One of the most pressing questions for many shoe retailers today is whether to enter the marketplace or should they wait, and if they wait, then what? SR expert on working with assortment, analytics and category management, Emina Ponyatova, is sure that there is no point in waiting, we need to go to marketplaces, but we need to seriously prepare for this. We talk about the pros and cons of selling through marketplaces, the pitfalls and nuances of working with these online platforms.
expert in the areas of “Assortment planning”, “Analytics and category management” with more than 15 years of experience in the fashion industry. Work experience: buyer and category manager - brands Replay, Pepe Jeans, Hugo Boss, Armani Collezioni, Stefanel, Missoni. Head of Analytical Department - TsentrObuv and Modis. Author and speaker at courses at Fashion Factory, SkillBox and Fashion Advisers schools, consultant and online coach, teacher at the Russian Economic University named after G.V. Plekhanov.
According to Data Insight, at the end of 2022, the turnover of online retail trade in Russia grew by 38% and reached 5,7 trillion rubles. The main increase occurred due to large online marketplaces. All this encourages shoe manufacturers to develop sales on marketplaces. Let's consider the key features of the offline and online format. Offline
1. Capacity of commercial equipment. It is necessary to take into account the physical capacity of the sales floor, create planograms and calculate the necessary inventory to fulfill the sales plan.
2. Balance of assortment and brand DNA. For a harmonious presentation of the assortment and the possibility of creating complex offers, it is necessary to form capsules according to seasonality, colors and styles, and develop an accompanying assortment. A properly planned assortment, taking into account the wide possibilities of the accompanying assortment (not only bags, wallets, belts and shoe cosmetics, but also jewelry, umbrellas and raincoats, cosmetics, gadgets, socks, caps, hats, gloves and, if the retail space allows, swimwear and beachwear collection) helps increase sales due to strong seasonal demand. For example, a very relevant assortment during the BACK TO SCHOOL period is bags for replacement shoes, stationery, lunch boxes, bows and hair accessories.
3. Requires significant initial investment. To start offline, significant initial investments are required - concept development, branding, selection of retail space, rent and deposit, purchase of retail and IT equipment, renovation of premises and staff training, purchase or production of a collection.
4. Requires teams of specialists in different fields. As we already noted when listing the costs of opening an offline project, each stage must be carefully worked out, and this is only possible with the involvement of professionals. In other words, a designer must develop or a buyer purchase a collection, a salesperson in a store must advise the client, a merchandiser must prepare a planogram and monitor compliance with visual merchandising standards, a logistician must monitor the timely delivery of goods to stores, a marketer must develop promotions and stimulate sales.
1. Flexibility in the assortment structure. When working with marketplaces, there are no physical restrictions in the form of sales floor space, as in the offline format, and you can even enter the site with just one SKU to start.
2.Unlimited geography of work. A huge advantage of online is the expansion of geography without significant investments: there is no need to open new stores in other regions or conduct advertising campaigns to increase brand awareness. All this happens through the marketplace.
3. Variety of payment methods. Marketplaces, as major players in the market for introducing new payment methods, give the seller the opportunity to be as convenient, flexible and close to the client as possible, this is not only installments, but payment with bonuses, SPB, electronic wallets, etc.
4. There are no restrictions on the presentation of goods. Unlike the offline format, online, directly on marketplaces, there is a unique opportunity to expand the range by introducing new product groups. Offline, any introduction of new product groups is accompanied by a redistribution of retail space, planning, development or placement of an order. In principle, there is no such restriction on marketplaces; a seller can introduce new product groups at least every week and, based on sales dynamics, concentrate on top positions, without complying with any requirements for capsuleness or style.
5. Simple tracking of competitors, which increases the speed of decision-making on prices, assortment, and other processes. The marketplace itself provides analytics on sales and balances of competitors, along with a significant list of analytics systems - MPSTATS, EGGHEADS, MARKETGURU, etc.
