Ecommerce Trends on Marketplaces: direction

7 ecommerce trends on marketplaces to grow sales in 2022

In the new decade ecommerce is both growing rapidly and undergoing constant transformation with new trends and changes related to Covid-19, lockdowns and Brexit.

The world of online shopping is also taking a new direction with the rise of niche marketplaces, circular and social commerce and cross-border trade.

Due to the pandemic, more and more people are choosing online shopping over brick-and-mortar stores. However, the online sales environment is very competitive. Sellers need to make an extra effort to stand out and establish their omnichannel presence by following the newest ecommerce trends.

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In this article based on the expert insights from Caroline Ohrn, Ecommerce Product Director, you’ll learn about:

  • The top 7 ecommerce trends in a marketplace-centric digital economy
  • Facts, stats, definitions and useful data to help online merchants grow their sales effectively & efficiently
  • Expert insights & recommendations to help sellers go with the current ecommerce flow, and much more.

Click the links below to go directly to the ecommerce trend of your interest:

#1 ecommerce trend: niche marketplaces
#2 ecommerce trend: circular commerce & recommerce
#3 ecommerce trend: advertising
#4 ecommerce trend: social shopping
#5 ecommerce trend: ecommerce in times of Covid-19
#6 ecommerce trend: AI & NLP for ecommerce translation
#7 ecommerce trend: global ecommerce

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#1 ecommerce trend: niche marketplaces

When it’s difficult to compete in the established ecosystems of marketplaces like eBay and Amazon, niche marketplaces can give smaller sellers a competitive advantage.

Bigger marketplaces are a great way to check out product options in unfamiliar territories. However, they may be unable to satisfy the needs of experienced buyers in search of specific products.

Often it will be niche marketplaces that offer a more complete set of specialized products and hard-to-find items in less demand, especially in fashion, jewelry and health & well-being. Additionally, in-depth knowledge of specialized products can position sellers as an authority in a specific market segment.

What are niche marketplaces?
Niche marketplaces focus on a narrow set of products, from one particular retail category, such as apparel, automotive or electronics. Niche sites focus on doing a few things instead of multi-tasking like “sell-it-all” marketplaces. Thus, their approach is customer-centric and they deliver improved customer experience.

Examples of niche marketplaces are high-end, luxury marketplaces, such as Farfetch or Vestiaire Collective.

Niche sites tend to offer experiential and inspirational shopping experiences, similar to concept stores or boutiques. This contrasts with ecommerce platforms, such as Amazon, where shopping is often utilitarian, resembling daily shopping in a supermarket.

However, in many contexts consumers are shopping for experiences and ideas rather than products only. Consider the famous Apple advertising slogan “Think different”. It doesn’t encourage consumers just to get or use an Apple personal computer. In reality, Apple customers engage with the brand on a much deeper level, identifying with its philosophy. Many stay loyal for years.

Thus, experiential ecommerce is a great opportunity to build emotional connections with customers and increase brand loyalty. Today this often happens through personalized experiences that involve engagement through all the senses. For example, Fartech’s Store of the Future is an augmented retail solution that “links the online and offline worlds, using data to enhance the retail experience”.

It’s also worth adding that with the coronavirus-related decrease in in-store visits, online experiences turn out to be pretty functional, but can also add value for customers in a fun or exciting way. Thus, providing online shoppers with “surprise and delight” moments can be a way for retailers to set themselves apart from competitors.

Moving experiential experiences online typical of shopping in-store and giving your customers something they wouldn’t necessarily expect is more important than ever.

The benefits of niche marketplaces:

  • Increased trust: with better security technology, more and more shoppers are willing to buy from niche sites. Customer trust and loyalty is also earned by specializing in one area.
  • Targeted marketing: instead of concentrating on masses, the focus is on personalization and engagement. Products can be marketed to a specific range of consumers.
  • Improved & personalized customer experience: a focus on a narrow product range means focus on quality, not quantity, which often goes hand in hand with high quality user and customer experience.
  • Standing out from competition: selling on niche sites can make the seller’s unique identity more visible than on large (saturated) marketplaces.

Niche marketplaces: insights from Caroline Ohrn

Today there’s a wide choice of marketplaces where sellers can offer their products. Some marketplaces list products in all sorts of categories; some are famous for deals; some cater to high-spenders’ desires for exclusivity and there’s also plenty of niche marketplaces.

