How to shape a successful marketing strategy for digital marketplace?

“Not since the digital revolution in the early ‘90s has technology placed such a comprehensive burden on business, employees and individuals to reinvent their business plans, services and products, and themselves to keep pace with the changing marketplace.”
– Simon Mainwaring

1. introduction

“The only option better than a multi-vendor e-commerce marketplace to showcase all your products and offerings and grow your business, is a multi-vendor e-commerce marketplace that is promising and is talked about more often.”
Digitalization, as permeant and inevitable as it can get, is laying its pervasive hands upon businesses and customers alike. It is spreading like wildfire from urbanised areas to pockets of several suburbs and to the rural corners of the world. That’s how ingressing digitalization has been, lately.
E-commerce marketplace platforms and the growing hunger for hyperlocal deliveries has impacted and digitalized businesses and customers, often for good. This has resulted in the coming into being of highly sophisticated and technology-intensive online platforms, which are commonly known as digital marketplaces.
A digital marketplace is thus an online platform that creates a venue for both buyers and sellers to transact over a product or a service. It helps bring together the potential buyers of a product or service with the providers of that very product or service. In simple words, a digital marketplace is an intermediary platform that doesn’t own any assets in the form of products or merchandise to be sold.

2. Businesses and digital marketplace: Understanding the growing relationship

2. Businesses and digital marketplace: Understanding the growing relationship

With businesses and entrepreneurs increasingly getting into the digital marketplace, the competition has not just transformed but has intensified more than ever. Businesses, irrespective of their nature, are partnering with the providers of digital marketplace or the so-called hyperlocal marketplace solutions to support their digital platforms. Not just this, but their reliance on such hyperlocal marketplace softwares is increasing day by day.
Without a digital marketplace, a business, no matter how flourishing and prosperous it is, can constrain its ability to reach out to its customers and present to them its offerings. Digital marketplaces are the need of the hour since they are vital for building positive value about your brand and creating an exceptional and an unforgettable customer experience.
Right from selling food items to clothes and groceries to stationaries, it’s all getting done online, and digitalization is the pivot around which modern day businesses are moving. Think of UberEats, Swiggy, Amazon, Doordash and eBay, and know that their brand reputation is only because they have boldly chosen to go online in the e-commerce world. And courtesy to digitalization and automated business processes and techniques, they have been able to maintain their competitive positions over time.
So, before we go on with the discussion of what ways and strategies will best meet the digital marketplace objectives, it is imperative to understand about the parties involved in the digital marketplace. Essentially, a multisided business model of a marketplace involves the following participants.
  • Operator or the marketplace owner: It is a company that provides a digital platform for facilitating buying and selling in the digital marketplace;
  • Buyer: It refers to customers who buy from different merchants who are onboard the digital marketplace platform;
  • Seller/Merchant: It is the company that offers its products or services to be listed for selling on the digital marketplace platform.
These three parties generally inhabit the digital marketplace ecosystem. Each of them has his role to play in order to achieve mutual gains arising out of their co-existence on the digital platform. This mutual reciprocation has helped facilitate digitalization and technology intensive business processes worldwide.
In fact, seeing the growing reach of digital commerce, many traditional physical stores are quickly laying their hands on digital marketplace platforms. Walmart is one big name among many, that started its own online marketplace in the year 2009. After witnessing some industry peculiar highs and lows for a few years, the United States’ largest retailer, surpassed one lakh sellers in its marketplace, nearly thrice more than it was before the covid pandemic hit the world.

3. Some useful statistics

Below are some statistics so as to gain insights into how big the digital cum online marketplace is increasingly getting with each passing day.
  • To put a statistic in point over here, as of the year 2021, Amazon and eBay, both stand as the most visited online marketplaces worldwide.
  • By the second half of the year 2021, Walmart was the third most visited online marketplace in the United Sates.
  • As of the year 2020, TaoBao and Tmall were the world’s leading online marketplaces based on gross merchandise volume, with roughly 600 billion US dollars each.
  • A homegrown Latin American marketplace player, by the name of Mercado Libre, is one of the fastest growing online marketplaces globally, with an expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 66 percent between 2019 and 2021.
So, whether your business prefers to sell its offerings on eBay, Amazon or other leading marketplaces, it’s important that you keep track of the latest e-commerce statistics and trends from time to time. The rapidly changing paradigm of the digital marketplace industry as well as world transforming events and phenomena, such as the covid pandemic, can have a big impact on global e-commerce figures.
For this very reason, staying a step ahead of what’s happening today is essential. And for this very purpose, various ways or marketing strategies have been put in place that businesses should learn to adopt.
So, isn’t it advisable for businesses to start working on their aspects concerning digitalization and incorporation of automated processes? Certainly, it is. And one of the primary tasks for them is to know what kind of marketing strategies will work for the digital marketplace and how to shape them.