6. Starting a business without starting capital. Entering marketplaces does not require large investments; it is possible to try and evaluate all business processes at minimum volumes for scaling.
#lifehack: for the test you need to choose an assortment with a size chart of more than three sizes. This will help plan balances by size at regional warehouses to achieve planned indicators.
What you should pay attention to when choosing a marketplace: - commission size
Each product category and each site has its own; commission on Ozon is on average 5%, on Wildberries - from 5 to 15%, Lamoda - from 35% to 70%.
- frequency of payments Some sites do this once a week, some - the next day; it is necessary to request and plan to plan your mutual settlements and cash flows based on reports on sales and balances.
- delivery conditions Study them “onshore” so as not to make mistakes later, otherwise your delivery to the marketplace warehouse will not be accepted; Each site clearly regulates acceptance windows, packaging requirements and documentation.
- export conditions There are difficulties with this. On Ozon, for example, the process can last for several months; on Wildberries, returns have their own complicated story. You must first study all the introductory information and, based on this, formulate deliveries.
- requirements for the seller Sites have different requirements for partners. So, Ozon does not work with the self-employed, but Wildberries gives them the green light.
- price regulation Ozon has a system that monitors prices on other sites, and if your product is more expensive, it may be blocked.
- features of document flow Ozon uses EDI, Wildberries uses a personal account. Please study this question carefully to start working with the marketplace.
- uploading goods to the platform and moderation To start trading on some marketplaces, a price list and catalog are required, while others also have moderation.
Points of growth on the marketplace I will highlight several points of growth in shoe sales on marketplaces:
1. Expansion of the range: adding new shoe models and increasing the number of brands and manufacturers.
2. Improving the interface and search functions: a convenient and intuitive interface can help customers quickly find the shoes they need and make purchases without delays - infographics, video presentation of USP, selling cards.
3. Improving the quality and speed of delivery: working out shipments to regional warehouses. It is necessary to analyze demand by region and arrange supplies to warehouses taking into account climatic features and seasonality of shoes or certain properties of shoes.
4. Introduction of loyalty programs: offering discounts and bonuses for repeat purchases, subscribing to newsletters and other events can encourage customers to return to their “Personal Account” and make purchases again and again.
5. Increase your advertising budget: Investing in advertising and marketing can help attract new customers and increase brand awareness on marketplaces. The sites themselves are now actively working to improve marketing support and are interested in long-term cooperation, they see prospects in promotional activities and are ready to help sellers with this - they provide training, assign personal managers, test new tools and algorithms.
Are we waiting or are we going? The most pressing question at the moment is whether it is worth going to the marketplace or should you wait, and if you wait, then what? In the current realities, with the departure of major players, an opportunity for growth has arisen for both the shoe and clothing businesses. This is confirmed by the expansion of the range of shoe manufacturers at the expense of clothing, and clothing brands are actively presenting their own shoe collections. The same situation with online sales is the next step for small and medium-sized shoe businesses. The need for the transition is dictated by the growth of online sales, and the largest channel is, of course, sales through marketplaces. That is, it’s worth going out, the question is how to prepare for this step. It is necessary to understand the readiness of your IT infrastructure - the correctness of warehouse balances and supply control; it is also important to have a clear assortment and pricing policy.
You need to be sure of the following points:
- software for accounting balances and for exchange with marketplaces, as well as specialists at a fairly high level;
- the assortment is planned taking into account the target audience and is ready for scaling to different climatic zones; - deliveries are tracked, arrivals at warehouses are controlled and forecasted for scaling across regional marketplace warehouses;
- pricing policy allows you to take into account the costs of marketplace commissions, logistics and promotion on marketplaces (the markup or entry margin is high enough to cover these costs);
- there is a warehouse and transport logistics have been established to ensure the formation of orders for regional warehouses of marketplaces;
- the team is ready for training and expanding areas of responsibility.
Thus, I would like to note that there are serious growth areas for the online shoe business, and it is important to try, expand channels and move towards omnichannel.
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