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Staples Marketplace a Great Model for Online Retailers and Sellers
By Sean Cook
11/13/2013 8:34:00 AM

In the marketing world, one often hears the phrase "Content is King.”  A similar thought for eCommerce might be "Convenience is King.” Convenience is the edifice on which Amazon has built its kingdom, and now others are taking note and trying emulate the "one-stop shop" strategy.

Staples recently announced an interesting offensive move to prevent Amazon, Wal-Mart and others from penetrating the office supply business. Staples Marketplace plans to offer more than one million SKUs online, including many like power drills and garden hoses that are outside the boundaries of its core business products.  

The fear is warranted. Morningstar analyst Liang Feng expects Amazon to gradually increase its focus on the office supply business, especially with the debut this year of AmazonSupply.com.

From Staples perspective, expanding this marketplace seems like a good strategy.  They have built up a huge database of faithful online customers.  One would assume that Staples brand loyalty and convenience would help convince these omnichannel shoppers to use their preferred marketplace to purchase other products.

There is abundant evidence that people like the convenience of a single place to shop, and sellers  can profit from an assembled audience.  Consider the following staggering statistics: Amazon has more than has 173 million active customer accounts worldwide; eBay has 116 million users.  That’s more than the combined populations of Germany, France, Britain, and Italy.

Less well known marketplaces are proving successful also, by highlighting the convenience factor.  ChannelAdvisor claims it, "calms the chaos of online selling by enabling retailers to submit one inventory feed to the ChannelAdvisor platform where it is translated to fit the specifications of hundreds of e-commerce channels and distributed accordingly"  

Part of the allure of electronic commerce is the fact that you can have virtually limitless shelf space. For a retailer, that means the incremental cost of putting new products on your shelves is low (especially if someone else is maintaining the content, and fulfilling the products. For the seller, if you are ready to take the order and ship it, why not put your products on everyone's shelves that you can possibly put them on? Customers just want convenience.  They don’t care who they purchase it from.  

All indications are that these one-stop shop marketplaces are the future of Ecommerce.  Are you preparing yourself with the infrastructure, platform, and strategies to effectively participate?

 - Sean Cook

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Tags: staples, ecommerce, amazon, online, sales
Categories: Commerce Insights Blog
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