Guest blog: The Rise of Digital Marketplaces Down Under
Marketplaces are not a new thing.
For as long as humanity has populated the earth, most towns and cities have had a market square or communal area where merchants and traders exhibit their wares and woo customers. With the emergence of digital technologies through the internet, marketplaces have become a little more sophisticated. No longer confined within town walls and no longer constrained by physical space, today’s online marketplaces have global reach, endless aisles and are always open. Being a marketplace merchant today is a whole lot more sexy than it was a few hundred years ago.
For 18 years, eBay was the only retail marketplace in Australia. The arrival of Amazon in Australia was always anticipated, but nobody foresaw the impact this would have on the retail landscape. In one of the most ‘G’day Aussie’ moves of all time, former eBay sellers Gabby & Hezi Leibovich announced the launch of the Catch Marketplace in August 2017, just a few months before global juggernaut Amazon opened for business through their dedicated Australian marketplace. Never shy of a good sensation, the Australian media began lamenting the demise of long tenured bricks’n’mortar retailers.
As it happens, Australian retailers were paying attention and were concerned enough about a foreign retailer stealing market share to take action. In the few years that ensued, Australia has experienced a marketplaces renaissance. Similar to the Catch marketplace story, Kogan (ASX: KGN), MyDeal (ASX: MYD) and the MySale Group (DealsDirect, TopBuy, Oo.com.au, Ozsale) all started off as eBay sellers, learning how to entice and delight marketplace buyers, delivering real value, offering an ever expanding range of quality goods at competitive prices.
But Australia’s love affair with marketplaces doesn’t stop there with well-funded retailers also morphing into marketplaces themselves including two of Australia’s largest retailers Bunnings and Woolworths recently announcing their plan to launch a marketplace.
So why the sudden marketplaces rush Down Under?
We’re all time poor. Even if we’re not, we all believe we are. We’ve become so accustomed to convenience that we are increasingly intolerant of anything that feels too difficult. Whilst some might feel the internet gives them some anonymity, the irony is that coaxing money out of the pockets of online shoppers requires a great deal of transparency, credibility and assurance. The most successful online shopping ventures are the ones who understand that their survival relies on instilling confidence into their customers and keeping them coming back for more. So far in Australia, it’s the online marketplaces that have done this best, courting buyers with free shipping, free returns, money-back guarantees, loyalty discounts and offers, and a eye-watering range of products that could never fit in any physical shop.
So effective have Australia’s marketplaces been in their courting of Australian consumers, that of the 80% of Australians who shop online, 97% of us shop on marketplaces!
Marketplaces spend a huge amount on advertising and search optimisation to lure customers looking for good value and a great experience, competing not just with each other, but also with your own advertising dollars. Instead of fighting the marketplace titans, it makes more sense to leverage their intensive marketing activities to reach many more customers than you could ever afford.
One of the biggest opportunities for selling to Australian consumers is for those merchants who have products that are not readily available in Australia. High quality, branded goods are always sought after. Having unique inventory is an advantage because as a merchant, you face less competition, and therefore should be able to maintain better margins and deliver a stellar customer experience. If you have a web presence on an Australian domain or a website easily found in Google.com.au, marketplaces in Australia can also become a customer acquisition funnel for your own branded experience.
What are you waiting for? On behalf of all Australians, we’re waiting for you!
This guest blog is provided by ChannelEngine's partner ZELLIS.