How can TymeOnline accelerate your Marketplace Strategy?
As TymeOnline launch their first branded partners onto the B&Q Marketplace, I had the opportunity to interview Rebecca Ward one of their senior account managers, to fully understand her role and the value that TymeOnline can deliver to Home Improvement and Gardening brands with an existing Marketplace Strategy or who are considering taking their first steps.
Can you please describe your day-to-day role within TymeOnline?
My primary focus is to work with our clients on their revenue growth strategy. My team consists of account managers and data administrators and we work to understand our clients’ products, sector, competitors, the seasonality of their markets and to use our analytics to focus on driving sales
Rebecca Ward, Senior Account Manager TymeOnline.
My role also involves monitoring our sellers’ accounts and performing relevant tasks associated with them. Usually, this includes generating sales reports, activating promotions, monitoring advertising rates and making/recommending listing amendments.
The main aim of my role is to establish a relationship with our sellers, to understand their needs as a business, the products they sell and how their category trades. On a practical level, my aim is to be as up to date as possible with a sellers’ account, to recognise any issues as quickly as possible and action any changes to benefit their account and increase revenue.
How many clients do you currently work with and how often do you meet/interact with them?
My team currently works with 50 sellers, which we divide across multiple Account Managers. We try to have meetings with each seller at least once a month, however due to the bespoke nature of our service, we work with the seller to find what works best for them which may mean we meet weekly, or bi-weekly, depending on the needs of their business.
Our aim is to be on hand whenever an issue arises and on average, we speak to our sellers at least every other day to ensure they feel they have an open line of communication and support for their business.
Which marketplaces do you manage on behalf of your clients?
We predominantly manage eBay and Amazon accounts, as the two most prominent marketplaces. However, with new marketplaces always emerging, we aim to work with a variety of marketplaces such as OnBuy.com and B&Q. We’ve recently been working with a number of branded clients to launch their products on the B&Q Marketplace, with some excellent results, almost from day one! We also have the capabilities to work with the international counterparts of each marketplace.
Do you interact directly with the marketplaces, such as the eBay Category Managers?
Yes, we have a direct relationship with the marketplaces and we work closely with them at all levels to support our clients. As an example, we are a Tier 1 partner with eBay, which means we work closely with their Acquisition Team and several Category and Trading Managers. We work directly with the relevant category managers to ensure we are maximising exposure for our clients and taking advantage of all the promotional campaigns being run.
We also maintain regular contact with eBay category managers so we can collectively scale the accounts we manage, ensuring we maintain excellent account health and constantly improving on site visibility.
Be honest with me, which is the easiest marketplace to work with?
All marketplaces have their quirks. Amazon can be notoriously difficult with regards to just getting your business account setup correctly, with regards to account verification and brand registry. However, once successfully up and running, there is a huge audience to tap into.
eBay are much more pro-active with their support for newly onboarding businesses and are far better at ongoing communication and support. We have a dedicated on-boarding team that handle and support clients through these on-boarding challenges, prior to the client being transferred to me and my team.
Ultimately the shoppers have their own marketplace preference so as a seller you must maximise your product exposure and ensure their products are on as many marketplaces as possible.
I know some brands have struggled with IP issues, particularly with Amazon, can you help in this area?
Yes, we can become involved by either hand-holding or liaising directly with the marketplaces. Ultimately it comes down to the individual marketplaces legal team, but we ensure the client has all their IP / trademarks in place prior to application to smooth this over. One of the key areas for brands to consider when launching on a marketplace is not just for the revenue opportunity, but also to control their brand and how it is ultimately presented to the consumer. Why rely on an unknown third party to present every aspect of your brand to millions of marketplace customers?
We all hear the term ‘Optimisation’ used frequently, what does that actually involve?
When we talk about optimising, we are referring to the process of ensuring all our clients listings, as well as the sellers account, is at the best standard it can possibly be.
