January 24, 2012, 4:18 PM

Retailers need to handle online marketplaces with care

An IRCE speaker will give tips about how to sell via those outside sites.

Lead Photo

Richard Sexton

Major online marketplaces such as Amazon offer all types of e-retailers broad exposure that exceeds the reach of their own marketing efforts. But participating in a sales platform retailers don’t control requires careful attention, says Richard Sexton, president of furniture retailer Carolina Rustica.

Sexton will share his experiences and advice at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012 in Chicago in a session entitled “Selling on third-party marketplaces:  The new reality of competitive partnerships.

After several years, Carolina Rustica stopped selling on Amazon.com because it could not control how its products appeared on the marketplace and was frustrated in its efforts to communicate with Amazon about issues in a timely manner, according to Sexton.

Carolina Rustica has since identified other online sales venues that extend its reach beyond its own web site and North Carolina store. Sexton chooses those web venues based on a strategy that supports Carolina Rustica’s goal of retaining control over how its products and the company itself are presented to consumers. “We try to avoid commoditizing our product, which is what Amazon does. We don’t want to compete on just price,” he says.

In this session, Sexton will offer retailers advice on how to evaluate the appropriateness of any online sales venue based on product features and fulfillment channels. “I will present a matrix of third-party marketplaces, encourage merchants to expand their thinking about what actually qualifies as a marketplace and suggest ways to find marketing opportunities through other online channels,” he says.

Carolina Rustica is No. 684 in the Internet Retailer Second 500 Guide.

Internet Retailer’s editors asked Sexton to speak because of his 12 years of experience as a web retailer, which began when he launched a furniture site in 1998 that grew into Carolina Rustica. The company is approaching $4 million in sales. Google has featured Carolina Rustica as a case study of small business success using no-nonsense Internet marketing techniques.

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