The marketplace landscape in Switzerland Interview with Manor
Manor is working hard on digitizing its business. A significant step is certainly the opening of its online shop as a marketplace. For several months now, in addition to its own products, items from marketplace partners have also been available on “manor.ch”. We spoke to Luca Bordin, Marketplace Product Owner at Manor, about the roll-out and his initial experiences with the solution.
There aren’t many marketplace launches. Few new marketplaces have been successfully established in Switzerland in recent years. What makes Manor different?
At Manor, we’ve taken a long, hard look at this issue. In the end, however, we felt the advantages outweighed the disadvantages. The further digitization of our business is a key, strategic goal for us over the next few years. Implementing the marketplace model will help us achieve this goal.
Relevance and reach are key success factors for expansion into the marketplace role. Manor has strong brand recognition in Switzerland and reaches a large number of customers via its branch network and online shop. This provides a good basis for achieving positive network effects, which are crucial to ensuring the effectiveness of an online marketplace.
We also have other reasons to be confident about our positioning for this move. We also have a kind of “offline marketplace” in the department stores thanks to our shop-in-shop concepts. We also have a wide product range in various categories. This allows us to quickly scale the marketplace model. Basically, Manor already has a DNA very similar to that of a marketplace.
What are the main goals you have set yourself with the marketplace?
As I mentioned, it is part of our digitization strategy. We want to significantly increase sales generated online and to give our customers the best service via all channels.
The marketplace model has many benefits. On one hand, as I said, it is a way of growing faster in terms of product range. The model also allows you to increase the depth of your product range. It is also important to mention the options it provides for testing new ranges. It is conceivable that Manor will also use the marketplace to provide completely new categories well suited to Manor but which are not yet included in its online range. After all, it's about offering our customers an even more extensive and inspiring range.
What’s important to you when choosing marketplace partners?
Manor does not define itself as a completely open marketplace, but also not as an extremely selective one either. Our partners basically have to fit in with Manor’s product range policy.
At first, however, we focused on companies that already have marketplace experience and tend to have more extensive product ranges. Right from the start, it was important for us to maintain a healthy balance between integration workload and sales potential. In principle, marketplace partners only need to meet certain basic requirements and comply with Manor’s service level agreements. Any requirements we place on our partners are not intended to create obstacles, but rather to ensure a positive customer experience on the platform. The platform’s attractiveness then has a positive effect on the sales potential of our partners.
We were pleasantly surprised to see that there was a great deal of interest in integration on the Manor marketplace right from the outset and this has increased significantly again over the past few weeks. We are also talking to long-term suppliers to determine whether it would make sense to work together using a hybrid model in future.
Integrating partners is often a challenge with marketplaces. They are not all able to deliver top-quality product information or they have difficulties implementing interfaces. How do you ensure system simplicity for your partners and that data quality is up to standard?
Integrating partners is a major challenge for our marketplace team. We use Mirakl’s best-in-class technology. Our business development managers help them with the integration. This means we can offer several types of data transfer: from manual maintenance to semi-automatic import via CSV or Excel to integration via an interface for the fully automated import of data. Many marketplace partners, especially the large and experienced marketplace retailers, want to integrate product data via interfaces and also completely automate order processing. This can be done and we have already successfully integrated a number of solutions.
Product data integration plays a crucial role here. As part of the integration project, we help our partners to link their product structure (categories, attributes and attribute values) with our structure. Once this process has been completed, partners can regularly and easily integrate products on the platform. We clearly also have a quality assurance process to ensure that the product data, which is ultimately displayed in the web shop, complies with our guidelines.
How much influence do you have over the products of marketplace partners, for example in terms of pricing?
Partners on the Manor marketplace enjoy one hundred percent freedom with regard to pricing, as is usual in a marketplace environment. They determine the prices themselves and also decide when and for how long they want to reduce product prices. We do not dictate shipping costs either. They can decide for themselves whether they want to offer free shipping, specify a minimum order amount or a flat rate for shipping. They only have to be able to deliver within the deadlines we set for delivery. In addition, separate customs clearance costs for deliveries from foreign partners must not be passed on to end customers. This is a requirement we make to ensure a high level of customer satisfaction.
You implemented the marketplace as a minimum viable product (MVP). What’s its current status and what comes next?
We launched the marketplace as a MVP in February this year and we are very pleased with the results. As is usual for a MVP, it does not include all the features that we have planned for our marketplace in the long term. More specifically, we are currently working on offering the two very popular payment methods of “purchase on account” and TWINT for our marketplace shopping baskets.
Larger omnichannel options, such as click-and-collect (picking up partner products from a department store) are also on the roadmap. This is important as we want to completely integrate the marketplace into the Manor omnichannel vision.
How did the coronavirus crisis affect development of the marketplace solution?
The pandemic presented an additional challenge for the project, especially during the first lockdown. We had to reduce all costs to a minimum for a short time, which had a slight impact on the planned go-live.& But the crisis reaffirmed our digital strategy and increased the importance of the marketplace project. The project also received more internal attention and our external communications raised awareness of our marketplace business amongst many partners.
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