As we enter Autumn 2022, wealth generated as a result of raising capital from investors incentivised by low ECB and Fed interest rates has become a thing of the past. Tech players, in particular platforms operating within a Software as a Service (SaaS) model, must ensure that their business model generates profit and a positive margin whilst also having organic growth drivers. For Webhelp Payment Services, which is a specialist in Order to Cash chain optimisation and has partnered with leading B2B marketplaces in their sector for several years, it is essential that the operators of these e-commerce and marketplace platforms have a comprehensive and growing ecosystem of sellers and buyers. Below are four tips and best practices tried and tested by Christophe de Sahb, a specialist in e-commerce and seller management and Business Development Manager at Webhelp Payment Services.

When launching a marketplace, seller management is particularly critical and requires a clear strategy to be implemented in order to ensure the success of the marketplace. After all, it is because of the many qualified sellers that the marketplace is able to provide a solution that meets the specific needs of B2B buyers, capture and retain a value-added customer base – which sometimes includes existing customers – and generate a profit. Our four expert tips for an optimised seller management strategy are:

1 – Segment your market and identify your target sellers

Experience shows that too often, in order to save time, marketplace operators launch sales recruitment operations that are not selective enough, or sometimes real “Open Door” operations. The verdict is often the same: an insufficient depth of range – or a lack of relevant or active sellers – which results in a low volume of transactions and therefore a marketplace that is not able to launch and retain its customers.

To give itself the best chance of success, the operator must carry out the following preliminary work:

– identify and divide its offering into several product families in addition to its existing offering that are essential for being seen as credible by your existing buyers and your new target buyers;

– next, identify the key characteristics of the sellers to be recruited within these families (skills, brands sold, services provided, etc.).

This preliminary work and commitment can only come from the marketplace operator: it knows the supplier-customer landscape and its business development strategy the best! As its name suggests, a marketplace is just that – a new distribution and sales channel that needs its own business strategy.

2 – Establish a seller recruitment strategy

Once the segmentation and identification processes have been carried out, marketplace sellers need to be recruited. To do this, it will be crucial to have established beforehand a strategy with various phases, each of which has a specific objective, to be rolled out according to a schedule:

  • The launch phase: this phase engages an initial group of sellers in line with the marketplace’s value proposition; although these sellers are autonomous, they will have to be guided in order to ensure that they perform as quickly as possible. This performance and operational challenge is crucial as it affects the image of the marketplace for the first buyers.
  • The acceleration phase: this involves ambitious conversion and process automation objectives in order to broaden the base of existing sellers.

In some cases, best-in-class operators will be able to organise dedicated activities, such as a recruitment day, in order to inform, train and onboard prospective sellers according to their specifications.

3 – Deliver an optimal seller onboarding process

Seller onboarding is a key step in seller management. To ensure its success, you will need to provide your sellers with the resources to understand the positioning of the marketplace, the promise made to buyers, the resulting expectations for the sellers, and to provide sellers with the operating conditions that enable them to comply with the specifications of the marketplace.

Our Webhelp Payment Services experts have created a map highlighting the key factors for a successful seller management strategy. This includes, for example:

  • has the file created by the seller passed the Know Your Vendor tests, allowing it to legally be present on the platform?
  • has it created a shop that meets the requirements detailed in your specifications?
  • is its catalogue functional, comprehensive and free from log errors, in line with the requirements of the platform, so that the Webhelp Digital Content Services teams are able to offer their support with this, etc.?

4 – Give your sellers the tools to perform

Once recruited, the seller community needs to be inspired. This is the only way for business performance and related buyer satisfaction to take off quickly and gain momentum with the development of the marketplace.

To do this, it is recommended that, with the help of an expert, you provide sellers with the following tools:

  • performance review to help them understand where they are and to improve (number of baskets confirmed, not confirmed, etc.);
  • insight drivers such as social media presence and engagement, which Webhelp Payment Services offers in association with Netino by Webhelp;
  • additional customer service if required.

For more than 20 years, Webhelp Payment Services has been a committed player alongside the largest platforms and emerging e-commerce players. History has taught us that our customers needed support beyond the transactional element, a simple payment method. After all, many projects struggle to bring together seller and buyer communities and often become platforms with low traffic, which negatively impacts the sustainability of their business model. Therefore, our initial missions often involve:

  • assisting with identifying sellers and their diversification in the most relevant offerings on the market;
  • approaching potential sellers and presenting the marketplace’s value proposition to them, with a view to recruiting them to your platform;
  • preparing this pool of pre-qualified potential sellers and enabling the operator’s sales department to decide whether or not to recruit new sellers based on the needs of the project;
  • ensuring the launch, structuring and operation of customer service management – the first core activity of the Webhelp group – or supporting functions such as billing, reconciliation, relaunching (on behalf of sellers), and content moderation via Netino by Webhelp.