What is the best way to promote/market an online marketplace?
I am planning to launch an online marketplace (for buyers and sellers) in a particular niche/category. In other words, it would be a storefront website, where sellers would create their store and buyers would come to purchase the goods.
This means, I won't be be doing any production, shipping, selling etc, but just giving the platform (but ONLY in a specific niche, thats where I would be different from Ebay or any other website).
Now, the problem is the promotion/marketing of such website, which seems to me a Chicken & Egg problem. If I contact sellers to come first and create their store and list their products with images, why they would spend time and resources to do so (when there are no customers). Similarly, there is no point for customer to visit website when there are No buyers ...
Please advise on how should I go for its marketing?
Marketplaces are civilized online trading platforms with their own rules of the game, which clearly regulate and protect the activity of sellers and buyers.
You need to define your target audience. The target audience is your potential customers who can order a product and bring profit to sellers and the marketplace as a whole. Since marketplaces almost always have a very wide target audience (this is especially true for horizontally structured marketplaces), the definition of a target audience will be constructed differently than for an online store. Read more here.
The entire balance of any marketplace is the balance between customers and sellers/performers. Maintaining this balance is very important for you to be successful. I think you need to create attractive conditions for first sellers. You can't just call someone and ask them to spend a lot of resources on your site, which may not be successful. You should do it.
When it comes to promotion, marketing and SEO of the marketplace is not different than the eCommerce store. The one thing that is different is that the admin will have to focus on both sellers as well as customers. The management depends on the platform on which your site is built. For instance, if your site is based on CMS platforms like Prestashop. Magento, OpenCart and others, then, you can find extensions to upgrade the site into a marketplace. One such extension is https://www.knowband.com/opencart-multi-vendor-marketplace-plugin.
With such plugins, the product, order, shipping, and other transaction management becomes effortless. However, when it comes to the prominent chicken and egg problem of the marketplace, then, patience is the key. Focus on the niche market and offer best-ever user experience. Once you have successfully expanded your customer base, you can attract more and more sellers at your site. Refer to this article for more such details: https://www.happiestminds.com/Insights/ecommerce-marketplace/
That's why I always said running a multi-seller marketplace is not a cake walk. You need sellers on your marketplace and without a decent number of sellers to sell products, your multivendor store is just a pretty website sitting idle somewhere at a deserted corner of the internet. So, it is really important that you begin to discover merchants for your prospect online store at an early stage; in fact, before even making your first investment. But how to?
I would suggest you or anyone who is looking to run an online multi-vendor marketplace to read this post: https://www.yo-kart.com/blog/how-to-connect-with-vendors-for-ecommerce-store/. It will help you a lot.
Marketing a marketplace is a tough challenge indeed. There are many things to consider, even bigger than the problem you just mentioned, although that is a quite common problem. It is like the chicken and egg story but I think you have to bring the sellers into the site first. There is no other way. Buyers come second.
How do you do this?
Give sellers an incentive or a really strong reason for promoting their products on your site. Some are looking to sell their products any which way and will welcome the opportunity. It is tough to compete with the big dogs like Amazon or eBay, but you need to focus on your niche. Play to your strengths. Unlike Amazon, eBay, or some other huge e-commerce site, you aren’t selling anything and everything. Focus on your niche. Narrow your concentration. This also helps you in marketing, as you only need to target a certain niche market. This means limited demographics.
Who is your buying persona?
Since you are only launching the marketplace for a particular category or subgroup, identify your persona and market to them. It is impossible to beat Amazon in every aspect, but you can overcome them in some. Other e-commerce sites are a testament to this. Treat your small size as an advantage and promote, promote, promote. Push your company, your site, services online and on social media.
Although your marketplace is online, promoting it in the real world helps as well. Use promotional materials to increase awareness of your site. Attend events related to your niche and hang up posters and distribute flyers there. The more people that know about your site, the better. All the best!
What about some offline marketing methods? I would like to recommend you to try some Lapel Pins as promo items, I think you will find it interesting and helpful. It should work for you too
What is E-commerce marketing?
Definition: E-commerce marketing is the process of driving sales by raising awareness about an online store's brand and product offerings. Digital marketing for E-commerce applies traditional marketing principles to a multichannel, data-driven environment.
The biggest challenge that online store owners face is increasing traffic to their E-commerce store. Knowing where to start and how to stand out from the thousands of other shops that are competing for the same traffic is a daunting challenge.
How to Grow Your Online Sales?
1. Post Daily Content for Continued Growth
One of the easiest ways to grow your social communities over time is to post content consistently. The minimum should be once a day on Facebook, 4-6 times a day on Twitter and 2–3 times a day on Instagram. Also pay attention to what time of the day you post, the timing of social media is very important.
2. Reduce Abandoned Carts
You’re losing money by missing out on potential orders. But don’t take it personally. Every online store is missing out on potential orders.
The phenomenon is a well-studied one: Customers add items to their carts but abandon their carts during checkout. According to the Baymard Institute, 67.45% of shopping carts are abandoned before they’re completed. Think about that for a minute. Your sales are one-third of what they may potentially be.
3. Run a Twitter Q&A
Engagement is critical to keep any online community alive and well. A great tactic to grow your Twitter community and dramatically increase engagement is by hosting a weekly Twitter Q&A. The idea is to pick a day of the week, and then encourage your community to post questions related to your product, business, industry or really anything. You then provide answers to their questions and then choose the best questions and use them in a blog post.
