With leading marketplaces outpacing eCommerce growth averages, brands and retailers are increasingly looking to marketplaces as a way of boosting revenue, extending their reach, and offering an improved customer experience.

However, in order to really get the most out of the marketplace opportunity, brands and retailers need a well-thought-out strategy. As a starting point, here are five common mistakes when it comes to selling through marketplaces – and how to go about addressing these.

1. Not having a clearly defined customer proposition

Failing to carefully consider your customer proposition is a sure-fire way to jeopardise your marketplace strategy. To avoid falling into this trap, think carefully about your range and pricing per marketplace, as well as taking a holistic view and considering how marketplaces fit into your overall strategy.

Consider carefully how your range per marketplace compares with your owned site, as well as the range offered by any retail partners. In addition, decide whether you will offer any exclusive products or services, such as customisation, through each marketplace.

When it comes to pricing, there are several different strategies you could adopt – from always price matching on marketplaces to always selling at RRP. As well as defining your product listing prices, think carefully about related costs such as delivery and returns, as these will often impact your ranking on search results, as well as affecting your profitability.

2. Choosing the wrong marketplaces

Going hand in hand with your customer proposition, your choice of markets and marketplaces is key to the success of your strategy. Choosing the wrong marketplaces leaves you open to issues such as loss of brand equity and squeezed margins through reduced profitability.

To avoid this issue, prioritise your chosen markets and marketplaces based on a thorough analysis of the target audience, positioning and market share of each marketplace. This will help you find those marketplaces with the best fit and biggest opportunity for your business. Start small and expand slowly, and ensure you can differentiate your own direct-to-consumer proposition.

3. Misalignment of internal teams

With a strategy in place, the next slip-up some brands and retailers make is not having internal team structures and incentives that reflect their strategy for marketplaces.

Having a central team with accountability for both your owned eCommerce site and marketplace sales will help to establish common goals and ensure consistency. Also think carefully about how people across the business are incentivised, in order to make sure everyone is working towards these common goals.

5. Under-utilisation of available marketplace features

When it comes to actually implementing your marketplace strategy, there are a wealth of features and functionality available on most marketplaces to help you present your products in the best light. Failing to use these is another common mistake we see when it comes to marketplace selling.

Within the Amazon environment, for example, there are over 20 elements on a product page that can be populated and/or edited and influenced. Ensure consistency and utilise all features fully to support the purchase – this encompasses the quality, variety and layout of information such as titles, imagery, and product descriptions. To stand out from the competition, consider incorporating additional content such as product videos, as well as encouraging shoppers to leave ratings and reviews for your products.

5. Failing to make the most of the data available

Whilst the amount of data available varies greatly by marketplace, not making the most of the data you do have is an easy mistake to avoid.

Outline a clear approach to gathering data and work closely with each marketplace to push for the widest set of metrics available. Amazon provides only limited data to its partners, but the data provided through its Premium Amazon Retail Analytics service is still useful if reviewed regularly. Ensure you download and store all data, as most data is only stored online for three months. Other marketplaces, particularly the likes of Tmall and Rakuten in Asia, can provide more customer data, so don’t assume one size fits all.

The areas discussed here are just some of the aspects to consider carefully when putting together your marketplace strategy. To find out more about the other key areas you should be thinking about, download our latest article: How (and why) to design a marketplace strategy.

Annabel Thorburn

Annabel Thorburn


Annabel Thorburn, Director of Consulting, eCommera