An eCommerce Marketing Strategy – Leverage Online Marketplaces

The eCommerce market is fast growing in Singapore with revenue projected to reach US$3,193m in 2021. The growth of eCommerce has also been fueled by the pandemic that pushed buyers and sellers online due to lockdown measures.

The number of eCommerce users is expected to amount to 4.1m users by 2025 and online retailers are looking to convert these customers through eCommerce marketing.

Top eCommerce Spend in Singapore

Types of eCommerce Marketing

If you are an online seller, you need an eCommerce marketing strategy to attract new customers and retain old customers.

This strategy will guide eCommerce marketing tactics such as:

    • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
    • Content Marketing
    • Paid Online Advertising
    • Affiliate Marketing
    • Social Media Marketing

All these types of eCommerce marketing will help to increase traffic and conversions for the eCommerce store.

Inbound & Outbound Marketing

The above types of eCommerce marketing will help to increase traffic and conversions for the eCommerce store.

These marketing tactics fall under two broad types of marketing – inbound and outbound marketing.

Inbound marketing requires a brand to build a strong online presence through digital assets (such as a website), different channels and content.

The goal of inbound marketing is to allow your brand to be easily discovered when users with search intent look for a product, solution or information that you offer.

Examples of inbound marketing include search engine optimisation (SEO), content marketing, organic social media marketing and being active on different marketing channels and platforms.

Outbound marketing is interruptive marketing where you put your brand in front of potential customers using different promotional tactics such as direct outreach, email marketing, PR & media placement and paid advertising.

eCommerce marketing should try to include both inbound and outbound marketing as part of the overall marketing mix.

One eCommerce marketing tactic that combines both inbound and outbound marketing is to leverage online marketplaces.

Leverage Online Marketplaces for eCommerce Marketing

The growth of online marketplaces in Singapore and throughout the Southeast Asia region has been staggering in the last few years.

Here are some examples of the most popular online marketplaces across Southeast Asia & South Asia.

Popular eCommerce Platforms

With an average of 10 million to 100 million monthly users frequenting these platforms daily, these online marketplaces have a tremendous local and regional reach.

As of the first quarter of 2021, Shopee was the most visited eCommerce website with approximately 12 million monthly web visits. Shopee is followed by the Singapore based eCommerce provider Lazada and Amazon with about 7.3 and 6.46 million visits, respectively.

Singapore Top eCommerce Sites
Top 10 eCommerce sites in Singapore as of the first quarter of 2021, by monthly traffic (in million visits)

If you run an eCommerce business, one marketing game changer is to open storefronts on as many major online marketplaces as feasible, even if you operate your own webstore.

While online marketplaces are notorious for taking hefty commissions (up to 42%), they can provide mainstream exposure of your brand that is far more effective than just relying on SEO or social media marketing.

With monthly users running in the multi-millions, online platforms can help your brand build awareness, credibility and trust with your target audience.

In their infancy, online marketplaces were traditionally viewed as platforms for small retailers or private sellers. However, this is no longer the case as it is now common for major brands to set up stores on these platforms to ensure maximum brand visibility.

Here are four reasons to set up online marketplace stores:

For Visibility & Awareness

It is undeniable that these platforms provide high visibility due to their reach and the number of daily visitors. These marketplaces also constantly advertise to bring traffic and users to their platform.

In a sense, when users look for products on an online marketplace and find your store, it is a form of inbound marketing.

For Credibility & Authority

Some customers might discover your personalised webstore online but want more assurances before ordering. Being on established marketplaces shows you have an omni-channel online presence that helps demonstrates legitimacy.

Online marketplaces are also a great place for customers to read unbiased reviews, which can strengthen your credibility and authority.

To Piggyback Off the Marketplaces Marketing Efforts

All marketplaces engage in a wide range different kinds of marketing efforts to build their traffic and user base.

Often, they run marketing or advertising programmes that feature sellers. Many are formal programmes that share advertising costs to sellers as part of a collective campaign. An example of this would be Shopee’s collaborative Facebook ads. The benefit to sellers is the cost savings they enjoy when advertising as part of such a campaign. Advertising costs are shared but the potential exposure is high.

Take part in these paid advertising programmes is a form of outbound marketing.

To Create Funnels to Your Own Webstore

With this tactic, you are leveraging the reach of online marketplaces to funnel customers to your own webstore.

This is achieved by including a note with the orders you ship out to marketplace customers. This note will direct customers to your own webstore and highlight exclusive products or bundle deals that are only available for purchase there.

