When building anything, from a shack to a skyscraper, one must always start with a solid foundation. Building your online marketplace store is no different with products being the foundation of your store. A poor foundation, while it may seem solid initially, will eventually crumble under the weight of your store’s growth, taking everything you have built with it.
There are close to 500M unique products on the marketplace and they are growing at a rapidly increasing pace, with over 83% of these are being offered by third party sellers. This vast offering of items, along with the option for private label products and tens of thousands of brands provided by tens of thousands of distributors, seems to be the perfect foundation for dynamic business growth. With most products these days being provided with UPC codes, imagery and detailed descriptions and the majority of vendors offering pricing and inventory sheets, it seems as though a solid bedrock of products is simple to achieve.
Listings per Seller
But, as with a building foundation looks can be deceiving. If achieving a solid product base were as simple as procuring a massive number of items with UPCs and other marketing details, then it would be no large effort to build and grow a successful online store.
This difficulty presents a massive opportunity to anyone who can properly overcome the many problems that typically plague multisource dropship inventory. It starts with the ability to accurately match products. Then continues with the ability to assess the various product attributes such as MAP pricing, freight logistics, End of Life flags, shipping restrictions, brand authorization and weights and dimensions. Finally it extends to the need to cleverly manage multiple product quantities not just from multiple warehouses but also from multiple distributors.
Marketplace restrictions both on items and on a seller’s performance also play a huge role in the success of your business, with store shutdown or suspension being the number one killer of Amazon marketplace businesses. Restricted item policies must be continuously monitored and proactive product management measures implemented quickly in order to avoid punitive measures.
Another difficulty that must be addressed in order to successfully manage the type of inventory one can present is how to coalesce multiple vendor sources for the same product into one coherent listing that is accurately priced and quantified. When sourcing the same product from multiple suppliers, many factors can affect the final price or available quantity of an item. Even when sourcing the same product from within the same vendor, final cost may be affected by which warehouse that item is stored in. But it doesn’t stop there; once you have determined which vendor you are going to use and what the cost from this vendor is, you need to determine the offering price. Item categories, vendor MAP policies, and your own desired per-channel margins all need to be taken into account to determine your minimum offering price. Then, in order to determine your actual listing price, you may want to look into competitive offering prices for the item from other sellers on the marketplace.
It may seem as though you’re finished there, but as with all things marketplace-related, nothing is as simple as it seems. Second only to restricted items violations, order defect rate is the second-quickest way to get your store shutdown or suspended. Proper item screening is crucial to ensure that you can avoid pre-fulfillment cancellations, customer returns, and negative feedback. Without this screening, it is very possible not only to list items that are prone to high returns and complaints, but also to incorrectly update prices or quantity, which in turn result in spikes of orders that cannot be reasonably fulfilled generating additional complaints and causing great harm to your customer satisfaction metrics.
So then, in order to properly build a solid product foundation, it is necessary to address all of these concerns. To avoid listing items that violate the constantly changing restricted items policy, you must have in-depth product knowledge across the entire breadth of your available inventory. To determine the available quantity and pricing for a given item, you would need to look at your vendor base cost, your warehouse-specific average shipping cost, and your quantity available at each warehouse, as well as compare that final cost with offers from multiple other vendors available for the same product. When extending product offerings to hundreds of thousands or even millions of items spanning hundreds or thousands of distributors the need is not only to be able to integrate distributors offering varying file formats and frequencies, but also to track historical feed data in order to identify erroneous pricing, quantity warnings and product mismatches.
Finally, you need to consider all aspects of your current customer metrics – from negative feedback to order return and cancellation history – in relation to your products on order excluding or carefully verifying products that may be prone to producing negative customer interactions. You then need to apply this to every item on every import, a total of tens of millions of transactions per day depending on your inventory size and frequency of updates.
MPLogix resolves these issues with the integration of our Business Activity Management (BAM) solution into the very heart of our inventory management system, providing advanced proactive and reactive action on millions of items based on all the factors that can make or break an order and possibly even your store. Marketplace policies, vendor warehouse pricing and quantities, current shipping rates, all your current seller marketplace metrics are constantly monitored and updated in our system in order to optimize all possible factors that influence an item’s listing.
The core of our Business Activity Management (BAM) system is that all of these factors are quantified and analyzed in a way that allows for efficient processing and timely response to any adverse conditions. It intelligently senses stale inventory feeds (same exact quantity/price/items as the previous one), identifies changes such as too many product removals, too many price changes or too large of a price change, and reset quantities and listings, providing actionable alerts in order to avoid potential errors due to inaccurate vendor feeds. It manages MAP policies and brand authorization at a global level as well as intelligent management of restricted items. Our system is designed for maximum efficiency, running on a state-of-the-art load-balanced backend that can easily handle billions of transactions per day without breaking a sweat.
With decades of combined industry knowledge, years of direct experience with online marketplace transactions and the direct handling of millions of drop shipped items, our team has created a truly solid and innovative foundation to ensure that your store gets the inventory it needs, at prices which maximize its sales and profits without any of the issues that can get it suspended or worse, all with little to no effort on your part.
Suspensions by Category Breakdown
One World Trade Center fondation construction took over 3 years. That’s because in order to support the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere, the foundation had to be laid 110 feet below ground level. This required extensive drilling and digging. In fact, almost half of the construction on One World Trade Center was downward or foundational.
“…As an internet retailer you don’t work with concrete and steel, but you’re a builder just the same… And whether you’re a high-volume merchant already… or you have dreams of becoming one… the strength of your foundation will determine how “tall” you can grow.” – etail [February 2016]
Tasks like managing and replenishing inventory, repricing, creating and maintaining listings, fulfilling orders, and tracking financials are all core operations that are foundational to building and sustaining a thriving marketplace business.