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Should e-commerce companies target specialist marketplaces?

By Retail Technology | Wednesday July 2 2014

In answer to our homepage poll, a marketplace distribution expert debates whether e-commerce companies should target specialist marketplaces.

Effective targeting of products at consumers is the Holy Grail for most online retailers. As there are so many variables at play, Greg Zemor of marketplace distribution company Neteven feels it’s impossible to set out a marketing strategy that would work for every retailer. 

“When it comes to marketplace targeting, my view is that a multichannel approach that reaches both specialist and general marketplaces is nearly always the best one,” commented Zemor. “Although, as with any general rule, there are exceptions especially for retailers who sell very niche products.”

General versus specialist marketplaces

He notes that general marketplaces, by their very nature, attract a larger and more diverse consumer base than their specialist counterparts. “The consumers using general marketplaces however will not necessarily be focused on buying a specific ‘genre’ of product,” he explains. “Think about it this way: consumers on ASOS will look for clothes, while consumers on Amazon could look for clothes, books, electrical items or anything else. 

“On paper, that should mean if you only sell one type of product you should market your goods on a specialist site, whereas, if you sell a selection you should go for a general marketplace. Yet, the reality is that this tactic cuts out an entire swathe of potential customers. “

Zemor feels that if prospective customers are based throughout Europe, it’s essential to use a selection of marketplaces. “Each major marketplace has a different market share in each European country and in some cases is also used to buy different products. For example, Amazon has near market dominance in the UK and US, however, its share of the online retail market in France and Germany is much smaller. 

“Add to this the fact that consumers in France are much more inclined to use Amazon to buy clothes than their Anglo-Saxon counterparts and it becomes clear that the complexity of the European retail market necessitates a multi-marketplace approach.”

False choice

Whether an ecommerce company should focus on a specialist or generalist marketplace is a false choice, in Zemor’s opinion. “The availability and affordability of technology that allows businesses to manage their products across multiple marketplaces means that there is generally no need for a business to put all its eggs in one basket by only using one marketplace. 

He gives the example of Sojeans, an online fashion site, that has its products showcased on specialist marketplaces such as La Redoute, Brand Alley, Zalando and Galeries Lafayette, as well as marketplaces like Amazon, Cdiscount and eBay.

“By managing the distribution of its products, Sojeans has been able to ensure that they are placed in front of a diverse range of consumers right across Europe.  The distribution of these products can also be tailored to match the right product to the most appropriate consumer.

“So in answer to the question, should e-commerce companies target specialist marketplaces? The answer is yes, but only as part of a larger campaign that includes general marketplaces.”

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