With marketplaces, everything is transparent i.e. reviews, feedback, performance, star ratings etc. This all contributes to your account health, ranking and exposure. It’s critical therefore that not only the products are optimised, but the account and services which are offered. So not only do we optimise the product data we work closely with our sellers on the overall service proposition. Each marketplace has their own ‘best practice’, which can often change and we use our knowledge, experience and partnerships to ensure we maximise all areas to maximise visibility.
What resources do you have available to help your clients and how do you use them?
It very much depends on the marketplace in question. For example, Amazon doesn’t give out any sales information, so we therefore have to base competitor research predominantly on ranking and trends, relying on estimated rather than actual sales.
However, with eBay, we’re able to produce more accurate reports using their Terapeak Intelligence Tool, which includes detail on Category and Competitor product sales, seasonality and trends, including detail such as average selling prices and top selling days.
Screenshot from eBay Terapeak Category Intelligence Tool
We are consistently improving these reports as they are created bespoke to each seller, to help them make informed decisions about their business, whether that’s price changes, promotional activity or new product development.
What reports are available for your clients?
We pride ourselves on producing valuable reports to our sellers, this includes creating a report that is bespoke to them and their needs as a business.
Depending on the category that a business sells in, they may have specific information they like to see. In a category where they are selling popular brands or products, competitor research may be extremely important. Whereas in other categories where their products are more niche, reports to help with new product development may be more important.
Do you get involved in the areas of reviews or returns and how?
We offer full training for our clients on the best way to handle returns through each marketplace, taking sellers through the intricacies they may come across with the specific marketplaces, how they may come across different issues and how to avoid them.
Regarding reviews, we work with our sellers to always deliver the best customer experience possible in order to reduce any potential negative reviews. Should our clients require additional support we partner with various third-party providers within the logistics & customer service sector.
What about the area of campaigns and coupons, do you make recommendations?
This is something we have a significant focus on. With the increasing cost of living and decline in consumer confidence, we are finding that coupons and promotions are becoming increasingly important to marketplace customers.
We work with our sellers to find out what works for their business, their industry and ultimately, their margins. It is certainly not a “one size fits all” kind of strategy when recommending coupons, promotions, and particularly paid advertisement, as there are so many variables which make certain promotional mechanics more successful than others, dependant on the seller and the market they operate in.
We will always look at our sellers’ competitors and test different mechanics to ensure we are using the marketplaces’ promotional tools optimally.
Do you specialise in certain sectors?
We simply specialise in all sectors. Our model adapts depending on the category, but we are strong across the board. We have been close to the emerging trends within the industry and since Covid we have seen strong demand for our services within the Home, Gardening & DIY sectors. As well as covering all sectors, our service provides solutions for retailers, brand owners, distributors, and manufacturers.
How do you provide training to the sellers teams?
When an account hits the “go live” stage, we offer training to their internal teams, to help familiarise them with each marketplace. These training sessions are usually targeted around the customer service and accounts teams, along with any other internal point of contact. The objective here is to help get the sellers’ internal teams more comfortable with the different areas of the marketplace backend, highlight any areas that may be of interest and to give them the dos and don’ts of each marketplace.
It’s also important at this time to outline the seller metrics required by each channel, to ensure that the relevant teams understand the SLA’s that need to be met. This is usually done via Teams/Zoom, but we’re more than happy to have in-house meetings with our sellers.
How does TymeOnline charge for its services?
We have a small onboarding fee to cover store design, account setup, data work and integrations and then our fully managed, ongoing service is based on the sales generated as we work on a percentage of revenue. This ensures the focus is on revenue growth for all parties.
If any companies are interested in finding out how TymeOnline can help with their marketplace strategy, how do they get in touch?
Steve Collinge is an international speaker, influencer, retail commentator and is Managing Director of Insight Retail Group Ltd and executive editor of Insight DIY. You can follow Steve on LinkedIn here and feel free to contact him via DM at any time.