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How can retailers launch an effective marketplace platform?

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By Chloé Petit, Industry Center of Excellence Lead at Salsify”.

Marketplaces have been growing in popularity and the ecosystem is expanding beyond traditional heavyweights like eBay and Amazon. Retailers are now keen to get a bite of the action. This includes B&Q launching its own marketplace at the beginning of the year, signing up 17 third-party sellers to help it expand its offering to over 100,000 new products, as well as outdoor clothing and equipment retailer Mountain Warehouse launching one just last month. Superdrug, is also expected to launch its highly anticipated health and beauty marketplace this September.

With a growing number of online marketplaces, there are huge opportunities for brands to capitalise on this new opportunity to grow sales and reach new customers. However, in order to master marketplaces, there are key lessons for brands – and retailers –to ensuresuccess on the digital shelf.

Content Makes The World Go Round

Amazon has positioned itself as the home of inspiration.

Consumers regularly flock here to research potential purchases – even if Amazon isn’t the ultimate sales channel. It is the gold standard of online marketplaces, and still takes a big slice of the market, with aquarter of all UK online shopping happening on Amazon.Amazon’s commitment to publishing high quality premium content is central to this reputation. Retailers that invest in curating improved content, both written and visual, can enjoy a range of benefits like:

  • Driving greater conversion numbers
  • Standing out from the crowd
  • Improving search ranking

Small edits carry greater significance in this current battle for eyeballs. High-definition images, text, videos and comparison tables are effective tools for cultivating and nurturing brand reputation. Delivering an eye-catching, attractive digital shelf should be a main objective.

Placement is everything within brick-and-mortar retail. Store associates know that products at the end of an aisle or at the audiences’ eye line are more likely to sell than those on the bottom shelf. Brands are willing to pay a premium for these positions. The same principles apply to the digital shelf. A third of global Amazon shoppers click the first product in the search result – with 64% of all clicks being directed towards the top three products. These use engaging content to reinforce their position.

And ultimately, over 40% of online shoppers in Europe abandon their cart due to poor quality of product information, as revealed by Salsify’s latest Consumer Research 2022.

But how can retailers and brands work together to put these learnings to good use when adapting to new marketplaces?

Strategic Information Overload

Time-poor consumers don’t search for the finer details, preferring to complete purchases as quickly as possible. And this skimming leads to greater dissatisfaction.

Bullet points can quickly resolve this problem. These succinctly deliver relevant information – focusing on key product features and characteristics is essential.

Consumers are crying out for convenience. A 2021 study found that 97% of customers are willing to abandon a purchase because of convoluted processes. Audiences want to be able to navigate websites with ease.

When consumers land on a product page, they’re looking for information, but this

Information can vary depending on the type of product. Successful brands design enhanced content to meet the needs of the target customer, for example, the product page for a laptop will look different to one for a beauty product or piece of furniture.

Improved product segmentation is the catalyst for delivering this. Retailers and brands can use three broad categories when applying to retailer marketplaces:

  • Emotional Products: These include children’s toys and beauty products; consumers need to trust the brand if they are going to make a purchase.
  • Rational or Comparative Products: These include home appliances and electronics. Consumers want ample information about the products so they can make an informed decision.
  • Utilitarian or Day-to-Day Products: Typically habitual purchases like groceries or stationary. The majority of consumers will buy the same thing every time unless a new brand captures their attention.

Another thing to consider are customer reviews, which are essential but need to be genuine. 88% of consumers acknowledge that authenticity is one of the factors that decide which brands they support. Our data shows that sales grow by 82% for items rated between 4.1 stars to 4.8 stars on Amazon,but products with a perfect 5-star rating see sales fall by 79%.Consumers are looking for genuine feedback and will start to doubt you if the ratings are ‘too perfect’.

Consumers will continue to turn to ecommerce sites for their shopping capabilities but their loyalty is hard to secure – they are happy to flit from brand to brand in search of a smooth experience. Offering attractive discounts is one way to hook them in. Flooding the website with premium content is another.

Brands have an opportunity to redefine themselves in the virtual world. Investing time and effort into finessing a marketplace strategy and understanding how to master the digital shelf should mean that brands can grow from strength to strength.

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