As we enter into a new decade, it is safe to say that the face of eCommerce ventures is not the same as what it was a decade ago. Today, we have giants like Amazon, Walmart, and Shopify, ruling in the arena, and they are giving everyone a chance to become an entrepreneur. Today is the era of online marketplaces and commission-based revenue channels.
Marketplace eCommerce: The easier way to sell online
No need to wander around looking for developers to code your website, or a logistics partner to manage your shipping services; just sign up on any of the online marketplaces, and you can start selling on the go. We now have instant access to established infrastructures for listing, marketing, selling, and shipping our products.
Besides, the dropshipping model has made the product acquisition a ball. If you don’t have a product to sell yet you want to reap some profits from the eCommerce market, you can get in terms with a dropshipping supplier and sell their products to make money from the commissions.
Marketplaces are nothing but a sea of opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs. They offer unique prospects that traditional selling of the inventory cannot provide without giving you a headache. To list a few, you get instant access to billions of customers, established infrastructure of the platform, useful data to put into marketing perspective.
You don’t have to worry about how to start an online marketplace business. Since the marketplace manages everything, from inventories and advertising to order fulfillment, marketplace sellers get ample space to focus on their business development.
Is it all breeze selling on a marketplace platform?
While it might seem marketplaces are all profitable and sellers have nothing to lose, we can’t deny the fact that every seller gets the same set of opportunities, and probably, the same set of challenges too.
For example, the marketplace software of Amazon has this algorithm called “Buy box”. The algorithm makes some sellers more visible on the platform, while others struggle to catch potential eyeballs most of the time. It’s more like Google’s search algorithm that decides the visibility of a seller’s listings on the product page based on several factors.
The complicated marketplace rules, promotional restrictions, ranking metrics, inorganic boosting through paid services, and various additional charges can make some sellers desperate and hinder their success from multiple fronts. What seems like an affordable way to venture into the eCommerce market becomes an even expensive undertaking than launching your own eCommerce website.
Moreover, even if you run an independent business, you never become the sole owner of your operations. The marketplace site reserves all rights to de-list your products and seller account anytime they wish to do. Amazon has a record of suspending certain listings that do not make good sales in a specified tenure.
Take Shopify as another example. Shopify is all celebration for starting a storefront without going through the mesh of developing a website and managing it. Shopify manages your store and provides the hosting services in its SaaS model. However, this also limits you from having absolute control over your Shopify site. You cannot choose a hosting partner, you cannot modify your store design, you cannot access the source code, you cannot choose your payment partner, and much more. Besides recurring monthly fees, sellers pay the transaction fee and other charges on each sale they make, diminishing the profit margin by a significant value.
Is there an alternative solution to the third-party platforms?
While selling on third-party marketplaces might not be a fine deal for many sellers, there is escalating crops of ready-made script vendors who are supporting micro-entrepreneurs to launch their independent eCommerce websites with the same kind of ease. With the growth in the volume of online sales, these script providers are giving an option to the entrepreneurs to build their own marketplace platforms and sell directly from there.
The ready-made marketplace software allows anyone with no technical knowledge to set up a website in a few minutes, just like Shopify, except you also get access to the source code of your script. Eventually, the source code access allows you to host your website on any web server and choose a payment partner of preference. This saves you from paying any recurring fee to the vendors, and you own the website for good after a one-time payment to purchase the source code.
The changing face of the online marketplace business is also altering the online retail landscape. E-commerce was once reserved for proprietary websites, and then we moved to marketplace platforms to sell on third-party websites. Now, we are moving back to independent marketplace websites with ready-made scripts. As the retail market continues to grow, more solutions will hit the market and offer easier entry points.
However, this does not mean sellers are no more selling on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Alibaba, or Shopify. In fact, they are using marketplaces as their secondary channels, while they are also working on setting up their own platforms. The commissions in the marketplace model might not be a proficient way to make huge profits, but its combination with a proprietary website is certainly creating a drift among the entrepreneurs.
Know your market and proceed accordingly
The eCommerce market is not the same everywhere. There is a huge difference in the prospects from market to market. The deviation in the spending power of the middle class is one of the biggest determiners to conclude if your market is ready to accept new entrants. Besides, you must also analyze the audience demographics. You wouldn’t realize but the prime audience for eCommerce is the internet-savvy population, which is a common trait among the millennials. You must make your strategies depending on the size of the millennial-population in your targeted market.
Consecutively, you would be able to deduce the consumer needs and their expectations with an eCommerce business. Analyze the strength on the following factors, and you would be able to identify if it’s profitable to launch your own platform in a market:
- Local Infrastructure: Internet connectivity, logistics, and other B2B services
- Variety of Brands: Number of familiar brands available with easy supply chain
- Best Price: Prospects to offer the cheapest pricing without diminishing the profit margin
- Quick and Reliable Delivery: Number of reliable shipping and courier services operating in the area
- Payments and Transactions: Types of, and number of secure online payment services in the market
E-Commerce entrepreneurship in 2020 is not limited to specific models and revenue channels. Young entrepreneurs are looking into broader prospects, as they believe in co-existence. We have seen new businesses filling the gaps that giants miss out on. Knowing how to start an online marketplace business does not mean going head-to-head with the giants straight. Entrepreneurs are looking into new ways to enter into specialized markets with niche products and services. While the hulks like Amazon, eBay, Walmart are still governing the online marketplace, the continued propagation towards niche marketplaces is a sign that the face of the marketplace is changing. Those with an understanding of the new trends in the arena will certainly be successful in targeting their buyers.
I am a professional blogger, guest writer, Influencer & an eCommerce expert. Currently associated with ShopyGen as a content marketing strategist. I also report on the latest happenings and trends associated with the eCommerce industry.
Follow me on Twitter @Jessicabruc (https://twitter.com/Jessicabruc)