This article was contributed by Brian Roizen from Feedonomics
Ecommerce businesses that want to expand must improve their online presence. Online markets offer great opportunities for reaching customers and increasing sales.
If multichannel selling or online market performance improvement is of interest - this article is for you!
Optimize Product Data
Provide optimized product data such as product titles and descriptions on every market you list products on. Descriptive product titles help consumers better understand a product. Use keywords to boost search ranking. Brand name, color, size, material, and other information is valuable and will help a listing rank in the results of customers’ search queries.
Use space wisely, and follow best practices. Title lengths are limited, and each marketplace has restrictions. For example, the words "free shipping" aren't permitted in a listing's title. Amazon will issue an error notice for this occurrence and prevent the product from being listed.
Newegg, eBay, and Walmart also prevent “free shipping” verbiage within listing titles. There are alternative ways for customers to view your shipping policies. Reserve title-listings for specific product details.
Maintain Positive Seller Ratings
Markets aim for uniform customer experience, including third-party seller performance. Sellers must meet strict standards. Failure to provide customers with positive experiences cause sales to suffer and lead to loss of account privileges.
Overselling can damage seller rating, result in negative reviews, and potentially cause account suspension. It's considered a negative experience when a customer is permitted to place an order for a product that isn't available. This problem occurs for sellers with low inventory, or those offering products on multiple channels.
Here's an example:
Three units of an item are for sale on the company website, Amazon, and eBay. Two units sell on your website, and one unit sells on eBay, making that item out of stock. When you update inventory only once or twice a day, an Amazon customer might still see three units of that item in stock.
Should the customer order the product, the transaction will be permitted. Because the item is sold-out, you must cancel the order and inform your customer.
Avoid this by updating inventory as frequently as possible, accurately indicating products that are out of stock. Inventory rules can be assigned as a buffer to help prevent overselling.
For example, on Amazon and eBay, when an item's stock quantity falls below three, a rule can be applied to display that item as “out of stock,” reserving that inventory for your website.
A seller's fulfillment abilities highly influence their performance rating. Most marketplaces will not administer account restrictions without giving sellers sufficient time to improve performance ratings.
Amazon has a reputation for being very strict about seller performance. Consider eBay or another marketplace before Amazon if you know your fulfillment operations need improvement; or, hire a third-party logistics company to help. Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) is another time-saving option for fulfillment if you can afford it, especially if you are selling smaller items.
Amazon’s minimum seller performance standards:
- 60-Day order defect rate: less than 1%
- Pre-fulfillment cancel rate: less than 2.5%
- Late shipment rate: less than 4%
- Valid tracking rate: greater than 95%
eBay’s minimum seller performance standards:
- 30-Day transaction defect rate: less than 2%
- Late shipment rate: less than 7%
- Valid tracking rate: greater than 95% (only applies to Top Rated Sellers)
Newegg’s minimum seller performance standards:
- Average seller rating: 3 eggs or above
- Order defect rate: less than 3%
- Pre-fulfillment order void rate: less than 2.5%
Walmart’s minimum seller performance standards:
- 90-Day order defect rate: less than 2%
- On-Time shipment rate: greater than 99%
- Valid tracking rate: greater than 99%
Listing products and fulfilling orders promptly are only half of the battle when selling on a major marketplace. If you're just getting started, you also need to generate sales traction. Leave room in your budget for advertising until you start receiving organic exposure. Don’t expect to jump on a marketplace and immediately generate sales—you need to develop a positive seller history and that does take time.
For enhanced product exposure, eBay offers its “Promoted Listings” advertising program. While you won't have exclusive control over your campaigns, you only pay for advertisements that earn sales. You select the sale fee percentage you are willing to pay if an ad converts. This option creates some predictability in pricing, but targeting is not intricate.
Newegg offers some marketing tools for sellers who have a free account, including the ability to run banner ads, get featured in Hot Deals, and have a spot in monthly email blasts. For more personalized marketing features, like customizing a seller store or sending personalized post-purchase emails, you will need to have a professional or enterprise account.
Amazon's advertising program is intricate, complex, and boasts many features. While Amazon Sponsored Products (PPC ads) are generally rewarding for sellers, competition is fierce. Without Buy Box, you cannot advertise. Strong performance metrics, competitive pricing, and fast and reliable shipping is a must for acquiring Buy Box. There are additional factors Amazon’s algorithm considers.
When your products aren't discoverable, how can performance metrics be improved? How can customers discover your products if you're not advertising on Amazon? Marketplace success takes time for these very reasons. One strategy is to use other marketing channels besides Amazon to direct buyers to your Amazon product pages.
Like Amazon, Walmart’s sponsored product advertisements are pay-per-click. An ad can only be shown if it wins the Buy Box. A seller must apply to gain access to Walmart’s advertising programs, and minimum monthly ad spend of $1,000 is required.
While Walmart isn't as saturated with sellers as Amazon, Amazon remains the leading online market and reaches more customers. Still, Walmart reaches millions of customers, and ad space can be cheaper.
Don’t Wait to get on Marketplaces
Online shopping is becoming increasingly popular. Establishing your presence online will take time if you’re not currently selling on a marketplace or you don’t have a recognizable brand. Strategies for handling customer inquiries, reviews, Buy Box competition, tighter profit margins, fulfillment requirements, and product promotions come into play. Just like any other venture, with practice and patience, you will succeed.
Brian Roizen is the Cofounder and Chief Architect of Feedonomics, a full-service feed optimization platform that optimizes product data for hundreds of channels. He has been featured on numerous podcasts and webinars and regularly contributes to Search Engine Land and other industry-leading blogs. Brian graduated summa cum laude from UCLA with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.