Digital marketplaces help you provide the personalization customers have come to expect, and in today’s crowded ecommerce space, the customer experience has never been more important. Global ecommerce sales are projected to exceed $7 trillion by 2025. While company web stores are essential, digital marketplaces take simple sales to the next level by offering businesses more opportunities to engage with customers.
With a B2B or B2C marketplace, you benefit from an ecosystem of buyers and sellers. This platform allows buyers to search for products, view product descriptions and reviews and make purchases, while sellers can list their products and receive orders.
Developing your digital marketplace should be an ongoing process that allows you to stay nimble, by collaborating with your marketplace partners to offer a variety of products and services for your customers. Here are some best practices to take full advantage of the opportunity digital marketplaces provide.
Beyond Window Shopping
Business customers are consumers too, and they want things on demand and with the convenience of a one-stop shop. For instance, if a customer wants a service that is not part of your core business, like a cybersecurity add-on, you can still provide the service from one of the businesses in your network of suppliers. Businesses of all sizes can provide subscription-based services to their customers, offering add-ons and integrations from third-party vendors.
Customers benefit from being able to pay as they go for the technology they are consuming. T-Mobile, for example, offers Netflix along with connectivity services, all in one bill. In the B2B space, you can pay a monthly fee for a PC, the software and other products. Workplace-as-a-service (WaaS) is a cloud-based service that provides businesses with a virtual workspace environment that can be accessed from anywhere. Business customers get a shopping experience that is tailored to their needs, with the convenience of paying one supplier.
When building your digital marketplace, the customer should be at the center of your strategy — what do your customers want, and what are the needs of the customer base you are trying to acquire? The difference between a simple online shop and a digital marketplace is tied to customer retention and the lifetime value of the customer relationship. Subscription plans generally promote longer customer engagement, enabling you to proactively solve customer challenges and anticipate their future needs.
Paired with artificial intelligence, a digital marketplace helps you analyze data on customer purchases and usage patterns, providing you with a better understanding of your customers’ needs and preferences. According to a Bain & Company survey, most enterprises use AI tools to monitor and boost the customer experience.
How do you want your customers to interact with your organization from the very beginning? A common mistake is to load up your catalog with the “best sellers” and biggest names and hope for the best. A catalog needs to be carefully curated, focusing on your customers’ needs.
Automation = Speed and Agility
Another common mistake organizations make is to develop their marketplaces with a one-off perspective and with simple transactions in mind. This is where businesses can get stuck. When implementing a digital marketplace, you want to build for scale. Set yourself up to grow and evolve with your marketplace strategy long-term, where digital commerce is a large percentage of your business.
It is important to automate and integrate processes early. The digital marketplace is the commerce engine in the front, but you need technology at the backend to run it all efficiently. The more add-ons you offer from other vendors, the more complex managing subscriptions can become.
Cloud platform providers, also known as marketplace operation applications (MOAs), provide the technology to enable digital marketplaces. They allow marketplace operators to manage processes such as seller onboarding, product catalogs, and billing and provisioning. With your subscriptions, you have constant engagement with your customers from a billing perspective, with opportunities to upsell, cross sell and be top of mind for customers. Automation helps ensure a seamless customer experience.
Lean on Digital Ecosystems
Trying to build a digital marketplace by yourself would take too long, and in-house resources would be bogged down with manual processes. Turning to an experienced MOA provides you with pre-built architecture and a diverse network of companies that you can potentially partner with to move into new markets and expand your reach.
From B2B services, mobility, travel, healthcare and housing, industries are collaborating as digital ecosystems. When it comes to the digital marketplace, the post-shopping cart experience and throughout the customer lifecycle is where a digital ecosystem brings the most value.
By integrating the delivery of these products and services, you can diversify your catalog in an efficient and affordable way. The value of the ecosystem is that it can simplify connections between vendors through a centralized experience: one company is not responsible for creating a new infrastructure to support various products, but rather all the stakeholders in the digital ecosystem have something to offer.
The key is to keep transforming your digital marketplace with customer service as a driving force. Digital marketplaces help you foster long-term relationships with your customers through subscription-based or pay-per-use models that offer a host of product combinations. You are never done building your marketplace if you want to stay agile and cultivate customer loyalty. With a customer-centric strategy, automation and a mature digital ecosystem, you are in a better position to meet your customers’ needs now and in the future.
Jess Warrington leads CloudBlue’s sales and pre-sales team in North America as well as having responsibility for CloudBlue’s overall go-to-market strategy in the region. CloudBlue partners with the world’s leading service providers, like T-Mobile, CDW, Lenovo, Telefonica and Telstra, to name a few, to empower them to scale in the digital economy by providing a technology solution to automate end-to-end digital supply chain and enabling cross-connecting ecosystems. Warrington has spent more than 15 years working with global enterprises to enable their digital evolution and increase their value to their end customers and the market.