The past decade has seen an increase in the amount of small retailers, who have been able to use the internet to reach a customer-base that would have been impossible only a few years previously. A majority of small retailers will sell their products via their own website, but an increasing number are also looking to online marketplaces as a way of reaching a new audience.

Online marketplaces are one of the biggest trends in retail, a place where buyers and sellers can interact and that fit seamlessly with a retailer’s existing brand. Amazon Marketplace is the most well-known, accounting for more than 50% of Amazon’s overall business, and other well-known marketplaces are etsy and notonthehighstreet, two of the biggest e-commerce success stories in recent years.

A good marketplace will provide assistance with marketing and will support its sellers as much as possible, but the seller still needs to be active in promoting their own stores. One of the most effective ways of doing so is via social media, but for many smaller retailers, managing a social media presence is not something they are confident doing. This is how best to go about it.

Embrace social as the main method of promotion

The first step is to embrace social media, fully and whole-heartedly. You are trying to reach an audience that you will probably never meet or more than likely, even speak to, and you need to be engaging on a platform you might not be used to. The key is to simply be yourself and for your social media presence to reflect your store and the products you sell.

So choose the social platforms that you think will work best for you, and do a little background reading on each one first. Once you are ready to start, make sure you update regularly as one update a week will not help you engage with an audience. Don’t be overly-promotional, be friendly, knowledgeable and have fun. If in doubt, the tone should be just as if you were speaking with a customer that entered a physical store.

Recognise the importance of social shopping

Shopping has always been a social activity, to be enjoyed with friends and people whose opinion we trust and the rise of social media has heralded a new era of social shopping, transposed from physical stores to online. This new form of social shopping combines social media and e-commerce, taking aspects of the social web and applying those to shopping.

It’s also a powerful tool for smaller retailers to use when highlighting their marketplace stores, and at its heart is content. Social content (photo and video tutorials, blogger feedback) is at the core of a purchasing journey to guide consumers, so smaller retailers should encourage customers to share photos, comments and more, extending the shopping experience by making it more collaborative and community-based.

Adhere to the principals of SEO

Most businesses are now aware of the importance of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and those same principals should be applied to listing products on an online marketplace, and the promotion of those via social media.

For the marketplace listing, a seller should ask their marketplace account manager what would be an efficient title on that particular product category, both in terms of grabbing attention and SEO. For example, if selling clothing, customers would mostly search for the product by brand, so including that brand at the beginning of the title would be critical in getting picked up in searches. If you are tweeting or updating on Facebook or Instagram about a product, make sure you do exactly the same.

Capitalise on the marketplace provider’s social media presence

A retailer should provide help to all its sellers to help ensure their mutual on-going success, including promotion via social media. A smart and social-savvy seller will capitalise on any promotions that the retailer is doing, so for example, when a fashion retailer is doing a major push on summer clothing via its social sites, the seller should retweet and share updates, adding their own brief message. The retailer may well retweet that message, ensuring the seller reaches a much larger audience than just its own followers. Tagging the retailer’s social accounts in a seller’s own updates is also effective and should be encouraged.

Selling via an online marketplace is rich with potential for smaller sellers, but there are a number of other sellers on that marketplace each seeking to stand out from the crowd. Social media is a powerful way to differentiate and raise awareness of a marketplace store and should really be any seller’s main marketing tactic, driving traffic and increasing sales.

By Adrien Nussenbaum, Co-Founder of Mirakl

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