When building a two sided marketplace, seeding the supply side is extremely important. You can have a beautiful site design and great tech, but if suppliers can’t see other people using the platform, you’re doomed from the start. Here are 6 ways we’ve accomplished this at ELIX.
1. Contact Sellers On Social Media
Outreach is key when looking for new sellers or creators. Many sellers and creators have websites, social media pages and public contact information. Leverage this and start a conversation. If you don’t hear back from someone you’re talking to, follow up once to re-engage the conversation. You’ll talk to many people — some will be interested and some won’t — so you have to be patient and willing to hear no as often as yes. In fact, if it’s the case that you have a 50% customer acquisition rate (hearing yes as much as no), then you’re doing exceedingly well.
Most importantly, make sure you’re joining the conversation on social media and contributing. At ELIX, we regularly tweet about trends in tech, crowdfunding and e-commerce here. By contributing great content and interacting with creators, we’ve been able to get the word out about our brand and build a loyal followers of over eight thousands followers.
2. Target Sellers Who Have A Pain Point & Offer A Solution
Identifying sellers who are fed up with other platforms and offering them a solution is a great way to get a new seller base. Read through forums and articles, and ask sellers what most bothers them about the existing sites they use. Here’s just one example:
Etsy recently upped their fee from 3.5% to 5%. That’s a 30% increase in fees. In addition, the 5% fee now applies to shipping as well, further increasing the amount. This change was enough to outrage many members of their community, and even make some consider closing shop. If you’re on Etsy and fed up with their rates, consider listing on ELIX.
3. Offer Sellers Multiple Reasons To Join
In addition to having a great platform, what else can you offer? Are you an influencer and have lots of readers and followers, and can you help drive more traffic to sellers’ websites? Make the deal sweet by offering to promote their products on your social channels free of charge. Before this point, however, make sure you’ve taken the time to market your startup on social media and build up a strong community. Don’t neglect marketing, since you need an audience to get sellers interested. Daily posts and weekly blogs might seem mundane and painstaking, but you need to build up a critical mass of content to generate interest in your brand.
At ELIX, we’ve offered to feature creators on the ELIX blog and social media. To build up a following and increase our core group of readers, we write about tech trends, ELIX and product reviews. We even released an article on The Best Smart Dog Collar to help our site rank for niche keywords. If you’re writing blog posts, try to write at least 1,500 words per article so your readers have enough content. Remember, great content is king.
4. Continually Request Feedback From Sellers
Ask sellers what they want as much as you tell them what you have to offer. The best salespeople are often the best listeners, so make a point of listening to all your customers. If you’re trying to find pain points for sellers or looking for features they wish existed, you’ll have to do lots of research and ask around.
If you discover a feature or service you can offer on your site, keep asking sellers and your customers what you can do better even after you’ve built it. Check out point #5 below for more information on this.
5. Continually Improve Your Website
This one should be a given, but most e-commerce websites aren’t continually improved. Improving your website based on user feedback is extremely important because it gives your customers confidence that your site will deliver and offer better services the more they work with you. We’ve all pressed the back button quickly on a shifty-looking shopping site. Working on both design and functionality are key. Make sure you or your employees are recording and measuring progress on development improvements. Make a point of getting a lot done in weekly sprints, and reporting on a daily basis to each other.
As an example, here are all the website improvements we’ve made to ELIX over the past week:
This week in development we have more performance and SEO optimizations to keep everything as lean as possible as we enter the final stages of feature development.
We’ve updated our codebase to Angular 7, providing several build optimizations as well as support for Typescript 3.1, RxJS 6.3 and Node 10; sporting performance and debugging improvements of their own.
Other development updates:
-removed some redundant styles and DOM elements to reduce bundle size
-view page styling improvements
-view page image selection fix
-added instagram social links to profile
-added state/province field to profile
-reduced featured project image size to reduce loading time while we compare potential image optimization algorithms for client-side uploads and lambda-based optimization for images already uploaded to buckets
Hold each other accountable for delivering improvements to your site on time — in the highly competitive world of e-commerce, you will sink quickly if your team doesn’t continually deliver. Even if your business is successful, you miss an opportunity to scale if you don’t keep improving. For example, imagine how much bigger Craigslist could be if they worked on their user interface.
6. Quality Over Quantity
This one might sound obvious, but in the excitement of adding products, make sure you’re adding the right ones. Rather than pursuing suppliers that could list 1,000 low quality products, focus on contacting sellers who have a reputation of delivering to an existing base of happy customers. It’s far better to onboard 10 creators with unique products they’re passionate about than 1,000 products that look like they came off the shelf at Walmart. In the online world, Walmart’s site is just as accessible as yours — listing similar products isn’t advantageous unless you can compete on price. Uniqueness is important to remember if you’re going niche — you want customers to think of your store as special.
For example, at ELIX we recently listed a variety of fun toy kits for building drones. Products like this one fit nicely in our tech blogs and social media posts. These drone kits are made by Kitables, a niche shop that creates homemade science DIY kits. Check the drone kits out on ELIX here or tap on the image below:
We also added the Rum Runner, a watch inspired Detroit’s local history of rum running, gangsters, and class. Check out the watch by clicking on the image below:
That’s all for this week! We hope these tips and tricks have been helpful. To learn more about ELIX, go to our Explore page here.