“I believe that marketplaces are, first of all, a tool for marketing, promoting your products and scaling your business,” Denis Lykoshev, marketing director of the Pulse Price trading platform, said at the Marketplaces conference in Minsk. He told how to get the most out of a trendy online tool in both sales and loyalty through non-standard methods.
Conference partners: Rekish Cosmetics
Conference partner bank — Paritetbank
Business problems in working with marketplaces
For some reason, everyone talks about the benefits of working on marketplaces and bashfully keeps silent about the problems. And there are several of them, and they greatly affect your business. The key “jambs” of the sites can be reduced to the following list:
- disgusting seller support;
- permanent loss of goods;
- pressure on sellers on prices, terms and other commercial parameters;
- lack of access to the customer base.
For me personally, the most painful thing is that you are not the owner of your own customer base. After all, this is just a disaster for your business: you cannot communicate with customers outside the site. A company does not always ask this question at the start, and this is a serious risk in terms of business development. That is, for a seller, sales on the marketplace consist of putting a card on the site and delivering goods to warehouses. Everything that happens directly on the site further is a kind of “black box” that you cannot influence in any way. From a marketing management standpoint, this is a terrible situation.
As a result, Groundhog Day comes for the seller on the marketplace. Okay, Groundhog Month. Every month starts from scratch: the business is not growing, and the owner is spinning like a squirrel in a wheel. This scheme does not imply repeat sales, and a business without them, in principle, has no future. So I have bad news for you: if you do not think about how to solve this problem, then it is difficult to look to the future with optimism.
In my experience, a business starts growing at half or more repeat sales. That is, when you start planning the next months, you understand where your plan will come from. Then cohorts of the next buyers fall on these sales – and such a beautiful growth chart already begins. Without it, your job is just running in circles.
How to fix it and start growing
To get out of this stalemate, you need to use a full marketing mix, which includes:
- marketplaces as a tool
- media advertising.
That is, marketplaces should not be the only sales channel, but one of the marketing tools. If you look at the situation from this point of view, then working on marketplaces for business development becomes interesting and useful.
And here it is important to know that there are two models of marketplaces: European (American) and Asian. The key difference in them is the possibility or impossibility of building a seller’s brand on the marketplace.
It is the Asian model that allows you to create a website, develop a brand, gives access to the user’s contact information, does not limit the seller in terms of logistics and price (the seller communicates with buyers himself).
Both models have their pros and cons. And in choosing a site, a lot depends on the specifics of a particular business. If this is a B2B sphere that is built on personal sales, negotiation deals, then the Asian model suits you better. If this is pure retail, where the seller only increases the cost of the transaction, then the European model is more suitable. And the best effect, of course, gives a combination of two models.
But regardless of what platforms you work with, it is important to answer one question: “What is your business?” Formulate the answer correctly: not “I sell on Ozon”, but “I am a supplier of mobile phones (electrical equipment, tools, etc.)”. With this positioning of the business, many opportunities for development immediately appear.
How to build a customer base if you sell on the marketplace
And now I will tell you how to solve the problem of access to customer contacts.
Method number 1
You all, I think, know that according to the rules of marketplaces, any investment in an order is prohibited. But there are exceptions to this rule. You can include your own brand and contact details if it is part of the product packaging. Therefore, if you have contract manufacturing and you are engaged in your own factory packaging, then you need it to have information about the brand: website, instant messengers, e-mail, phone numbers – whatever. All this is necessary so that customers, having bought your product once, can later buy it outside the marketplace. So you have a kind of parallel sales channel.
This is especially important if the specifics of the goods have the potential for repeat sales. For example, if you sell camping equipment that customers buy at regular intervals.
Method number 2
You can use opaque packaging if it logically follows from your business, if the product is not very cheap, if the average check allows you to do this. You can try to make investments in such packaging with a request to leave a review or an offer to receive some kind of gift in exchange for contact information.
That is, if you deliver goods on your own, then you have contact information, and they also need to be saved.
Method number 3
It is not forbidden to invest gifts in an order, and if the average bill allows, you can make special gifts under your own brand, which will contain contact details and contact exchange offers.
At first glance, it seems that these are some kind of confused ways of information, but they really allow you to grow.
Then we enter the received contacts into CRM and begin to communicate with the client personally. It is very important not to give up this business, because it seems at the beginning that there is a lot of fuss, and the exhaust is not obvious. But after you accumulate a few hundred contact details, you can launch tools based on this information that will already allow you to get tangible benefits from sales.
After that, mailings are used: e-mail, SMS, instant messengers. Yes, these mailings piss everyone off, but they also sell well. Newsletters are still the cheapest way to increase sales. But another question is: how to reduce the client’s negativity from receiving mailings? In my experience, lifestyle content works well these days. This is when we send a client not an offer to buy at a discount or buy with a promotional code, but when we talk about the specific interests and needs of the client. Let’s go back to the travel goods example. What are the interests of a person who is interested in tourism? Various routes, photos of interesting places where you can go. That is, such clients can be thrown with collections of interesting routes, photos for the season, and natively throw shopping offers there.
The next tool is audience advertising. Yandex and Google search engines, as well as almost all social networks, make it possible to show ads to specific people. To do this, you need to upload the collected database in the form of phone numbers and emails to the site, set up creatives (write the text of ads or use templates to make banners) and you have the opportunity to show ads for your products to your customers in networks. This is how you show your ad to a very hot audience. You know that the client has bought goods from you and is definitely interested in this.
And the last tool allows you to explode sales – the “Look a like” technology. This is when the site identifies the initially loaded audience and starts looking for similar buyers. For example, you uploaded the contacts of 500 tourists, launched an advertising campaign, you see that the ad works, pays off, sells, and you can say: “Google, find me similar buyers.” So you get access to the entire audience of potential buyers of travel products. And this tool in the mass markets gives a very good result.
Content for B2C and B2B
Working with content is one of the most interesting areas today in terms of attracting customers from the Internet. This is work with product cards, groups and categories, SEO and product mass management. The main thing to remember is that content is not only photos.
And if a lot has already been said about working with content for the B2C segment, then many do not think about B2B. And there the principle of work is different. For sales, a business needs to fill out a lot of technical specifications and work on expertise and building trust in the seller. Because the check is large and a very large number of people and factors influence the decision to purchase.
Another insight: high-quality content drives traffic to product cards, even if you don’t understand anything about SEO and don’t specialize in it. Yes, filling out a detailed product card takes a lot of time, but it’s better not to be lazy. This will bear fruit in any case.