You have to consider several factors before you zero in on marketplace platform providers, as it will have a huge impact on your business, strategy, and investment that requires lot of effort.
Over the last few years, I have met several customers looking for tools that can enable them to sell, manage and bill various cloud services. I have written this post with the assumption that resellers, distributors and hosters/cloud service providers would need a cloud services marketplace.
Some of the factors that I believe will help you in choosing the right cloud marketplace platform:
You are looking for the ease of buying packaged cloud solutions and managing them. How user-friendly is the cloud service marketplace platform that lets you manage the accounts and services with ease? Can you enable your customers to review and update your subscriptions, account information, orders and passwords, etc., without contacting support or searching your forums or Cloud providers
Procurement & Billing
Does the cloud marketplace allow you to source, provide and procure Infrastructure as a service (Iaas), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a service (SaaS), Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), bundled cloud product and services, integrated packages that are deployed and billed together as one solution? Does it have the ability to set billing rules for your customers to enable pay-per-use, subscription terms (monthly, annual), Tier and Volume based, Pre-paid and post-paid accounts?
Can you edit your catalog and change the prices of your products, set promotional offers, create customer accounts and review billing and invoicing aspects all within the portal itself? The platform should have the capability to manage your customers, sales organizations and partners with customized reporting tools, dashboards and workflows and provide role-based access to several User Groups.
The marketplace platform should allow you to bundle multiple products from multiple vendors and source them to customers as quickly as possible so that your customers can choose from a wide variety of resources without any delay which otherwise was a lengthy process. The cloud service marketplace should offer value add services and customer support that not only improves customer retention, but also attract net new customers.
By enabling a marketplace, you have the opportunity to become the trusted advisor for your customers by providing them the right choice from vendor, location and price. This also lets you to innovate in growing your cloud practice and accelerate cloud adoption. It should enable on-boarding of new vendors/suppliers to increase market opportunity. As per Gartner, resellers are expected to see a jump in their sales, after embracing cloud marketplace platform provider.
Return on Investment (ROI)
The integration, automation, orchestration of several cloud services should be built within the platform to save your time and effort on operational activities. The marketplace must feature capabilities to keep track of prospects and abandoned carts and built-in recommendation engine for up-sell and cross-sell opportunities.
Service delivery plays a major role in the success of your business. Can you integrate the platform with the third party product with functionality such as support and monitoring? The catalog should have the ability to add custom offers, such as support services and setup fees to enable better service delivery. The cloud platform should enable online forum and knowledge base about the offers and enable online support.
Once you analyze all the above aspects, you will be in a better position to pick the cloud marketplace platform which will benefit your organization. In my next blog, I will get into various technical features that can help you understand in detail.
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