In 2022, the sales volume of the global e-commerce market reached $5.5 trillion, and 63% of online sales were made by the top 100 marketplaces. The share of online sales via marketplaces will continue to grow and is expected to reach $8.8 trillion by 2025.1
The rise of online marketplaces will keep gaining momentum. The watchwords for a successful marketplace shopping experience in 2023 are: product availability on a unified platform accessible anywhere and anytime, an extremely broad product offering, a simple purchasing process, speedy, high-quality delivery and operational security.
Marketplaces meet all these new expectations, but you still may be wondering about the latest innovations to check out. Octopia summarizes six major trends for 2023.
1. Unified commerce, beyond omnichannel
An omnichannel strategy consists in providing an offering that is adapted to customer behaviors on each of the different distribution channels, which are often managed individually. The aim of unified commerce is to bring together the different sales channels and coordinate them on a single platform. All information about customer interactions is centralized, in physical stores, mobile applications, websites, marketplaces, etc. Unified commerce provides a cross-cutting solution that bridges the gap between physical and digital channels and aims to guarantee a seamless customer experience.
Customers have to be able to switch from one channel to another without difficulty, which makes synchronization the key to ensuring a smooth user experience. In our latest Ipsos study on e-shoppers' primary expectations, 61% of respondents (and even 67% of French people) feel that saving time is a decisive consideration in their shopping experience. Indeed, if customers waste time whenever they change their point of contact, attrition rates are likely to soar. The marketplace fully meets this need to save time, as all the desired products are available in a single place. Also, 64% of French consumers claim to be motivated by the prospect of being able to buy everything on a single platform.
2. Mobile still a top trend
According to App Annie's State of Mobile report, consumers worldwide spent 4h 48 min per day on their mobile phones in 2021, up 30% from 2019. M-commerce, or mobile commerce, will therefore certainly remain a growing trend into 2023.
A "responsive" marketplace, whose visual layout is perfectly adapted to the different mobile, tablet and computer screen formats, will be likely earn top rankings in search engines, which will allow it to increase its audience and generate more traffic.
Adaptability is an essential attribute for consumers who want to make their purchases on a user-friendly and efficient site. If a website is not mobile-friendly, nearly one in two customers state that they will probably stop using it, even if they like the brand. A negative experience on a mobile site also increases the likelihood of a customer opting to use a competing site.
Incorporating mobile features into your marketplace, such as integrating social media share buttons for every product, can make a real difference. Social media is a simple and effective way to raise the profile of your products and increase traffic on your marketplace.
3. V-commerce for a better shopping experience
V-commerce, or "virtual commerce," refers to the use of sister technologies: augmented reality and virtual reality. Deloitte estimates that the virtual reality market will generate $7 billion in worldwide revenue in 2023, up 50% from $4.7 billion in 2022.2
But how will virtual reality and augmented reality become part of the shopping experience? Google, for example, has announced the introduction of augmented reality shopping features. For cosmetics, customers can now use a photo library to help them choose the right shade of foundation, and for footwear, shoppers can now try on sneakers “virtually” at home.
Is this the future of e-commerce? According to Hubspot, 75% of consumers now expect retailers to offer an augmented reality experience, and according to Nielsen, 51% of consumers are willing to use augmented reality when shopping. The ability to test and try out products before they buy reassures consumers that they are making the right purchase. These technological advances will therefore help brands to offer users a unique, entertaining and memorable shopping experience.
4. Recommendations, the key to standing out from the crowd
According to our latest study, the primary expectation for 85% of e-shoppers in 2022 is to be given guidance and support for making their choices.
One of the primary factors in building consumer trust is the quality and detail of the information available on the marketplace. To reassure them about their shopping decisions, consumers need product information sheets that give them all the data and specifications they need to compare the technical aspects of different products or brands. The presence of product and seller reviews is the second key to building trust and confidence. The opinions of other consumers influence 67.7% of purchasing decisions. The third key to building trust is the quality of after-sales service and complaint management: 56% of Europeans rank this aspect among the top 3 factors in building trust.
To improve your after-sales service, you can use features such as chatbots or live messaging to offer your customers guidance. By accessing the customer database, the chatbot or operator can answer questions in an individualized manner, thereby increasing satisfaction.
5. Exceptional delivery quality, a decisive criterion
Delivery expectations are exceedingly high; trouble-free delivery is often taken for granted by customers, and e-merchants have no margin for error. Moreover, 59% of e-buyers indicate that they write negative reviews when product delivery fails to meet their expectations. 85% of e-shoppers state that a negative delivery experience is likely to prevent them for reordering from a given merchant's site. Offering the options customers want – like free, standard, express, or green delivery, in-store pickup, parcel collection point pickup, or home delivery – helps increase online shopping cart conversion rates.
To optimize customer satisfaction, marketplaces can also choose to manage their sellers' products by providing a fulfillment service. By allowing sellers to entrust the preparation and delivery of orders to the marketplace, fulfillment saves sellers time, offers them the benefits of negotiated carrier rates and expert experience, and helps them cope with volume fluctuations. For operators, it is a way to guarantee fast, high-quality deliveries.
6. Responsible consumerism is booming
According to a study published by the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME), 72% of consumers are determined to consume responsibly, and 64% have more trust in brands that offer sustainable products.3
Today, consumers are more attentive than ever to the production sites and production methods used, and increasingly favor short circuits for certain categories of products. As the growth of the "Backmarket" marketplace shows, there has been a massive surge in sales of refurbished items. The refurbished smartphone market, for example, grew by more than 20% between 2021 and 2022. According to a study by YesYes-Happydemics, more than one in four people in France (42%) have already purchased a refurbished product.
For your marketplace, this may impact your selection of sellers, based on the positioning of products (as refurbished, ecological, organic, etc.) but also your shipping methods. Do you use recycled and/or recyclable packaging? Do you avoid over-packaging? It is also important to be vigilant about the carriers you use and the impact of your logistics in general. If you would like to learn more about how to develop more responsible and sustainable e-commerce logistics, please read our article on the subject.
Ultimately, no one can predict what 2023 has in store for us, but it is safe to say that certain trends that emerged in 2022 are likely to keep gaining ground. Unified commerce – the next evolutionary stage of omnichannel marketing – is becoming increasingly democratized, with a view to centralizing the various sales channels. The purchasing process will be integrating more and more new technologies. Mobile commerce will therefore continue to grow, buoyed by the increased use of virtual and augmented reality. To stand out in 2023, brands and distributors will need to focus on high-quality delivery, but also on customer reviews, detailed product information sheets and individualized after-sales service. At the end of the day, the key is being able to adapt to new and evolving trends in shopping, such as the rise of a more ethical and sustainable consumerism.
Want to know more about this optimized shopping experience, also called "convenience"? Our white paper dedicated to this topic is still available!
1 Be STF research & analysis
2 2023 TMT Predictions | Deloitte Insights