Selling on an online marketplace can be an intimidating task. It’s one thing to start an eCommerce business and sell your products via a website that you’ve developed (or had developed for you), and then leveraging social media to spread the word. It’s another thing to move to a multi-channel strategy and add your store onto an online marketplace and/or shop platform such as Shopee, Lazada, or Zalora, just to name a few. But with any new venture, there is a potential to make early, and critical mistakes, without ever realizing it.
As with any membership or online platform, joining comes with a long list of fine print terms and conditions and unspoken rules. With so much information being thrown at you, all at once, it can be hard to decipher what is actually going to affect your business. Truthfully, it’s all too easy to make some mistakes early on that can impact your reputation, and hurt your eCommerce business before you really have a chance to get going.
To ensure that your eCommerce business thrives, we’ve compiled a list of the 13 most common mistakes to avoid when creating your seller account, actually selling on the marketplace, and shipping orders.
1. Going Against Marketplace Guidelines
Online marketplaces such as Shopify and Lazada have strict user guidelines in order to protect not only their buyers but also their sellers. This helps to keep the marketplace manageable, and ensures that the marketplaces respect their community and keep it safe. This means ensuring that engagements are respectful, privacy is respected, no laws are broken, and there are no promotions or spamming of users. Break any of these rules and you can put your eCommerce store and reputation and business in jeopardy.
Creating a seller account is an exciting time and it is easy to rush into selling. However, accidentally violating guidelines will result in delays and penalties to your account that will negatively impact the customer’s experience.
This is why it is crucial to begin your seller journey by reading the marketplace guidelines.
2. Directing Shoppers to Your Own Website
A marketplace can’t be profitable or successful if traffic is being directed away from their site. Any traffic and sales that are conducted on the marketplace, should stay on the marketplace, and this is explicitly outlined in their policies. You’ve made the decision to move into multi-channel commerce for a reason, and you need to respect the rules of the platform. We’d strongly suggest you don’t even think about trying this. They’ll find out.
Trying to redirect consumers to your own website will only result in your seller account being shut down.
3. Not Doing Your Research
To be successful with your eCommerce store, you need to know the lay of the land. Many marketplace sellers make the mistake of signing up and immediately listing their products and, hope for the best. In reality, it’s not that simple.
The first thing you should do is look into your competitors on the site, and more importantly, those that are the most successful. By understanding what you are up against it will be easier to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Some good starting points would be to ask:
- What competing products are selling the best?
- How are they representing their products on their accounts?
- What is their business model?
- Do my product descriptions and photos compare?
- What key words and phrases are they using?
- How are they leveraging social media to promote their storefront?
- What questions should I be answering on my page to make customers confident in my product?
Once you know your competition, you also explore how your product category is doing as a whole. Shopify offers a list of trending products based on top selling categories on their site, as does Lazada. Exploring Google Trends for metrics is another great idea..
4. Rushing Your Product Listing
As a seller you are obviously going to be confident in your products, but the key to a successful seller account is making sure your customers are just as confident. This requires a top notch product description. Rushing this part is just bad business and will be a waste of your time.
The product description is the first and likely the only shot to positively influence a potential buyer. Remember that your eCommerce store is your digital storefront. You want the best items on display to catch someone’s eye and draw them in. Optimize this by listing as many attributes as possible, using the maximum number of characters in the title and description, listing a sales price, using keywords, etc. One of the best features of a marketplace is that they offer tools and A/B testing to help you finesse your listing. Make sure to use these features.
Finally, your product listings should be continuously updated based on customer feedback. In fact, if you can find ways to incorporate customer reviews and feedback into your presentation, you’ll be able to start building authentic customer relationships.
5. Ignoring Product Search Rank
Many sellers create their products and fail to check in on their visibility. By forgetting this step you can miss out on sales and product exposure.
One way is to track your product search rank and optimize it by using common search terms in your descriptions and titles. That’s the easy part. More difficult is offering benefits to your customers that will entice them to leave positive reviews such as free shipping, hassle-free returns, and easy checkout. Negative customer reviews are an easy way to tank your search ranking.
The most profitable products appear in the first three results of a search so this should be your goal.
6. Failing to Manage Inventory
This is the big one, and the reason why LOCAD exists and this blog is necessary. Inventory management is the key to successful selling. Granted, it’s hard to predict inventory needs when you are just beginning as a seller. If you don’t have enough, but your eCommerce business is successful, then you run out of inventory and your listing becomes inactive and taken offline, which will negatively impact your search rank. If you have too much product, then you’re stuck with paying carrying costs for low-moving or dead stock.
This is why it’s highly recommended that you set a definitive reorder point and ensure you have a healthy safety stock at first. Having a surplus of inventory at the onset of your selling journey, can save you while you’re still learning your customer’s demand. This is why real time inventory sync is essential. Especially if you’re selling in more than one channel. This helps you to ensure that your inventory is always up to date and you don’t get more orders for the same product, than stock on hand. Thus, finding a fulfillment partner who can offer this is a key to success. As part of the service, LOCAD provides an advanced order and inventory management platform integrated to all major sales channels and marketplaces to ensure real time inventory updates.
7. Shipping Late
This is another critical error. Ship your orders as promptly as you can, always. This error isn’t always about choosing a slow shipping partner, running low on stock, or unforeseen delays in logistics and delivery. Some sellers, at the start of their eCommerce stores, don’t understand how critical timely delivery is, and will occasionally ship things late. Falling behind on shipping will result in negative customer feedback, possible returns, and will impact your cancellation rate.
This is when a marketplaces penalizes a seller for orders cancelled by the seller or auto-cancelled by the marketplace if the seller has not fulfilled on time. Cancellation hurts your MP business in many ways:
- Direct penalty: many marketplaces charge a cancellation penalty fee.
