In 2024, selling on marketplaces is a real challenge. Rivalry between sellers is intensifying, and the range of marketplaces is vast. Nevertheless, it’s an unavoidable necessity: online marketplaces are undeniably on the rise in Europe.
Of the top 20 e-commerce players in France, all but two have a marketplace. More than 30% of sales volume are generated via marketplaces. In Germany all marketplaces together account for more than 50 percent of online retail. A 2022 study in Italy revealed that online marketplaces received the majority of e-commerce investments. Italian businesses, when feasible, aimed to expand their reach across multiple marketplaces. Similarly, in Spain, online marketplaces have become the leading e-commerce platform, outperforming individual brand websites. Almost 50% of Spain’s digital consumers engage in monthly purchases via these marketplaces. In 2023, electronics and fashion emerged as the top categories among shoppers using marketplaces in this European nation.
Discover 9 essential tips for getting started and selling on marketplaces sustainably and profitably. These recommendations have been compiled by Lengow, the marketplaces expert in Europe.
Although it may seem elementary, establishing quick and effective contact with the marketplace before launching your project on that platform is of paramount importance. This initial step is often underestimated, yet it plays a crucial role in the success of your integration on the marketplace. Failure to establish clear communication with the marketplace early on can lead to major complications. These difficulties can manifest themselves in the form of significant delays, misunderstandings about platform requirements, or problems in implementing your product catalog.
It’s important to note that service providers, while useful intermediaries and providers of technical support, don’t always have privileged relationships with marketplaces. This means that in the event of marketplace-specific problems (which therefore come from the marketplace’s side), their ability to intervene may be limited. Select your product data feed manager carefully.
Anticipate the launch of a new marketplace to the MAXIMUM!
Oboarding Specialist, @ Lengow
When preparing your product catalog for sale on different marketplaces, it’s important to understand that each platform has its own criteria and requirements. Despite this diversity, certain key elements are generally required by all these platforms. These include the product name, price, in-depth description and SKU (stock-keeping unit) code, to name but a few. Ensuring the complete and accurate inclusion of this data is fundamental to avoid any rejection of your catalog when integrated on these sites.
What’s more, once this basic information is firmly established, it forms a common base for your catalog on all marketplaces. However, it’s important to note that even these basic attributes may require adjustments depending on the specific platform. Differences may arise in the presentation of this information, such as the use of capital letters, language requirements, character limits, and other formatting peculiarities. For example, the format of the product name in the title is not the same between Amazon and the Maisons du Monde marketplace.
Entering marketplaces requires sellers to accept their rigidity, an aspect that is often underestimated. Around half of sellers understand this reality from the outset, while the other half are surprised by the complexity and rigor of platforms such as Galeries Lafayette or Zalando, resulting in very different experiences.
Merchants gradually learn the importance of the concessions and adjustments needed when launching on these marketplaces. This may include modifying product descriptions, adapting to specific image guidelines, or adjusting logistical processes. Although it can be demanding, adapting to these rules is essential for success in this competitive environment.
25-30% of merchants fail to launch successfully on marketplaces because their product catalog isn’t mature enough!
Onboarding Manager, @ Lengow
Each marketplace has its own unique set of criteria, which means that a product perfectly suited to one platform may not be suitable for another. Take the example of Zalando, a fashion marketplace renowned for its rigorous product composition. Here, expectations go far beyond simple product description.
For retailers in particular, this requirement can represent an additional challenge. Unlike brands who manufacture their own products and therefore have direct, detailed access to all manufacturing information, retailers often have to gather these details from a variety of sources.
This need to provide detailed and accurate information is all the more crucial in a context where consumers are increasingly attentive to the quality, provenance and environmental impact of the products they buy.
Example from the Zalando marketplace:
For coats with lining or padding, as in the case of down jackets, it is also necessary to specify the composition of these elements. For footwear, it’s important to provide details of the materials used for the outer and inner linings, as well as for the inner and outer soles. For example, if a shoe is made of leather, with a rubber insole and outsole, these details must be clearly indicated.
For sellers on marketplaces, the use of EAN (European Article Number) barcodes validated and registered by GS1 is essential. These codes guarantee the traceability and authenticity of products, making them easier to manage and avoiding administrative or legal problems. Marketplaces require these codes to ensure the reliability of product listings and prevent the sale of counterfeit goods.
In addition, validated EAN codes help comply with legal and industry standards, offering proof of legitimacy in the event of disputes.
Each marketplace has its own unique way of managing data, which is why it’s crucial to understand their systems in order to map your product feeds effectively. Preparing as much detailed data as possible in advance is highly recommended. The more comprehensive your product information, including details such as dimensions and materials, the better you’ll be able to meet the varied requirements of marketplaces. A rich database greatly enhances your ability to adapt to the various formats required by these platforms.
Mapping and listing on marketplaces is a major challenge. Key factors to consider include:
To maximize the effectiveness of your listings on the various marketplaces, it’s imperative to pay particular attention to the quality, size and specificity required for your product images. Each marketplace has its own image guidelines.
For example, Maisons du Monde, European marketplace for home furnishings, requires that the first image of each product be presented on a white background. This requirement is not insignificant: a white background ensures a clear and uniform presentation of products, making them easier for customers to compare and select. What’s more, it highlights the product without distractions, allowing customers to concentrate on its details and features.
In addition to meeting the specific criteria of each marketplace, the overall quality of the images is fundamental. Sharp, well-lit, high-resolution images attract and hold customers’ attention. They also effectively convey information about the product’s textures, colors and details, crucial aspects in reassuring customers about the quality of what they’re considering buying.
It’s vital to comply with the specific logistics requirements of each marketplace. This includes selecting carriers accepted by these platforms, understanding their delivery times, and complying with return policies. Failure to meet these criteria can result in penalties, delays in order processing, or even bans from the platform.
What’s more, good logistics preparation also involves careful planning of order management. This includes efficient inventory management, the ability to process orders quickly, and the implementation of systems to track shipments and manage returns. Poor order management can lead to errors, late deliveries and customer dissatisfaction, damaging your company’s reputation on the marketplace.
Marketplaces pay particular attention to the way in which sellers manage their interactions with customers. Excellent customer service is not only a major asset for building customer loyalty, it is also crucial for maintaining a good relationship with the marketplaces themselves.
Poor customer service management can have serious consequences. Marketplaces regularly evaluate the performance of sellers based on criteria such as response time to customer queries, quality of answers provided, and handling of complaints and returns. If these aspects fail to meet the high standards demanded by marketplaces, sellers expose themselves to significant risks, including the suspension of their account.
Selling on marketplaces offers several advantages. It enables you to reach a wider customer base, as these platforms benefit from high visibility and a large influx of consumers. What’s more, they often provide tools to facilitate sales management, such as payment processing and logistics. By selling on marketplaces, sellers can also benefit from the trust and credibility established by these platforms with consumers.
To sell on a marketplace, start by choosing the platform best suited to your products and target audience. Next, create a seller account and follow the marketplace’s specific registration procedures. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the platform’s policies and fees. After registration, list your products with detailed, high-quality descriptions (with Lengow), and determine a competitive pricing strategy (with Netrivals). Finally, make sure you manage your inventory efficiently and provide excellent customer service to maintain a good reputation on the platform.
The choice of products to sell on marketplaces depends on several factors, such as market demand, competition, and your ability to provide a quality product. It’s a good idea to carry out market research to identify consumer trends and needs. Products that sell well on marketplaces often include fashion items, electronic gadgets, books, beauty products and homeware. It’s important to choose products that stand out for their quality, uniqueness, or value for money.
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