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Recently, Amazon has made headlines regarding Amazon Marketplace and “Project Fela.” While this news is incredibly exciting, retailers - and aspiring retailers - may not know how to best prepare themselves for the inevitable changes to come. Spoiler alert! ERP integration tools are by far the best way to manage your data and inventory, keep your customers smiling, beat your competitors and keep you miles ahead of the game.
Although Amazon Marketplace sounds a lot like Amazon.com, they actually differ quite a bit. The two are so heavily integrated, however, that the buyer experience between them blends in seamlessly. In fact, many buyers often won’t even realise that they are making use of a separate platform.
Essentially, Amazon Marketplace is an ecommerce platform owned by Amazon.com which allows third-party sellers to list and sell their products online - both new and used - at a fixed price, alongside other Amazon.com products.
Although anyone who passes Amazon’s regulations can sell their items on Amazon Marketplace, it is only available to certain countries, and therefore, certain people. However, Amazon has recently announced that they plan to open up the Amazon Marketplace to South Africa in February 2023, plans which they have codenamed “Project Fela.”¹
This will finally offer South African retailers the chance to take advantage of selling their products on the world’s largest online marketplace. Although this news is great for retailers, there’s no doubt that Amazon Marketplace will place an immense amount of pressure on competing South African ecommerce platforms - both small and large.
Some examples of large competing ecommerce platforms in South Africa include Takealot, Bid or Buy, Jumia and Everyshop.
These days, fewer and fewer people are going to physical stores to shop for products. Instead, they’re spending most of their time online, and this trend is only increasing.
Unfortunately, this means that if traditional retailers don’t join the online movement, they risk losing out on reaching millions of potential buyers - leaving them unable to compete with those retailers selling their products online.
Ecommerce in South Africa has seen a significant increase over the years, with a 66% increase in the year 2020 alone. Today, around 70% of shoppers in South Africa are doing so online at least once a month, and this percentage continues to grow - with convenience being the leading reason behind it.²
When it comes to Amazon Marketplace, independent sellers make up at least 44% of the market, and that number also continues to grow as the platform reaches more countries and their individuals.³
Ecommerce platform giants - like Amazon Marketplace - bring with them a wealth of experience in data management, user experience and ecommerce operations that should further fuel the country’s growth within the ecommerce sector.
By far the best way to prepare yourself for Amazon Marketplace’s entry into the market is to look after your data. If you don’t ensure the accuracy of your pricing and inventory on Amazon, or indeed on any online marketplace, you’re in for a frustrating and unprofitable experience.
Third-party integration tools can help you manage and update your data on Amazon Marketplace, reducing the risk of overselling or publishing incorrect pricing. If the inventory on your ERP fluctuates regularly, perhaps due to sales flowing in from other sales channels, these changes can be synced to Amazon Marketplace in near-real time.
If you have no idea what these integration tools do, or what to expect from them, it’s understandable that you might be hesitant. However, these integration tools don’t have to be scary. In fact, they’re likely the secret weapon you’ve always wished for, but just never knew you needed. As long as you safeguard the integrity of your ERP data, you will get great value from keeping your systems in sync.
Another way you can prepare is by ensuring that your products are segmented by relevant attributes such as category, brand or type. This is likely to make it easier for customers to find your products when browsing online, giving you a competitive edge over other sellers.
Competition on online marketplaces such as Amazon can be fierce. Data Inaccuracies and manual workflows can seriously jeopardise your chances of success by hampering your ability to fulfil on time or even forcing you to process refunds. This will land you in hot water with Amazon - a place you do not want to be!Process automation is the answer to meeting these challenges.
Third party integration tools are a cost effective way to help you maintain data structure and accuracy, which is especially useful when it comes to selling on various platforms and channels.
Stock2Shop, for example, is a SaaS tool that helps businesses distribute their product, pricing and inventory data from their ERP / accounting system to the places they sell online. We can accommodate many popular data sources - such as Sage Evolution, SAP Business One, SYSPRO and Sage Business Cloud Accounting - and sync them to multiple online B2B and/or B2C ecommerce sales channels.
Think of Stock2Shop as an automated, two way conversation between your source of data and your online sales channels:
This means you’ll never have to face a disappointed customer who purchased something that wasn’t actually available. If your customers feel like they can’t trust you or the data you put out there, they’re likely not to purchase your products either. And, if Amazon loses trust in your ability to fulfil your orders, they’re likely to sanction you.
Customer service is king, and one way of keeping them satisfied is by keeping them up to date with your available stock. By keeping your inventory data on point, you’ll have happier customers, which will lead to more purchases in the future, and eventually an overall better success rate.
With the correct approach and integration tools, Amazon Marketplace will bring with it an array of possibilities and opportunities just waiting to be leveraged, as well as the greatest chance for expansion South African ecommerce has seen yet.
Be ahead of the game and get in touch with Stock2Shop to find out why integration is the most efficient way to sell on Amazon and other marketplaces.
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