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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : April 27, 2010

Merchants: Do you need third party sellers?

There is tough competition in the online marketplace, especially for non-CPG brands. Finding your unique store carrying Brand X bags, for example, is nearly impossible when there are 50 other storefronts offering the same thing to consumers. Third party marketplaces - such as Amazon, eBay, and even Google - can help etailers increase traffic and conversions. Here are a few tips from Mercent, a hub connecting etailers with third party sites.

by Kristina Knight

mercent.gifThe Mercent platform currently serves about 130 top-line retailers such as Zappos, Office Depot and even Fossil. The site helps online merchants connect and engage with consumers to push conversions across a variety of ecommerce platforms. But, instead of looking at click streams or shopping cart abandonment Mercent focuses on skews in the catalog so that etailers understand which ads are driving which channels to become more profitable.

"What Mercent does for our retail customers is to provide a custom integration with their line of business systems," said Eric Best, CEO of Mercent. "We're pulling product information, profitability and data from their warehouses in real time. Even today, half of the 130 clients mentioned are logging in daily to create unique ad campaigns for specific categories or to set up content for a future event."

Their price optimization feature allows the merchant to automate the price and the offer for each product in different online hubs to give discounts, offer free shipping or other offers.

But, how important is the affiliate/third party marketplace to merchants?

"Just to cite some data, there is a 30% year over year growth rate for Amazon, despite the recession," said Best. "Over the last six to seven quarters, the growth rate for our clients on Amazon has ranged from 42% to 80%. What I anticipate you'll see is that it will become increasingly hard for inefficient sellers to compete. With the prevalence of accurate and timely search tools it is much harder to companies or individual sellers to add that value now. The consumer is much better informed today, and chances are the consumer will already know the lowest price and how to get it."

Tags: affiliate sales, ecommerce, ecommerce strategy, etailing, Mercent, third party retailers

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