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As the sheer volume of options may be overwhelming, it’s important to choose your marketplaces wisely. Instead of listing across as many platforms as possible, it’s more sensible to first identify the best marketplace match for your product catalogs.
Caroline Ohrn, Ecommerce Product Director

It’s crucial to ask the right questions:

  • Do you offer staple goods that are purchased regularly and/or by a lot of people?
  • Do you offer a lot of deals?
  • Do you sell unique, high value items?

Answering such questions will help you better understand where you should sell your products and it’ll help you reach the right buyers.

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#2 ecommerce trend: circular commerce & recommerce

The coronavirus pandemic has deepened consumers’ environmental concerns. Shoppers are increasingly becoming aware that the efficiencies typical of modern culture are not sustainable with our planet’s finite resources. They’re also more interested in do-it-yourself kits and companies selling DIY kits have seen an increase in sales.

More and more buyers are looking for products and brands that align with their eco-friendly values.

Online retailers’ take on environmental issues is important for customers. According to IBM’s “Meet the 2020 consumers driving change” report:

  • 6 out of 10 consumers are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact
  • For 8 out of 10 consumers, sustainability is an important factor in their purchasing decisions
  • Most respondents would pay an average premium of 35% for an environmentally responsible brand.

According to the European Ecommerce Report 2021 for all EU countries, customers are more likely to buy products that are made and delivered in a sustainable way. Consumers from countries with higher GDP per capita are willing to pay extra for sustainable products. The number of customers who are supporting sustainability in ecommerce is increasing year by year in every country.

Additionally, investors have driven new ESG (environmental, social, and governance) preferences in the stock market.

In the current linear economy, finite resources get consumed and toxic waste is produced. It’s a “take, make and dispose” model of production and consumption where wasting products has become the norm. For example, when a new phone comes out, we ditch the old one.

As the EU is trying to address environmental challenges and promote a more sustainable, resource-efficient, circular economy, online retailers can expect changes in their recycling compliance requirements.

What is a circular economy?

The circular economy, which involves circular commerce, is a regenerative model that is based on 3 principles:

  • Rethink and redesign products and packaging to eliminate or reduce waste
  • Use products, materials and components that are durable / reusable / repairable / recyclable
  • Regenerate natural systems and use renewable energy.

Brands are responding to this already. For example, Zara aims to make all its brands use only organic, sustainable or recycled materials for their clothing by 2025. Smaller D2C brands are tending towards similar developments, too.

By focusing on sustainability, retailers are doing something meaningful. At the same time this gives them the opportunity to both create long-term relationships with their customers and attract new audiences.

Additionally, a booming second-hand market and the rise of recommerce can be observed. The modern drive for sustainability has made second-hand clothing and products “fashionable”. At the same time, it responds to consumers’ interest in bargains and the best deals.

According to some estimates, by 2028, resale will be 1.5x bigger than fast fashion, the growth driven mostly by millennials and Gen Zs.

Recommerce is growing fastest in fashion retail, but there’s also a growing demand from consumers to gift, share and resell digital content and video.

What is recommerce?
Recommerce (resale / reverse commerce) refers to the buying & selling of previously owned, new or used products (e.g. electronic devices, antiques, furniture or media) through physical or online distribution channels (from charity shops to eBay).

For example, Depop, a peer-to-peer social shopping app, provides a mobile marketplace that enables individuals to buy and sell their items. Other examples are Selency, Vestiaire Collective, Vinted, FarFetch, ThredUp, Poshmark or Grailed.

Buying used items is a choice that is both economical and ecological. Spending a lot of money on a brand new Gucci or Louis Vuitton doesn’t add up when second-hand designer clothes in excellent condition are offered on a resale platform at half the price.

To a large extent, the resale surge is being motivated by societal trends. For instance, in the era of Instagram, some users find it important not to be seen in the same outfit more than once and resale makes their lifestyle more affordable.

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Recommerce: insights from Caroline Ohrn

With growing environmental consciousness, retail is going green. According to GlobalWebIndex (2018), 50% of digital consumers state that environmental concerns impact their purchasing decisions. Thus, sellers should strive to create more sustainable & greener practices for their businesses, e.g. by using eco-friendly shipping practices and partners.

For instance, parcel forwarding companies, shipping in high volumes, often consolidate packages, send parcels in bulk and combine several parcels from several customers into one shipment. This way they reduce cost & excess packaging. Sellers can also consolidate orders from the same user into one package.

