You may not realize this, but you probably interact with online marketplaces all the time. If you’ve ever bought a Groupon or sold something on eBay, then yes, you have!

The crux of an online marketplace is that buyers and sellers interact freely and the platform itself allows for transactions to take place. The demand for these types of exchanges has only grown across industries. Mostly because of the convenience they offer as well as the expanded opportunities. When supply and demand meet, it’s beneficial to all.

Online Marketplaces See Record Growth

Online marketplaces aren’t new, but they are growing. There are really no limitations of the continued and future growth. Internet Retailer’s “Online Marketplaces: A Global Phenomenon” reported that sales on online marketplaces reached $1 trillion in 2016. Additional research from UPS in “The UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper” determined that 32% of respondents found brands on marketplaces. This data firmly cements the online marketplace as the future of commerce.

Building the Platform

While marketplaces are growing in popularity, that doesn’t mean they are easy to get up and running. Building the platform takes a lot of work and insight into how the current marketplace is operating. Any successful platform has to offer a solution. One of the trickiest questions is which group to start with: buyers or suppliers. There’s no absolute answer to which should come first, but one thing is for certain. Once an online marketplace is launched, everyone benefits. There is much value for both sides of the market when they come together on a unified platform.

The Solution for the Industry

The primary solution that a nursery and landscape online marketplace offers is to expand options, for both sides of the transaction. Buyers, typically landscaping companies, procurement managers, or other users of the product, can now source plants and hardgood products from multiple suppliers. This allows them to quickly meet the requested timeframe of a project within budget without compromising quality or selection. Further, with such a marketplace, delivery can be coordinated as well. What once took hours, can now only take minutes.

Suppliers also get to expand their market. Without an online marketplace, it would be much harder to thrive in the e-commerce world. They would have to spend much more just to get their site in front of possible buyers through marketing tactics like pay-per-click and social media advertising. When suppliers join a marketplace, the customers are already there. Because a platform vets both sides of the transaction, there is a level of trust built-in to the process. Buyers won’t be hesitant to try the new supplier.

Size of Business Not a Challenge for Online Marketplaces

Such a marketplace also levels the playing field. You don’t have to be the biggest name in the industry to make it work for you. Everyone has the ability to compete. If you have the right product, then you’re in the running. Likewise, for smaller buyers, as suppliers may have previously viewed you as lower priority because of your smaller purchase volumes. In a marketplace, you have access to everything larger buyers can purchase.

Being a member of an online marketplace makes the system more transparent. When everything is visible, markets operate better.

Finding Success on an Online Marketplace

For both buyers and suppliers, there are some considerations when joining a marketplace. To find success, there are some best practices to keep in mind:

Suppliers

  • Add as much detail as possible about your products
  • Include options for delivery
  • Update your inventory regularly to reduce frustration of buyers thinking you have something you don’t
  • Embrace the marketplace and encourage your buyers to shop your inventory online. Share the fact that you are participating in an online marketplace with your existing customers.

Buyers

  • Attempt to have as much lead-time as possible
  • Consider the total cost of fulfillment
  • Be realistic about delivery methods and turn-around times
  • Order what you need and be open to substitutions

Join LandscapeHub today. As a buyer, you’ll gain access to over 100 suppliers, ready to offer you access to the products you need. As a supplier, you’ll expand your reach and increase profitability. Explore what’s possible with an online marketplace for our industry.