Half of customers now place greater value on their buying experience than previously.[1] A single bad experience and 50% will turn to a competitor. With their ability to make a near-unlimited range of products available on a single platform, marketplaces meet these new expectations by offering an enhanced and unified buying journey.

 

Introduction to the notion of customer experience

Although customer experience is not a new concept, it has continuously changed alongside the changes in retail. The term was first introduced in 1982 as part of research into experiential consumption before being developed and adapted to retail in 1998. According to James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine II: "It is the idea of a new type of offering, which goes beyond services to offer consumers singular, memorable and economically viable experiences." [2]  

New developments in the sector brought a new definition in 2004: the notion of customer experience was expanded with the need to “re-enchant the in-store offering by focusing on the experiences sought by the latter.” Today, commerce, and particularly e-commerce, have changed once again. Now, customer experience is akin to “all the emotions and feelings experienced by a customer before, during and after buying a product or a service through their various interactions with the brand, be it in-store or online.

 

Consumer expectations in the digital age

In 2020, online purchases skyrocketed due to the health context.  Millions of consumers worldwide turned toward the only sales channel still accessible, the Web, and more specifically marketplaces, due to the variety and diversity of their product catalogs.

Retailers were faced with the major challenge of offering the same quality of customer service, but remotely. 68% of customers in the EMEA zone will buy more from a brand that offers them a better online experience.[1] Yet, despite a significant rise in online traffic, it would seem that conversion rates dropped from 35% to 20% in certain cases.[3] This is because customers are aware that they are spoilt for choice and are therefore becoming increasingly demanding.

How can you meet their expectations? By proposing a highly diverse offering in terms of price, choice and delivery options. In Europe, the majority of buying experience complaints concern delivery times, technical faults, and items damaged on receipt.[4]

 

How does the marketplace enhance the customer experience?

In 2004, Patrick Bouchet expanded the definition of customer experience as the need to “re-enchant the in-store offering by focusing on the experiences sought by the latter.”[5] Today, this is the role of marketplaces.

The marketplace has the advantage of unifying a very broad range of products and sellers in a single interface, offering the consumer a uniquely diverse choice. Without ever having to leave the platform, the customer has easy access to a great deal of information and numerous services, from home delivery or pick-up to real-time order tracking, invoicing, and even customer support in the event of a problem. Rapid, simple, effective and transparent!

Product choice is the best way for the retailer to set themselves apart. A consumer who cannot find the item they are looking for is a lost customer! That is the added value of a marketplace: it enables the seller to significantly boost their offering without affecting the brand's DNA. On the contrary. The breadth of the product catalog does not cannibalize the retailer's original product range, but rather rounds it out with complementary items or associated services, and brings incremental value.

For example, do you sell sports clothing? Your marketplace will allow you to expand your offering with sports equipment, ticket sales for sports events, or even energy drinks and cereal bars.  Do you specialize in furniture? Enhance your products with home decoration or table dressing items. Not to mention the insurance or installation services that you can offer alongside.

Another differentiator of the marketplace is its capacity to offer a wide range of payment terms and delivery options. This diversity is highly appreciated by consumers and also helps develop a relationship of trust. The customer does not have to worry about currency conversions, customs duties, VAT, or current regulations. Monetization systems and logistics are fully integrated into the marketplace experience.

So your marketplace will enable you not only to develop your business, but also to offer a value-added service to your customers. For the consumer, buying on a marketplace is guaranteed to be quick and easy. From order to delivery, integrated fulfillment management helps ensure a seamless and secure experience throughout the value chain.

 

[1] Customer Experience Trends Report, Zendesk, 2021

[2] Welcome to the Experience Economy, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 76, 4, pp. 97-105

[3] Shopping Index Q2 2020, Salesforce

[4] Ecommercenews, 2017

[5] L'expérience au cœur de l'analyse des relations magasin-magasineur, Patrick Bouchet - Recherche et Applications en Marketing Vol. 19, No. 2 (June 2004), pp. 53-71