Not if but when: why online marketplaces are key to A/NZ retailers' future – Inside Retail Australia

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Standing out in an online marketplace is a daunting task for any Australian and New Zealand brand – one that requires more than window dressing alone. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday around the corner, A/NZ retailers must pull out all the stops to drive eyeballs and sales. But with marketplaces open to almost all players, retailers must also stand out from the crowd without just embarking on a price war. 
That, however, is where the challenge begins. Entering a multi-brand marketplace effectively puts a brand into the hands of the likes of Amazon, Ebay, Catch or The Iconic. Indeed, even Sydney Fish Market now has its own online commerce site. 
Yet for retail marketers, handing over these keys to the kingdom is no easy feat. Brand value and reputation take years to build and nurture. Putting that equity and emotional experience in external hands is daunting for any brand gatekeeper. However, not letting go is a bigger risk. 
During the pandemic’s first 14 months, Australia’s e-commerce market grew from around 9 per cent of the overall retail market share to 13 per cent. This year, Australian e-commerce revenue is projected to reach US$45 billion as online shopping becomes the norm, rather than the exception. 
As of June 2021, Ebay was the most visited online marketplace in Australia and New Zealand, with approximately 61.7 million visits per month. Second place went to Amazon, with about 28 million visits, followed in third place by New Zealand-operated Trade Me.
Numbers do not lie. And retail marketers who ignore the rise of online marketplaces in A/NZ and not make the first move to retain control of your brand are effectively burying their heads in the sand.
Consumer behaviour naturally gravitates towards convenience and price. With online marketplaces, especially those with mobile applications, consumers gain both the convenience of quick-click purchases and multiple price comparisons. In this situation, merchants and sellers are able to win consumer business with an automated repricer. Many marketplaces, like Amazon, have a buy box that dynamic repricing can help win.
As such, retailers lacking a strong presence on digital marketplaces are missing out on reaching millions of customers and a lucrative opportunity to build significant revenue growth. Indeed, globally, the e-commerce market is expected to reach $5.5 trillion in 2022
Fully capitalising on that opportunity means rethinking traditional retail sales and marketing strategies and putting digital, omnichannel experiences first. Brands must be equipped to demonstrate their brand story, voice and look across a myriad of e-commerce marketplaces, spanning mobile applications and online browsers.
It also requires delivering an online experience that is the same or equal to that of physical shopping, AdoreBeauty, for example, sends tester products with shoppers’ purchases in the same way that a make-up counter salesperson would. 
The final key tip is for retailers to ensure their product descriptions are optimised within a marketplace’s own ecosystem. An accurate and attractive description can go a long way to help customers make an informed decision but also improve the likelihood of purchase. 
The coronavirus pandemic has drastically altered A/NZ consumers’ shopping habits and these are unlikely to revert back. Entering the online marketplace should no longer be a case of if, but when. Retailers now just need to ensure customers enjoy the same experiences regardless of where they make their final purchase. 
For more information on succeeding on marketplaces, please visit: https://www.channelengine.com
About the author: Martin Cerantonio is director of sales and partnerships, Australia & New Zealand, at ChannelEngine. 
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