What is an online marketplace?
Let’s start at square one.
To understand how to create an effective Lifestyle Marketplace online, one must first understand what an online marketplace is.
Simply put, an online marketplace is an e-commerce site that connects sellers with buyers. Traditionally in these electronic marketplaces, transactions are managed by the website owner.
Companies use online marketplaces to expand their customer base and offer their products to buyers all over the world.
Online marketplaces have been evolving and thriving since 1995 (the birth year of eBay and Craigslist.) When eBay first launched, it quickly became a place that brought sellers and buyers together in an auction-style setup. Today, you can find countless online marketplaces of every style and size.
Now, take a step back for a second. There’s a whole lot more to this picture…
Most people have come to understand online marketplaces as enormous entities like Amazon, Walmart, and Alibaba -that stock anything and everything, regardless of quality.
But that’s only one side of the coin. These strategies can be applied to businesses of every size and industry, by creating a Lifestyle Marketplace centered around your existing products. You have the customers, and you know what they want. You may sell bikes, but do you sell helmets? Pumps? Chains? Water bottles?
Someone out there is already making all of those things, and they’re doing it to your standards. All you need to do to evolve into a Lifestyle Marketplace, is find them.
Carro’s Brand Partnerships is a network and cross-store sales platform where brands can partner with tens of thousands of DTC brands to build their own Lifestyle Marketplace.
JOI leveraged the Carro network to source the perfect salty snacks to sell alongside their sweet treats. Now they’re a one-stop-shop for all things snacks!
Why Create an Online Marketplace?
One of the most impressive and innovative marketing machines yet to exist is Apple. Certainly you know them for their catalogue of sleek phones and tablets that seem to adorn every third pocket in the world. But what you may not realize, is that Apple’s products aren’t even their primary selling point.
What truly draws customers to Apple is the desire to participate in the Apple-Brand lifestyle. Apple users believe themselves to be part of a community or special group founded on elevated electronics.
Apple even goes a step further, building products that work together seamlessly -but not with any other brand. So every time they sell a new phone or tablet, they’re simply creating more sales for their complimentary products; ie headphones, upgrades, chargers, laptops, etc.
As a small business, it’s important to think about what you can do to create a lifestyle with your products or services. Tell a story through your brand and do it well, to identify and nurture your ideal customer. Then all you need to do is evolve your products into an ecosystem that excites all of those ideal customer’s product-needs.
Telling Your Brand Story
One of the most crucial steps in communicating an enveloping brand story, is sharing your ethos. What are you about? What gets you and your team excited? What do you stand for? What do you not stand for? Sharing your ethos allows you to connect with customers who already think like you do. But it also allows you to connect with other brands that think like you.
To put it simply, the better you communicate your story -the better characters you’re going to attract.
Own your Category
Once you’ve established your brand story, you can really begin the journey of owning your category. Like we learned with Apple, category ownership happens when you’re able to evolve an excellent product into its own marketplace. Telling your story with passion will attract customers who think like you do. So the question to ask yourself is, what else would YOU want to see on your site?
Actually manufacturing innovative and quality complimentary products can be…challenging, we know. That’s why we exist; to connect you with other brands like yours, who already have what you and your customers need. Take ADAY, for example. They’ve been championing sustainable women’s wear for some time now. They recently leveraged Carro into a partnership with Dirty Labs, resulting in them selling their eco-friendly laundry detergent!
Who Should Create One?
Now, I know what you’re thinking. This sounds a lot like wholesaling. So allow me to explain how it isn’t.
Wholesaling is the act of buying goods in bulk from a manufacturer at a discounted price and selling to a retailer for a higher price, for them to repackage and in turn resell in smaller quantities at an even higher price to consumers.
The problem? Traditional wholesaling relationships are littered with inventory management obligations and upfront purchasing.
Online Marketplaces remove those upfront costs and management responsibilities. Instead, you can connect directly with other top-quality brands looking to sell their products in new marketplaces.
So that begs the question, who should really create an online marketplace? The answer is simple, any real brand who makes at least one excellent product. Excellent goods deserve excellent representation, and traditional wholesaling just doesn’t cut it. Online Marketplaces are the solution.
How do you want to Leverage your Online Marketplace?
Using a tool like Carro to build your online marketplace allows you to strategize and dissect different steps of your process. With the ability to test products in your store without the 2-3k barrier to entry, you’re able to effectively identify exactly what your customers want to see on your site.
This gives you a poignant and unique advantage, because it allows you to test and expand your product catalogue without disrupting your buyer journey.
What does that mean for you? Well, it means that you can simultaneously increase AOV and LTV on an automated level. You know best what your customers want, so let’s give it to them!
Owning the Journey
Like we touched on earlier, you know what your customers love. You’ve helped them decide what they love, in fact. Why not be the brand to sell them what else they need? With top-tier products at your fingertips, you can command your buyer’s journey from start to finish. And with inventory synchronization, all you have to do is decide what you want to sell. It’s as simple as that
So I’ll leave you with one thing to think about:
If you could sell any product in your store right now, what would it be?