Selling on multiple online marketplaces has its challenges. To maximize sales on each platform, sellers should be paying attention to such things as orders, customer reviews and inventory levels daily. Here are some suggestions from a few retailers that sell on more than five marketplaces on how to manage each one.
- Online sporting goods retailer Dazadi Inc., No. 640 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 1000, built software in-house that allows the company to keep track of all product data for all marketplaces in one central database. The database then connects via an application programming interface (API) to the various marketplaces it sells on.
“We definitely check performance daily, including weekends [for some marketplaces],” says co-founder and CEO Jason Boyce.
He says the retailer spends the most time on marketplaces that offer the most data about listings, products and customer comments such as Amazon (No. 3 in the 2018 Internet Retailer Online Marketplaces Database), eBay (No. 4 in the Online Marketplaces ranking) and Jet (No. 22). For example, Amazon provides data on seller and product reviews. On eBay, sellers can compare how their listings are performing against their competitors. “Being able to process information improves success on those marketplaces,” he says.
- Office supplies e-retailer Jam Paper & Envelope (No. 737 in the Top 1000) creates daily sales reports each morning, which show the prior day’s sales per channel, the month-to-date sales per channel and the year-to-date sales per channel. “This helps us identify any issues that might be occurring and to dig in if necessary,” CEO Andrew Jacobs says.
The company uses business intelligence software Tableau to help analyze the large sets of data. When Jam Paper looks at total orders and sales figures, it has projections or expectations in mind, so they can easily spot if a number looks way off.
- Another challenge for sellers is pricing. Sellers can strategically set prices on different marketplaces based on demand, time of day or competitors’ prices. Accessories retailer Phoenix Leather Goods (No. 909 in the Top 1000) sets floor prices, or the lowest price for which an item can be sold, for all products. This helps in maintaining gross margin per product on every marketplace, says Brad Rusin, director of e-commerce. Phoenix use an algorithmic repricing feature from technology firm ChannelAdvisor Corp. to set those prices for all products.
- Many retailers sell the same products on marketplaces as they do on their own e-commerce sites, and the product descriptions are typically the same across all channels. When the descriptions are the same, sellers risk being penalized by search engines like Google Inc. for duplicate content, and therefore may see a dip in traffic to their own e-commerce sites as a result.
Amitai Sasson, vice president of marketing and technology at overstockArt.com (No. 825), says his company tries to have two sets of descriptions for every SKU: One description used on all marketplaces and another for its own site. “We separate descriptions on our own site versus marketplaces to keep the search engine optimization (SEO) value on our website,” he says. Meaning, the retailer uses more SEO keywords and more detailed descriptions on its own site so overstockArt.com will rank higher in search results. The company also does this so Google doesn’t penalize the retailer’s website for having duplicate content across multiple domains.