8 Questions B2B Distributors Should Ask Before Starting a Marketplace
By MarketPush Team
In an increasingly digital marketplace, B2B distributors and manufacturers often struggle to keep up. With few resources available, they’re trying to stay competitive amidst a changing landscape that calls for complex marketplaces and innovative marketing strategies. For many, a proprietary marketplace feels both out of reach and necessary as giants like Amazon continue to expand their reach.
Fortunately, an industry that calls for marketplace growth also provides ample opportunities that allow such a thing to flourish. Your options for adopting a marketplace strategy are more plentiful than they’ve ever been, providing a variety of avenues in which you either sell your products on someone else’s marketplace or, preferably, on your own.
Under the marketplace model, you continue to sell your own products on your own site, but you expand your offerings to include products from other manufacturers and distributors, supplementing potential gaps in your own product line. In this way, you’re never competing with yourself, but instead helping supply your customers with complementary products from adjacent categories, keeping them on your site and adding substantial revenue without the expense of additional inventory, warehousing, and shipping requirements.
Although there is no ‘Add Marketplace’ plugin, it actually isn’t as complicated as you might think. By engaging with a partner like MarketPush, you can add a proprietary marketplace to your site quickly, no matter your available resources.
As you think about expanding, there are some important considerations that will help guide your process. By answering the following questions, you can assess your readiness, identify your goals, and prepare yourself for the marketplace journey!
Who is your market and competition?
Assessing your own market and competitors forces you to more thoroughly evaluate what you’re aiming for. First, identify who you are competing with. Then, think about noticeable gaps in their approach. What might you do differently that will help address these absences?
Think about who your market is at this moment. Consider who your customers are, and what is important to them. Are there adjacent markets that you’re interested in exploring? Are there markets that make a lot of sense given your customer base, or markets that would easily expand your audience?
What makes you different?
There are tons of companies making similar products, but the ones that succeed are all doing something different. Perhaps it is your vertical or your exceptional shipping capabilities. Maybe your customers are wowed by your ability to configure products.
As you begin to decide what your marketplace might offer, think about related services that might be a good fit. Often, this is part of a larger discussion about how you’ll appeal to sellers, providing them clear incentive to sell on your site.
Who will manage your marketplace and marketplace implementation?
Depending on the size of your organization, this can vary significantly. Perhaps you’ve got an entire e-commerce or marketing department to devote, or maybe you’re doing it yourself. Decide what departments need to be involved, who will serve as key stakeholders.
Ideally, you’ll have a team of people who represent all relevant departments as your managerial team. This ensures that every interest is represented and results in a better overall result.
What needs to be integrated?
Unless you’re building a brand new site, you’ll need to consider what integrations will be necessary. Do you have a PIM? Need to integrate with your ERP? CRM? Are there any tools on your site that you’d like to integrate into your marketplace?
MarketPush originated as a systems integrator, and specializes in working through complex systems to help identify the easiest pathway to get you up and running.
What needs to change on your current site?
Nobody is perfect, and we’re willing to bet that there’s a few things you’d change about your existing site. Maybe you’re ready for an updated look and feel, need a content refresh, or want to provide a better user experience for your customers. You’ve got options—either take care of the project yourself or engage with MarketPush a little earlier to get your site in great shape for your new marketplace.
How will you recruit sellers?
You’ll also want to consider how you’ll go about recruiting sellers for your new marketplace, since they largely determine the overall success. Think quantity, quality, and variety of sellers and product SKUs, and aim high.
MarketPush excels in supplier recruitment and will work with you to guarantee your line card continues to grow while your customers continue to experience top notch service.
What is your timeline?
Timelines can be rigid or flexible, ambitious or intentionally slow. Think about the timeline you’d like to achieve, and talk to us about what is possible. Let us know what your ideal launch date is and we’ll do our best to accommodate your reasonable requests.
MarketPush will do what we can to meet your goals, which is made easier by an organized and available team with a list of priorities.
What is your budget?
Marketplace dollars often come from e-commerce budgets, but they involve marketing, IT, sales, warehousing, and customer support too. Work with each department within your organization to establish a reasonable budget. Not only will it fund your project faster, but it will encourage participation and buy-in across the company.
Successful marketplaces generate excellent returns. In addition to higher profits, your marketing team will experience a growing web presence and higher online traffic, your sales team will be able to leverage online orders to drive traffic to storefronts, IT teams will benefit from a lower workload via a Saas model, and warehousing will see reduced stock-outs, more long-tail sales, and less need for additional storage space.
The bottom line
At MarketPush, we’re dedicated to helping our customers by providing you with the most comprehensive build approach to your marketplace. As experts in the B2B space, we’re proud to offer a distributor-focused marketplace solution that works. Reach out to learn more about how we can help you accelerate your e-commerce strategy through our comprehensive approach.