If you only have time to work on one, which one is better for your online store – Social Media Selling or Marketplace Distribution?

Do you own a small or mid-sized eCommerce business?  Or perhaps, are you responsible for managing one for someone else? If the answer is yes, you are probably operating with a combination of several different marketing techniques and promotions.  If you aren’t, you’re likely missing great opportunities to promote the store’s online presence and increase revenues.  Multi-channel promotion is a good strategy for your online store so it’s worth carving out the time to learn.

social media sellingChannels such as social media selling and marketplace distribution do not compete with each other, but in fact, complement each other.  Both should be used in a healthy business model and should be part of your web builder software you are using for your website.  It’s of little importance which you start with.  Simply pick one and work it for a while before you begin on the other.

Online business owners should educate themselves on the many different eCommerce multi-channel marketing models.  Growing your business is easiest when you have a crystal clear understanding of how a particular eCommerce model works and how it is different from another, before you jump on board.  This understanding is key to selling more products and keeping up with, or surpassing, your key competitors. Doing the research in the beginning helps you develop effective business sales strategies and make well-informed decisions at the right time.

In this article, we’ll take a quick look at how social media selling and marketplace distribution can work for your online business.

Social Media Selling and Marketplace Distribution

Social Media Selling

Social media selling (or social selling, for short) is about establishing genuine, long-term relationships via social networking.  These relationships could be formed with potential investors, employees, co-workers, other businesses, customers and more.  While they occur naturally between you and your fans, you’ll need to rethink your strategy when you’re ready to expand your reach.  Social networks like Facebook are more than happy to help you reach a larger audience, for a price, of course.  It’s often worth the small fee, however, as social networking touches as much as 75% of all internet users. That is exactly what makes social selling all the more powerful, and a viable strategic tool to help you sell more.

Social selling revolves around spreading a word of mouth campaign about a specific product or product line. When it comes to buying, consumers often rely on peer’s opinion, the most. Ads may be losing their power to attract the consumers’ attention, but personal product recommendations or peer endorsements are something people rarely ignore.

Check out these statistics –

  • 81% of US respondents said that social media posts from their peers or loved ones directly influenced their purchase decision. (Forbes)
  • Consumers are 71% more likely to buy something based on social media referrals. (Hubspot)
  • 74% of consumers turn to social media platforms for guidance on purchase decisions. (SproutSocial)
  • Today’s consumers are bombarded with truckloads of information, much beyond the average human capacity of consumption. As a result, emails, online advertisements and excessively promotional messages get lost in the sea of promotion. That’s exactly where social selling hits a home run. Consumers are now trying to avoid most promotional avenues and instead, turning to their social media circles.  They’re looking for practical advice and product recommendations through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Social selling, however, poses a big challenge for eCommerce marketers.

The fact is that social media platforms are not venues for direct transactions. Social media users are online to interact with friends and aren’t necessarily in ‘buying mode’. What social media platforms do best, however, is help you reach out to potential consumers, making them aware of your company so they can ultimately discover your products.  The goal is for them to love you and then share your products and promotions with their friends, as well. The success of social media selling lies in a) understanding your prospective customers or clients, b) finding a common ground to initiate conversations and build connections, and c) deepening the relationships.

Marketplace Distribution

What platform are you using to build and power your online store? Most of the well-made, quality eCommerce software on the market will help online merchants take advantage of the marketplace distribution model (also known as omni-channel selling or product syndication).  This model allows you use a third-party, large online marketplace to promote and sell your products. So basically, you’ll be able to export your products for sale on sites such as Google Shopping, BizRate.com, Jet.com, ShopZilla.com, and more.  If you operate a product-based business, you can quickly leverage this model to market your business. Marketplace distribution is a great way to help grow your business.  It works for eMerchants at every step of their eCommerce business success.

social media selling productsProduct distribution to online marketplaces works quite well in terms of increasing the visibility of your brand or business.  The challenge that this model may bring is that the level of competition is very high.  Your products will be placed alongside that of multiple other brands, both big and small. Larger and well-known brands may gain an upper hand in this situation. Small and mid-size businesses, which have yet to build brand recognition, have a tough time in terms of pricing, new customer acquisition and brand equity among others.  Even still, you should play this hand since most distribution channels are free to post on and only charge a small percentage fee for each sell (percentages may be based on total price or vary, according to product category).  Any additional exposure you can give your online store could catch the eye of your niche audience and lead to great gains.

How can SMB owners out position their competitors in the marketplace distribution model? Well, the secret to success is to create products that offer a real value to consumers while devising unique marketing strategies.  Accomplish this and you will soon stand out in the sea of competitors.

Conclusion

For product marketing and product awareness, both social media selling and marketplace models carry their own weights.  They should be used together, as they complement each other and will help build a healthy business strategy for your online store.  Each day, set aside a small amount of time to work on these two clever techniques.  You’ll soon see the benefits of leaving the confines of your online store and using a multi-channel marketing strategy.

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