How to Market and Grow your Multivendor Marketplace

It’s one thing to actually build a multi vendor marketplace (and we’re happy to help with that, of course) but successfully marketing and growing it is something else altogether. You need to consider your supply and demand, and then there’s search engine optimisation, and let’s not forget your bottom line-boosting sales funnel. 

In fact, there are so many moving pieces to the multivendor marketplace puzzle, we’ve put together a handy rundown of effective approaches to help you successfully scale your marketplace and grow your business.

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Who should you market to?

Which came first: the buyers or the sellers? In other words, when you’re starting out, should you focus on attracting sellers so you’ve lots of stock to promote on your marketplace or concentrate on building up your customer base so your marketplace is an attractive prospect for sellers? The short answer is there is no short answer! Take a look at the origin stories of some of the biggest marketplaces in history and you’ll discover both options are equally valid. 

Think of your marketplace as a matchmaking business. It’s purpose is to match buyers with products they want. According to Janet Bannister, Kijiji.ca founder and Real Ventures partner, “Too many marketplace owners concentrate on the total number of visitors, or total number of buyers and sellers, but these metrics are meaningless if you don’t understand whether supply and demand are being matched.” (1) Doing so: 

  • Keeps buyers and sellers happy
  • Encourages both parties to keep using your marketplace
  • Makes buyers more likely to share their experience with others 

So, the key is to make sure you market to both buyers and sellers. Let’s explore how, starting with your all-important buyers.

How to get more buyers to your multivendor marketplace

Research your buyers

This might sound obvious but focus your marketing efforts on the buyers that are most valuable to your business. Studying your buyers’ shopping habits is a great way to identify your high value users. For example, if your research reveals that those shopping for cat food only shop in that category, whereas those shopping for dog food also make purchases in other categories it makes sense to focus your efforts – and budget – on marketing to the dog food buyers. 

Start off small

Don’t be afraid to start off niche and focus on specific markets (based on your buyer research) as you’ll be able to introduce more products and services once you’ve built up a loyal customer base. It’s a great way to match up your buyers and sellers. “With a narrow focus, you can concentrate on getting the core product and marketing right before turning your attention to expanding to new areas,” says Janet Bannister. (1)

This business model certainly worked for Amazon who started life as a bookseller back in July 1995. From day dot, Jeff Bezos knew he wanted Amazon to become the “everything store” (2) it is today. His instinct was right. Amazon is now worth $1.7 trillion and Bezos’ bank balance is a mind-blowing $200 billion. (3) By the way, did you know that Bezos originally wanted to call Amazon ‘Relentless’? In fact, if you search for Relentless.com it will re-direct you to Amazon. Go on, try it. We’ll wait right here.

Build up trust

92% of buyers check out reviews before making a purchase. (4) So if your marketplace doesn’t have a reviews or ratings system you’re missing a trick. Not only do reviews and ratings build trust between your buyers and sellers creating a community feel, but they also encourage both parties to trust your marketplace. Plus, because customer reviews have an impact on search engine results, there’s the added bonus that your marketplace will rank higher.  

Reward your buyers

Never underestimate the power of the word ‘free’. Offering your customers a freebie in your marketing is a great way to thank them for their loyalty, show them you care, and reinforce their connection to your marketplace. Talking of magic marketing words, promoting a ‘Limited Time’ offer creates a sense of urgency that also attracts buyers to your site. The best example of this is Amazon’s Prime Day sales, which offer ‘special once-a-year savings’. The Prime Day sales in 2020 totalled an estimated $10.4 billion. (5)

SEO

Once you’ve researched your buyers and know what they’re searching for, the next step is to target them using search engine optimisation (SEO). This is where you ensure your marketplace contains the keywords and phrases that your target buyers (and sellers) are searching for. All of your copy – from product descriptions and blogs to the About Us and FAQ pages – should be SEO-friendly as it will help give you a higher ranking in searches and maximise organic traffic to your site. 

Content marketing

Another way to attract potential buyers to your marketplace is content marketing. As the name suggests, this is content you create which can be used as a marketing tool to promote your offering to a wider audience. Examples include blog posts, newsletters, videos, podcasts, and user-generated content such as reviews. Want proof that content marketing works? Well, your web-based search for how to grow and market a marketplace led you to this blog. We rest our case, your honour.

Paid marketing

If you’ve got a marketing budget to play with, there are numerous options designed to draw traffic to your site like moths to a flame. This includes:

  • Pay-per-click advertising on search engines and social media platforms
  • Influencer endorsements in exchange for a financial incentive or exposure 
  • Offering commissions for third party promotions via affiliate marketing 

Be sure to focus your efforts on the marketing channels that your target audience is most likely to use or you risk shouting into the void. 

