Over the last 10+ years online marketplaces have continued to mature and innovate. From the early days of basic online hubs, where resellers and dealers could offer their wares without the worries of managing online payments and website administration hassles, to the mature complex machines we know today. They have built vast infrastructures providing faster shipping, warehousing and fulfilment services. The pro’s and con’s of global marketplaces is often debated and the future will no doubt see more protest, acceptance and governance emerge as they continue their ubiquitous domination.
For some retailers and brands, there are reasons not to join the marketplace trend and remain or focus on a boutique or independent strategy. This business case is generally unique and most product-based businesses, branded or not, have the opportunity to extend their reach globally by leveraging the infrastructures put in place by these marketplaces to manage the end to end sales and fulfilment process.
Globally, Amazon remains the most prominent of all with their richest offering being centred around the 300 million American residents. Amazon itself offers different levels of engagement for brands and resellers and can be approached market-by-market. From American to Germany, Japan to China you will find Amazon a ready and open marketplace partner for your products.
In Asia, Alibaba stands tall above the rest with 3 of the top 5 marketplaces in China being Alibaba owned. In addition to AliExpress, TaoBao and TMall there is also JD.com and Amazon China.
The list continues as you move around the globe, Rakuten, Flipkart, eBay and even Lotte offering international shipping options.
If you looking at marketplaces, consider:
- Should I fulfil my own products or use a marketplace to do it all?
- What marketplace should I focus on first?
- What are the costs associated with selling on marketplaces?
- What control do I have over my brand, placement and visual presentation?
- Do I still need to advertise on the marketplace, or on other channels to drive traffic to my products?
- Do I need a translator?
- Do I need a special designer to manage all this?
- Do I need a bank account in the marketplace country?