Expert opinions, TECHNOLOGY

Marketplace innovation: A review of new technologies and useful features

Innovations are crucial for the evolution of online marketplaces, enabling them to maintain market leadership and adapt to the constantly changing needs of customers.

Modern technologies enhance user experience, streamline logistics, and ensure transaction security. This not only boosts customer satisfaction but also drives sales and platform loyalty. Furthermore, innovations in marketplace sales present new opportunities for sellers. Digital tools and automated business processes help entrepreneurs cut costs and efficiently manage their product range.

Factors driving the need for marketplace innovation include:

  1. Increasingly intense competition each year.
  2. Rising costs of advertising within marketplaces.
  3. Significant sales growth achievable only through an integrated approach.

What does an integrated approach to promotion on marketplaces entail? It involves utilizing internal promotion methods (such as internal advertising and content optimization), leveraging artificial intelligence and end-to-end analytics, and driving warm traffic to your marketplace products from various external channels.

1. Enhancing promotion and advertising strategies by incorporating end-to-end analytics and leveraging big data in advertising campaigns.

High-quality content, prominent placement of product listings at the top of the catalog, and participation in site-initiated promotions ensure customer engagement and boost sales. These elements are essential for sellers to succeed, even with the best products.

Big data analysis enables marketplaces to craft personalized advertising campaigns. Many marketplaces now utilize algorithms that assess user behavior and purchasing preferences to present the most relevant products. This approach improves the effectiveness of advertising and boosts the likelihood of purchase.

Russian online marketplaces offer sellers tools for independently creating and managing advertising campaigns. These tools enable sellers to set targeting parameters, choose budgets, and track the effectiveness of their campaigns. This makes the promotion process more flexible and accessible to a diverse range of sellers.

However, it is important to recognize that if you are a large brand aiming for rapid sales growth on marketplaces, you need to flexibly utilize both the marketplace’s tools and your own resources to attract external traffic.

Let’s consider a specific example: a large plant that manufactures soft drinks, such as tonics and non-alcoholic wines. On the marketplace, they are already among the top in their category and have nearly reached their sales ceiling. However, they can achieve even greater growth by targeting an audience that has not yet considered purchasing these drinks.

How can this be achieved? First, we need to study the target audience and understand their interests, such as a focus on a healthy lifestyle, a love for aesthetics, and family celebrations. Based on this data, we can build a strategy to reach this audience and naturally “warm” them up to purchase drinks from the client brand. The tools used include:

  • Influencer marketing: Collaborating with bloggers who showcase cocktail recipes and table setting ideas for children’s parties.
  • Crowd marketing: Generating and managing reviews on specialized platforms and social networks.
  • Content marketing: Creating articles and content that subtly highlight the benefits of these drinks.

Then efforts should be made to implement the previously set goal of encouraging the available warm traffic audience to make purchases on a marketplace. Luckily, with analytics allowing us to track the origin of the traffic and see where the visitors come from, we were able to confirm the assumptions with actual attracted sales figures.

2. Utilizing AI at all stages of the sales funnel since conventional ‘analogue’ methods have essentially become ineffective. Making the right decisions requires procession of data on sales, positions, warehouse deliveries and competitive prices on a daily basis. Otherwise, relying on luck will inevitably lead to failure in sales.

Marketplaces offer opportunities for sellers to build their own AI-powered bots and monitor dozens of indicators in sellers’ accounts to notify managers of impending risks, such as when a product is about to run out of stock soon or the current prices are uncompetitive). In the long-term, AI may handle the analytics and even make management decisions – but this is still a long way off. Indeed, bots actually make working with big data in an online marketplace easier (a bot could handle content work for an hour while a manager will spend eight hours doing the same amount of tasks). Yet, conclusions, assumptions and strategic decisions are still made by people.

3. Efforts to develop loyalty and cashback programs become essential tools for attracting and retaining customers on Russian marketplaces. Such techniques help build long-term relations with customers by encouraging them to make repeat purchases, maintaining high engagement, and enhancing customer loyalty to specific brands.

Today, many online platforms take vigorous efforts to implement cashback programs, with users given a percentage of the spent money back to their bonus accounts. These refunds can be used on future purchases, serving as an additional incentive for customers to boost engagement.

4. Today, Russian marketplaces extensively introduce a variety of payment methods to simplify the shopping process, making it as convenient as possible. These innovations include the option of using e-wallets, a service that offers a fast and secure payment method without having to provide any bank card details.

Another major innovation is the introduction of installment payments through partner banks, with the total sum of money divided into smaller amounts that the buyer pays over a specified period; this is particularly relevant for making expensive purchases such as electronic devices and appliances. These payment options make the shopping experience more accessible and encourage consumers to make big purchases, increasing the marketplace’s overall sales.

5. Introduction of innovative logistics solutions, such as warehouse robotics, automated inventory management systems and drone delivery services, can substantially reduce delivery time while increasing its reliability. Many online marketplaces in Russia are now testing and introducing drones and unmanned vehicles to deliver goods to remote and hard-to-reach areas.

Also, online marketplaces are taking efforts to develop their network of pickup points and parcel terminals, allowing customers to pick up their orders at a time that is most convenient.

All these innovations provide competitive advantages for online marketplaces, ensuring their sustainable development and attracting new users and partners.

By Yevgeny Sholchev, Founder, Sholchev e-commerce agency

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