Online Marketplaces for Companies – The Advantages of Having Your Own Strategy

Online Marketplaces Handelskraft
Source: Unsplash/Jezael Melgoza

Although consumers’ willingness to buy products directly from manufacturers continues to grow, brands should not take this as a sign to sit back and relax, but rather as an incentive to take measures in order to convince those who do most of their online shopping on mainstream marketplaces to make the switch as well.

Integrating marketplace features into your existing online shop can help you win more customers and increase your sales. It is time to evaluate what additional features you want to offer your customers and which provider is best suited to help you implement them. This Handelskraft article provides some initial food for thought.

A Marketplace Strategy for Your Company – An Overview

  1. One Solution to Many Challenges
  2. What Is Behind It?
  3. How to Proceed
  4. These Are Your Options
  5. Best Practices from Successful Companies

Online Marketplaces for Companies – One Solution to Many Challenges

In order to benefit from the boom in e-commerce and remain interesting for consumers, companies expanded their product range by an average of 32 per cent during the pandemic.

Additionally, vendors sought solutions to ensure that their goods are always available and can be delivered quickly.

Enterprise marketplaces provide an answer to these challenges. They can help you expand your product range, minimise inventory-related risks and reach new target groups. This applies to both B2B and B2C.

According to the market research firm Gartner, the demand for enterprise marketplaces increased by 100 per cent within one year (from 2019 to 2020) – and justifiably so. In 2021, interest grew by another nine per cent.

Online Marketplaces for Companies – What Is Behind It?

Enterprise marketplaces are operated by B2B or B2C companies. Besides their own products, they provide third parties with the opportunity to market their offers on this additional digital channel.

With marketplace operation applications (MOAs), operators of an online marketplace can

  • onboard external vendors with ease
  • create concise product catalogues
  • manage and forward orders received
  • ensure that marketplace rules are respected by all vendors

It is important to note that this strategy is very different from selling your own products on leading marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay or Zalando. Instead, it is about standing out from these marketplace giants.

Specialisation with Curated Marketplace Strategies

According to curated marketplace strategies, it is vitally important to focus your marketplace offerings on your core business. If you can offer your products in a way that is just as quick, just as user-friendly and just as high quality as a marketplace giant, you are already one step ahead.

You know your customers and their individual expectations better than anyone and can respond to enquiries with more expertise.

It is therefore crucial to make a conscious decision about which vendors are allowed to offer which goods on your platform so that you can keep your brand promise. For example, these could be suppliers and vendors you are already working with or even experienced marketplace vendors and brands.

Companies such as Douglas, H&M, Urban Outfitters and DECATHLON use this strategy to offer their customers products that perfectly complement their existing product range.

A good example of a curated marketplace is Maisons du Monde, a French furniture and home decor company. For the company’s own online marketplace, third-party vendors were selected whose products match those of the furnishing retailer in terms of style, price and quality.

The marketplace, which the company launched in 2020, is seamlessly integrated into the existing website and thereby ensures a flawless user experience. A full 95 per cent of external vendors already received orders via the marketplace within the first three weeks after the launch.

Maisons du Monde Handelskraft
Source: French online marketplace Maisons du Monde

In general, specialised online marketplaces are suitable for brands that want to make use of the advantages of a marketplace without having to become part of a digital general store.

The chance of reaching the right target group more quickly is inherently higher on a specialised marketplace than on top dog Amazon. Another advantage is that companies that operate a marketplace themselves can maintain their own branding. Placing products on an external platform severely limits the options for doing so.

Online Marketplaces for B2B Companies

Especially in B2B, the growing number of specialised marketplaces is an unsurprising development. Many B2B companies were unable to implement their old business strategies in the wake of the pandemic – be it because sales managers could no longer visit clients in person or because demand for certain goods simply declined.

However, having their own online marketplaces made it possible for B2B companies to cater to their rather specific target groups and get a better overview of the brand environment.

