How to Use Marketplace Source to Your Advantage

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How to Use Marketplace Source to Your Advantage
Best Practices from an Insider

by Woody Hunt Vice President of Marketplace

Whether you represent a campus bookstore, independent textbook retailer or an enterprise buyer, you want to simplify your book search to maximize the amount of used book inventory for your customers.

Designed for businesses to acquire large volumes of used books at market prices, Follett Marketplace Source addresses one of the biggest over-arching needs in the textbook industry: finding enough used textbooks to meet student demand.

To maximize available supply, Follett gets books from sellers using our proprietary programs such as Consumer Buyback, an online market­place where students can sell their books; Market­place Sell, an online marketplace that links buyers to sellers; and Marketplace Liquidate, which allows sellers to quickly upload a list of textbooks for sale, then accept or reject price quotes.

We also connect with other marketplaces, including Amazon, Alibris and AbeBooks, to provide you with additional exposure in one place to the inventory you need.

Of the four factors that affect fulfillment rate, supply and demand are the two factors that the market controls. You control the other two:

1. Timing – when and how long your want list is live in our marketplace
2. Pricing – the competitiveness of your bids, or what you’re willing to pay for a book, compared to other buyers

As we continue to develop and grow our marketplace, we have continued to gain insight into how buyers can best utilize the marketplace to ensure success. We are sharing that insight with you, so you get even more out of Marketplace Source.

Top Sourcing Insight: Start your want list early and update it often to maximize sourcing volume.

Unlike traditional sourcing methods, with Follett Marketplace Source, you can buy textbooks directly from students nationwide who sell through our Consumer Buyback program. So it isn’t surprising that we see the most traffic to our buyback program at the end of each semester when students are looking for some extra cash.

Maximize your exposure to this dynamic marketplace in two ways: load as many titles as you can as early as possible and leave your want list open as long as you can, updating it frequently. By casting a wider net, you’ll gain exposure to as many sellers as possible, and you’ll likely improve your fulfillment rate.

Best Practices:

• To take advantage of peak student traffic, upload your want list as early as possible; even if you’re still waiting for adoptions, a partial list is better than no list at all.
• Be particularly aggressive with your want list in terms of pricing and depth during the last half of May and November.
• Think of your want list as a dynamic document. Continue to add titles, update pricing and adjust open-to-buy quantity to stay aggressive in the market.


Top Sourcing Insight: To maximize inventory sourcing, load your full want list and keep it open as long as you can.

Keep your list open around the clock; otherwise, you could miss over 50 percent of available inventory.

Follett Marketplace has two types of supply channels:

1. Price taking, where sellers set the prices when they list their books. Inventory is available anytime you decide to run your list. These channels include Follett Marketplace Sell, Amazon, Alibris and AbeBooks.
2. Price making, where you, the buyer, set the price when you post your want list to Source. Inventory is available only if your list is open when sellers decided to sell. These channels include Consumer Buyback and Follett Marketplace Liquidate.

Typically, we see that the price-taking channels represent about 46 percent of the total supply in the marketplace, while the price-making channels represent the other 54 percent.

Best Practices:

• Keep a want list open at all times to take advantage of price-making channels, which represent 54 percent of available inventory in the marketplace.
• It’s better to have live a subset of your open-to-buy around the clock, rather than starting and stopping the list throughout the day or week.

Top Sourcing Insight: Adjust your bid prices in five percent increments to optimize your cost and fill rate.

For any given ISBN on your active want list, you will be competing with other users on Marketplace Source as well as buyers outside the Follett network. Therefore, you need a strategy to stay competitive without overpaying for certain titles.

Going one step further, you can assume that if you don’t see desirable transaction volume for a particular ISBN, it’s likely that other buyers are offering a better price.

Therefore, we suggest that when you experience low fill rates for particular ISBNs, increase your bids in five percent increments to help you find the sweet spot for a winning transaction.

Best Practices:

• For ISBNs on your want list that aren’t getting the volume you are aiming for, increase your bids in five percent increments to find the optimal price point.
• The reverse holds true. For ISBNs on your want list that are generating a lot of transactions, adjust your bids down in five percent increments to see if you can maintain a similar volume for lower cost.



Finding enough used textbook supply to meet demand can be challenging. Follett Marketplace Source makes it easier, especially if you keep these conclusions in mind:

1. Load your want list as early as possible in the season and update it whenever you have changes to titles or open-to-buy.
2. Keep your want list open around the clock; otherwise, you’re missing exposure to the price-making supply channels, which represent over 50 percent of the sellers coming to the marketplace.
3. When you’re not seeing desirable fill rates for particular ISBNs, increase your bids in five percent increments to find the sweet spot for winning transactions.

By focusing on timing and pricing, you’ll increase your chances to get more used textbooks — and stay competitive in-store, providing your students with more used inventory.

About the Author

Woody Hunt, Vice President of Marketplace, has been building software solutions for the book industry since 2003. His major projects include the BookVolume online sourcing platform and Skyo eCommerce site. Together, they’ve driven a combined transaction volume of more than $100 million. Woody sold his business, Wobo Inc., to Follett in March of 2016.

About Follett Marketplace Source

Whether you are a campus bookstore, independent textbook retailer or an enterprise buyer, Follett Marketplace Source makes your job easier. Our online marketplace gives you access to used textbooks from millions of students, thousands of sellers and hundreds of bookstores.

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