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    Could third-party platforms help you reach new markets?

    Smarter Writer
    Smarter Team

    A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

    Smarter Writer
    Smarter Team

    A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

    Online marketplaces, food delivery apps and task-oriented platforms are rapidly changing the way consumers interact with businesses. These third-party platforms may offer opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses to tap into a new pool of customers.

    Woman ordering food on a smart phone

    The Telstra Business Intelligence report on Digital Marketing tells us that 76% of surveyed consumers are using third-party platforms to buy online. Favoured for their top-notch digital experience, these apps and platforms combine promotion, reviews and selling. They don’t need to be your only channel for accessing a new customer-base, but they do offer opportunities to promote your business and reach your customers on their own terms.

    Here, we outline some third-party platforms that might work for your business and the potential benefits and challenges involved.

    Get to know third-party platforms

    Third-party platforms span a wide, diverse range and many have become part of consumers’ everyday lives. The Digital Marketing report shows that over 50% of customers say they are using networks like Catch.com.au or similar to find deals; over 50% are using platforms like Airbnb or similar for booking accommodation; 40% are using Menulog, Uber Eats, Deliveroo or similar apps for ordering food; and 19% are using task-oriented platforms, such as Airtasker, Hipages, ServiceSeeking or similar, to ‘get things done’.

    While consumers under the age of 40 are more likely to be using these marketplaces, a majority of Gen X, Boomers and Pre-Boomers are also tapping into third-party platforms.

    Potential benefits

    There are a host of benefits for businesses that engage third-party platforms. They are a great way to reach new customers and provide improved convenience. They’re also easy to navigate and generally well-trusted by both business owners and consumers alike.

    Daniel Leuzzi, co-founder of Freddy’s Pizza, says that integrating third-party delivery, particularly for a hospitality business, is “a competitive way to broaden your marketing and broaden your customer base”. He continues: “The percentage the platforms take is high, but it allows you to be seen online and have that platform visibility, so it’s good for business.”

    While external platforms gave Freddy’s a boost as an emerging business, Daniel and co-founder Thomas Giurioli are careful not to rely solely on third-party delivery. “Our business doesn’t rely on Uber Eats,” says Daniel. “Our belief was to look after the customers in the shop first. With a new business, we didn’t want to take on too much while figuring out our systems.”

    Potential challenges

    As much as third-party platforms and apps deliver on opportunity, they’re not without their challenges. Often, there are costs involved with signing up and maintaining a presence on external marketplaces.  So you need to weigh up whether the opportunity to reach new customers will justify the output. It’s also worth considering if your current service processes can handle the increase in demand: is there anything you need to change or streamline before getting on board?

    Finally, convenience for customers and businesses is a key draw to third-party platforms, so downloading the app and signing up is usually the easiest part. But you need to consider whether you trust the platform to promote your business well and take care of your product once it leaves your hands. “One of the difficult parts is being reassured that your product will be looked after,” Daniel tells us.

    How to know if third-party platforms are right for your business:
    • Will the influx of new customers justify the output to maintain a presence on these platforms?
    • Do you need to change or streamline any of your processes so you can handle the increase in demand?
    • Do you trust the platform you’re joining to take care of your product once it leaves your hands?
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