marketplaces

Online marketplaces – beginners guide for wedding suppliers

If you’re a wedding business selling products online – stationery, favours, accessories, dresses for example – then you will know how hard it can be to get customers to your online shop. The top Google rankings are taken by big brands, you don’t understand how paid search works (and you know it can be expensive) and you’re struggling to get your social media fans to cross over to your website.

So you may be looking at alternative ways to find customers and one option is to list your products on an online marketplace like ebay or Amazon.

What are Marketplaces?

Online marketplaces work pretty much like any other market – they are a place where lots of different vendors can sell their products.

The best known are Amazon and ebay, of course. Both with huge worldwide user bases and a proven track record. Etsy, which specialises in handmade and vintage items, is another which attracts a significant number of wedding suppliers. And in the UK there is Not on The High Street specialising in personalised and more up-market products.

How do they work?

In most marketplaces you set up your own shop within the site and list your items for sale there.

They will usually collect the payment from the buyer on your behalf.

You pay the marketplace a fee in order to sell there. Each has it’s own fee structure. There may be set up charges, monthly fees, fees for listing items, commission on the sale price. Make sure you take into account all the charges when working out your costs.

Why consider marketplaces

Quite simply, marketplaces can get your products in front of large numbers of willing buyers quickly.

The major ones rank very highly on Google and promote themselves heavily.

So instead of working on getting your own website high in the search rankings, you tap into the marketing efforts of the marketplace.

Which marketplace

You will need to do some research to determine which marketplace best fits your needs.

Things you need to consider include:

  • does your target customer shop there
  • how well is the wedding section promoted
  • how much competition is there (if there is none, it’s probably a sign that there are no customers either)
  • the fee structure
  • what promotion is included and what is extra
  • how easy is it to set up and run
  • what are the rules and restrictions
  • is there an application process

If you are targeting brides on a budget then ebay is the obvious place to start as it is still very much associated with bargains. And it is also very easy to get started. But the competition is huge and you will find many sellers on there charging extremely low prices.

Competition on ebay is high.

Competition on ebay is high.

Selling on Marketplaces

Before you start, make sure you have calculated your pricing and costs correctly so that you can make a profit. Don’t get dragged into a race to the bottom.

Take the time to write really good product titles and descriptions so that your items are found when people search for them and that any potential questions are answered.

You’ll need good quality photographs – preferably several of each item.

Photo quality can make a big difference

Photo quality can make a big difference

Your customer service needs to be impeccable. Most marketplaces (and their customers) expect fast and accurate delivery and will penalise (or remove you) if you don’t achieve this.

For personalised and bespoke items, make sure you clearly communicate the timescales to your buyers to avoid misunderstandings.

Monitoring your results

Once you have started selling, keep a close eye on how you are doing. You should be provided with stats on how your items are performing.

If you are not getting the sales you want, take a good look at product descriptions – are you getting found when people search? Are your photos good enough? Are your prices competitive?

Remember to do your sums too. Are the costs as you expected? Are you making a profit?

You’ll gradually learn which products do well on your chosen marketplace and as with all things – practice makes perfect!

 

Do you sell on marketplaces? We’d love to hear your stories. Please leave a comment below or pop over to our Facebook page.

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