Why Brands Need to Expand Their Marketplace Presence in a Post-COVID World
The COVID-19 pandemic altered the future of retail in many ways. Ten years of projected e-commerce adoption was compressed into three short months, as the world shifted to online shopping amid regional and national lockdowns. As a result, online shopping increased by 44 percent, and consumers spent over $861 billion with U.S. merchants last year. As brick-and-mortar retailers reopen and begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel, many are questioning what life post-COVID will look like. While we’ve seen an increase in investments for brick-and-mortar stores, online sales are here to stay.
Over the past year, Vendo has supported a variety of emerging and Fortune 500 retailers with their online marketplace sales and marketing strategies. We’ve learned a lot together, and our biggest piece of advice for retailers is to focus on retaining online audiences that have been and will be invaluable in a post-pandemic world. Expanding your e-commerce marketplace presence creates a foundation for doing just that.
As we consider ways brands can expand their marketplace presence in 2021 and beyond, here are three strategies to keep in mind:
Be Where Your Customers Are
E-commerce has expanded customers’ shopping habits beyond local brick-and-mortar stores. The e-commerce boom has turned the tables and placed pressure on brands to meet consumers where they are, instead of vice versa. This strategy offers a plethora of opportunities for brands to get in front of customers, while also challenging them to find ways to cut through the noise of the competition.
Brand awareness channels, like social media influencers and shoppable content on TikTok and Snapchat, have continued to gain popularity among younger shoppers, allowing brands to showcase how their products can seamlessly fit into the consumer’s lifestyle. These channels also allow brands to join community conversations, engage on an individual level with consumers, and ultimately cast a wider net to attract potential buyers.
The convenience of online shopping is a large reason why it's here to stay. When customers visit large marketplaces, such as Amazon.com, they can browse and purchase a variety of goods through one website, making the buyer’s journey quicker and easier than ever. The only reasons to visit a retailer’s website directly are to learn more about the company or its products, or to look for discounts. The convenience and efficiency with which consumers make these purchases are increasing opportunities for retailers to no longer rely on their own direct-to-consumer (D-to-C) strategies to increase sales.
Diversify Your Sales Strategy
The era of being strictly a D-to-C or single marketplace brand no longer leads to success. Marketplace diversification is the key to sales growth and customer retention. Creating touchpoints via multiple sales channels will keep your brand and products top of mind for consumers. Selling your product across marketplaces is now more attainable with Amazon, Target, and Walmart partnering with brands of all sizes.
With more platforms comes more responsibility. Retailers must navigate additional competition and pricing challenges that may arise with products being sold on multiple marketplaces at the same time. With diverse marketplaces as a priority, you must address these challenges upfront before a new product launch. Seek advice from agencies or other sellers when considering your best marketing and sales strategies.
Look for Ways to Stand Out
With more options, your product may no longer speak for itself. Increasing customer loyalty and trust starts with increasing your brand's credibility. Marketplaces are built to help brands succeed. Marketplaces offer trusted reviews and place your products in front of consumers through suggested products and promotions. These stamps of credibility expedite your consumer’s buyer journey.
While thousands of brands utilize marketplaces, the marketplaces themselves continue to look for ways to help brands appeal to consumers. Boutique marketplaces like Etsy, Poshmark, and Credo, as well as large retailers like Amazon and Target, are positioning brands to help them stand out through concepts that appeal to consumers’ values. Dedicated lines focused on unique products, secondhand options, and sustainability are more appealing to a specific clientele, ultimately increasing brands’ credibility. Consider how your brand and your company values align with individual marketplaces to increase exposure and create more authentic interactions with the consumers who recognize these types of efforts and initiatives.
Biggest Advice ... Don’t Miss Out
At the end of the day, it goes back to fundamentals. It’s still the brand’s job to provide a kick-ass product with a compelling value proposition and story. Use the megaphone of marketplaces to access your customers rather than constantly tooting your own horn. As marketplaces and e-commerce continue to dominate the retail space, look for ways to marry brick-and-mortar principles with online strategies for a post-pandemic world.
Saagar Mehta is the chief growth officer at Vendo, a company that helps consumer brands grow on leading marketplaces such as Amazon, Walmart, and Target.