A Small Business Guide to the Online Marketplace

a woman looking at her cell phone: Woman holding tablet while online shopping in bed

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Woman holding tablet while online shopping in bed

E-commerce business owners flock to online marketplaces because of the massive opportunities they bring. Amazon, for example, has an estimated two billion web visitors monthly. If you were to capture a meager 1% slice of that pie, you’d be set for life.

According to Web Retailer, more than 50% of e-commerce sales in 2019 took place through online marketplaces. The figure is expected to grow over the next five years as more businesses embrace online markets as one of the best platforms to generate sales.

To make a long story short: Be visible in online marketplaces. That’s where all the action is.

Overview: What is an online marketplace?

Online marketplaces are e-commerce platforms that connect buyers and sellers. Think Amazon, AliExpress, etc. They offer many different products from various sellers, and all transactions are processed through the platform.

Because online selling sites are already flooded with targeted traffic, sellers can focus on optimizing their product pages for conversions. That free traffic is an irresistible advantage online marketplaces have that business owners want to leverage.

On the flip side, businesses that sell outside of online marketplaces are heavily burdened by the difficulty of generating targeted traffic to their websites, which can be tricky and costly.

Benefits of selling on an online marketplace

Here are some of the benefits of expanding to e-commerce marketplaces and why it should be a part of your e-commerce strategies.

1. Quick launch times

If you’re starting an online store, selling in marketplaces is one of the best and quickest ways to build your brand, drive traffic to your product pages, and generate revenue. You don’t need to wait for your self-hosted website to go live. Once you’re approved as a third-party seller, upload your product feed to the marketplaces and begin selling.

2. Strategic partnerships

Online marketplaces are the best platforms to build long-term relationships with affiliates, large publications, coupon sites, etc. In fact, most affiliates will only work with you if your products are on Amazon or other popular marketplaces. When you have publishers promoting your products through the affiliate programs of established online selling sites, your products are further exposed to more people.

3. Access to a larger customer base

Popular online selling platforms, such as Walmart and eBay, have millions of web visitors who are eager to buy. They aren’t there to read articles or be entertained by cute cat videos — they’re there to take out their wallets. That makes online marketplaces a gold mine for business owners.

Instead of selling to a few hundred or perhaps thousands of people who visit your website, you can sell to a much wider customer base — potentially millions — in online marketplaces.

4 strategies for selling on online marketplaces

Learn these tested ways to navigate online selling platforms and achieve long-term success for your small business.

1. Optimize your product listing

Optimize your product page to get your listings to appear higher in the search results of online selling sites. The higher up your product shows on the search results, the more eyeballs it gets, which helps improve your click-through rates and sales. Research the keywords and tags relevant to both your products and to what your prospects search for and add them to your product descriptions.

Keyword Tool lets you search for related terms and keyword suggestions based on real user queries, including the monthly search volume, competition, and more. This helps you find the right keywords to include in your tags and product descriptions to improve your visibility on search results.

graphical user interface, application: A screenshot showing several keyword suggestions for the phrase “bluetooth speaker.”

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A screenshot showing several keyword suggestions for the phrase “bluetooth speaker.”

2. Advertise and promote

Leverage the advertising features of online marketplaces to amplify your online store marketing initiatives. Amazon, for instance, offers several ad solutions. They include a demand-side platform that lets you programmatically purchase audio, video, and display ads on and off Amazon, cost-per-click (CPC) ads that appear in relevant shopping results, custom ads, etc.

Implement other promotion strategies as well, such as running weekend versus weekday discount offers and special month-long sales. When your products are listed in established online marketplaces and online selling apps, you dramatically increase your chances of being found by your prospective customers.

3. Automate pricing

Use pricing automation tools and solutions that help you automatically track and adjust prices for your marketplace products.

Online tools, such as Repricer, combine algorithms and pricing rules to reprice your inventory in real time, which reduces the effort you put in to manage your pricing while increasing profit opportunities. For example, if you’re selling on Amazon and other channels, this tool lets you choose the Amazon product marketplace pricing you want to replicate, and Repricer will update your pricing across your sales channels.

Using automated repricing software will also help you streamline the process of assessing various market variables, which always comes in handy when making business decisions.

4. Establish efficient shipping methods

Augment your shipping strategy by working with reliable third-party carriers, such as ShipStation, private logistics companies, or the United States Postal Service (USPS).

Another option is to use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), where you send your merchandise to an Amazon fulfillment center for storage until the products are sold, packaged, and shipped to the customer.

Additionally, you can use the FBA inventory dashboard to seamlessly track and manage your inventory and make sure your products are ready for shipping and fulfillment.

graphical user interface, text, application, email: A screenshot of the Fulfillment by Amazon inventory dashboard.

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A screenshot of the Fulfillment by Amazon inventory dashboard.

Use a mix of different order fulfillment and shipping methods to guarantee you’re working with the most affordable and quickest option for product delivery.

The 4 online marketplaces to start selling quickly

Each marketplace comes with its own set of commissions, seller fees, and requirements for online retailers. Consider these top online marketplaces and choose carefully.

1. Amazon

One of the biggest perks of selling on Amazon is having access to its 100 million Prime members. These are consumers who spend an average of $1,400 per year buying products and services on the online platform.

Find the plan that fits your dynamics. An individual selling plan can get you up and running for $0.99 per sale and other fees. If you’re selling well over 40 units a month, their $39.99 per month Professional package is highly recommended.

2. Walmart

Selling on the Walmart marketplace gives you access to a massive customer base. Walmart doesn’t collect initial setup, monthly, or annual fees, and you’ll generally only need to pay commission fees.

If your products complement Walmart’s existing online product portfolio, the marketplace could be a perfect platform to set up and launch your products quickly.

3. Facebook Marketplace

With no commissions or set listing fees, Facebook Marketplace is another great option for both new and established sellers. Setting up your product listings on Facebook is pretty simple. Sync your updated inventory with the platform, and Facebook will review your products to assess if they’re suitable to sell on its marketplace.

4. eBay

eBay also offers a vast global market share, giving you many opportunities to expand and grow your sales and your business. eBay’s primary selling fees include an insertion fee upon creating a product listing and a final value fee when your merchandise sells. eBay doesn’t require monthly or annual fees.

Get ready to start selling on online marketplaces

Whether you’re launching a new e-commerce store or you’ve been an online retailer for years, selling on online marketplaces should be a key aspect of your business expansion. Just by being present on these platforms, you get better brand visibility and more opportunity for sales, and you can even benefit from the level of protection the platforms offer against fraudulent charges.

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