Tips to employ when using third-party marketplaces

June 11, 2012 Written by NetSphere Category: Online Retailing
Tips to employ when using third-party marketplaces

When it comes to selling your product or service, using a third-party marketplace just makes sense. The wider your coverage base, the bigger the sales, right? Well, probably. The success you find with websites like eBay and Amazon will be based on your familiarity with how the services work, harnessing those services to their fullest extent and choosing the right platform that meshes well with your customer demographics.

According to New York Times editor, Kelly Spores, there are a few rules of thumb for selling on a third-party marketplace and executing it properly.

1. Figure out the basics

Spores says that a good place to start is by researching some of the bigger players like eBay and Amazon.

“Try listing a few items on each site, which usually costs less than a dollar,” she explains. “You will also have to pay a commission ranging anywhere from 6 percent to 20 percent of the final sales price of any items you sell. Trying out the marketplaces and their various sales methods will help you spot the differences quickly.”

2. Choose your marketplace

Although eBay and Amazon have the biggest traffic and garner the most sales each year, they might not be the type of website that gets your demographic excited about online shopping. The great thing, however, is that there are a ton of other options to choose from., and are established players with a major foothold in this space, whereas China’s has a place for almost every product. Facebook is chipping away at its entrance in online sales. And so is also true for bigger retailers like Wal-Mart and Best Buy.

With all the possibilities, Spores says that it’s probably best to “master one site before expanding.”

3. Write clear, detailed listings

No matter the website, no one will want to buy your products if they don’t understand what they are or what they will do for them.

“One way is to write listings and titles that lure prospective buyers by providing detailed, reliable information about the product and customer service,” Spores writes. “When possible, include at least one high-quality, attractive photo of every item being sold — more if the item is used or a collectible. Using keywords — words shoppers are likely to enter when searching for the product online — in the item headline and listing is also crucial.”

Beyond that, make sure that your listing is detailed and free of errors. If you don’t include something important like shipping information, a potential buyer may be quickly deterred. If you misspell a word or use a slew of exclamation points, buyers will assume you are inexperienced and will skip over you, moving on to the next seller.

4. Watch your ratings

“Maintaining a high seller rating is essential,” Spores says. “Most marketplaces ask buyers to rate sellers on a five-star scale. One or two bad reviews can ruin a small seller’s rating, and some sites boot sellers whose positive ratings fall below a certain level.” Cancelling orders because inventory levels were not synchronized between the various marketplaces is a quick way to tank your seller rating due to lack of inventory.

Spores continues by reinforcing the idea of detailed and clear product listings, which can eliminate the potential for misunderstandings or miscommunication. She also says that by providing your contact information, buyers can contact you directly with their problems as opposed to simply posting negative comments or ratings.

So once you’re up and running with a third-party marketplace that suits you and your buyers’ needs, be sure to maintain a personal feel. Sending an e-mail to new buyers to thank them for their purchase only takes a few seconds, but can help to establish the long-term relationships that you will need for your business in the future.

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Abbe Miller is the marketing manager at NetSphere Strategies, located just outside Chicago. NetSphere Strategies is a boutique eCommerce company positioned to help businesses transform their online presence by providing a full complement of services that starts with our strategic consulting and creative design teams, then continues with building innovative solutions and providing ongoing post-project support.