To celebrate and officially kick off the new global Artefact eRetail offering in the Benelux, we hosted an eRetail Breakfast in our new Utrecht office on the 2nd of April. 12 retail professionals were invited to join two interactive sessions presented by our inhouse retail experts.
Marketplaces is a hot topic nowadays. Platforms like Amazon and Bol.com have become a pivotal step in the customer journey. Hence it is understandable that, like with any other part of the customer journey, businesses want and need to optimise this step in order to maximise their sales. The risk you run by not selling proactively on these platforms and by not optimising your content, digital shelf space and seller performance, is competitors stealing your sales and market share. “If you snooze, you lose”. However, we do suggest you research the costs and requirements involved when considering to launch on these platforms.
While half of the city was still fast asleep, we were getting together for a cup of joe and a croissant before diving into the sessions. After Lennert welcomed everyone, it was up to our inhouse retail experts to lead the sessions on “Anticipating the impact of Amazon” and “The road to success on Bol.com”. Read on for a summary of the sessions after which you can download the presentations at the bottom of the page.
Session 1: How to successfully anticipate the impact of Amazon and how to leverage the ecosystem in order to grow your sales?
Thomas Faure has developed the eRetail offer at Artefact which is aimed at helping brands to define, implement and monitor a performing strategy on key marketplaces such as Amazon. Amazon is strongly disrupting the way we search and buy products. With up to 50% of e-commerce market share in its top market, Amazon has become a mandatory marketing channel for brands. Mastering this innovative ecosystem has become a pre-requisite to ensure sales growth. From assortment definition to advertising management, through product and brand content optimization, a dedicated expertise is now mandatory to succeed.
In the Netherlands 10% of total sales comes from e-commerce
In China this percentage is over 30%! In contrast to many other countries, Amazon is not the number 1 platform in The Netherlands in terms of sales. This is understandable since they only sell (e-)books (for now). Still, the platform is not insignificant for Dutch companies who are selling worldwide. Firstly, Dutch customers shop on Amazon.de. Shipping conditions to The Netherlands are pretty much similar to the conditions of shopping in Germany and the platform is even available in Dutch so you barely notice you are on the German Amazon. Secondly, it is still likely that Amazon will expand beyond the books offering in The Netherlands . In general the platform is continuously expanding its reach, for example to the Nordics in Q2 2019.
As with other marketing channels, Amazon has some best practises in order to ensure a successful strategy. What are these?
1 – Choose your assortment wisely. It’s not necessary to sell your entire product range so choose the products that are profitable and have a long shelf life.
2 – Control your shelf space. 90% of the purchase journeys on Amazon start with a search in the search bar… and only 30% of the searchers reach the second page of results. So, be sure you are as visible as possible where you need to be.
3 – Support your visibility. Maximise brand and product exposure through advertisement beyond organic. Amazon offers advertising tools such as display and video ads as well as sponsoring of brands and products.
4 – Ensure brand asset quality. Amazon offers multiple options for content on the platform, ranging from product pages to landing pages for products and a branded store page. Pick the right one for your objective and optimise it to make the best experience for the customer.
5 – Master product launch timing. Be aware of international or local holidays that drive sales such as Black Friday and make sure you are visible across the platform, preferably with a promotion.
You can find more about our Amazon eRetail offer on this page.
Session 2: The road to success on the biggest marketplace in The Netherlands
David Hellendoorn sells his own products on Bol.com and he consults other companies on SEO for their website and on Bol.com. He has worked on portfolio’s with 15.000+ products and has tested different optimization methods. In his session he shared his test results and insights with the audience.
There is no doubt that Bol.com has been growing rapidly over the past years, with consumer sales from Bol.com’s partners going from 100 mln euro to 678 mln euro between 2014 and 2018. Also, Bol.com has communicated that partners have become more important, if not more important than their own sales. The fact that they prioritise their partner’s sales above their own during busy holiday times confirms this.
Similar as with selling on Amazon, it is important to review how profitable your business is on Bol.com taking into account the commission you have to pay to the platform. So, what do you get for your bucks? Included in your commission is some advertising such as Google shopping and retargeting. This is managed by Bol.com and you don’t have influence on this. Furthermore, you get traffic to your products, your transaction costs are covered and customer service as well. This comes with the standard seller account where you handle the shipping of the packages yourself. A different option is to have Bol.com handle the shipping. In this case, you pay a fixed fee per package depending on the size and on top of the previous perks, you get free returns. Not too bad, especially if you have a high return rate.
What you can influence, is your organic performance on the platform. In order to improve your rankings, it is important to focus on the below three factors:
Add synonyms to the title as well as color/material/size combinations. Also adding a secondary title which is displayed in a smaller font below the normal title, is a very good way to be ahead of competitors. Many don’t know that this is a ranking factor and don’t have this. Add more variations of your keyword in this title in order to rank for even more terms. Having a long and optimised title and secondary title brings another advantage. Because the text takes up a lot of space in the search results, you steal the focus from competitors.
For now this trick works but the “ranking algorithm” could advance over time, forcing us to seek new optimisation methods.
The more you sell, the better your position in the product results. Also, the more you sell, the more reviews you’ll be able to gather. And we all know that a product with many good reviews will on average perform better than a product with none.
The effect of traffic on your performance, is similar to that of extra sales. At this moment it is even possible to buy this traffic although we advice against this.
What else can you do to improve not only your rankings but also your sales?
There is this thing called buy box or “koopblok”. If the same product is being sold by various suppliers, you can try to show up as the “preferred supplier” on the product page. There are important requirements (such as delivery conditions, price and seller performance) that you have to overperform on to be ranked as preferred supplier so make sure you stand out by checking all the boxes!
David closed his session by mentioning one final thing that has worked very well for his business and that is being done already on other platforms such as AliExpress. Enriching the product images with product specifications (see below example). Because the customer has a more detailed impression of the product, this is likely to lead to more sales and less returns.
Thank you to all the interested participants for your burning questions and positive feedback!
The presentations are made available to everyone via the links below. If you have any questions about the above, would like to talk to an expert before deciding to start selling on marketplaces or could use an extra hand to do the work for you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via email@example.com or call us on 0031 (0) 30 737 0481.
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Liza Merkourieva, Business Development and Marketing Communications Consultant