This talk was given by Jan Soerensen, General Manager US of Nosto at SaaS Connect 2018 in San Francisco, May 1-2, 2018. Get the slides

eCommerce platforms can be powerful partners for vendors, but there’s a right and a wrong way to engage them.

This was the topic covered by Jan Soerensen, General Manager North America at Nosto.

If your business is looking to work with these platforms, here are some of the things you should know.

How do these platforms want to be approached?

The first step in partnering with an eCommerce platform is to approach them the right way.

For example, there is sometimes a misconception about how big eCommerce platforms see themselves. They approach eCommerce in a somewhat abstract way, with positions like “seamless UX,” “powerful social” or “AI leadership.” When approaching them, be clear that you understand their view of the market.

Furthermore, treat platforms as ecosystems, and make sure you’re engaging at all levels — or at least acknowledging the complexity.

It’s also important to recognize that platform agnosticism is no longer viable. Platforms are asking for dedicated products from vendors to have a unique ecosystem value proposition.

What can you expect from these partnerships?

If you want to build a partnership with these platforms, it’s important that you understand exactly what that entails.

The big thing is to be prepared for the long haul and manage expectations. Plan on doing everything yourself, because it’s a two- or three-year commitment once you get started. You might not see ROI immediately.

Also, platforms won’t commit to marginal revenue increases. That said, they can commit to marketing action that leads you to that result. Take advantage of these.

App stores are usually business units with their own revenue targets. They have no choice but to choose fast-scaling vendors as partners, so be sure to recognize this.

What are these platforms expecting from you?

Once you gain these partners, make sure you’re prepared to meet their needs and expectations. This will help you build a long-lasting partnership.

For example, you should be making it easy for platforms to understand the benefits of your partnership. This will not only make it easy to sell them on the idea of the partnership, but also help keep them engaged and excited about it.

Also, understand the structure of every organization you’re partnering with. Who is making decisions that affect your business at each stage? Build and manage those relationships separately.

Finally, market yourself internally on the platform. This means hosting webinars, calls, and lunch-and-learns. It should also include sending them goodies to stay top of mind, and sending internal newsletters.

How do you create a lasting reputation as a good partner?

Once you have long-lasting partnerships, you need to secure your reputation as a good partner.

Tackle marketing and sales separately. Marketing can drive awareness fuel the top of your sales funnel. Sales and partner teams can provide direct intros and referrals.

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