One tip is to only sell a selective range of your most popular products on any one online marketplace. Incentivise customers to visit your webstore to explore your full range of products and take advantage of special offers.

Replicate this model for multiple marketplaces to create multiple funnels to your webstore.

Tips for eCommerce Marketing

Tips to Improve Your Brand Presence on Online Marketplaces

Besides setting up your website in different marketplaces, here are some tips to improve your brand presence and stand out from competitors.

Optimise Your Marketplace Store Profile

Ensure that your store profile is well written. The first line of your profile should communicate who you are, what you sell and who your intended customer is.

For example, if you sell hair accessories. Do not simply write:

“Welcome to ABC store and we sell all kinds of hair accessories. Look at our products for hair clips, bands, wigs, ties, extensions pins and much more.”

Communicate as much as you can, as concisely as possible. For example, write:

“At ABC store, we specialise in stylish and affordable hair accessories to match corporate and professional looks. We offer a wide variety of high-quality products that look modern and fashionable. Free shipping with a minimum spend of $50.”

The copy above makes it clear what products are sold and for which target audience. There is also an offer of free shipping to entice people to shop.

Include detailed information of the products you sell in the profile as far as the allowable space will let you.

You profile also includes images or a profile picture. If you are featuring your brand identity (logo), be sure it is highly visible and easy to identify. Typically, profile pictures are small and square or round. If your logo does not show up well in this format, get a graphic designer to design a version that does.

Most online marketplaces do not allow you to put external links in your profile or product descriptions. However, you could add in a line at the end of your profile to request that users can connect with you through your different online channels. Or you can hint for users to look for exclusive offers online.

Use Attractive Branded Product Images

One of the easiest ways to brand your store on an online marketplace is to develop a consistent look for all your product images.

Be sure that all your product images are of good resolution and are clear. The focus should also be on your product, so avoid a distracting background.

For the featured product image, it is a good idea to have a graphic designer design a background image that suits your brand, includes your logo and does not pull focus from the product.

This means all your products will be super imposed on this uniform background graphic. This tactic will form your visual brand identity and will give all your featured products a consistent professional look. This brand image will make your products stand out from a whole page of similar products and help build your brand presence and recognition on the marketplace.

Have a look at online luxury bag seller, Kelly Luxury. They have a uniform product background graphic with their logo to showcase their products across all sales platforms.

Optimise Product Descriptions

Every online marketplace will have their own search algorithm which is how users can search for products within the marketplace.

Regardless of the marketplace, the standard search engine optimisation (SEO) best practices will apply to your written product description.

Here are some recommendations:

Product Title

Ensure that the full product name (inclusive of the model number if applicable), basic differentiating feature and the product type is written in the title.

For example, if you are selling a particular brand of mop, you should write:

“XYZ Supermop with Rubbergrip (SM-123) Mop.”

Product Description

In the first sentence, include the full product name (as above), your company or brand name and shipping location/ destinations (if applicable). 

Here is an example of the first sentence of an optimised product description:

“Check out this XYZ Supermop with Rubbergrip (SM-123) Mop available from ABC company. Free delivery in Singapore.”

For the rest of the product description, you should include as much information as possible. The more comprehensive the information, the more transparent, authoritative and credible the seller comes across.

If you are selling a product that others are selling as well, try to offer more information and even add value so that buyers will pick you over others. Add in different photos and videos, if possible.

From a marketing standpoint, the purpose of optimising the store profile, creating a product background graphic and optimising the product description is not just about increasing sales. It is about improving your brand awareness and building your brand equity.

Attention to this detail and investing effort in ensuring consistency across multiple popular online marketplaces will help build your brand over time and motivate customers to seek you out due to familiarity.

Evolve & Adapt is a strategy & digital implementation consultancy firm that works with B2C eCommerce clients to improve their online visibility and increase sales.

If you would like to hire a professional marketing management consultant, contact us below to arrange a call.

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J C Sum

J C Sum is a certified management consultant (TR 43:2015), an American Marketing Association Professional Certified Marketer (PCM®) in marketing management as well as a certified digital marketing strategist (SSG-WSQ accredited) with 12 years of experience specializing in search engine optimization, content marketing, and analytics. J C holds a Bachelor of Arts from National University of Singapore and is the author of "Evolve, Adapt or Collapse". He has been featured on The Straits Times, Business Times, Channel News Asia, The Edge Singapore, CNA938, and Money FM 89.3.

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