It’s nearly 2018 and by now, you know the drill: online marketplaces are building, building, building to the sky, accounting for more and more of the United States’ total retail sales every single day. E-commerce sales are currently hovering at around 8.4% according to 2017’s third-quarter report from the Census Bureau, and every prediction shows that they’ll only continue trending upward. This isn’t peanuts — it’s billions of dollars in sales. The retail landscape is changing, which means it’s time to roll up our sleeves and learn the new ropes so we don’t get left in the dust.
Where to start?
With the third-party sellers, we know so well. These are the giants, the household names, the first sellers that spring to mind. We’re talking Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Jet, and other major players. This is where e-commerce sellers are seeing their biggest success — massive well-oiled machines sprawled across every conceivable industry and accessible by virtually every world citizen. They’ve been steadily growing and improving their holdings for decades, learning the nuances of every market so well that newer competitors can barely lay a scratch on them. There’s still room for a few niche markets who’ve found a home, though… e-sellers like Houzz and Lyst, for example, or even Etsy.
Shopify Stores give you a piece of the action.
If you’re wondering what this has to do with your boutique shop or modest online marketplace, then buckle in, because you’re about to go on a wild ride through the intricacies of online marketing channels and how to utilize them to your advantage.
First things first: let’s talk marketplace channels
A sales channel is a particular avenue you can use as a marketplace to sell your products. Virtually every major third-party seller offers an outlet for online sellers to use their existing infrastructure and customer base to sell. You know these channels as Amazon Seller Central and Vendor Express, eBay storefronts, Jet marketplace, and similar. They can be added as sales channels within Shopify stores.
Channels are predicted to rake in more than $500 billion in revenue by 2020
These marketplaces, or channels, differ from a standard online store in a few different ways. Shopify stores are owned and operated by your business alone, allowing you full control and all the room you need to do your own thing. They’re great for companies looking to build their own solid brand and control the message 100% of the time. The tradeoff, however, is that your visibility is limited by your own reach and marketing efforts. Marketplaces, on the other hand, don’t offer much in the way of strong branding or setting yourself apart from the crowd, but their existing customer base is absolutely massive, paving the way for a much bigger ready-made audience than you might be able to reach on your own. In exchange, they take a small commission on each sale, the amount of which can vary from marketplace to marketplace.
The fact that these channels are predicted to rake in more than $500 billion in revenue by 2020 (according to Forrester) means they’re well worth your consideration if you’re serious about succeeding in the online retail market.
How To Manage Your Online Marketplaces
Now the question becomes “HOW?” How do you reap the biggest possible benefit from selling through these online marketplaces, and how do you manage so many different channels at one time?
This is where a platform like Shopify comes in to simplify your life and give you the support you need.
Attempting to manage multiple shops across multiple channels gets messy fast, and Shopify has found a way to distill the process down so you’re not stretched thin. Add a product one time and you can sell it anywhere, right away. There’s no need to maintain giant spreadsheets of data in order to make sure your messaging is the same everywhere. The unified platform does it for you – do it all within one Shopify store with ease.
From one dashboard, you can access more than a dozen sales channels across the internet’s largest platforms, including Facebook, eBay, Amazon, Wish, Wanelo, Houzz, Kik, Lyst, SiBi, eBates, and more. Beyond maintaining your product listing throughout the marketplaces of your choice, you also have more marketing options to a wider audience than you’ve ever had before. Access the massive audiences perusing BuzzFeed each day, or create your own pins on Pinterest to bring browsers directly to your virtual door. This is only the tip of the versatility of Shopify Stores.
Hard as it is to believe, this is the easy part. You can compile your products and sell them across channels easily, but now you have to decide which channels are right for you and your business. Every marketplace has its own rules and regulations, which means you still need to do your due diligence or enlist help to make sure you’re staying on top of all the requirements.
Shopify stores streamline this process as well, offering a central hub where you can browse and edit your listings as necessary.
Ultimately, the best way to grow your business will be to use any avenue available to you to access customers, and selling through multiple marketplaces in addition to your own online Shopify stores is going to be the best way to do that. Through using a platform like Shopify, you can use their fantastic back-end integration with key marketplaces to amplify your long-term e-commerce strategy.