Royal Mail recently released the findings of its influential report ‘Online Marketplaces, Understanding Online Marketplace shoppers in 2017 – Delivery Matters’.

This report looks specifically at the retail experience of online marketplace shoppers – so looking at businesses like eBay, Amazon and Etsy. The report provides more evidence on why it’s so important to provide a simple delivery and returns experience for the online marketplace consumer.

Marketing will only get you so far on these platforms, and the fulfilment and ability to deliver on your promise, is what defines business success on online marketplaces.

Highlights from Royal Mail’s Analysis

Delivery options are key when shoppers choose between marketplace sellers, with 75% of shoppers expecting delivery times to be the same when ordering from an online marketplace, as when they order from an online retailer.

  • 90% of online shoppers said that the cost of delivery was an important factor when buying from online marketplaces
  • 62% preferred free home delivery, whilst 29% preferred the ‘click and collect options’.

When it comes to returns…

  • 59% of those surveyed said the returns experience would impact the rating they would give to a seller and 62% would be unlikely to shop with a seller again after a difficult returns experience
  • Whilst 78% expect the returns process with an online marketplace to be similar or easier than with online retailers

Other interesting points to note include the fact that the majority of marketplace shoppers are female, but that males spend on average, nearly a third more (31%) more than females per month (£67 vs £51), it also found that clothes (32%) are the most commonly purchased item from online marketplaces, closely followed by books (31%) and CDs/DVDs/Video games at 24%.

The Rise of Online Marketplaces and Opportunities for Brands

Marketplaces reflect a growing trend in online marketing, whereby brands are expected to be omnipresent. Simply put, this means brands must be where their potential customers are. For those selling physical products, online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay offer big opportunities to increase sales.

It’s not unusual for brands to have their own websites but also make use of these other platforms. This multi-channel e-commerce model is a way brands can ensure they aren’t missing out on potential sales.

But taking to these platforms means understanding the level of service customers expect, most notably, delivery. Different marketplaces also offer slightly different angles, so brands should be fully aware of what a customer’s interpretation of each marketplace is. For example, Gumtree is seen predominately as a place to find second hand items, so expecting this to be a platform to sell brand new items may not yield the best results.

Benefits of Marketplaces

Marketplaces offer customers a huge variety of options. Their neutral stance, full of reviews from past buyers, also gives customers a sense of trust and helps increase confidence when going through the checkout process. It makes finding the best product much easier and helps customers compare products in a way that reflects their buying behaviour.

For sellers, marketplaces can be great for reducing the cost of acquiring each customer. This is because less needs to be spent on marketing and advertising, as the marketplaces themselves have customers flocking to the websites each and every day, looking to buy.

It can also be a good way to test international markets or even new products.

Opportunities in the Niche Marketplaces

Although Amazon and eBay dominate the UK’s marketplace at the moment, niche marketplaces, tailored to very specific demographics or interests is on the rise. This means whatever your business sells, it’s worth doing research around any small marketplaces that may just have a thriving community of potential customers. This is how Esty started life and it is now a must-stop shop for anyone looking for unique gifts and hand-crafts. Other alternatives are likely to be found in most consumer industries if you look hard enough.

Importance of Delivery

The Royal Mail report discusses how “When UK online marketplace shoppers consider which seller to buy from, delivery costs and options are very important. In their assessment, shoppers told us that the cost of delivery, and transparency about these costs, are key. So much so, that they feature as two of the top three factors in choosing a specific seller. Given that fulfilment is a driving force behind the choice of seller, it is imperative that online marketplace sellers use delivery options strategically. To do so can be a point of differentiation from competitors within this space.”

This means businesses need to see these online marketplaces as opportunities to grow, but not under-estimate what customers want and ensure they don’t do more harm to their brand by failing to fulfil orders and deliver products on time.

Royal Mail also discuss how “93% of UK online marketplace shoppers have abandoned a cart at checkout. The most common reason for doing so is that the customer is unwilling to pay the delivery cost.”

This means understanding that delivery and the management of delivery isn’t an afterthought, rather a defining pillar of the overall customer experience, will help sellers do better on these marketplaces.

If you’re selling on marketplaces and wanting help planning and management your delivery options, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at ONEPOST to learn about our services and support.