the product catalog success guide: growing marketpalces

Welcome to the second stage of growing your product catalog! We’ll be going through the best practices for rollout marketplaces, after Growing Marketplaces. This is the third post in our 3 part series on Product Catalog Success, do read our first post before carrying on:

As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. The same, of course, is true for marketplaces—without sellers, an ecommerce marketplace is just a mall without shops; conversely, without a central location to attract buyers and sellers, sellers are just people peddling products at unknown street corners. conversely, without a forum in which to attract buyers and sell their goods, sellers are just warehouses for inventory. A win-win relationship between the marketplace and its sellers isn’t just nice to have; it’s crucial for the success of both sides

With the right strategies in place, much of the foundation of a win-win relationship, including minimized seller efforts, a larger product variety, and higher GMV, should be set in place once the marketplace is live, setting up both the marketplace and the sellers for success and growth. 

Maximize product catalog offerings. 

More products typically mean that everyone wins: With a greater seller selection (and by extension, a greater product variety), you’re able to serve customers better by providing everything they might be looking for, while sellers can bite off a greater piece of the pie. To make sure this is the case, aim for a minimum of three to five offers per product. This gives buyers a variety of options to choose from so that they can zero in on the one that’s right for them. 

One way to do this is by encouraging existing sellers to list all their relevant offers, allowing you to grow your numbers of offers per product and them to increase their revenues. At the same time, continue to scout out new sellers, both on other leading marketplaces and in brick-and-mortar stores, to further expand your selection of products and offers. 

On a smaller scale, provide buyers with additional value by offering free shipping and free returns. This helps build loyalty, especially when you’re just building your marketplace up and not necessarily able to meet all their product needs. In fact, studies have shown that nine out of ten shoppers identify free shipping as the main incentive to shop online more.

the power of free shipping

Optimize product information management. 

Is your product data as organized and standardized as it should be?  When multiple sellers are involved, a consistent and comprehensible product catalog is key. This provides buyers with a good experience and helps with scaling your marketplace. Cross-checking product identifiers with manufacturers, reviewing products periodically to make sure that they are actually what they claim to be, and making sure that product details are complete and clear so that buyers know what to expect and how/where to find what they’re looking for. 30% of all article data from wholesale and producers has at least one mistake in it. Product information management (PIM) tools, such as Icecat and Akeneo PIM, can help with standardizing, optimizing, and automating this. This allows you to put the right foundations in place and prevent buyer frustration that could hamper growth down the road.  

87%

Shoppers who left a site because product information is less than satisfactory

30%

Amount of data in product listings that is incorrectly input

$40B

Revenue loss on marketplaces due to supply chain information inefficiencies

Make it easy to add missing offers. Or automate them!

Missing offers represent missed opportunities and cash left on the table. But tracking them down and adding them to your catalog can mean a lot of wasted time and effort on the part of your team. To save both your team and your sellers crucial time and avoid friction in building up your product catalog, automate the process of creating missing offers. This way, you and your team can automatically identify missing offers and get them added with minimal effort. To further streamline the process, send your sellers a weekly report listing their missing offers and give them the ability to approve and add them quickly. 

Likewise, provide sellers with multiple options for adding missing offers and creating new ones. These may include a customized API for omnichannel solutions, a CSV they can easily fill out and send back or upload so that offers are added, or an exclusive back-office user interface through which they can create and update offers. 

Promote products. 

Remember that win-win seller-marketplace relationship? You can do your part to promote a happy, fruitful relationship with your sellers by promoting their products (which are, after all, products in your marketplace) on your landing page, on Google Shopping, and within price comparison engines. Not only does this increase goodwill with your sellers, but it also elevates and boosts your marketplace as a whole. Cdiscount from France does this well, pushing the promotions of its top sellers on its front page:

Stay on top of your metrics.

As with everything, the numbers paint the best picture of what’s actually happening. The best way to make sure that you’re meeting your targets is to set and track metrics for success. During rollout, your focus should be on constantly improving:

  1. Your total number of products and offers (both overall and per seller)
  2. Reducing the number of missing products
  3. Increasing your average order value (AOV)

Having your finger on the pulse of these metrics is crucial for making informed decisions quickly. Through a variety of techniques, many of which have been mentioned here, you can lead your marketplace to success.

Rollout represents an especially exciting time in the life of your marketplace, one that comes with many opportunities to lay the groundwork for the growth ahead. Don’t miss your chance to seize it!