Sellers should choose boxes that are correctly sized for specific products and avoid oversized packaging. Giving customers a green shipping option at checkout and offering environmentally-friendly products can also help gain eco-conscious customers’ loyalty.

#3 ecommerce trend: advertising

In today’s retail market the battle for customer attention is fiercer than ever. Additionally, being first in organic may not mean that much on marketplaces. As Amazon and other platforms have increased the prominence of paid ads, the first organic result may not pop up until the middle of the page.

ecommerce amazon sponsored products brands

According to eMarketer, the pandemic boost in ecommerce sales accelerated growth in US ecommerce channel advertising to 49.8%. According to the Drum, digital ad spend accelerated 49% in the first half of 2021 to hit £10.5bn.

ad spending ecommerce 2024

Ecommerce ad spend started increasing before the pandemic: it rose 115% in Q3 2019 vs. Q3 2018 (Marin Software). This was driven largely by Amazon, a seasonal surge for Prime Day and a strong back-to-school season.

According to Amazon, 76% of Amazon shoppers use the search bar to find an item, and search advertising is a way for brands to stand out among the competition.

What is Amazon Advertising?
Amazon Advertising is a service that works in a similar way to pay-per-click ads on Google: sellers only pay when shoppers click on ads (regardless of whether or not the item sells).

Amazon’s advertising business is growing at a rapid pace, especially as it diversifies its products across its ecosystem. Amazon DSP (Demand Side Platform) has allowed sellers to programmatically buy display and video ads at scale and target audiences on, Fire TV Sticks,, Kindles, Freedive, apps, third-party sites, apps and platforms.

What are eBay Promoted Listings?
eBay Promoted Listings is a service that supports the cost-per-sale funding model.

Recently Promoted Listings that remain a cost-per-sale model (sellers only pay when they sell) have been rebranded to Promoted Listings Standard (PLS).

The new Promoted Listings Advanced (PLA) model is a new cost-per-click campaign type to help sellers get to the top spot in search results on eBay, including desktop, mobile, and the eBay app. Sellers are now able to bid for the top slot in search using keyword and budget controls and pay per click.

An interesting novelty in ecommerce advertising is Google Local Inventory Ads (LIA). LIA is a tool that uses the customer’s location to highlight products which are available nearby.

In other words, users search for products on Google and the in-store available products nearby will appear highlighted. This way users can visit the store to check or try out the product before purchasing it.

Google claims that consumers who have the possibility to see the product physically are more likely to buy it.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning POAS (Profit on Ad Spend). It’s a new metric that is designed to help sellers understand whether the advertisement is profitable or not. POAS will enable you to bid effectively.

POAS is an alternative to ROAS (Return on Ad Spend). ROAS is a good metric, but it won’t always tell you if you’ve actually made money. Using POAS instead of ROAS will show you a transparent background of key indicators.

Advertising in ecommerce: insights from Caroline Ohrn

Ads on marketplaces positively impact product page views, transactions and revenue. In general, they’re very effective for a short boost in sales. However, an effective long-term advertising strategy is a completely different thing. For example, the level of competition depends on the time of the year, seasonal events such as Black Friday, and so on.

Sometimes sellers must put in more advertising effort, another time products can sell relatively easily with no (excessive) ad spend. Advertising activities should be adjusted accordingly and a well-thought-out ad strategy is a must.

Unfortunately, many sellers aren’t familiar with the so-called rules of the game or find it too time-consuming to understand how eBay or Amazon advertising really works. This way they can lose both paid and organic traffic.

#4 ecommerce trend: social shopping

Shopping is in its very nature a social experience. Although shopping online is convenient, it lacks many aspects of traditional shopping, e.g. the fun of hopping from shop to shop or sharing opinions.

Social shopping mimics the interactions typical of in-store shopping. On social platforms, users can share experiences with their contacts/friends or receive product feedback/suggestions. Brands, in turn, can engage their satisfied customers, build loyalty and position their products in a real-world setting.

What is social shopping?
Social shopping, or social commerce, refers to any purchase through social platforms. It takes place in social media apps, communities, social marketplaces or can result from suggestions made by recommendation algorithms.

Social shopping differs from social media marketing. You don’t redirect users to an online store, but you offer them the ability to checkout directly within the network they’re currently using. This way purchases can take just a few clicks.

social shopping instagram checkout

Social selling attracts 45% more business opportunities. It’s a cost-effective way to capture relevant traffic as it targets social media where customers spend plenty of their time. The top brands engage in social selling: 98% on Twitter, 96% on Facebook, 85% on Instagram.

