Cloud marketplaces are now a strategic imperative for ISVs and resellers: customers of all sizes expect a vendor platform where they move from discovery to procurement to ongoing solution management. By 2019, 30% of the top 100 ISVs will be cloud-only, and many will rely on marketplaces to power their core businesses. Orbitera’s white-label marketplace lets you easily build these customizable and feature-rich marketplaces. Today we look at best practices for running your own marketplace, learned from Google and Orbitera’s experience onboarding customer marketplaces for partners across multiple industries.

An Orbitera white-label marketplace:

  • Provides one place to combine products, services and support plans in any configuration — with multiple tiers, pricing options and features.
  • Lets customers easily search for solutions, self-educate on value propositions, launch cloud trials, request Proof-of-Concepts (PoCs), and purchase directly from your marketplace.
  • Allows customers self-service access to their data with an Orbitera dashboard embedded in your own customer portal. Customers can use their portal to view subscriptions, cloud usage data, and analytics.
  • Grants resellers access to marketplace transactions and reporting to manage subscriptions and product purchases.

Getting to the place where you achieve these goals requires planning and agreement between sales, marketing, product, and leadership on several critical areas:

Define Commercial Goals

Think broadly about how your own marketplace can power growth, but then agree on your north star. Are you aiming to increase sales of your existing 1st-party offerings through lightweight trials? Driving current customers to learn about cross-sell opportunities as part of nurturing campaigns? Adding 3rd-party software to round out solutions? Migrating from term pricing to subscriptions, or subscriptions to usage-based billing? Ramping up cloud adoption of a solution that used to exist only on-premise?

Pick the one angle that has the most direct impact on your business, and double down on it. Depending on your team and market maturity, take other benefits as side bets – but never take your eye off the one compelling reason you launched a marketplace solution.

Map Out Your Channel Strategy

Anytime you add an intermediary – be it a cloud provider, marketplace platform, reseller or system integrator – you risk your existing channel working against the newcomer due to misaligned incentives. A key value of Orbitera is that you retain complete control of your customers, so you can comp your sales teams or channel partners on influenced revenue on your marketplace to get the flywheel spinning. Get common-sense agreement on revenue attribution before you launch, even if you agree the system is only 80% right at the start.

Orbitera is purpose-built for channel. In a multi-channel marketplace, you will be able to define the technical assets and integrations necessary for the product to work and be deployed onto various clouds. You can then share the product down-stream to resellers, or ‘plug-in’ to a distributor ecosystem and make your product available to the partners and resellers underneath a large global distributor. You will control the technical integration, and whether resellers are allowed to reprice these products.

Size Solutions to Your Audience

Consider the profile of marketplace buyers and whether to expose your entire catalog and configuration mix to them. If your buyers are kicking the tires of your solutions, consider pay-as-you-go and trial options that bring you leads, and put these solutions up front. If your software and services support scaling up directly from marketplace deployments, consider exposing everything but building targeted categories in your catalog to help drive higher conversion rates.

Go Multi-Cloud

Your customers will increasingly span on-premise and cloud environments. Multi-cloud can’t be bolted on to a commerce solution; it’s crucial to adopt a marketplace that reflects today’s multi-cloud reality from the start. Signal your flexibility early in the discovery funnel by highlighting real solutions you’ve deployed across clouds, and the operational benefits and complementary in-cloud services that customers will benefit from. Our experience is that multi-cloud friendliness also signals to customers that vendors have customer interests at heart and are entering into a long-term partnership rather than short-term transactions.

Build Trust

View every step in a buyer’s marketplace journey, and every word they read both on-site and in email communications, as an exercise in either building or destroying trust. You’ll be rewarded with higher conversion rates, lower support load, and longer customer lifetimes from the investment you put into your platform on day one. Can your buyer contact a human at any time in the process, with clear expectations about response times? Have you called out terms and refund policies? For services that deploy directly to the cloud, have you gone the extra mile to explain exactly what costs a customer will incur, and what strategies they might employ to lower costs as their solution scales? Above all, the marketplace purchasing process should feel smooth and tightly connected, giving the buyer the feeling that one day all software will be sold like this.

Building a white-label marketplaces requires planning and alignment across your organization, and a partner like Orbitera to manage platform heavy lifting. The long-term rewards are enormous, as you maintain control of your customers and solutions, increase customer engagement and satisfaction, and drive growth in new channel and market segments.

What Next?

To learn more about cloud marketplaces, please watch my colleague Brian Singer’s excellent on-demand marketplace webinar, read the Orbitera solution brief, or contact us to discuss how your business can grow with a white-label marketplace.