We recently kicked off a series of posts on a process of strategy and execution for marketplaces and webstores. In this post we cover the first phase of the process, namely ‘plan’.
These 3 phases are essentially professional services that you can undertake yourself or outsource to a third party service provider. Some providers will charge these as specific scoped projects agreed with you before the work starts, especially if they don’t provide their own ecommerce multichannel technology platform and tend to recommend a shortlist of platforms depending on your circumstances.
Some providers are foremost tech companies who may also provide some of the services free as part of a ‘consultative’ sales approach, but you should bear in mind that they’re often assessing whether you’re a good fit for their platform. It’s unlikely they’ll recommend a competing provider to you, unless their solution is too comprehensive for your requirements (we tend to do this).
There are 12 discrete elements or stages to the 3 phases of a good process for strategy and execution, and half of them come within the plan phase. The plan phase is sometimes also called a ‘health check’, with recommendations that will need a further investment to implement, so let’s look at these 6 stages in turn.
First is a full consumer demand analysis for the categories or sub-categories in which you compete. What is the total current or recently historical demand for what you sell? You should ask for this to be done for the channels on which you’re currently selling, of those that you’d like to sell on, if you know them. If you don’t know where else you’d like to sell, ask for recommendations as part of the project.
Secondly, what’s your own product fit like within the category or categories in question? What’s your market share? How many other competitors are in the space(s) and how do they compare? Who are the other sellers of interest? What’s the competitive density like, or in other words what percentage of the category in question is taken up by the top 10 sellers? This gives you a picture of how well you compete in the places that are important to you.
The third stage is to do projections for your sales over a 12-month period, so that you can set a sense of the return on your investment, your investment being in the services and technology to grow your business. Based on the analysis so far, what does your provider think is achievable? How do those projections mesh with your guestimates or goals for the business?
The next 3 stages of the plan phase are about mapping out the strategy for hitting the projections. Stage 4 is a set of recommendations for marketplaces and product listing strategy. What marketplaces should you consider expanding to, and in what order? What work needs to be done on your existing listings to improve your performance on search and selection? How should these listings be optimised for the specific requirements of each marketplace or webstore platform?
Stage 5 takes into account recommendations for pricing, order management and shipping, and customer service. What pricing strategy and tools make sense for you? Moving further down the buying process, what should you stop, start and carry on doing to improve fulfilment and communications after the buyer has clicked to buy, when they’re particularly sensitive to your performance?
Stage 6 is the last of the 3 recommendation stages and the final stage of the plan phase, concerned with marketing/promotional recommendations and a path to accelerated attainment or maintenance of top seller status. How should you market products? What products should you promote? What promotional tools on which marketplaces and search/social/shopping platforms will you use, and for what timeframe, goals and budget? What should you focus on to meet what each channel defines or calculates as a top seller?
These three recommendation stages complete the holy trinity of key criteria for success that we referred to in our first post in this series: making your listings as good as they can be; building a reputation as a trusted top seller; continually reviewing pricing, marketing and listings to keep your competitive edge.
One final point on the plan phase. Your service provider will be able to go into far more detail if you give them the keys to the castle, the logins to your marketplace and webstore accounts. If you don’t, the research will be one step removed and won’t be as comprehensive.
In the next two posts in this series, we’ll look at the 2 remaining phases of the process to strategise and execute for revenue growth, namely launch and accelerate. For a high level guide to long term ecommerce success on marketplaces and webstores, you can download this short guide.
To discuss how you can grow your marketplace and webstore sales in 2022, please get in touch with Volo.