• January 16, 2024
  • By Rafael Lourenco, executive vice president and partner, ClearSale

Beyond Websites and Apps: Strategies for Maximizing Your Online Marketplace Presence

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“E-commerce” calls to mind shopping on websites or apps, but marketplaces are where the growth is happening now. Marketplace e-commerce is forecast to grow faster than the overall ecommerce market through 2023 and beyond, according to eMarketer/Insider Intelligence data, which also forecasts that U.S. marketplace e-commerce will top $468 billion in 2024. The data from ClearSale’s most recent consumer survey confirms that the majority of e-commerce customers rely on marketplaces for much of their online shopping. That means that even brands with extremely well-designed sites and apps may be missing out on a large portion of sales if they don’t also have a strong marketplace presence.

In ClearSale's latest five-country survey of Consumer Attitudes on Ecommerce, Fraud & CX, more than 80 percent of respondents under the age of 55 reported making online purchases through marketplaces at least some of the time. Among those aged 55 and older, more than 70 percent said they made marketplace purchases within the past 12 months.

The survey also revealed that more than 10 percent of shoppers across all age groups only make online purchases through marketplaces. Fourteen percent of young adults through age 24, 13 percent of shoppers aged 25 to 39, and 11 percent of those aged 40 and up said they do all their online shopping through marketplaces.

Finding the Best Marketplaces for Your Business

Leading global marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba offer the greatest reach, but their popularity with vendors can make it challenging for your brand to stand out. To extend your presence in the marketplace channel, consider creating a presence on other platforms as well. For example, regional marketplaces such as Mercado Libre in Latin America, Gumtree in Australia, and Lazada in Southeast Asia can help your business expand into new markets or better serve existing ones. Vertical marketplaces are another option for e-commerce businesses. There are niche marketplaces for luxury apparel, housewares, tools, handcrafts, and many others.

Selling through marketplaces that have local name recognition and competitive differentiators can increase the return on your marketplace investment. Keep in mind that just as Walmart and many other U.S. retailers host their own marketplaces, so do popular retailers in other markets, and some of these retailers have found ways to differentiate themselves from larger competitors. For example, Portuguese electronics and appliances retailer Worten designed its marketplace to compete directly with Amazon, by using its network of physical stores to provide competitive delivery and service experiences. French retailer Auchan gives shoppers greater confidence in its marketplace offerings by clearly labeling offerings from its carefully vetted marketplace partners.

Best Practices for Marketplace E-commerce

With the right marketplaces identified for your customers and your business goals, the next step is planning optimal customer experiences on your chosen platforms. For example, shoppers under the age of 40 in the survey indicated that they do much of their online shopping on their mobile phones. This means that detailed product photos and illustrations which might be easy to view on a computer screen will need to be replaced or adapted for easy viewing on a smaller mobile screen.

If your marketplace operates in a foreign-language market, the platform may offer automatic product listing translation tools. These tools can be a good start, but it’s also a good idea to have a native speaker review your listings to look for errors, such as idiomatic expressions that may get lost in translation. Consider also how you’ll provide customer service to your customers in that marketplace. For example, Amazon recommends choosing an online translation tool to help handle customer questions and support in their preferred language, or hiring native speakers for support roles. 

Every e-commerce channel can attract fraudsters, and consumer behavior often differs by region. For these reasons, marketplace success requires understanding the types of fraud that are most common on that platform as well as normal consumer behaviors in that market that might look like fraud in another context. For example, a marketplace in a developing market might attract a higher percentage of first-time online shoppers than a marketplace in a more mature e-commerce market. If you simply apply the same fraud screening criteria that works in a mature market to a developing market, you risk generating a large number of false declines.

False declines can erode the value of your marketplace investment by driving customers away for good. In the consumer attitudes survey, 43 percent of Gen Z shoppers said they would boycott a store after a false decline, and slightly lower numbers of Millennials and Gen X shoppers agreed. However, 56 percent of Baby Boomers said they’d never go back after a false decline. Many of these consumers (22 percent to 43 percent, depending on the generation) also said they would complain about the false decline on social media. The risk of boycotts and complaints means that it’s imperative to tailor your fraud screening rules and flagged order review processes to the known good consumer behavior and known fraud risks on each marketplace, rather than apply a single standard to all of them.

Finally, create a strategy for monitoring your brand across marketplaces—the ones you sell on and those you don’t. The business of brand impersonation is growing, with consumers in the U.S. losing $660 million to business impostors in 2022, up dramatically from $196 million in 2020. If you find sellers impersonating your business or offering counterfeits of your products, document the fraud and report it to the marketplace. Brand monitoring is a constant task, but it’s critical for maintaining customer trust in your marketplace presence.

Moving into the marketplace space, or expanding your presence in new marketplaces, can help you meet your customers where they shop most often and grow your sales and revenue. It can also help you reach new customers and expand into new markets, as long as you provide experiences that protect customer trust and nurture customer loyalty.

Rafael Lourenco is executive vice president and partner at?ClearSale, a global card-not-present fraud protection operation that helps retailers increase sales and eliminate chargebacks before they happen. The company’s proprietary technology and in-house staff of analysts provide an end-to-end outsourced fraud detection solution for online retailers. Follow on LinkedInFacebookInstagram or X @ClearSaleUS 

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