Examples and application of social commerce:

  • Mass marketing via Facebook Messenger
  • Having “Like” or “Tweet” buttons on product pages
  • Shoppable feeds and Instagram pages
  • Showing off products through hashtags
  • Discounts for visitors who share products on their networks
  • Pinterest’s marketplace featuring hand-picked products from small and emerging sellers
  • Features in social networking apps that allow marketplaces to sell goods directly in the app without the user leaving it, making it transactional. For instance, Instagram’s internal checkout feature, Facebook’s built-in shopping feature.

Additionally, in social commerce live shopping and interactive methods of selling products online are on the rise. For example, during a livestream, the promoter shows a product, its design and functionality while customers have the opportunity to ask questions.

Furthermore, in visual commerce, sellers can add realistic visuals (instead of static pictures) to help customers check whether the product meets their needs.Thus, customers can see interactive 3D product visualizations to get a better impression of the product. This can be very effective in, for example, the apparel industry.

It’s also worth mentioning augmented reality (AR) in ecommerce. AR can help customers try on products or preview experiences before making a purchase, e.g. they can virtually try on glasses frames, apply makeup products or place a piece of furniture in a room.

The popularity of AR increased during the global lockdown as it was essential to provide shoppers with in-store experiences when they couldn’t leave their homes.

Finally, what is becoming more and more important for sellers is investing in an omnichannel sales strategy for social media. The goal is to better connect with your customer base by optimizing each platform to best serve its users and integrate all of your platforms into a single, seamless approach.

Social shopping: insights from Caroline Ohrn

Today shoppers want a simpler route to their favorite products. However, many ecommerce purchase journeys are too complex, relying on redirects from one platform to another and/or requiring multiple steps.

Social shopping addresses the problem of a long and slow redirecting process that makes many shoppers exit the window before reaching the checkout. Social commerce sells products directly through social media, making it easy for buyers to complete their purchases.

If you know your audience well, this can be really effective in some product categories, e.g. vintage clothing or lifestyle products, and on some channels, e.g. Instagram. However, advertising, especially on Instagram, can be expensive so you need to consider alternative channels.

#5 ecommerce trend: ecommerce in times of Covid-19

With lockdowns and social distancing measures as well as general shopper concerns around the globe, the coronavirus pandemic has significantly decimated the amount of shopping interactions in brick-and-mortar stores.

So yes, digital is the new black. And yes, you must invest in new technologies, digital platforms and tools that will support a strategy centered around being digital-first and customer-centric. Your ability to build your experience around the customer is now crucial.

Now shoppers are no longer in your stores, but instead your store is their hands.

Keep in mind, though: competition is tough. That’s why you need to be constantly optimizing your customer experience to stay ahead. Put extra focus on mobile optimization.

The rise of mobile is not surprising anymore. Interestingly, even with lockdown restrictions and browsing from home, shoppers are still into browsing and buying mobile-first. One large UK retailer even reported that 81% of their transactions during lockdown was coming from mobile.

At the same time, shoppers aren’t always converting on mobile and tend to use multiple devices to research and interact with a brand before purchase. This creates contact opportunities for companies, e.g. some luxury brands contact customers on WhatsApp and offer FaceTime appointments.

Ecommerce in times of Covid-19: insights from Caroline Ohrn

Customer expectations in ecommerce are higher than ever, especially now that shopping online is the preferred choice for many buyers. As competition is tough, ecommerce brands shouldn’t risk buyer drop-off at any point, but focus on delivering consistency, personalization and performance across all channels.

Sellers should also strive to meet buyers’ changing needs. For instance, an approach which has recently become popular to boost customer experience is the so-called buy-now-pay-later-option, e.g. offered by Klarna (every store is a buy-now-pay-later store). This service provides shoppers with flexible payment options and allows them to pay after delivery and try products first (try-before-you-buy).

#6 ecommerce trend: AI & NLP for ecommerce translation

Ecommerce translation goes beyond finding the best matching words in a dictionary. The best translation from the linguistic perspective may not be what shoppers actually search for online. For instance, “das Handy” is a German word for a mobile. However, when browsing for a mobile, Germans may not enter “das Handy”, but rather “Android”, “iPhone”, “smartphone”, etc.

