance issues. It could be a lot for you to handle. You should inform this policy when the seller registers with your e-commerce marketplace.
Once your business has developed enough, you could make your arrangements. You can have clearing and logistics providers in some countries.
The market should be big enough for that. It could attract more sellers to your e-commerce marketplace. Buyers will be more confident about buying from you.
The seller should handle product returns. They should mention where they need to send the products and who will bear the costs. It should be clear to the buyers also when they need to sell products. It will avoid future problems.
9. Detecting Fake Customers
One of the significant challenges faced by e-commerce marketplaces is fake customers. You have to trust the information entered by the customers when they sign up. You don’t know whether they are genuine. It incurs a considerable revenue loss in case of Cash-On-Delivery purchases.
You can check the information entered. You can send verification mail and text message to confirm. When they place orders on a COD basis, you can make a call to the number and ask to verify the delivery address. You can counter-check the pin codes against the region they have mentioned in the address.
10. Tackling Competition
More and more e-commerce marketplaces are appearing. You can expect more in the future too. Your competitors will offer the same products that you do. How will you tackle the problem? How can you have the edge over them?
You can also face competition from manufacturers who sell you the products. They can sell them directly to the customers. Many manufacturers do this to ensure their sales doesn’t suffer.
You should study your competitor well. You should find out if there are any advantages over you. You should use all the marketing methods available. Use social media to promote products. Make promotional offers. Plan customer loyalty programs.
You can also get new products which are like the old ones. It will help you offer a better choice than your competitor. Ensure the best user experience when they are on your website.
You should counter the competition from manufacturers. You should find manufacturers who don’t sell to customers. You can also find manufacturers who reach in your market segment is not very deep. There is no way you can stop them from selling directly.
11. Growth & Profitability
In a competitive market, it is difficult to make a considerable profit. You cannot raise your prices while others sell at a lower price. Price is one of the main aspects people look at when purchasing online. You get the same products at different rates from different e-commerce marketplaces.
Another thing that could worry is about how to grow. There could be factors other than getting customers, that affect your growth. You have to solve them.
As increasing prices is not possible, the only way is to reduce your expenses. You have to manage your inventories well. Once you know the sales pattern, you can do that effectively.
You have to improve your marketing. You should find ways to reduce overheads. If you are doing the shipping, you should find logistics partners that charge lesser.
The one factor that affects your growth is the limitation of technology. Your e-commerce marketplace is on a platform that allows expansion. You should have the right software for customer and inventory management, shopping cart solutions, etc.
12. The Conclusion
What we see is that it is not easy succeeding in the e-commerce business Development. It needs a lot of your effort and hard work. The focus should always be on customer addition and retention.
Nothing helps you grow better than having more customers. You should try to reduce the time taken to complete a purchase.
Building trust is another important aspect. You should be transparent in your dealings. Spell out your policies very clearly. Ensure that all sellers follow your procedures.
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