When it comes to carving a niche for oneself in e-commerce industry, one has to be an accomplished virtuoso in separating fact from fiction. In ecommerce lexicon, the popularly used cliché- “Separate the wheat from chaff” signifies the same. Right from top notch business executives, strategic e-commerce consultants to budding entrepreneurs, myths have ingrained the minds of all and sundry. Myths have become common but global myths abound. In this article, I have tried my best to debunk all conventional myths and I am sure that the insights this article provides can catalyze your thoughts.
Before digging deep into the myths, let us understand the meaning of the word ‘myth’. According to Cambridge English dictionary, a myth is an invented story, idea, or concept; a myth also signifies an imaginary or a fictitious thing. At the very outset, it is essential to clarify the fact that myths may be based on half-truths or real lies. This article is all about realizing the real lies with real eyes!
1. Myth#1: Social Media will soon become the sole stand-alone purchase channel for Multi-Seller shopping carts (source: PricewaterhouseCoopers reports)
The role of social media channels will increase year after year. However, it is important to understand that customers share their opinions, reviews and concerns on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus etc. Depending on the motivation levels, customers can be categorized into brand lovers, deal hunters and social addicts. Brand lovers spread the good word by sharing the updates of latest trends on their social media sites. Deal hunters purchase a few products by navigating to respective marketplace scripts (websites) and close the deals. More often than not, they engage in offline purchase or order online without relying on social media platforms. Social addicts express their opinion on purchased products on social media platforms. Social Media will thus remain as a backwater channel for closing deals and is envisioned to follow the status quo. It can thus be said in all fairness that social media platforms can never become stand-alone channels for Multi seller shopping carts.
2. Myth#2: Multi-seller ecommerce will soon become multi-seller m-commerce
Ten years from now, it is envisaged that m-commerce will be catapulted into global audiences. However, some things seldom go out of style. This clearly is truer for e-commerce. Talking about the future trends, while m-commerce may account for 45-50% of all deals, e-commerce still accounts for 50-55% of retail business niche. The ability to see, touch, feel and try are intangible assets and no online shop can offer these advantages. Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal mentioned in an interview with TOI (Times Of India) that going mobile only isn’t a viable idea at least not in the near future if not far.
3. Myth#3: Multi Seller shopping carts are unregistered businesses. It is unsafe to purchase goods from unregistered multi-seller shopping carts.
There is no merit in the aforementioned myth. In registered businesses, payments once made will be recorded in the payment gateway databases such as PayPal, Alipay etc. The only issue with unregistered businesses was the absence of an attested payment gateway. Thanks to PayU Paisa, unregistered businesses can now enjoy the privilege of a genuine, safe and secure payment gateway.
4. Myth#4: Multi-seller shopping marketplaces require hundreds of features to drive HTTP traffic
This is a myth deeply entrenched in the minds of marketplace owners than in the attitudinal mindset of sellers and buyers. It is absolutely imperative to have basic features such as login, multi-language support feature, multi-currency support, payment adaptive gateways, dashboards etc. secondary features such as drag-and drop, 360 degree view etc. aren’t mandatory. HTTP traffic depends a lot on the quality of products and not solely on the abundance of features.
5. Myth#5: Given the presence of celebrated ecommerce giants such as Amazon, Alibaba, Walmart etc. it is impossible for multi-seller shopping cart platforms to survive the competition
Competition is present in every walk of life. There isn’t a successful business niche sans any competition. While biggest retailers and e-retailers such as Amazon sell from bizarre things to brilliant utilities, it is not uncommon for multi-seller shopping carts to specialize in a few particular segments. For instance, multi-seller digital shopping cart vendors can sell only digital collections such as e-books, software etc. at discounted prices. To succeed in this rat race, one has to specialize in his/her niche and exalt the excellence.
6. Myth#6: Payment gateways and logistics are overpriced and integrating several payment gateways often costs an arm and a leg
This is a myth based on half-truths and pre-conceived notions. Logistics support used to expensive. With the advent of innovative payment options such as GharPay and umpteen logistics support players into the market, logistics support is no longer exorbitant. Taking budget into account, one has to find the ideal fit.
7. Myth#7: I can maintain a multi-seller shopping cart with minimal effort and concentrate on the ecommerce shores in my free time
To all those wonderful readers who have embraced the aforementioned myth, it is with utmost emphasis I assert that multi-seller shopping business isn’t a part-time pursuit. It is a dedicated endeavor and an entrepreneurial journey to be embarked with supreme dedication and complete devotion. There is no concept of experiencing windfall gains with minimal efforts.
8. Myth#8: In multi-seller shopping marketplace, sellers sell low only to charge profits on shipping
Sellers lock horns with one another but not at the expense of their customers. The so-called wrong notion that sellers charge profits on shipping is baseless. Margins on online sales are less and so is the overhead.
