Should Merchants Shift Their Focus to Marketplaces?

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As the e-commerce world continues to expand through channels like mobile and tablets, one e-commerce software provider predicts that the next big thing for online retailers is marketplaces.

“Consumers are flocking to marketplaces for good reason,” says Brian Horakh, founder and CEO of Zoovy. “These sites provide a superior user experience with a unified purchase history, large selection of products, sense of familiarity and ease of use. Likewise, online merchants are transitioning their business to marketplaces to take advantage of this trend and view marketplaces as strategic to the success of their growing business.”

Some of the biggest names in the marketplace space include Amazon, eBay and Buy.com, and although many consumers rely on search engines like Google to search for products from a vendor-specific retail store, Horakh predicts that soon, consumers’ first choice for shopping searches will be within a trusted marketplace. 

“Marketplaces direct shoppers to the most reliable seller and give consumers the confidence to make a purchase by providing critical buyer information like user feedback, rankings and price comparisons – while search engines do little to help consumers make an informed decision about where to purchase their products,” says Horakh. “Regardless of how optimized a website may be for particular keywords, search engine optimization (SEO) does not ensure the customer’s purchase will be accurate or arrive on time.”

If this assessment holds true, and marketplaces are the future of e-commerce, the obvious first step for merchants is to create a marketplace presence. But the next step is where things get complicated – merchants must increase their marketplace visibility in order to increase sales, and this is done by becoming the marketplace’s most reliable seller.

E-commerce services and tools provider Zoovy has coined the term “marketplace optimization,” which describes the method in which retailers convince the marketplace that they are the most reliable seller. Zoovy will announce its marketplace optimization practice in January 2012.

According to Marketplaceoptimization.com, the five essentials of marketplace optimization include minimizing order cancellations, increasing inventory availability, performing dynamic repricing, improving customer experience and optimizing logistics.

“Much the same way that SEO improves the visibility of Web sites while searching for terms on a search engine, marketplace optimization will provide sellers with insight into the ranking algorithms or signals used by marketplaces to select preferred vendors,” says Horakh.

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