Here are some tips from Twitter company’s blog on how to host a Twitter Q&A session.
What Are You Waiting For?
The days of single channel marketing are over. Combining and integrating social, search and content into your digital marketing strategy for your E-commerce store are now vital to move from visible to visible on a crowded and competitive web.
Another alternative is to join digital marketing course where you will learn digital marketing from industries best experts with practical assignments.
For example, I presently run a small marketing business - Strategic Digital Marketing and Publishing Solutions and decided to put together a very comprehensive training course that walks people how to set up a GOOD marketing program, from A to Z, that they can do themselves. It's literally everything in my head, presented in a well-organized program that's designed to get results.
It's a 12 week program - each week covers a new topic. And the content for each week is broken up into 5 pieces, one for each workday of the week (Monday through Friday). It should take you about 10-15 minutes per day to learn what I am going to teach you. And then, I'm asking you to invest 30-45 minutes after that to actually DO what I've taught you. It takes 30 days for something to become habit. So, the idea is that the end of 12 weeks, you will have trained yourself on how to set aside an hour per day towards the marketing of your business.
The way that I approach marketing is a little different than most people, since my background is actually in sales. So, everything I teach is designed with one thing in mind: good ROI.
The easiest way for you is to make a compelling animated marketing video where you won't have to spend so much time doing the sales pitch over and over again. By using different social media, you'll be able to reach potential buyers and sellers accordingly. Hitting the 'share' button, you can get your website known as an online marketplace for interested people.
To crack this Chicken & Egg problem of yours, you need to start pitching your store to merchants to list their products for free & enable them to promote their products like Arnold has suggested.
As for how exactly you should be marketing your store, here a few tips:
- Promote it on social media through graphical updates & by joining relevant groups
- Invest in paid advertising (PPC)
- Do keyword focused content marketing around the particular product category you are targeting
- Invest in paid marketing a little
- And yes, don’t forget about the SEO, since in long terms it is what going to help your business thrive
Plus, like you have said that you are still planning to launch a multivendor store; in case you haven’t begin with the process, I would suggest you to build it using a readymade multivendor script. There are plenty of them. To name a few, Yo!Kart, CS-cart, & X-cart. Personally, I would recommend Yo!Kart, for its features & flexibility.
Here is the link if you want to check: http://www.yo-kart.com/
I am currently working on a similar "marketplace" website although not an ecom one that yours seems to be. From a marketing point of view I have found that rather than marketing the high tech "Features" of my platform I get better results from explaining the "benefits" that buyers and sellers get (which in some cases overlap). Let's face it most people are more interested in what's in it for them, than how much we spend on creating something wonderful and advanced.
The SEO side was fairly easy as I just created pages targeted at both parties and optimized those pages.
I should warn you that if my experience is anything to go by then this can quickly become an expensive exercise and you may wish to consider crowd funding this. I say that as I have now been funding my own site for over 2 years
You need to establish and prove the need through real buyers and sellers. Even if it means you offer sellers free space until which point there is justifiable momentum that they start making money. Once you prove your value proposition to the ones you wish to charge, then you can charge based on their return of investment being worthwhile. Create the market then stage two is making money from that.
If you decided to launch an online marketplace it's because, at some point, you found a need in your target market, and if you were doing it right, those potentials showed interest in it. The better approach is introducing to those same people you are connected with the platform and invite them to post a couple of their products. You have to create or come up with a plan for your group pilot. There should be a way to reward them or motivate them to become the first 'publishers'; limit this participation (12-25 people) and with those couple of products, you are, somehow, ready to market. Initial phase involved feedback, testimonials and suggestions- that is way it is nice working with pilot groups (they give us some sort of validation and possible paths). Entice first vendors/suppliers carefully. Serve them well. And they would be glad to give you suggestions and testimonial, which counts a lot for marketing material as well. As someone told in this thread, it is not a chicken-egg issue; you cannot invite invite anyone to buy if there is nothing in it. Focus on your providers. Fill in the marketplace first.
What youre asking is not a chicken or egg problem its more of a 'if you build it they will come" situation. Create your platform well - then promote it to likely parties.
You need to find out where your target market and ideal customer resides and hangs out online. Don't assume, do the research to find out. Then promote your service there.
Your challenge is one that is very common. Especially amongst individuals who see an opportunity in buying one of those inexpensive clone scripts (fiverr, eBay, etc) and then figure they can also build a monster, but soon realize that they don't have tons of employees and funds as the big boys do..
Your venture, (if you are seriously planning to put all of your time, energy, funds, etc into building a 2 sided marketplace, and trying to turn it into a profitable business) will require allot more than just figuring out how to market it. Especially if you are still in the "planning to launch" stage.
I will give you only simple answer to start with.
Your "sellers" are the ones to focus on at first.
Invite them to put up their products, (free), and give them the tools to easily promote and sell their stuff. Then make sure that "they" do much of the promoting and the selling for the most part. As in, give them tools to share their stuff on Facebook, twitter, etc. And give them a great reason to do so.
Many professional sellers (if they know what they are doing) will be promoting their stuff anyways. And they will reach their buyers via social media, etc. It's your job to convince them to add "your" website link to their stuff. (not eBay, etc). This way the buyers that they find, will fix the second half of your challenge.
Having said all that, you should really sit down and write a detailed business plan. More specifically, one that "should" actually answer the question you pose, as I can almost guarantee that your question will only be one of many other challenges to overcome.