Recent changes in the e-commerce landscape have brought marketplaces sharply into focus for both brands and retailers. But what about the people who inhabit that landscape: the consumer? Simon Clarkson looks at changing consumer behaviours and the importance of online marketplaces.
Consumer demand shapes the future of retail, but undeniably, the retail environment helps shape consumer expectation. With this evolution and growth, marketplaces are a key driver in retail benchmarks, driving e-commerce innovation, value, selection and convenience.
Firstly, what do marketplaces offer consumers?
- A department store style shopping experience
- Virtually endless aisles of products
- Easy search
- A consistent shopping experience
- Great customer service
- Competitive pricing
- Attractive fulfilment and return options (free and/or fast delivery, hassle free returns)
Looking at this list, it is little wonder that this is now the standard that consumers expect across the board.
We only have to look overseas, where marketplaces like Amazon have been around for the equivalent of an e-commerce eternity, to see what’s in store here. In the US, 44 percent of e-commerce spend went to Amazon alone (with 56 percent of expenditure going to ‘everyone else’) A huge element of this growth is the marketplace’s ability to drive expansion in its biggest categories while still developing new ones. The consumer wants more, and the marketplace provides. Furthermore, in the US, 49 percent of product searches begin on Amazon. Again, with an ever-expanding selection of products, it makes sense for the marketplace to be the first port of call.
In Australia, we’ve recently seen the launch of Catch, the evolution of eBay and of course, Amazon’s arrival in Australia. Catch has grown from 27,000 products in July 2017 to 600,000 products, with over 800 third-party sellers. Amazon has listed over 10,000 sellers since it launched last December. Eighty of the largest 100 Australian retailers are present on eBay and one in two online Aussies visit eBay every month. With Club Catch, eBay’s guaranteed delivery, the launch of Fulfilment by Amazon and Amazon Prime’s arrival mid-year, consumers are offered a plethora of unparalleled customer service and delivery options. What do you get in return? A loyal consumer and high conversion rates.
Recent research in the APAC region shows huge growth of online purchasing through mobile apps (over 90 percent of smartphone users surveyed make a purchase at least once a month using a retail and shopping app – and more than 41 percent shop between two and five times a month). This presents a huge challenge for brands and retailers because, for many, an app is something that’s just not viable. Furthermore, over half of smartphone users across the APAC region have only two to five retail and shopping apps installed on their devices. As more and more people choose apps as their purchase preference, what can retailers do? Marketplaces are heavily invested in app technology and do an amazing job of connecting with consumers through these channels.
There are plenty of elements that are crucial to an e-commerce strategy, especially when it comes to connecting to and meeting the needs of this new breed of consumer; customer service, speed, easy returns, a seamless experience. But together, what do these elements equate to? Marketplaces.
Put your brand where consumers are looking and make it a customer-centric journey from the first search to final fulfilment. We know that in a post-Amazon era, consumer behaviour is shifting. To engage consumers as their shopping habits are shifting, it’s crucial to get on board.