The reasons to build an online marketplace are endless. From creating a convenient platform to purchase products to offering vendors the tools to build strong reputations, entrepreneurs and enterprises are joining the sharing economy to expand their product lifecycles and gain customer loyalty.
Earning and gaining customer loyalty should influence every aspect of your decision process regarding your marketplace. According to Gartner, 80 percent of a company’s revenue comes from just 20 percent of existing customers. This means that the revenue you’ve been seeking from outside markets needs to be redirected to the customers you already have.
Keep Existing Customers Happy
Now that you know who your most important audience is, keep them coming back for more with a diverse product selection, fair price and exceptional customer service. Since an online marketplace functions differently than traditional consumer models and ecommerce (ecommerce is a one-to-many model whereas a marketplace is a many-to-many model), it has the ability to foster long term customer loyalty.
Online customers expect a lot from their online shopping experiences. As a marketplace owner, you need to set yourself apart from your competitors with a state of the art platform, fair price and exceptional customer service.
Offer a Wide Selection of Products
In a marketplace, such as Etsy for instance, a variety of vendors offer products within the same category (Clothing and Accessories, Jewelry, Crafts etc). Building a platform where entrepreneurs can showcase their unique creations allows you to become a one stop shop for customers looking to purchase items within one or many categories. It also encourages healthy competition. A positive experience with one vendor may influence a customer to try another within the marketplace. Having categories ensures that a wide range of products are offered, expanding the shopping life cycle. Maggie, for instance, just purchased a tote bag from a vendor, but remembers that she needs to buy a present for her sister and voila, a vendor for vintage jewelry pops up!
Determine a Fair Price
Pricing your products accordingly will enhance how much you sell, affecting the long-term success, or failure of your business. Running an online marketplace gives you the ability to manage prices according to an overall consensus agreed upon by vendors, but you should help guide them by researching markets and working to come up with the ideal numbers. Prices may vary, but the degree in differences reflects the level of quality and service offered. Prices that are too low can be disastrous, preventing you from making a profit or worse, breaking even. Overpricing can be just as detrimental. A good strategy is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes, what would you do if you came across such as price? With an overpriced scenario, customers will look to your competitors.
A business does come down to the bottom line, so please put some thought into how much or how little you will be charging. If customers feel your prices are fair, they are more likely to return and purchase again so choosing the wrong price can create problems you will not be able to overcome.
Exceptional Customer Service (Soft Skills)
As a marketplace owner, you want your customers to be happy and to refer their friends to you. So how do you achieve this? Invest in soft skills training for your CSR’s. From emotional intelligence to problem-solving skills, promoting these types of skills in your company will help your CSR’s connect more effectively with clients. It might seem obvious that having good listening and interpersonal skills would benefit sales, but too often managers focus on hard selling, which can leave both the representative and customer feeling like it’s all about money. Yes, turning a profit is important but don’t make it your main purpose. Encourage employees to feel part of your company’s culture and community. In turn, they can be better advocates to those looking to purchase your products.
50 percent of businesses fail in the first year, and 95 percent in the first five. Don’t fall into this trap. Build an online marketplace, or better yet, let us build one for you. Treat your customers well and in return, they will keep coming back.