This was also the case with Messe Düsseldorf, which built a central platform for exhibitors, stand builders and agencies that allows them to plan their trade fair appearance individually, but still in a user-friendly way. A marketplace capable of handling multiple clients was created in close collaboration with dotSource, ensuring the mapping of complex B2B processes.

Thanks to the marketplace structure, Messe Düsseldorf’s approximately 30 service partners can offer their services autonomously on the platform and manage their product range and incoming orders independently. This means that exhibitors have access to all relevant additional services – from stand walls to advertising measures – as soon as they register their stand.

The integration of complex interfaces ensures seamless data exchange between the e-commerce platform, the existing SAP ERP solution as well as the systems of two of Messe Düsseldorf’s media partners. The remaining portals, including the ticket shop and the individual trade fair websites, are also connected to the marketplace.

Through single sign-on, users can access the various parts of the platform with just one login via a central entry point.

Messe Düsseldorf Marketplace
Source: dotSource

Online Marketplaces for Companies as a One-Stop Shop Solution

Of course, companies also have the option of expanding their existing product range with further product types or additional services and digital goods.

For example, electronics retailers could additionally offer software applications that run on relevant devices or services to install them. By offering such a »complete package«, your customers will assume that one order will provide them with everything they need to make the device run smoothly later on.

To benefit from this strategy, however, you should be aware that maintaining such complex marketplace models is more challenging than selling your own products exclusively through an e-commerce system. As an operator, you need numerous additional features such as product allocation, offer management and vendor monitoring.

Online Marketplaces for Companies – How to Proceed

Before you decide on a provider of marketplace applications, you should develop a detailed strategy for your marketplace. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How large should my marketplace be?
  • Which products and services will be sold on this marketplace?
  • How do I find the right vendors?
  • How will new vendors be integrated?
  • What marketing strategy will ensure the visibility of the marketplace?

Especially if you plan on allowing external vendors to sell their products on your platform, you should consider in advance how these products will be placed on the marketplace. Some providers offer ready-made interfaces for this exact purpose.

As with all projects, it is important to take the entire company along with you when implementing your own enterprise marketplace – especially because this is not just a change in technology, but a change in the entire business model.

If your company does not yet have sufficient expertise to implement the marketplace model, you should definitely contact experts who will accompany you throughout the process.

In addition to all the people internally involved in this process, it is also important to give the external vendors on your platform reasons to sell through you and not the competition.

And – despite the marketplace principle – your customers will want to know who they are ultimately buying from. If it takes until the time of delivery for customers to find out that the product they purchased was actually sold by another vendor, they will probably decide to buy from a different, more transparent marketplace provider the next time.

Online Marketplaces for Companies – These Are Your Options

With the steadily growing interest in enterprise marketplaces, the number of solution providers has also increased. Software providers such as Mirakl and Spryker offer different integration options for commerce platforms to import product data and use commerce features for purchasing.

Some providers focus on B2B and others on B2C functionalities. Furthermore, depending on whether you want to sell physical goods, digital goods or services, some solutions are better or worse suited for the implementation of your marketplace strategy.

However, these functionalities can provide you with all the technologies you need to implement your marketplace strategy:

  • Digital commerce features to enable transactions: this is possible through either a complete marketplace solution or the simple integration of marketplace solutions from other operators
  • Tools that help you run your marketplace and manage external vendors
  • Options that enable vendors on the platform to evaluate and optimise offers, prices and inventory

Online Marketplaces for Companies – Download the »E-Commerce Best Practices« Publication for Free Now

E-Commerce Best Practices

If you want to get started with your own marketplace concept, it is important that it is integrated into your e-commerce strategy. Your options on the e-commerce market are as diverse as companies themselves.

Find out how companies like hessnatur, Röchling and C.H.Beck achieved their goals with the right e-commerce technology and get some inspiration. Fill out the form now and receive a free copy of the »E-Commerce Best Practices« publication in your inbox!

And if you want to know more about your options for your own marketplace strategy, our digital experts will be happy to advise you.

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