In 2019, building a marketplace business is an attractive proposition. In fact, online marketplace revenue is expected to double by 2022. Furthermore, more specialised, niche marketplace businesses are increasingly cornering their respective markets with great success. In addition to that, the rising prevalence of ready-made marketplace SaaS solutions makes it easier than ever to get started and launch a new marketplace.
However, marketplaces face growing competition in the e-commerce landscape. So how can a marketplace stand out in an industry that is seeing countless new vertical, specialised, marketplaces amongst giants like Amazon, eBay and Rakuten? Undeniably, the implementation of an effective marketplace business strategy —bolstered by a supportive, hardworking team— is key. To help marketplace owners get started, here are a few pointers on structuring a marketplace team for success.
The Four Pillars
A marketplace team is largely composed of four main pillars; marketing, operations, product and engineering, all of them carrying out important tasks for the marketplace’s success. Marketing creates the value proposition, your brand, market definition, builds out a keyword list, content and manages social media. It is accountable for generating demand through website hits or app downloads. Operations are responsible for acquiring a stable, quality supply for buyers. Product sees to the marketplace itself, regarding vision and strategy. Finally, engineering takes care of technical strategy, product architecture and development methodology.
Invest Wisely In The Team
The first step to structuring a marketplace team is knowing where to dedicate the most resources. For example, engineering costs can be cut by using a marketplace SaaS solution to build out the store-front and manage the marketplace. These solutions provide a ready-made, customisable platform that is constantly updated by a team of experts to reflect state-of-the-art industry trends. Therefore, using Saas marketplace solutions can allow marketplace owners to channel funding into other parts of the team. As the engineering side is largely handled by the marketplace platform provider, it requires only a little oversight from the marketplace owner.
Understand The USP
Defining and understanding the marketplace’s USP is essential, as this will help decide on the optimum team set-up and talent pool for your business. For example, a marketplace that aims to tailor for a very niche market might want to invest more in the marketing team to create the right branding, reach a specific buyer persona and communicate its benefits adequately. On the other hand, a marketplace that wants to compete by offering a huge product portfolio at the best prices might prefer to spend more money on the operations team in order to attract more vendors and develop stronger relationships with them. Consider the unique character of your marketplace and use that as a foundation for new hires so you can meet your objectives with an all-star team.
Boost The Team’s Productivity
Once a marketplace team has been built, it is crucial to create a work environment in which your team members can thrive. A team leader should always have a plan for boosting productivity, and motivating their team, even on the toughest days. When building the ideal work environment, it is key to define and communicate a clear vision and goals so that everyone on the team knows the importance of their contribution to the success of the marketplace. This will create a positive workspace, as will placing trust in the team by avoiding micromanagement.
A useful best practice, specific to marketplaces, would be to cascade the main marketplace metrics into individual goals and OKRs. Small details, like spending time asking junior employees about their learning curve, or easing new employees into their workloads also go a long way to boosting productivity by fostering a supportive and empowering learning environment built on trust.
As the saying goes, plans are of little importance, but planning is essential. When it comes to growing your marketplace, forward planning is key - so make sure you build a team that can solve growing pains, overcome challenges and develop a winning marketplace concept. Ultimately, it is the people that make a business, so be sure to get your people right. With happy, motivated, and talented employees, you can build a marketplace that stands out from the crowd.