By Sam Hodges
Online shopping in the UK is worth £68bn and growing with 40% of people shopping online at least once a week (1) and the popularity of mobile technology will no doubt lead to more online shoppers.
Shoppers like convenience, simplicity and value. Online, a few clicks and your items are dispatched, often costing less than on the High Street. 65% of e-shoppers prefer to buy from marketplaces or auction sites (2) so for retailers with no e-commerce site or those wanting to expand their product reach, marketplaces can be extremely lucrative.
With Christmas just around the corner, followed almost immediately by the January Sales, engaging with your customers on your chosen marketplace is essential for shifting seasonal or discounted stock.
The easiest way to integrate products into a marketplace is with a product data feed. Data feed software can extract comprehensive product information directly from your e-commerce site, ensuring all product information is accurate and up-to-date. The more product data you have, the better.
Which marketplaces generate the most e-commerce revenue?
The marketplace you choose can be crucial to online success. Marketplaces include Amazon, eBay and Rakuten’s Play.com plus the smaller ones (such as Notonthehighstreet.com) that target specific consumers.
Pricing, in terms of marketplace commission, should also be considered. Each marketplace charges retailers a different amount; a fixed fee per listing, monthly charge and/or a percentage of sales value. If you’re planning to sell a significant number of items, then it may be worth signing up to the monthly schemes which usually include additional features and benefits.
Customers want a simple shopping experience, with few clicks and a hassle-free checkout option. According to the UK E-Commerce Statistics 2012, 44% of consumers abandon online purchases with complicated checkout processes, whilst 38% leave websites and apps that don’t load within 10 seconds.
During the holiday season, consumers have a lot of shopping to do and won’t have the time or patience to wait for slow sites.
Econsultancy research (3) lists Amazon as one of the fastest marketplaces and one that integrates the shopping basket across the channels. Customers can add products to their basket on their Smartphone, then check out on their laptop. Tesco also offers this option so customers can update their shopping list on the go.
As m-commerce gains popularity, choosing a marketplace with a functional mobile site could drive incremental revenue. The advantage of one-click purchasing is that customers don’t have to fill out endless details – one simple tap and the transaction is complete.
6 reasons why data feed technology generates the best results
1) Product categorisation
Customers want to find products quickly and easily without trawling through listings. Always select the product categories and sub-categories that best match your item and don’t add a new one unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Miscategorisation can make your products difficult to find and if your products don’t show up in the results, shoppers can’t buy them. Mapping and translating your data feed categories will ensure maximum listing optimisation.
2) Keyword optimisation
Listings need to be optimised to match customer search queries on both marketplace and search engines so use common search terms to describing your products, e.g. ‘grey’ not ‘charcoal’. Use long-tail keywords that include more product attributes. Rather than ‘girls coat’, use ‘girls Next wool duffel coat red age 7’.
Using data feeds boosts your optimisation because product details from your e-commerce site are fully integrated into the marketplace and therefore found easily.
3) Product description
According to Econsultancy (4), limited product information is one of the main barriers to online shopping.
Product descriptions shouldn’t be too long, but provide extra details and incentives, e.g. ‘Hot off the catwalk, this Marc Jacobs silk evening dress is perfect for New Year’s Eve. Available in black and navy blue, this strapless dress comes in UK sizes 6-16. Free delivery until December 31st 2012.’
Offering free delivery and listing the RRP encourages customer interest, as it shows them how much they will save buying from you.
4) Customer experience
When shopping on the High Street, customers can examine items, so try to closely reproduce this online to provide the best possible shopping experience. This becomes more important during the holidays when people are searching for gifts and want the correct item delivered in time for Christmas.
Images are essential so that consumers can see what they’re buying and include photos from different angles to give the customer a comprehensive overview of the item.
Virtual fitting rooms, videos and zoomable images can also be added to marketplace listings using data feeds, to provide a more interactive customer shopping experience.
5) Product reviews
Product reviews can enhance the customer experience and increase conversion rates. They also provide fresh content for search engines, boosting your optimisation and improving the chances of your products appearing in a ‘product name + review’ search.
Social Media Today (5) discovered that almost two-thirds of customers were more likely to purchase products that were independently reviewed. Almost 70% (6) of consumers trusted items with good and bad reviews, with almost a third of customers admitting they were suspicious of products with no negative reviews.
6) International e-commerce
Lots of companies are considering international expansion in 2013 and selling on marketplaces makes it relatively simple to showcase your products overseas. It can also be a good marketing tactic, as excess winter stock from the UK can be sold in Australia as their seasons are different.
The ready-made audience eliminates the effort and cost of setting up localised websites and driving traffic to them. Products can be shipped individually, but to reduce costs you could use a third party abroad.
If you intend to make a big impression, consider translating your content into the local language as items are less likely to be found if they’re in English. Again data feeds can be lucrative, as translated content can be easily integrated into foreign marketplaces.
Don’t forget Customers want accurate high-quality products that are good value, so don’t increase your prices – customers won’t be happy if they discover it would have been cheaper to buy direct. Post-Christmas shoppers are looking for bargains, so consider altering your data feeds so that your main focus is on end of line or seasonal products.
Encourage return visits from customers by meeting their expectations. Some marketplaces let retailers send products to them and they handle shipping and returns. This can save time, but if you handle everything yourself, you can build customer relationships which encourage repeat business and recommendations.
Don’t censor reviews and if possible, validate them so only customers who have actually bought products from you can review them.
Overall, be honest with your product information and communicate with your customers – if there are problems with an order, tell them. The winter weather can be unpredictable so keep an eye on the forecast and keep your customers updated. Customers want a quick and simple process with good value for money products.
References used in this article
(1) Revoo, June 2011 via Econsultancy’s Ecommerce Statistics Oc
(2)Source: Eccomplished, April 2012 via Econsultancy’s Ecommerce statistics October 2012.
(4) Source: Econsultancy – How We Shop in 2010: Habits and Motivations of Consumers, July 2010.
(6) Revoo’s report ‘Bad reviews are good for business: The power of negative reviews” http://www.reevoo.com/resources/ebooks/bad-reviews-are-good-business
After growing up in a small town in Hereford, Sam was eager to escape to a big city for university. However, he ended up in Guildford studying a BSc in Entrepreneurship Technology, IT and Business at the University of Surrey. After working at HP for a year, Sam joined FusePump as Technical Account Manager in June 2011 and is now a Product Manager. Although most of his free time is spent playing upfront for Wanderers Hockey Club, he does squeeze in the odd adventure and recently managed to fly home from Italy without a passport.