MARKETPLACE

Marketplace Series: Onboarding Advice

Seller onboarding is where many potential trade relationships crash and burn.

Without a streamlined onboarding process, marketplaces can lose the interest of sellers keen to onboard and make their products available for sale.

As described in How to Recruit Sellers, high-quality sellers often have multiple channel opportunities that they can select from. This makes them increasingly resistant to channels that require considerable work to onboard with.

As part of our series on seller enablement, this article will outline what information helps enable a smooth seller onboarding process. A sample onboarding guide is also available for download at the bottom of the article.

General Advice

Overall, onboarding is an exercise in expectation management.

Below are a few steps to take to ensure that your seller onboarding process runs smoothly:

  • Determine the primary contact on the seller’s team. This is typically the ecommerce manager and needs to be the primary user of any enablement software.
  • Clarify if there are any process documents (terms agreements, NDAs, etc) that the seller requires their channel partners to sign before beginning onboarding.
  • Gather requirements they have around systems integration and any file formats that they need from you in order to be successful.
  • Ideally, schedule a short introductory call to make sure that expectations are clear on both sides. This Seller Pre Boarding Form can help surface these expectations.

Onboarding can range from painless and completely self serve, to nearly impossible to onboard a seller. The difference comes down to the seller’s capabilities and the buyer’s enablement.

Another determining factor is the size of the seller themselves. Large enterprise “classic” sellers are far less willing to jump through hoops in order to onboard to new channels. In contrast, smaller “modern” sellers are much more willing to endure cumbersome enablement processes as the additional retail exposure is quite meaningful for their business. This idea of Classic & Modern sellers is explored further in the article What is Seller Enablement.

Ultimately, sellers want setup to justify the impact that their relationship with you will have on their business. If the opportunity is meaningful enough to them, they will put in the effort necessary to complete all steps and ensure systems are working properly.

[Brand Name] agrees to respect the onboarding process and provide all documentation required by [Retailer Name]. For a full list of the items required to be successfully onboarded please refer to Page X of this agreement.

Providing assets for onboarding does not guarantee the use of these submitted assets or documentation. [Retailer Name] reserves the right to diselect, modify or change assets based on our design parameters.

Implementation

While onboarding holds a negative connotation with long timelines and arduous process, it does not need to be. A crucial part of a streamlined onboarding process is gathering the right information upfront and setting clear expectations on timeline and steps to completion.

As mentioned above, sellers want their efforts to be justified through meaningful business impact. One of the ways to measure this is through “time to first sale” or what Convictional describes as the “WOW Funnel”.

The “WOW Funnel” is a measurement tool used to measure the time it takes between a seller receiving an invitation to list on your channel, and them receiving their first sale. The stages of the WOW Funnel include all of the steps of onboarding and can be used to identify bottlenecks inherent in your onboarding process.

A visual of the WOW Funnel is below:

WOW Funnel

The steps “Top-of-Funnel”, “Interested”, and “Engaged” refer to the process of pitching sellers on your opportunity. For advice on optimizing this part of the funnel, see our article Pitching Sellers.

The steps “Committed”, “Onboarding”, and “WOW” all involve the actual steps to connect with your platform via Convictional and direct traffic towards the seller’s products.

To see a visual guide for the steps involved in onboarding, refer to our Seller Quickstart Guide. To download a templated seller onboarding deck that you are free to use for your own onboardings, click here.