I am in the process of setting up an online marketplace in the state of MA for selling a few kinds of cottage foods (primarily cookies & cakes & some confectionery items) from local vendors. What are the potential pitfalls of doing so ?
Over the past few years, I’ve seen many entrepreneurs try to establish an online marketplace for local foods — virtually all of them with limited or no success, myself included. So just by that fact alone, it’s clear that there are some serious barriers to entry in this space. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what those barriers are.
I would say that the biggest mistake we made was building the marketplace before identifying that we had users. Everyone said they would like/use the marketplace, but nobody ultimately did. Proving that this is something that people need (not just want) enough that they will change their buying tactics is the hardest part. We found that getting buyers without many sellers was much easier than getting sellers without many buyers. Getting sellers is the key — do that part before spending time on your product. I’d say 100 committed sellers is a good starting point before working on the marketplace. You might think that an existing marketplace would be helpful for getting sellers, but I haven’t found any data to backup that assumption.
Monica, I’m on vacation right now, but I’ll respond to your PM soon.