2021 is expected to be a good year for the online marketplace industry. Amazon’s sales are expected to reach $468.78 billion in 2021. At least, that is what Statista predicts.
In recent years, online marketplaces indeed became a thriving business. Their number grows by leaps and bounds and shows no signs of stopping.
As a result, the competition becomes steeper than ever before. The only way for business owners to stand out from the crowd is to implement the latest marketplace trends earlier than their rivals.
To prepare you for the battle for leadership in the digital commerce domain, we created a list of top online marketplace trends. What are they? Let’s find out.
1. Mobile shopping will be growing further
In recent years we have witnessed the rise of mobile commerce. Its rapid spurt was caused by the growing number of smartphone users globally. Current data shows that this marketplace trend is not going anywhere soon. Moreover, mobile shopping is predicted to account for 73% of total e-commerce.
The table below shows how the mobile shopping share has been growing from 2016 to 2021:
So what should you do to please mobile shoppers and grow your profit? First, before you launch a marketplace, make sure that your future platform has a robust, responsive design. Smartphone owners should be able to find and purchase the required items just as fast and easily as desktop users.
For example, when we were working on this multi-vendor marketplace, our priority was to create a mobile-friendly platform, since most of the target audience would use it from a smartphone.
Another option is to convert your existing e-commerce platform into a fast-loading progressive web app. This technology provides mobile shoppers with a native app-like experience. In simple terms, users can get push notifications and work offline.
In recent years, PWAs have become a remarkable online marketplace trend. It is no coincidence that such big marketplaces as AliExpress or Flipkart invested in progressive web app development. With the help of the PWA technology, brands can improve conversion rate and engage more with their customers.
2. Vertical marketplaces will be gaining momentum
Another noticeable marketplace trend is the shift towards vertical e-commerce platforms. Today business owners tend to narrow their focus when it comes to products they are going to offer and customers they want to serve.
So if you decided to invest in marketplace development, consider building a vertical platform. For example, you can build an online travel marketplace or online collaboration marketplace to meet the demand for particular services.
This way, you will be able to stand out from the crowd and increase your customer base.
You may think about it this way: it is unlikely that users will want another Amazon or eBay. These platforms offer a great variety of products that suit every taste or budget. Consequently, these digital marketplaces can meet the most diverse customers’ demands.
At the same time, vertical platforms can bring more value to the customers by satisfying their unique needs and requirements. Consider, for example, such vertical marketplaces as Houzz, AngelList, or LiquidSpace. The increasing number of the narrow-focused platforms became a key trend affecting the e-marketplace domain.
It is worth noting that you can extend your offering by adding new products and services at any moment.
3. Artificial intelligence will become even more beneficial
It is a common practice for companies to turn to artificial intelligence to streamline their workflow and processes. The e-commerce domain did not stay on the sidelines and quickly followed the lead. Thus, AI implementation became a prominent online marketplace trend.
These days chatbots are highly-demanded in the e-commerce domain. Their implementation in e-commerce websites allows transforming customer experience. In its simplest form, chatbots scan the keywords in a customer’s query and offer pre-packaged answers.
Meanwhile, sophisticated chatbots are capable of creating more complex conversations and replies.
The table below shows the potential benefits of chatbots that became the latest trend in the marketplace domain.
AI implementation in digital commerce is not limited to chatbots only. Artificial intelligence allows creating personalized recommendations based on the customer’s purchase history.
Finally, smart AI algorithms help analyze consumers’ behavior and identify the best sales channels.
There is no doubt that artificial intelligence as a significant marketplace trend will continue its rise in 2021. The willingness of online retailers to spend $7.3 billion on AI by 2022 only proves that fact.
4. New payment options will appear
Online shopping can become a hassle for customers using an unfamiliar payment option. Hence, your task is to provide consumers with all popular payment gateways. Allow them to pay for your products and services the way they used to. This tactic will help you improve the retention rate and get better chances of repeat purchases.
So what payment options should be added to your digital marketplace apart from traditional credit and debit cards? First of all, your online marketplace should accept digital wallets such as Google Pay, Apple Pay, and PayPal. High demand for these payment gateways is a noticeable marketplace trend.
You can also study payment methods policies applied by e-commerce leaders. Take a look at the additional payment gateways that are available there. For example, eBay allows customers to pay for the items they bought by checks, money orders, or online payment systems.
Finally, it would be a wise idea to start accepting cryptocurrency as a payment method. What benefits will it bring to the marketplace industry? The key advantages include low transaction fees and zero reverse transactions.
5. Omnichannel selling will become one of the main marketplace trends
Did you know that a strong omnichannel strategy allows businesses to retain on average 89% of their customers? These data make omnichannel selling one of the most interesting two-sided marketplace trends for 2021 and further.
Still, the question arises of what this term actually means. How is it different from a multichannel strategy?
In brief, the omnichannel approach means selling products and services across different channels. The key feature of this trend in the electronic marketplace industry is the close connection between all channels. This way, businesses make sure that customers will get a seamless experience across all platforms.
If omnichannel is a terra incognita for you, and you do not know where to start, follow the tips below to put this enterprise marketplace trend to your advantage.
- Learn more about your customers. Research their interests, demographics, pain points, and needs. This way, you will be able to choose the right moment for engaging with your audience. Also, you will find out when to encourage customers to make the purchase decision.
