Marketplaces 101: an essential guide for SMEs and freelancers

30 Jan 2024. 09:54
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  • SME maturity
    1. Comercio electrónico
    Scope to digitize
    1. Commercialisation

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Thanks to digital transformation, SMEs and freelancers have found new ways to sell their products and services in the online channel. One example is the marketplaces and, if you want to know all the details about them and how to participate in one, in this monographic we show you how.

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Executive summary

Digital transformation and technological advances have introduced new ways of communicating, working and new ways of buying and selling products and services. Marketplaces are online platforms where any SME or freelancer can sell their products, i.e. a meeting point between sellers and buyers, with the advantage of not being limited to any physical space or geographical area.

On the one hand, a marketplace is an online platform where any small business or freelancer can offer their products and services for sale. There are different types of marketplaces depending on their peculiarities:

  • On-demand Marketplace: focused on the immediate delivery of products or services to satisfy an urgent need of buyers.
  • Managed Marketplaces: offer all types of products from different brands, generally in a B2C (Business to Customer) sales mode, i.e. business to consumer.
  • Community Marketplace: those in which the end users are both sellers and buyers, i.e. peer-to-peer transactions are carried out.
  • B2B (Business to Business) Marketplace: those directed from business to business.

On the other hand, there are numerous benefits for sellers who decide to start operating on an existing marketplace. These include:

  • Increased exposure and visibility.
  • Savings on advertising.
  • Leveraging the technology infrastructure.
  • Data and analytics.
  • Reduced barriers to entry.

If there is a marketplace that meets the needs required as a seller, the steps to follow to operate in it are as follows:

  1. Select the marketplace that best suits the products or services of the company in question.
  2. Open an account on the marketplace.
  3. Upload the catalogue.
  4. Keep an updated inventory record.
  5. Establish prices.
  6. Manage orders efficiently.
  7. Manage order logistics.
  8. Provide adequate customer service: be available to answer customer questions and solve customer problems, providing a high quality service.
  9. Establish and clearly communicate return policies.

However, it is possible that, as a seller, there is no marketplace that suits the needs of your business. For this, it is possible to create your own marketplace. To achieve its correct operation, it must have a series of functionalities that can be achieved through the following:

  • E-commerce platforms specialised in the creation of marketplaces. For example: Izberg, Magento or Mirkl.
  • Inventory management platforms, which allow you to keep track of all products, accounting or purchases, thus improving the efficiency of the SME. For example: Odoo, SAP Business One or Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.
  • Payment management platforms, i.e. a system or software designed to facilitate and manage economic transactions. For example: Stripe, Paypal or Square.
  • Logistics management: decide whether the seller operating in the marketplace is responsible for the logistics of their orders or whether the marketplace manager will oversee doing so.

In short, marketplaces have grown significantly in recent years, at the same time as they have helped other companies to grow, and they can be a great help for all SMEs and freelancers. Knowing the different platforms, their characteristics, knowing how to get started and what tools are necessary for the proper management of the business, are key to helping companies of all sizes to grow and consolidate.

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