How to attract more vendors through marketplace attractiveness.

There’s always a contest of priorities in the early days of launching your multi-vendor marketplace between attracting sellers and attracting customers. Should you focus on driving customer traffic to your site which you can then use as an incentive for vendors to sign up? Or, should you populate your marketplace before working on traffic generation?

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We recommend that in the initial stages you focus on getting great vendors onboard. In this article, we’re going to look at how to attract and retain vendors to your new (or not so new) marketplace.

Communicating your marketplace’s USPs

Describe your unique selling propositions (USPs)

First and foremost, you need to explain exactly what a multi-vendor marketplace is; don’t assume that people know the concept or its benefits. Once you’ve clarified the marketplace business model, you need to give vendors reasons to join your marketplace over others and this means clearly explaining your unique selling propositions (USPs). What sets your marketplace apart from others: customer base/traffic, existing vendors, quality support, standout features, 24/7 support can all form your USPs.

marketplace seller

Explain your exact business model

In attracting potential vendors you should be clear and transparent about the exact details of your business model. Make it clear whether the marketplace operates a commission or subscription model and communicate when vendors can expect to get paid. There’s really little benefit to obscuring these details or burying them in the signup process.

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Tell vendors why it can work for them

Not all vendors will want to join a marketplace for the same reasons so try and communicate that your platform works for different business goals. Considering tailoring your messaging to include common marketplace use-cases:

  • A new and/or additional sales channel
  • A means to save money on marketing costs
  • Increased brand awareness and exposure
  • A simple solution to shipping and billing

Be smart in how you present your marketplace based on the kind of vendors you’re looking to attract and the industries they’re operating in.

How to reach out to vendors

Now that you’ve clearly explained why a vendor should work with you and how that relationship will work it’s time to start finding vendors. It might seem like a daunting task, but luckily there are numerous ways and places to find them.

Marketplace Searching

Social media

Vendors will already be using social media to market their stores so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find and contact them. If you’re starting a B2C marketplaces check out social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and Pinterest. Use your niche’s keywords in the network’s search function or search hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to bring up topics or accounts that you can research.

B2B sellers can also use the aforementioned social networks but prioritize searching on LinkedIn first—not only are you more likely to find the right potential vendors there but they’ll be more accommodating to you contacting them on a professional network than on a platform like Facebook.

Offline

This might be difficult for a while because of the on-going pandemic but you can also source vendors offline. Etsy started out recruiting sellers by visiting craft fairs, explaining the Etsy platform, and then invited them to create a store. Events like tradeshows, expos and even meetups could provide a good source of potential vendors—once things like this start up again!

Vendors on other platforms

Recruiting vendors from other marketplace platforms might seem a little underhand, but there’s nothing wrong in talking about the benefits of your own marketplace and giving sellers options. Airbnb started out this way: they would contact people advertising their properties on Craigslist and offer them an alternative.

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Offer easy and safe payment methods

People want to use multi-vendor platforms because a lot of the hassle that comes with e-commerce selling is taken care of for them. This should definitely be the case in terms of payment methods.

Allow your vendors to use a range of payment gateways: Shuup currently supports PayPal and Stripe integrations, but others can be added as customizations. Offer credit card payment security and fraud prevention information and set up understandable and transparent returns policies.

Offer shipping solutions

Taking away from vendors the stress and time involved in calculating shipping is a great selling point for your marketplace. Communicate to users that you’re providing a versatile shipping ecosystem that caters to more than just physical products.

  • Goods delivery services: control and dispatch drivers, accept mobile payments, integrated mobile apps for drivers.
  • Flexible shipping calculations: calculate shipping depending on the customer’s location, total order cost, weight, the number of items.

Integrations: highlight the opportunity to connect with a customer’s existing carrier, such as FedEx or UPS.

Top tip: Embed a clickable tracking link into the PDF to direct users to specific pages such as free trial or directly to a category or product page.

We’d suggest investing in creating a mixture of b2b ecommerce content types and testing them out. You can analyze your funnel and behavior flow to see what’s working and what isn’t in your Shuup Store. Once you’ve got enough data you can start replicating the kind of content that’s working for you.

Provide an inventory management solution

Let vendors know that your marketplace offers an effective inventory management system. The system allows users to upload their products, set prices, and add product descriptions. More advanced systems, like Shuup’s, handle complex product rules and multiple stock locations such as warehouses.

Vendors should have access to a control panel or dashboard allowing them to control stock availability, set low-stock notifications, bundle products, and apply discounts.

For existing sellers, keep the transition simple by providing information on integrating their existing inventory management system into your marketplace.

Make registration easy and offer onboarding

The last piece of the puzzle is getting vendors to sign up to your marketplace. Like all online conversion opportunities, keeping your signup process easy and intuitive is essential.

  • Implement a signup call-to-action (CTA) button on your site. Keep it visible on key pages and always avoid asking users to contact you to signup.
  • The application form should contain as few fields as possible. Only ask for the details that you need to screen applicants. Further details can be gathered later.
  • Offer comprehensive FAQ to cut down on pre-application inquiries; information transparency also increases vendor confidence.

Once vendors have signed up, don’t let them flounder. Provide new sellers with as much information as possible in the form of onboarding guides, a help center, and robust platform support (live chat or phone would also be great, but might not be possible for all marketplace owners) The key is to educate your new vendors on how to use your marketplace, get their products listed, stores launched, and reduce vendor churn.

Acquiring vendors can seem like a daunting task at the beginning but always keep in mind that vendors, like you, are business people: they’re always open to hearing how they can improve their processes, satisfy their customers, and increase their revenue. Your job is to communicate the benefits of joining you and showcasing the features of your platform.

If you are interested in learning more or having an expert evaluate your marketplace or marketplace idea, get in touch with a Shuup marketplace expert today!

Ready to build your multi vendor marketplace? Get a personalized demo today.

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