In this first post in a series on planning and executing for growth, we look at the benefits of complementing your own team with outside marketplace and webstore expertise.
If you’re able to work on your business, rather than in your business, you’ll probably know that strategy and execution are pretty much hand in glove. Without strategy you’re simply running your business without preparation, targets for success and learning from your mistakes. You can have the best strategy in the world but without execution nothing happens.
Process – the series of steps and stages to take, in the right order – is what gets us from strategy to execution, and beyond to review, re-strategise, re-execute. We all have a process for almost everything we do, especially the important stuff, even if it’s an instinctive or intuitive thing borne out of experience.
For brands and retailers, consumer behaviour has been moving online for more than a decade, and this trend accelerated during the pandemic. There are four principal advantages for moving online. First, you can work with a partner to de-risk the process of adding new revenue streams that don’t conflict with your traditional routes to market. Second, you get to protect your brand and own the end customer brand experience.
Third, online helps you maximise your margins since you’re going direct to the consumer and those margins fuel the acceleration of growth. Fourth and lastly, you can evolve and future-proof your business in a retail landscape that is very dynamic and always changing.
Within online retail, the argument for marketplaces has become increasingly strong. It’s lower cost, lower risk access to consumer demand, demand which is the responsibility of the marketplace, rather than you in the case of your webstore. The opportunity is international too, some might say already global, anywhere you can fulfil orders.
Marketplace growth shows no sign of stalling, and the major marketplaces like Amazon and eBay take care of 80% of marketplace business in the western world. This is a place where you can dip your toe in the water cost effectively, and be able to measure your return very quickly.
If the argument for marketplaces is moot, then the case for enlisting outside help for your strategy and execution depends on your own situation. Perhaps you don’t have the resources or expertise in house, or perhaps you have a team dedicated to expanding your presence into other channels. Either way, entrusting your ambitions to a specialist in marketplaces makes a lot of sense.
Using an outside partner gives you leveraged and cost effective access to a team that can bring to bear decades of specific expertise in a matter of weeks. There’s also no requirement to transform your internal operations, hire additional staff or invest in software, since your partner can bring that to you as an operational expense rather than capital expenditure.
Working with an outside partner also gives you speed to market advantages. You can be live on a new marketplace in a few weeks. You can also keep the majority of your business uninterrupted, concentrating on your core competences while an outsourced provider can focus on the services required to generate or additional new marketplace revenues for you.
These kinds of professional services are only one half of the process; the other half is the technology platform for managing your business across multiple online channels. Hooked into your ERP system, your product data system, and your warehouse or logistics system – all of which might be yours or also outsourced – your ecommerce platform should have a business intelligence (‘BI’) element and a trading element.
The BI element monitors the flow of data across your business and provides reporting insights to help you make the good decisions to grow the business. The trading element effectively runs your ecommerce business: your listings and marketplace activities, your inventory and stock management, and your order and shipping management, including customer service. Once centralised system for managing your channels means you don’t have to do the same things on each channel directly.
An external partner can provide the services element, the tech element, and in some cases both elements for you. In Volo’s case, it’s the combination of the professional services and tech that extends through the life of your relationship with us.
The key to driving significant revenues on marketplace is about mastering three things: first, following listing best practices to maximise the chances of your products being found; second, building a reputation as a trusted top seller by delivering a great shopping and delivery experience; third, always being price-competitive through marketing and regularly optimising your listings.
In future posts in this series, we’ll look at the 3 main phases of the process to strategise and execute for revenue growth: plan, launch and accelerate. For more on how to plan for 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.