Marketplaces have been a hot topic lately, fueled by the pandemic pushing more buying online, or simply because it makes it easier to work with partners. At HCL Commerce, we’ve been seeing an uptick in requests for the kind of capability that a marketplace will bring. As a result, we’ve added Native Marketplaces to our roadmap, targeting the Summer of 2022.
Currently we’re in the research and design phase of our implementation, and as anyone who’s familiar with marketplaces knows, there is a huge amount of potential use cases that fall under the umbrella of marketplaces.
- Most people are likely familiar with the type of marketplace that Amazon and Walmart are using, which is open to any sellers and any buyers.
- Other companies may have requirements for a private marketplace, with a select set of sellers and buyers – this is a common scenario in B2B for our customers who only want to allow their own dealers/resellers to sell on the site, and only make the site available to those buyers who are already their customers.
- Then there’s another scenario, where the marketplace is private (only invited sellers can participate), but the store is public, and acts as a regular B2C shopping site that anybody can buy from. This is a B2C scenario, for companies who sell through a close set of partners and resellers and want to bring them together onto a marketplace to make it easier for regular shoppers to get access to their full set of products, while still giving credit to their partners for the sale.
It’s this third scenario that we are going to tackle first at HCL Commerce. Since this is a large undertaking, we’ll be releasing capabilities in phases. In our first phase we’ll work with the assumption that the marketplace is one where the sellers are close partners, but the commerce site behaves like a regular B2C site. We are aiming to get the underpinnings of the architecture done first – the two most important use cases being getting your sellers onboarded, and having the sellers identify which products they sell and at which price. No marketplace can exist without these two pieces of function, so they will be the top priority. We will be providing a sample storefront to go along with it, which allows the shoppers to purchase from the onboarded sellers. As we continue our research, we will add additional use cases.
Speaking of research, we’re leveraging our Sponsor User Program to help us get the best possible understanding of what our customers’ needs are with respect to native marketplaces. This program allows us to meet with select customers, to discuss and understand their requirements and their issues. We use that information as input to design the mockups and wireframes of the tools required. We then go back to those customers to gather feedback again, this time specifically on the flows and design of the tools. This way they can help us identify what does and doesn’t work, what’s missing, etc, before we start development. Then, during the development phase, we go back to these customers again with partial demos of the product, to show them how the real implementation works, and again, gather their feedback on it. By doing this we ensure that we’re building something that will be useful to our customers. The Sponsor User Program is available to all HCL Commerce customers. If you are interested in participating in it for Native Marketplaces, you can contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or my colleague Amanda Chan (email@example.com), who runs the Sponsor User Program. We’d be happy to have you.