Generating supply and demand are the two main stumbling blocks of any online marketplace. You need to generate some demand for the products on your marketplace for it to be an attractive proposition for your sellers. You need to have one before you can have the other - a classic chicken-and-egg scenario. Fortunately on Blipteam you can crack the supply egg first and get your marketplace going.Start Building Your Marketplace >
Each seller in your Blipteam marketplace gets a fully functioning web store that they can operate independently of your marketplace. So while you are selling products from hundreds of sellers and vendors, they can operate their own web stores under their own domain names. This gives them ownership over their online properties and saves you the headache of maintaining product information.
Your sellers can use your 'Seller Sign-up' link from your marketplace site to set up their accounts and create product listings. They can also use these accounts to create their own web stores with their own branding and domain names. You should set up a test web store yourself in the beginning. This will familiarise you with the system and show you how your sellers will sell online. You can now invite sellers to build their own web stores on Blipteam.
They can operate their web stores under their own domain names and still supply products to your marketplace. They can either do all the paperwork and get their own payment accounts, or just concentrate on creating first class products and sell via your payment account.
The above feature is great for getting in your first few sellers and you will probably do that directly via one-to-one conversations with prospective sellers or through your immediate business circle. Very soon you will run out of personal contacts and that is when you will have to cast a wider net. Your first urge would be to create an Amazon for everything under the sun but it is more advisable to laser-focus your energies on one part of your industry or retail space.
Here's where you can strike up a conversation with sellers further afield. Many small businesses are great designers or product producers but few are any good at selling online. Often you will see a small brand with some great-looking products on their Facebook page. But they start getting really sloppy when it comes to sales and following up with customers or generating confidence about how they are going to deliver the product. Here's where you can make a difference.
Generate some content about product pricing, customer service and increasing online sales. Show your sellers how to reach out to customers and create a good online reputation. Have sample returns policies ready. Help them set up Terms & Conditions documents. Show your sellers how to present their products online and create standards for them to list product specs and other marketing information. Create content around all this information - how-to guides, instructional videos. Post this content on your site, on social media and on YouTube.
Learn more about content marketing and the benefits of content marketing. People interesting in selling online will find your content and visit your marketplace site. If you are focussed on one industry vertical there are higher chances that professionals within your industry will pass around your content and refer each other to your site.
After you have signed on some sellers and generated some supply it is time to get on to the next part of the problem - generating demand. Now you need some consumer traffic. There are two main strategies for driving traffic to your online store, through inbound marketing (by generating content that draws in prospective customers to your website, such as helpful how-to articles or YouTube videos) or via outbound marketing (reaching out to your target consumers via print and electronic advertising or email marketing).
There are many different ways to market your website online, from SEO (search engine optimization) to Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising to social media marketing and buying Facebook ads. There is no shortcut recipe for what will work for your business and if you are just starting out be prepared to experiment with all the different types of marketing available nowadays. If one does not work then move to the next method available. Here's some more about the different ways to market your online store >
Marketing and having access to consumer traffic is one of the main reasons individual sellers and small businesses will be drawn to your marketplace. But generating bucketloads of consumer traffic is only half the problem. The next problem is getting products to your marketplace customers and putting in fool-proof returns mechanisms in place.
Product photography and copywriting are areas your sellers may need help with. If your sellers are located in one geographic area you could set up a photography studio that can turn out high-quality product images on a fast and consistent basis. And unless your sellers are award-winning authors, they may need assistance from a professional content specialist to polish product specs and other marketing content.
Packaging and shipping are the other core areas your sellers will need help with. If you are starting out with a particular industry vertical and geographical area then you will know the most optimum shipping rates and methods available. Leave no room for speculation. Have some shipping procedures ready for your marketplace. Also have returns policies ready for your sellers so they clearly understand how to do business online.
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