One-stop online marketplaces are growing rapidly and gaining popularity among both medium and large and small manufacturers. For many suppliers, access to such a platform is an excellent opportunity to expand their sales geography, attract new customers, increase brand awareness and, as a result, increase sales.
What is marketplace?
Marketplace is a virtual shelf where you can endlessly expand the assortment; place everyone, a variety of products and brands. It is attractive for visitors who like to have everything at hand, in one place.
At first, business also wins. But the advantage in the form of high traffic also has a downside for a local brand: if it does not have much recognition, it can easily get lost in this variety. It is unlikely that there are many site visitors who can flip through tens or hundreds of pages with products of the same category. Typically, buyers are looking for what they already know. If the brand is not important, then they are guided by the most advantageous offer. In such conditions, it is difficult for a small brand owner to emphasize the advantages of his product and distance himself from competitors.
It would seem that the conclusion is obvious: small manufacturers should focus on online sales and make efforts to get on the shelves of large marketplaces, not limited to any product category or segment. But it is important to understand some of the nuances of placing goods on such sites for small manufacturers. Before you decide to promote your products through the marketplace, you need to study them thoroughly.
"Find your audience" quest
Online platforms attract brands with a large audience, which is constantly growing with the help of a universal and constantly expanding assortment. We are talking about millions and even tens of millions of potential buyers. This, of course, is an advantage, since it allows the manufacturer to expand the geography of sales, the customer base and reach a new audience. Such opportunities are unlikely to be provided by any single-brand online platform, and even more so, no offline store is physically capable of generating such customer traffic.
However, going out to such a large audience is “sparrow shooting”. Finding exactly your customers in this situation is more difficult. From this point of view, working with a more limited audience, which at the same time is targeted, may be more effective.
Diversity of products for good prices
Online platforms often attract customers by the fact that they can find goods there for cheaper than in offline retail outlets or mono-brand online stores. Therefore, as a rule, marketplaces themselves encourage manufacturers to offer promotions to buyers. They attribute the requests to help boost sales.
But sometimes this approach gives the brand owner a short-term spike in sales. Ultimately, however, discounts often force manufacturers to work on the brink of profitability, and sometimes even sell goods below cost. The stock race devalues a brand, prevents long-term customer relationships and loyal audiences.
Big brand value
Entering a large online platform, of course, helps a brand to increase awareness about their company, and, consequently, their importance in the eyes of consumers. An yet, it is a double-edged sword: not only can the manufacturer's brand be depreciated as a result of constant promotions and sales on the marketplace, but also the product may begin to be perceived as typical, one of a large number of similar ones, even if it is of a high quality, made using natural materials, etc.
Large marketplaces prefer a unified approach when dealing with suppliers, especially small ones. This reduces labor costs when interacting with hundreds and thousands of contractors. For the latter, this is good because it is possible to agree on cooperation in a short time.
But it should also be considered that specifics of each specific supplier are practically not taken into account in the unified approach. This means that the chances of finding a buyer on the marketplace for small manufacturers may decrease.
Thus, the possibilities of such a format are great, but imbalances of the working mechanism will constrain your business if it is concentrated only at online sales. As an entrepreneur, you need to study the retail market trends and develop different sales channels as well as work with different platforms (universal and highly specialized, online and offline). And certainly, you do not have time to be afraid of experimenting and entering new projects. Choosing a marketplace as one of the main spaces for product promotion and finding your audience does not limit your business in case you use a diversified approach in your marketing strategy.