With more and more retail brick-and-mortar stores closing, from Toys-R-Us, Sports Authority, to Circuit City and more, online marketplaces are becoming the online destination for most when searching the Internet for a product. Consider:
- It is projected that retail e-commerce sales in the U.S. will reach $485 billion in 2021.
- In total, retail e-commerce sales in the U.S. totaled $322 billion in 2016.
- Every year, the average U.S. customer spends approximately $1,800 on e-commerce transactions.
While those statistics seem to tell the significant impact online marketplaces have on general U.S. purchases, it is important to look at the different reasons online marketplaces provide value different than a brick-and-mortar store.
Online marketplaces like Amazon account or 45% of all online sales. Amazon remains the most common destination. Amazon’s success, and the success of many online marketplaces, relies on numerous factors, including ease of use, easy to navigate websites, and an array of membership options. One component of Amazon that is critical for customers is Selection.
Amazon has a great deal of merchandise for most products and every category. This means a shopper will be able to select sometimes from pages of merchandise, each by different manufacturers. Often, they will have images associated with them.
Further, items generally come with all the manufacturer specs. For instance, a book listing will contain information about the book (page count, general statement) and a baby crib will contain information about specifications such as size or weight.
Amazon and other online marketplaces also provide an invaluable method of rating products: the user review. When searching for an item and after loading the first page listing merchandise, a customer can see the rating, usually based on five stars, of every particular product or merchandise.
These customer reviews enable other customers to get a glance on what works, what doesn’t, how well it works, what are the flaws, and other pieces of information that may help a customer make their purchase. Another component is just how ‘many’ reviews a product gets. A low amount of reviews can be a sign of lessened popularity.
The third aspect as to why online marketplaces are so popular comes down to their fulfillment services. Fulfillment services refer to the way that companies like Amazon can ship out their goods to customers at the correct time and with great accuracy. Fulfillment services can specialize in:
- Low cost shipping
- Large box shipping
- Small business order fulfillment
- Product fulfillment and shipping
One of the most admired parts of the fulfillment business is the Amazon fulfillment services. Amazon operates as a third party between companies selling their products and the customers who want to buy them.
Amazon fulfillment services can then be viewed as a way to order, process, and ship products to different locations around the world. Amazon fulfillment services can also operate out of a hub. They tout it as good for businesses, large or small, and Amazon fulfillment services can give a company access to popular customers.