9. Myth#9: It is great that I don’t see my potential customers. I need not care about their concerns. Sellers will address their concerns.
As a proud owner of multi-seller marketplace script, it is your responsibility to frequently monitor the progress of business activities. While blue-blooded sellers are sure to take care of the concerns of potential buyers, a miniscule quantum of negligence can mar your business. A satisfied customer spreads the good word to another customer but an unsatisfied customer defames your business by spreading the bad word to 5000 customers. Let us all remember with a caveat the wise words of Warren Buffet, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”
10. Myth#10: Multi-seller shopping is all about staying local and not going global.
If one were to ignore the international options and global avenues available for a particular niche, one is truly doing tremendous disservice to one’s own business. Going global is not the best option for all the merchants but for those who are doing well at the local level, to all intents and purposes; they can try their luck at the global level. To ignore international options is to say cake is sweeter than ice-cream.
11. Myth#11: Multi-seller shopping itself is all about merchandising and marketing. I need not indulge in additional marketing activities and campaigns.
Despite the gospel truth that multi-seller shopping is all about merchandising and marketing, additional marketing- be it in any form, email marketing campaigns, social media marketing, mass marketing, viral marketing or Word Of Mouth (WOM) marketing etc. are necessary to keep in touch with your customer base. Do away with any existing complacency and try to take your marketplace script to the next level. Sending newsletters to subscribers will add sheen to your business.
12. Myth#12: Domestic retailers enjoy the “home” advantage over foreign retailers. In multi-seller ecommerce, sellers from foreign countries have a tough time.
The answer is an emphatic ‘no.’ the aforementioned statement is true only in the case of China. In China, several social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter etc. are banned. China has its own social media platforms. For instance, in countries such as USA and India, WhatsApp is used. However in China, WeChat is used. Moreover, China’s online shoppers are predominantly young and most employed. As a consequence, china based ecommerce businesses focus extensively on Chinese customers.
13. Myth#13 : Multi-seller shopping business is all about business-first approach
Let me let the cat out of the bag- Multi-seller shopping business is all about consumer-first approach. It isn’t about business-first approach. While this holds true for majority of businesses, there couldn’t have been a better place to quote it.
14. Myth#14: Multi-seller shopping business is all about “one-size-fits-all” model
There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ model. One has to eventually fine-tune the model and customize accordingly. Flexibility is a must have trait. When I mean flexibility, it means that existing sellers can easily withdraw from the business. Also, additional sellers can easily join the business. Each and every seller should have a separate dedicated dashboard and an inventory tracker.
15. Myth#15: Multi-seller shopping business experiences go haywire. When things go wrong, it is absolutely because of the marketplace script.
Many customers have fallen prey to this stereotypical absurd myth. While I do not deny the fact that multi-seller businesses are busiest marketplaces with higher HTTP traffic, things however do not go wrong only due to the huge HTTP traffic. There may be many reasons for the higgledy-piggledy ambience such as the following:
• Software on your computer may lead to unexpected op-ups and un-anticipated behavior.
• Problems with affiliate marketing
• Inaccurate report generation-be it on purchases, inventory etc.
16. Myth#16 : Revenue is the sole Key Performance Indicator
Here is the reality- Revenue is one of the several key performance indicators. To have a better picture of your multi-seller shopping marketplace, you have to focus on
• Search Engine Clickthroughs
• Conversion rate
• Bounce rate
• Time on site
• Exit rate
• Abandonment rate
These are just a few of many metrics that determine the success rate of your business. You can use several tools such as Crazy Egg, Hubspot A/B to gain insights on these metrics. In addition, you can rely on Google analytics for insights on international traffic.
17. Multi-seller shopping marketplaces have limited costumer expectations. Customers just visit the marketplace sites to transact.
Here is the truth- Customers visit the multi-seller shopping marketplaces for more than just monetary transactions. Expectations are many and customers are fuel-driven by the following factors:
• Inspiration: Customers do not experience any necessity of owning the utility (goods/services) until and unless they discover it on the marketplaces. This can be explained with an example. Let us assume that a particular seller quotes the price of an iPhone6 128 GB piece as Rs 40,000/. Customers may experience momentary pangs of owning the product. These so called ‘momentary pangs’ are driven by the inspiration to buy.
• Research: Before finalizing on an item, customers do adequate research by viewing the available products on the marketplace scripts.
• Purchase: Customers who wish to close the deal come under this category.
• Post Purchase: Customers who have some post purchase issues such as installation of new version, latest updates etc. come under this category.
Now that most of the popular myths have been de-bunked, I hope this article has lived up-to your expectations. Have you got more myths? Do let us know.