Business success typically follows a progression through various levels: starting locally, expanding regionally, reaching a national scale, and ultimately achieving an international presence. The same can also be said for ecommerce; everything moves in a progression of stages. Ecommerce follows a similar progression.
- Starting locally = mastering growth on one channel.
- Expanding regionally = experimenting with new channels that fit your model.
- Reaching national scale = creating a diversified marketplace presences while maintaining brand consistency.
- Achieving an international presence = building a true omni-channel ecommerce business complete with expansion beyond US markets.
Wherever you are on this growth progression, you can constantly plan on one thing; there aren’t many smooth transitions. In fact, there are several components actively working against your business that can make sales and profits difficult to sustain from one market to another. These include scalability, branding, and even simple execution and exposure.
But in this case, the juice IS worth the squeeze.
Benefits of Each Channel
- Less competition with just over 50,000 sellers
- Exposure to new audiences and demographics including those of higher income
- Expanding integration partnerships to help with fulfillment, content, and more
- An invite-only environment that allows for exclusivity and gained market share
- Handle all returns through an online representative or brick and mortar storefront
- Set up your own personalized storefront to build a brand presence
- Ability for international expansion with the option of shipping to over 100 countries worldwide
- Easily market your product through content and optimization as listing work like results from search engines
- Have zero stock by allowing Amazon to house and fulfill inventory across various warehouses
Operations and Inventory
Focusing on the main aspects of how you operate within a marketplace might be a bit of a no-brainer, but it’s one that many businesses don’t get right. If you’re selling to a new market, you must be able to understand what impact this new pressure will have on your systems. Diversifying your marketplace means that the demands on your fulfillment and inventory won’t always be consistent, it’s up to you to predict and adjust according to these new marketplaces.
Outside of differences within supply and demand, each marketplace also offers its own set of processes. From inventory stock to seller requirements and even advertising, each marketplace you choose has rules you need to follow. It’s a lot to manage and keep up with. For example, Amazon requirements include basics like ID and tax verification. But Amazon also takes things a step further by needing category and product approval along with a list of both country and product restrictions.
Tips for Expanding to New Marketplaces:
- Conduct market research to understand the demand for your product on new channels
- Evaluate your supply chain to ensure it is fully equipped to sell on new marketplaces
- Outsource fulfillment to put less strain on your in-house processes and increase efficiency and shipping speed
- Establish relationships within marketplace channels to leverage resources in areas where your operations may be lacking
- Find yourself a dedicated 3P partner (like Spreetail!) who works to handle all this for you. Knowing what stock needs to go where, tackling pricing issues, and managing shipping and fulfillment is a hefty task especially when procedures change channel to channel.
Brand and Customer Experience
When it comes to operating within a new market your brand and reputation are everything. It’s not enough to simply offer a new product; your company and the item must correlate well with the channel itself. How others view and interact with your brand is vital to the everlasting success of your business within that marketplace. The key to success here is creating a seamless journey for your customers, making their experiences all the same regardless of what channel they choose to buy on. This monitoring is called ‘brand control’ and it helps to ensure optimized sales while preserving brand value.
Pros of Brand Control:
- Increased marketplace sales and profitability
- Greater return on marketing and advertising efforts
- Enhanced customer journey by removing disruption at all stages
Consequences of No Brand Control:
- Disrupted advertised pricing on highly visible marketplace platforms
- Inconsistent branding diluting a company’s image and decreasing customer trust
- Inability to run an effective MAP program across the omni-channel landscape
Your World Without Brand Control
The importance of consistency and convenience extends into the buying, shipping, and support of your customers’ experience. How they feel about the brand you have built could be detrimental. A study done by PWC found that 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand after just one bad interaction. Negative implications can spread like wildfire when it comes to word-of-mouth recommendations and online reviews, putting your brand in harm’s way.
Tips for Branding:
- Learn more about your target audience to better understand how your brand will be received and what adjustments may need to be made
- Outline expectations across processes and procedures as a way of ensuring all customers get treated with the same amount of service and respect
- Keep the company and staff aligned with adjustments and proper training to create constructive collaboration
- Be consistent with listings by ensuring that product descriptions, image quality, and product variations are the same on all channels
Leveraging Data Analytics
You can’t walk before you crawl, can’t run before you walk, and you most certainly can’t expand into new marketplaces without analyzing some key data points first. As mentioned before, knowing the new marketplace you plan to expand to is essential when it comes to understanding how to integrate your brand and forecasting demand, but research shouldn’t end there. Take the time to observe market trends, develop new products that might be a better fit within the new marketplace, or even host focus groups and beta testing to gauge your new audience’s perception. By gathering information, you set yourself up to make better decisions that will positively impact your success and bottom line.
What Data to Check:
- Seasonality and overall performance metrics work to predict the flow of sales and revenue to help decide if expanding into a new marketplace is worth the risk
- Demographics can help lead a brand to where they need to go based on who your target market is and if you are capturing their attention
- A/B testing offers a way to test the waters and find what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to converting your audience
Robots aren’t taking over any time soon, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be useful in the everyday operations of your business. Human error does exist and sometimes it’s better to get a machine to do the tedious and mundane. Using automation can help manage inventory, track fulfillment, monitor security, navigate compliance, and even process customer support queries.
Although it may seem like it, automation and AI tools aren’t just for the tech giants in Silicon Valley. Studies report that AI spend in the retail space has a compounded annual growth rate of 39%, and 80% of retail executives plan to adopt some form of artificial intelligence. If you want to stand out and positively impact your performance as a business, testing how you can automate tasks and leverage technological advancements is a great place to start.
Tech to Take Advantage Of:
- Use chatbots to segment customer service and answer quick, common questions
- Cut back on down time by using machine learning to input SKUs, process transactions, or place shipments
- Enhance customer experience with AR (Artificial Reality) where buyers can see and interact with the product before purchasing
Unlocking Your Potential with Spreetail
We’ve shared four strategies you can implement to stay in the game and be successful as you go through various marketplace expansions. You could do all these yourself, or you could get Spreetail to do it all for you. Our channel and merchandising experts utilize their skills to help you reach more customers than ever before by expanding into over 12 marketplaces. Read up on how we took one of our partners into new markets while increasing their GMV (Gross Merchandising Volume) by 180%.