How to get more sellers to your multivendor marketplace

Go fishing for sellers

Your sellers are already out there. You just have to find them. Many sellers sell products on multiple marketplaces so do your research to discover the people you should be targeting with your marketing. As well as checking out existing marketplaces, you should also research the places online that your audience uses, such as online forums and social media groups, and then target them with strategic (and most probably paid) advertising. As we said, your sellers already exist, you just need to find them, and then hook them with your targeted marketing.

Look after them

Once you’ve got your sellers on board, your focus should shift to retaining them. To do this, you want your marketplace to be as seller-friendly as possible. Huge marketplaces such as Amazon do this with incentives such as Fulfilment By Amazon (FMA) which allows sellers to store their product at an Amazon facility and let Amazon deal with shipping the product to the seller. Alibaba keep their process seller-friendly with a one-time membership fee instead of individual transaction charges or commissions. So whatever incentives you can offer to create a seller-friendly experience the better.

Put many eggs in multiple baskets

As with many things in life, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. In other words, if your marketplace relies on one or two huge sellers consider what could happen to your business if one of them were to cease trading. Eek. Instead, focus your efforts on building up multiple smaller sellers who will then have the opportunity to grow with (and feel loyal towards) your business. Another advantage of having multiple smaller independent sellers is that many buyers actually prefer this. So having a wider seller base could also encourage more buyers. 

Pick a partner

Partnering with a like-minded company (through sponsorship, commission, or value-add) brings benefits to you both. Their expertise and products will be attractive to your existing buyers and they will bring with them an existing customer base whose preferences match your product offering. It’s a win-win situation.  

How to grow your multivendor marketplace

Now you’ve discovered how to attract both buyers and sellers to your marketplace, let’s look at the ways in which you can promote marketplace growth.  

Refine your multivendor marketplace sales funnel

In a nutshell, your sales funnel is a way to:

  • Attract people to your business
  • Educate and build their trust
  • Make more sales

If you want to know more – including how to create one – be sure to check out our sales funnel guide

Monitor your traffic

Keep tabs on your marketplace analytics to see how people are coming to your site. Having a clear understanding of your traffic channels lets you monitor which are performing best when it comes to converting buyers. Once you’ve got this cold hard data in front of you, you can make tweaks to your sales funnel and marketing plan to (hopefully) bolster under-performing areas.

Monitor your categories

Once you’ve analysed your analytics to prioritise your marketing, take another deep dive into your marketplace stats to see which products and categories have the highest conversion rates. Then promote these high performers in your marketing. Marrying underperforming traffic channels with marketing spend that promotes high performing products should pay dividends.   

Embrace buyer content

We’ve discussed the importance of content marketing, now let’s discuss the benefits of user-generated content. Not only is it content that potential buyers will trust and relate to as it’s real people giving honest reviews, it also gives you a bank of content that is free for you to use in your own marketing. And that is priceless. So do what you can to make it super easy for buyers to provide feedback, and leave ratings and reviews.

Improve the buyer journey

The average global eCommerce website conversion rate is 2.58%. That means 97.42% of the average site’s visitors are just browsing. (6) So anything you can do to make the buyer journey as quick, easy, and simple as possible will help persuade that 97.42% to convert.

Focus on customer service

Show that you’re putting the customer first by offering a number of ways for them to find what they’re looking for. As well as a marketplace that’s easy to navigate with a search option on every page, we’d recommend customer service tools such as live chat, a dedicated email or phone line, and a comprehensive FAQ page. If the buyer thinks you’re not there to help when you need them, they’re more likely to go shopping elsewhere.

Make it easy to become a buyer

50% of customers abandon the checkout process due to unwelcome surprises such as unexpected shipping fees. 21% give up purely because the process is too long and complicated. (7) Things you can do to make your checkout process as frictionless as possible include:

  • Ditch the forms: only ask for the information you need to complete the transaction. If you attempt to use the checkout as a data collection tool, you risk losing the customer altogether out of frustration
  • Ditch the surprises: be upfront about potential shipping fees, stock quantities, and expected delivery times before the customer has started filling out their details so there are no 11th hour nasty surprises

Your one-stop shop for multi-vendor marketplaces

Whether you’re keen to build a new marketplace from scratch or need help to optimise your existing site for maximum growth, check out how we can help here

Got a question? We’re happy to help so please get in touch.

References

  1.  https://medium.com
  2.  https://www.businessinsider.com
  3.  https://www.forbes.com
  4.  https://www.cobbleweb.co.uk
  5.  https://www.statista.com/
  6.  https://www.invespcro.com/
  7.  https://baymard.com

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