Reaching your future vendors is not only about the place to search for them but also about the right way to contact them, how to make a good first impression and how to make the first offer. It’s easy if you are willing to see big players on your storefront. They all have business emails and understand business language. But most of the vendors on successful marketplaces are individuals. That’s the point of any online marketplace—anyone can sell on it. Being the founder of a marketplace, you will have to make an approach to all of them. Sometimes it takes quite an effort to personalize your offer.
Carpet bombing. Reaching industry vendors.
It is a simple task to make a list of companies you want to attract but hard to reach all of them. You already know that you can find organizations and individuals united by one interest in dedicated associations. Are there other ways? There are millions of firms and companies providing millions of services and producing billions of products! All of them have business addresses and direct contacts. You can find them in Yellow pages or Linked-in. There are also companies databases being sold on the net. Unfortunately, no one can guarantee that the contacts in those databases are valid, but some can be trusted. It is up to you whether you want to take a risk to buy one or to make one up yourself. It is not very expensive but it will give you a time advantage if you get lucky with a list. This way is appropriate if you are about to cover hundreds or thousands of vendors in a certain industry niche. Consider that sending out emails will also cost you money. Or time, if you choose to split your mailing list and send packets of letters every day. Google allows only 2000 messages a day sent from a certain email address and only 100 recipients of one single letter. Lookup in Google support for more information about email limitations.
Email. Designate the profit.
Writing an email template, try to hit the main points on why vendors must come to your marketplace. Don’t waste your letter space on introduction of yourself and your future plans of growing the second Amazon. People already have one and it’s working perfectly well. Give a link to the “About us” page or write it in the end. Designate the profit companies or people will have becoming your vendors in 3-5 points. For example, they can save money, because you don’t charge monthly fees or don’t take commission for the first 3 months. They can raise sales thanks to your powerful free promotion or because you have large dedicated audience or expand to a new market. People have to see your serious attitude, your dedication, that you put their interest on the first place. They will work with you if you have more than just “let’s try to start a marketplace” behind your project. For them, their products and services is their face and reputation and selling them is the primary way to ensure their actual existence. And don’t forget to leave your phone number—this will surely build their trust. Well, only if you are ready to answer numerous calls.
Call. Hear their voices.
The above said was about having a large number of potential vendors on your list. But if you have only 100, the best option for you will be contacting them personally and live. Call them! You will receive immediate feedback and those who agree to join you on your ecommerce adventure will start acting right away. Moreover, you will have a chance to know those people better personally. 100 calls can be made within only one day! Ok, two days of lazy work.
Talking on the phone also needs preparation. You are not going to talk to a friend, but you have to become one by the end of the conversation. Unlike sending emails, talking on the phone will require lots of explanation. People are not expecting your offer. Maybe, they don’t even know, what is online marketplace. Reading an email, they can just close it, but talking on the phone with the founder, they have a chance to ask questions. And they will. Answering the same questions multiple times is quite exhausting but look on the bright side. While you keep talking people stay on the hook—they listen. If they listen, they allow you to influence their attitude and point of view. And this is a powerful opportunity for you.
Meeting. Give your business a face.
Starting an online marketplace for a local community like a city or even a district gives you the most powerful lever for your success—personal meetings. Put on your best suite and black leather shoes and visit your future vendor residence! Make a good impression and your marketplace will have a face, not only a logo. What can build a better trust to a person than a handshake? Moreover, meeting your future vendors lets you demonstrate your marketplace live with your own hands. You know it better than anyone and can show the best of its features. And you can even register a vendor account right here and right now. This way of attraction can take lots of your time, which will return as trust. But prepare to be patient and self-critical. Vendors can start telling you something they don’t like about your online marketplace. Don’t get mad! Remember, negative feedback can be even more valuable than positive. It will give you an idea of how you can improve your business.
Social campaign. Catch them where they inhabit.
So far it was easy. Companies are already there looking for additional sales and almost ready for your offer. But what about individuals? You can’t write emails to all the people in the world, you can’t call or visit them all. How will individuals find out about your excellent multi-vendor marketplace and their opportunity to make money with it?
What if your potential vendors are all the people living on Earth? You have no other option than start a social advertising campaign. Sorry, this is going to be expensive, but everyone is in social networks. This way will give you almost an immediate and powerful response! There is an option of reaching people on Facebook for free by asking your friends to support you and spread the word. This can work but no guarantees. There are a lot of “How to promote without budget” guides on the net, but you never know if they work for you. We will not re-write them here. The only thing I can add, there are no bad options in case of free promotion, but the most effective are posting on dedicated forums and pages.
Google ads. Throw a net in the sea.
Another instrument you can use to attract a massive crowd to your multi-vendor store is Google ads commercial. Yes, again you will have to pay. But I put the fastest ways on the first place. We don’t want to wait for a year, we want to make money tomorrow, don’t we? To do that, we will have to make a powerful move today. Remember a golden business rule: the more you invest in your business, the more you have in return.
Starting a commercial campaign in Google or in social networks think of where your future merchants will land. Having a friendly and informative landing page is vital. Give people comprehensive information about your marketplace, monetization method, their prospects becoming your vendors, leave your email and a phone number, not only a contact and registration form. Don’t forget about personalization, your photo will give your startup a face. Just, don’t use any, make a qualitative one. This is a point of first contact where you have to conquer merchants’ trust. You can be funny or serious, you can make grammar mistakes or use aristocratic vocabulary—it’s only a wrapper. Honesty is the core. Make people believe you and they will believe in you.
Contextual commercial can eat your budget in one single day. Don’t rush, if you have financial limits. Start with narrow geographical or interest targeting. Watch out for the click-bots and block locations where they operate immediately.
Video. Breed emotions.
There is another channel of attracting people to sell on your marketplace—Youtube! It will demand skills in making videos, your imagination and a pinch of luck. But it’s free and can lead thousands of sellers to your marketplace. Making a popular video is quite a challenge. But if you succeed, it will work for you almost forever. The emotional hook, which is the point of the promotional video, will not only bring you vendors but will also form their loyalty from the first contact with your marketplace business.
Blog. Become primary source.
Blog is also a very good way to attract people to sell on your marketplace. Success stories of your existing merchants, business insights, market overviews and other useful information for sellers keep them close to your business. Moreover, search engines love blogs. If you write a useful post on how to become a successful seller on your online marketplace, in a little while you will find a link to it in Google search results. It’s free, it’s useful and it’s forever. But… you have to write. Or hire someone to write. It is time consuming not only to create publications, but also to wait for it to crawl up the search results list. A blog obviously is not the best instrument for the market impact. But it’s perfect for continuous growth. I have no doubt every online marketplace will have a blog sooner or later.
Searching for merchants for your online marketplace is something you should prepare for in advance. You will need financial and time resources for it. Money will give you fast results, no matter you are reaching for companies or individuals. But creating your free leads network you invest into the future, because your content will live for way more time than your budget. When contacting vendors make sure you know their needs and expectations. Give your business your face and build trust with your honesty. Be careful with commercial campaigns—take small steps to go a long way. Don’t neglect free instruments to attract people. Breed emotional connection with those you want to see on your marketplace. Share information and create community.