4. Essential touchpoints prior to choosing a strategy

4. Essential touchpoints prior to choosing a strategy

But prior to implementing any strategy, it is vital to explore various aspects of your digital marketplace that may lead you to prefer one marketing strategy over the other. These aspects help a business develop efficient market plan and strategy accordingly.

a. Explore the target audience

Making out a detailed profile of your customers and their needs and choices is in fact one of the most fundamental things to do. Once you are able to get a track of what do they buy more often, when do they prefer to buy, etc, you can easily draft strategies that will be in conformity with their needs and choices. such strategies are deemed to be highly relevant. The biggest merit of pursuing this approach is when you find customers’ needs evolving or changing, you can bring about a shift in your strategy too.

b. Do research of your competitors’ marketplace

Analyze and evaluate digital marketplaces that run in the same niche as yours. Go about searching for and identifying their products, pricing methods and prevalent marketing practices. This sort of a research helps outline your benefits as compared to your competitor’s marketplaces.

c. Highlight your USP

Expanded as unique selling proposition of a business, this feature makes it look unique. Find out the USP of your business, and show your customers what is special about your digital marketplace. By putting your best foot forward through USPs, the digital marketplace becomes an easy grab for the visitors.

d. Discover customer touchpoints

In this, when a customer visits your digital marketplace, his behaviour at various touchpoints is observed and evaluated. Herein, each touchpoint describes a customer’s actions and how your business responds to it. With the help of this, a business can optimize and personalize customers’ experiences in the light of its marketplace.

5. Marketing strategies for digital marketplace

5. Marketing strategies for digital marketplace

a. Explore the target audience

Businesses wishful of succeeding in the competitive digital marketplace must learn how to stand out from the rest of the competitors in the industry. This differentiation may be in any product feature, speedy delivery mechanism or any other thing that enriches the overall customer experience. As a business, while pursuing differentiation, one should try finding answers to the following questions- What makes your brand distinctive and stand apart from the masses? Why should the potential customers choose you over and above other online marketplace players? What can your business offer to customers that rival businesses cannot?

b. Search engine optimization

Also, commonly known as SEO, this strategy helps your business’s website to rank higher on a search engine results page (SERP), thereby enabling more traffic. The fundamental goal of search engine marketing is to rank on the first page of google results for search terms that mean the most to a business’s target audience. But, how should a business go about shaping and implementing SEO and watch itself grow? Firstly, search and identify the relevant keywords with good search traffic potential. Then, learn to publish a high quality and extremely relevant content and one that has the ability to influence. Ensure that the content so published is optimized for search engines and for users. You may include links from trustworthy websites. Next, keep your content updated, in tandem with the modern demands and needs. Lastly, measure the results.

c. Invite referrals

Commonly known as a referral program, it is a system that incentivizes and provides rewards to customers when they recommend your offerings to their family, friends, relatives or anyone else in the social group. In other words, customers who make such referrals are generally considered loyal to the brand. In fact, they act as brand advocates, on behalf of the business. This is one fine way to reach out to an increasing number of customers, thereby attracting more traffic on your digital marketplace.

d. Content marketing

Using content as a tool to promote your marketplace and get noticed can be another effective way of discovering and coming clear of your indistinct identity as a business in the digital marketplace. Developing content like interesting blogs, insightful articles, videos or infographics can get the audience engaged and interested in your marketplace’s offerings. A spectacular example of content-based marketing strategy in point over here is that of Beardbrand campaign. They have a blog by the title of Urban Bearded Man that is strictly focussed upon bearded men. Aimed at all those men who take pride in caring for their beards, the blog offers a lot of insights about different aspects of beard care and everything related to it- from razor models to the optimal temperature of the towel that is applied to the fact after shaving. Such contents attract the target audience to the marketplace. As a result of good content, the Beardbrand’s website attracts hundreds and thousands of visitors every month.

e. Boost your social presence

Businesses in digital marketplace domains thrive better when they have an organic social presence. The benefits of social media can be availed only when businesses learn to use it to their advantage. Businesses can make sure that the social media channels and websites are stocked with vibrant images and engaging videos. The frequency of such posts should be high and rich visual content must be created so as to look appealing. Other ways to take advantage of social media is by hosting giveaways, associating with expert bloggers who are active in your niche and using appropriate hashtags.

f. Take part in online events and discussions

Discussions and debates across various online platforms have become quite commonplace. But businesses taking part in them is still not so. Therein, lies the opportunity for passionate and futuristic businesses. They can leverage their expertise by participating in virtual conferences or webinars to get the word out about their business.

6. Conclusion

There are plenty of marketing strategies to be employed in order to promote your online or digital marketplace; however which strategies a business should employ majorly depends upon the nature of the business, its objectives and goals that it has set for itself. A few of the below mentioned questions can help one figure out the appropriate strategy.

Are your customers wanting uniqueness in your products and offerings? If yes, are you capable of providing it to them? In this case, the differentiation strategy can work best.

Do you have a bunch of loyal customers who are expecting a bit more from you than what you provide to the new customers? Try inviting referrals and it may work wonders.

Does your audience want a good content in the form of insightful blogs so as to connect more with you? Content-based marketing strategy can see you through.

Does the audience for your products flock to specific social media platforms? If so, those platforms can be a good place to focus upon.

Is your main goal to reach new customers who haven’t heard of your brand and are unaware of your offerings? Search engine optimization (SEO) can show you a way out.

Lastly, and above all, is your business really desirous of adopting a successful marketing strategy for its digital marketplace? If yes, now is the time

Because, remember the words that occurred at the very beginning- “Technology has never placed such a great burden on businesses to reinvent their plans, strategies, services and products to keep pace with the changing marketplace.”
So, would you shy away from owning that burden and shouldering it responsibly as a business? All this, while you surreptitiously but firmly believe that it is nothing less than a blessing in disguise for you.

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