You’ve started your business, built up a reliable client base, and are ready to take the next step. A big problem with many companies is that it can be challenging to scale customer service as you grow.
Lucky for you, this post offers valuable insight on how you can grow your business while keeping the same level of customer service you already have.
Mirakl and eDesk partnered to empower expansion in sellers’ brands. In our recent webinar, Gareth Cummings, CTO at eDesk, was joined by Whitney Mayfield, Mirakl Manager, Marketplace Business Development, to discuss how to achieve this.
They discussed what online retailers need to consider and prepare before going forward with marketplace expansion to keep customers happy, loyal, and engaged as expand your business:
- Why should you expand your online business into multiple marketplaces?
- What questions do sellers need to ask themselves before launching across new marketplaces?
- How can you deliver a great customer experience as you expand across multiple channels?
- How do you identify which marketplaces are ideal for you?
- How can you provide a seamless customer experience across global regions?
- How can you ensure customer trust and continuously deliver positive experiences as your business expands?
- What touchpoints and channels for customer communication should a company have?
Why should you expand your online business into multiple marketplaces?
Whitney believes selling on multiple marketplaces can be the easiest way to boost sales, especially for already established sellers who may have an excess of that they can push to different marketplaces with different categories.
“We have a wide breadth of industries, that you could push various categories, or some are more generalist where you could push all ranges.”
Visibility for your company is also raised. Having your company in different brands’ marketplaces exposes it to a bigger audience and more traffic, and SKUs can be highlighted in a different capacity.
Some more niche marketplaces may have a very limited number of SKUs, which gives your company a good opportunity to feature products more prominently in that specific category – even off-season products at a discounted price.
Gareth said that selling across multiple channels was especially important to avoid the limitations and obligations that any one marketplace or webstore platform might place on sellers.
What questions do sellers need to ask themselves before launching across new marketplaces?
Gareth and Whitney agreed that there are several key factors to consider as you plan your business expansion:
- What are you selling and what’s missing?
- Is there a section on the retail landscape that you are not selling to?
- Do you want to gain more control over your brand?
As some brands can grow too fast and have too much breadth, often due to their wholesale relationships, Whitney said:
“We advertise the advantage of bringing some of that control back to you as the seller”.
- What’s your current team and their bandwidth?
You cannot expand if you do not have the facilities to attend to all the additional sales and their associated shipping, logistics, and customer support issues in a timely manner.
- What are your key goals?
Consider and compare the financial advantages of dropshipping vs wholesale vs marketplace before considering a marketplace. It has been noticed that often a marketplace makes the most financial sense.
- Is there an opportunity for you to sell your product in a different region for a higher profit margin?
This is where the Mirakl network of marketplaces can assist in that process and the regions where you may be able to reap a higher profit margin.
- Will there be consistency in my customer service?
Gareth understands that even when times are tough, customers will always use the brands they trust, so when expanding on a global scale, you need to make sure you’re able to still deliver exceptional customer service worldwide.
Adhering to separate marketplace customer support SLAs is also critical to successfully growing through expansion. Automating this process using tools like eDesk’s is key to maintaining customer service standards.
How can you deliver a great customer experience as you expand across multiple channels?
Gareth emphasizes the importance of customer satisfaction with your service by quoting Jeff Bezos:
“The most important single thing to focus on obsessively is on the customer.”
He suggests starting with the customer and working backwards to ensure a consistent experience, no matter what channel they may use. Sellers need to go above and beyond adhering to SLAs to exceed them by responding faster to give an exceptional customer experience.
Another point Gareth raised is that you don’t have to be duplicating effort by logging on to different platforms and channels to respond to customers. You can bring all of that into one centralized place in order to give a consistent response with tools that help you with things like autoreplies and templates. Gareth says:
“Good customer experience drives loyalty, drives repeat customers.”
How to identify which marketplaces are ideal for you?
Whitney advises sellers to take a close look at which marketplaces align best with their goals and plans. Online sellers need to identify their target audience and how to position their brand, what inventory to push, brand visibility, and ensuring that your team has enough bandwidth to handle venturing into new marketplaces.
It’s important to identify which channels and marketplaces make the most financial sense. Mirakl powers hundreds of marketplaces in all industries worldwide – B2B and B2C marketplaces, that are considered ‘luxury’ and those considered more ‘generalist’.
Sellers who work with the Mirakl Connect platform can identify what categories a specific marketplace may be looking for, which items do really well in which marketplaces, and which marketplaces succeed at certain times of the year for seasonal sellers. Mirakl also helps with onboarding times and getting SKUs live.
Whitney encourages sellers to take advantage of Mirakl to research the marketplaces they are considering joining, to see if their products are in line and what the price points are. It’s free to sign up with Mirakl Connect to access information on all of their marketplaces.
How can you provide a seamless customer experience across global regions?
Engaging with customers on all different platforms builds credibility and trust, encourages sales, and reduces public negative comments.
Gareth points out that customers engage with online businesses through so many different channels, and they may buy off one channel but request assistance through another. Sellers should ensure that the same oversight of all the customer’s information is available on all channels to keep service consistent, despite the nuances of each.
For example, live chat requires an immediate response as the customer may not be available at their PC all day, while a Whatsapp message gives a little leeway for a response as a customer can read and reply at any time.
For Gareth, language is one of the most important factors to consider when expanding to other countries. Customers and marketplaces require that sellers are able to assist in their native language.
Certain software can really help online businesses provide seamless experiences in other regions and channels, such as Mirakl Connect and eDesk. Mirakl brings global marketplace expertise and guidance, and eDesk’s customer support automation tools assist in consistently engaging with the customers. Mirakl has offices all over the world so they can connect you with a local team and work through specific SLAs in those marketplaces.
Consider how to ship products to these regions, how to deal with returns, and what shipping costs may end up being, and check out other eCommerce tools at your disposal.
How can you avoid losing trust and deliver constant positive experiences for your customers as you grow and expand?
Gareth stresses it is very important to maintain that trust with your customers and keep the communication with your customer consistent and clear.
“The thing about trust is you have to do a lot of work to earn trust, but it’s very easy to lose it.”
When challenges arise that may delay order turn around times, communicate this to customers – they appreciate feedback and it builds trust, whereas getting no response or any kind of feedback can lead to negative customer experience and bad reviews.
What touchpoints and channels for customer communication should a company have?
Touchpoints in today’s world are always expanding, from instant chat to social media, and sellers should ensure they keep up to date and have a presence across all of these platforms. Consider the nature of the customer: different age groups, regions, or even what mood the customer may be in, can affect their choice of communication channel.
The future of eCommerce, and at eDesk, is omnichannel so it’s recommended that sellers use all available channels for both sales and customer queries.
It’s very important for both post-sale and pre-sale engagements, especially in the event of a high-ticket item. Customers do a lot of research on expensive items as they need to carefully consider all aspects before making a purchase of magnitude.
This can make or break a sale, as a customer will not only enquire about the product but also subtly test your customer service, giving them a sense of trust in your brand.
Final thoughts on growing your eCommerce business without compromising customer support
As Whitney says:
“Anytime is the right time to join a marketplace.”
Joining up with Mirakl is free and simple to use, and sellers can sign up to browse through their site to see what markets may be of interest, then be selling in just a few weeks.
Scaling customer support inline with this growth is essential to an online business’s continued success. eDesk’s omnichannel customer support capabilities simplifies delivering extraordinary customer experiences over multiple platforms, and can also be tried for free.
To listen to the webinar hosted by our marketing director, Malachy Callan, joined by speakers Gareth Cummings and Whitney Mayfield, click here.