- Your seller rating: sellers with high cancellation rates receive a lower seller rating, this directly impacts the positions of your product listings in the catalogue: i.e product listings by sellers with high cancellation rate rank lower and get less visibility.
- Seller reputation: cancellations negatively affect your seller reputation through negative reviews and published seller rating.
In addition, most marketplace sites will penalize your account for late shipments. Many marketplaces offer managed shipping solutions and take charge of the last mile delivery to the customer, which makes the job easier for you as a seller. However, you need to make sure that your orders are ready to ship in time - late order preparation results in cancellation by the platform. Therefore, it’s best to avoid this mistake by prompt shipping having enough visibility into your stock levels to only accept the volume of orders that you can support.
8. Not Responding to Customer Questions
This is pretty straightforward. Customers like to ask questions and create a relationship with a seller. In return, you should be facilitating a dialogue between yourself and the customer to offer the best possible service and entice them to not only buy this time, but repeatedly return as a loyal customer.
If you fail to respond and they turn to a competitor, you’ve just lost a sale and a potential source of recurring revenue. Always ensure that you have your contact information available and a chat feature. Customer chat messages are an easy way to create a good reputation as a seller and interact directly with your buyers.
Make sure to turn on your chat notifications and be prompt to respond to them. Chat has become a key channel on most marketplaces, and plays an important role in driving sales. Most marketplaces make chat response rate a key seller KPI, which impacts your seller rating and therefore the ranking of your products on the marketplace catalogue.
9. Ignoring Buyer Questions
Buyer questions can be even more important than chat messages because they are visible to anyone looking at your product page or social media, and can help you to improve your storefront presentation and product descriptions.
If a buyer sees unanswered questions on your product detail page they will assume you are unwilling to answer because you are hiding something or are simply unreliable. You don’t want to derail the customer journey at this point, as they’ve come to your store, looked at your products, and attempted to interact with you because they are interested in something. Don’t drive them away.
Being transparent and friendly when responding to these questions is the best thing you can do for your business and many shop platforms offer buyer question best practices pages to support you.
10. Not Using Promotional Opportunities
Most marketplace sites in Asia offer some big campaign days for 11/11, 12/12, Chinese New Years, and so on. If you don’t submit your SKU’s, you’ll be missing out some massive sales opportunities.
As well, many marketplaces emphasize the use of vouchers, participation in campaigns, and in-marketplace paid marketing / paid product placements as opportunities to drive traffic and sales to your store, also outside of the big sales days.
Make sure to stay on top of the promotional opportunities on the marketplace and participate in them. These promotions are done for the express purpose of drawing traffic and attention to your eCommerce store. Don’t turn them down or someone else will get your sales.
11. Not Managing Reviews
It can be hard to see someone complain about your products, but it is critical that you stay on top of product reviews. The best sellers respond to every review, positive or negative. Make sure to reach out to anyone leaving negative feedback and try to resolve the issue.
Many times, a consumer will be willing to remove a negative review if they feel that their issue or complaint has been addressed and made good. If there is an invalid or unreasonable review (which happens more often than if should) that you can’t manage, you can escalate it to get it removed.
Responding to the feedback on your product page makes your seller account more trustworthy and respected within the marketplace community.
12. Getting Upset With Customers
In line with the previous mistake, one downfall to retail is that there will always be difficult customers, and you’ll never make everyone happy. This difficulty increases exponentially when it’s an eCommerce business, as people feel safe to be as unreasonable as they want to be.
While it can be extremely frustrating working with some buyers, showing your frustrations will only damage your business. The best approach to these situations is to remain professional and polite no matter the circumstances. You may not win the battle with this one difficult customer and that is okay. By remaining calm you are building up your reputation and helping future sales.
13. Assuming Your Buyer Reads Everything
It can be time consuming and frustrating to have returns from buyers because they did not know enough about your product. In most cases, buyers do not read everything on the product description page.
This is why it is important to draw attention to the most important features of your product. This can be done through bullet points, descriptions on the product photos, videos, bolded text, etc. Use whatever method fits your page, but be sure to highlight what you need your consumer to know and manage that customer relationship to the best of your ability.
This will keep unnecessary returns to a minimum and guarantee a happy customer.
LOCAD is The Perfect Partner to Your Marketplace Journey
There are a lot of things to take care of and implement, when you’re trying to ensure the success of your E-Commerce business. While you’re working out to avoid marketplace mistakes, let us worry about everything else. LOCAD offers a flexible supply chain as a service platform for multi-channel fulfillment, on-demand warehousing, and distribution. Our product is a holistic and simple technology platform to manage the backend infrastructure of your E-Commerce.
LOCAD has years of experience, working with shop platforms, E-Commerce entrepreneurs, and Enterprise level clients. We have dynamic and scalable technology solutions to put your product into the hands of your customers as easily and as quickly as possible.
Our powerful solution enables you to:
- Have an integration with all of your sales channels ranging from your website, to marketplaces and shop platforms such as Lazada, Woo and Shopify.
- Sell across multiple channels from one consolidated inventory pool, via our free software, with real-time visibility between your sales channels and supply chain.
- Use LOCAD’s Control Tower dashboard to keep up to date about your inventory, stock movements, analytics, and KPIs so you can easily filter products that need reordering or do not move.
- Ensure that your orders have a high fulfillment rate and are sent out on time, helping your seller quality score on your marketplaces and facilitating future sales.
- Run a distributed fulfillment network to bring your stock closer to customers. By shortening the last mile we can provide you with a lower shipping cost and faster delivery.
- Make it easier to expand your business with on-demand fulfillment capacity and easy international expansion.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help you grow as a marketplace seller.