- Choose the right channels. Find out which channels are especially popular among your consumers.
- Define a clear goal for each channel. For example, use one channel for interacting with your consumers, another one - for publishing news updates.
- Keep on testing your marketing strategy. Track and measure your results to make sure you get the most out of your omnichannel strategy.
6. Shoppable video ads on social media will gain traction
Social media have long become a useful marketing tool. Business accounts on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest are a dime a dozen. Today, brands are forced to think about new creative ways of using social media to engage with their audience. Hence, shoppable videos became an innovative online marketplace trend you should add to your armory.
The strategy works the following way. Embedded links in such videos allow customers to click and purchase featured items right on the spot. Viewers do not even need to leave the video or a platform they are currently visiting.
The basic idea behind this marketplace trend is to meet the immediate purchasing interest that content evokes. Traditional content formats are not capable of doing such things. For this reason, they fall behind this new type of video. Meanwhile, shoppable video may become the future of marketplaces.
Below you can see a screenshot from a shoppable video ad presented by Ted Baker. This ad masterpiece created with the help of Guy Ritchie can teach us valuable lessons. First, it is not necessary to link every product. In this video, only several items are labeled. Second, make sure you give viewers enough time to click on your offerings.
7. Combination of online and offline sales will take place
Online marketplaces are flourishing. Still, it does not mean that traditional brick-and-mortar stores became a thing of the past. Quite the opposite. Today, businesses are actively using the so-called online-to-offline approach to enhance customers’ reach. In simple terms, they encourage customers to leave Internet stores and visit physical shops.
It has become a common practice for online retailers to open pop-up shops and interactive kiosks. Owing to this current trend in the marketplace domain, brands are growing their businesses and creating a stronger community.
IKEA, a world-famous Swedish furniture brand, knows how to merge online and offline approach the right way. Their customers search for furniture and household goods in enormous maze-like physical stores. However, to make things easier for shoppers, the brand allows consumers to order the required items online. This way, IKEA saves consumers from huge queues and chaos that are common for large stores.
Walmart also shows how to adopt this trend in the marketplace domain properly. Its customers can make purchases online or with the help of a mobile app, and then they can come to a local store. Shoppers, though, visit pickup stations instead. It is a specific place where sales representatives give consumers their orders and load them in their cars.
8. Sustainability practices will drive sales
Green consumerism no longer seems just a passing marketplace trend. In fact, these days, more and more customers value products produced in an eco-friendly way. Thus, 65% of customers express their wish to buy from brands that follow sustainability practices. These figures indicate the need for brands to adopt this online marketplace trend to dominate the market in the upcoming years.
Below you can see the key steps to take to follow this latest trend in the marketplace and make your brand more eco-friendly.
- Use biodegradable packaging materials. Replace foams and plastic with paper and cardboard.
- Track shipping errors and lost items. Enhance the power of data to improve profitability and sustainability.
- Introduce paid returns. Customers tend to order more products they need if they can return unwanted items for free. So if you introduce paid reruns, shoppers will think twice before ordering extra items.
- Give up destroying returned goods. Consider reselling them instead.
- Avoid using big packages for small products. Make sure that you ship products in appropriately sized boxes.
9. Personalization will gain momentum
We have already mentioned the active usage of AI as a significant marketplace trend. Still, we want to show how artificial intelligence can help create a personalized experience. Why is it so important? The thing is that consumers tend to value products that are tailored to their specific needs.
Recent findings of Smarter HQ are working illustrations of this online marketplace trend. They show that 72% of customers will only collaborate with brands offering personalized messaging.
Do not miss the opportunity to use artificial intelligence to collect information about your visitors. This way, you will be able to adjust your website to their particular needs and wants. As a result, you get better chances to grow your revenue and reduce the bounce rate up to 45%.
Vans Customs shows a great way to provide users with a personalized experience. On their website, buyers can brighten ordinary shoes with their favorite art or photo. There is hardly a customer who will not want to get a product with a unique and impressive design.
10. Voice commerce and smart home assistants will rise
Today people consider voice assistant devices such as Amazon Echo with Alexa great helpers. This statement can be easily backed up by specific figures. Thus, the latest study shows that 75% of US households will be equipped with smart speakers by 2025. The increasing popularity of Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri generated growth of voice commerce. It is predicted to reach $40 billion by 2022. These figures give us the right to consider them the future of marketplaces.
You will need to optimize your e-commerce platform for voice queries to stay in the game. The tips below will show how to adapt your platform to this marketplace economy trend.
- Create a FAQ page to offer users valuable information. Always add main keywords in answers to frequently asked questions. This way, you increase your chances to appear in voice search results.
- Complete your local listing. When people conduct voice searches, they expect to find a local business that can satisfy their particular needs. If you want consumers to choose your company, make sure that your local listing is complete. Check the key information such as name, physical address, email, and phone number.
- Optimize your content for various smart speakers. Each voice assistant performs differently from its counterpart. For example, Alexa pulls information from Bing. Therefore, you need to optimize your businesses for Bing Places. Optimize your e-commerce platform for each speaker individually. Thus, you will prepare your website for this trend in the marketplace industry.
The future of digital commerce never looked more promising. The latest online marketplace trends discussed above offer businesses multiple opportunities. However, it would be a big mistake to try and keep up with all of them. Your task is to decide which marketplace trends are important for you and focus on them.