The future of online marketplaces is bright. However, only those brands willing to keep pace with the latest trends will be able to survive and attract consumers.
An estimated 1.8 billion people worldwide shopped online in 2018. It’s expected that this number will hit 2.14 billion in 2021. It’s clear that online marketplaces have challenged traditional service models, thus breaking geographical barriers and allowing customers to purchase products and services globally. Another important factor is that they no longer have to settle for a higher price commanded by physical scarcity – now they can enjoy the benefits of competition.
Online marketplaces account for 50% of global online sales in 2017, while, according to predictions, they will comprise two-thirds of all eCommerce sales by 2022. Here’s what’s in store for online marketplaces in years to come.
The Rise of Click and Mortar
Also known and bricks and click, this business model is a synergy of online and offline operations. In a nutshell, it’s an omnichannel approach, meaning that customers can make a purchase both in a physical store as well as on a website.
Although malls have been on their deathbed for quite some time, we shouldn’t write physical stores off completely just yet. With the help of digital technology, they have become an important part of the buyer’s journey.
One of the main obstacles to online shopping is the inability to touch, feel, and try out products, and that’s why many consumers visit physical stores where they inspect items they’re interested in and then order them online. By introducing internet access in physical stores, brands and shop owners encourage visitors to browse through different colours and models of a particular item too.
This way, it’s also possible to collect relevant customer data and later use it to improve marketing campaigns and create tailored offers, all of which will elevate the customer experience.
Similarly, retailers implement the latest technologies, such as Augmented or Virtual Reality, to bring their products and services closer to their customers. For example, IKEA Place is an app that helps customers see how furniture would look like in their home, by virtually placing different pieces inside their space.
Voice Search Will Dominate
72% of people who own voice-activated speakers say that they use these smart devices in their regular daily activities. This means that they search the internet, check the weather, look for recipes, ask for directions, and purchase using voice search.
That’s why online retailers have to update their traditional search engine optimization and make sure that their customers can find their store, browse products, and make orders using their voice only.
This means that companies that sell in an online marketplace have to optimize their content and technical elements in the following way:
– Use questions as most voice searches come in that form, and answer them concisely and clearly
– Use conversational language and long-tail keywords to reflect the way people conduct searches
– Leverage local search to cater to potential customers who are looking for products and services in their area
– Improve the speed of your website, as your customers won’t wait for more than 3 seconds for it to load.
Don’t forget that customer experience has dethroned product and price as the key brand differentiator. This means that your store has to offer a seamless experience throughout the buyer’s journey and make your customers happy. Implementing AI chatbots to offer assistance and support to your customers is one of the best ways to make use of voice search.
The Growth of Niche Marketplaces
Smaller companies and sellers find it hard to find their place in highly-competitive marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay. That’s why a number of smaller niche marketplaces are emerging. These focused ecosystems offer narrow sets of specialised items that are hard to find. Instead of opting to multitask and cover all retail categories, niche marketplaces pick just one segment or category, thus delivering great customer experiences.
For example, there are different marketplaces offering unique and luxurious sportswear from limited collections, as well as collectables, such as Farfetch or StockX. The latter provides authentication services for free, meaning that sneakerheads willing to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a hot pair of Air Jordans can be sure that what they get is original.
Besides, sellers that boast a comprehensive knowledge in the field can establish themselves as authorities and capitalise on that fact.
Given that reputation is everything these days, consumers are more likely to purchase from true aficionados from whom they can also learn something than from sell-it-all sellers. Such a customer-centric approach gives a somewhat “concept store” feel to an online shop. And let’s not forget that building customer trust and loyalty is best achieved through sharing your expertise and delivering exceptional customer experience.
The Power of Recommerce
We live in an age of abundance and consumerism, and that inevitably leaves its mark on the environment. Sustainability and reducing carbon footprint have become increasingly important over the past couple of years.
This means that many consumers are more interested in reducing their consumption by purchasing second-hand or used items. At the same time, they’re getting what they want at a fraction of the original price – a win-win situation.
Recommerce has created a marketplace for selling and buying previously owned new or used products. In other words, people who want to purchase electronic devices, books, or antique furniture or jewellery can easily connect with sellers.
No wonder that this sustainable trend is growing – in the age of Instagram, many fashionistas don’t want to be seen more than once wearing the same dress or shirt, and this peer-to-peer system makes it possible for them to purchase and sell used clothes frequently. Last but not least, this way, they’re contributing to making retail a little bit greener.
The future of online marketplaces is bright. Busy consumers turn to online stores when they want to purchase something as it’s faster and more convenient. However, only those brands willing to keep pace with the latest trends will be able to survive and attract consumers. The trick is to be where your customers are, and in this case, it’s the internet, mobile devices, and apps.