As a result, it’s important to know which keywords are searched for most often in particular categories and can generate most sales. For example, according to Webinterpret research, items with the word “fancy dress” had a 250% bigger chance of being sold in the UK compared with items containing the word “costume”, which contrasted with the USA.

international seo ecommerce keywords

There’s a lot to consider when translating marketplace listings for foreign buyers. To improve listing visibility & performance, let’s say on eBay, translation & localization should take place according to eBay filters, specific requirements posed by particular product categories as well as sellers’ preferences.

AI can help with automating the ecommerce translation process by combining human knowledge and machine capabilities. For example, Webinterpret’s in-house translation software tool has pioneered the implementation of adaptive machine translation. Our AI-based, natural language processing (NLP) solution and autonomous machine-learning helps to deliver automated human-quality translation and a domain-specialized localization process.

What is Natural Language Processing (NLP)?
Natural Language Processing (NLP), a branch of AI, is the technology used to help computers understand the human’s natural language and how humans communicate. Most NLP techniques involve machine learning.

NLP is the driving force behind language translation apps, such as Google Translate. Also, Webinterpret’s translation system uses innovative NLP technology that allows machines to learn from human feedback in a continuous, self-improving loop. We summarize all product descriptions, extract all attributes and store product descriptions as structured content.

This ecommerce-optimized machine translation differs from standard machine translation as it’s built and trained specifically for ecommerce products in the ecommerce context.

For example, at Webinterpret the way we’ll translate ‘face mask’ will depend on whether it belongs to sports accessories or health & beauty categories. We also take cultural differences into account.

AI & NLP in ecommerce: insights from Caroline Ohrn

As far as ecommerce translation goes, it’s important to analyze product data to establish context in order to achieve the best adapted translations.

Standard machine translation, i.e. not optimized for ecommerce, has its challenges, e.g. overtranslating brands. For instance, the brand “North Face” can be overtranslated into “Nordwand” for German buyers and into “Face Nord” for French buyers.

Further, sizes and dimensions may be translated incorrectly or not translated at all. Such mistakes and oversights can significantly increase return rates and decrease seller ratings.

#7 ecommerce trend: global ecommerce

According to eMarketer, 70% of online buyers already purchase from foreign sites. Furthermore, 80% of retailers worldwide agree that cross-border trade has been profitable or that sellers have successfully increased sales as much as 1,000% after expanding their marketplace presence.

Cross border ecommerce on the increase

International ecommerce expansion is especially effective when paid marketing campaigns reach a plateau in the seller’s domestic/current market. Increasing CPCs further to grow traffic can decrease campaign clicks, sales and overall profitability.

In such situations less competitive markets can offer lower CPCs and better return on advertising spend.

ecommerce cpc international markets

The possibility of satisfying the unmet demand abroad is one of the biggest worldwide opportunities for marketplace sellers. On eBay and Amazon you can sell on markets with more sales potential and less competition.

Additionally, during challenging times, such as the current pandemic or Brexit, selling on international markets often allows sellers to plan and balance the sales between markets, spread their risk and make the most of diversification.

The lockdown and social distancing usually encourage additional populations to purchase online. However, consumer behavior related to cross-border ecommerce imports differs depending on the stage of the pandemic in each market.

If the country is within the peak of the outbreak, a slowdown of cross-border imports can be expected. It’s important for international merchants to try to minimize potential shipping delays and keep their clients informed and reassured.

As to the impact of Brexit on ecommerce, 2021 may have started off with a degree of chaos for some sellers. However, although Brexit may not be easy for all merchants, it brings both challenges and opportunities.

For example, some sellers can improve profitability if they watch the currency situation closely and use the right moment to sell with a higher margin.

At Webinterpret we’ll do our best to support international sellers trading across the UK/EU border and provide them with the best guidance.

Global ecommerce: insights from Caroline Ohrn

Most ecommerce sellers focus their sales and advertising efforts on their domestic markets only. This approach, however, limits the merchant’s sales potential in a considerable way. Selling internationally along with a smart advertising strategy is what helps sellers unlock their true sales success. It also helps to mitigate risks when the unexpected occurs.

Advertising, to a large extent, is about striking a balance between investing money and getting results. This usually requires knowledge and experience, e.g. a good understanding of the specifics of a given market or the demand & competition dynamics.

global ecommerce caroline go global

Selling internationally along with a smart advertising strategy is what helps sellers achieve the best possible ROI and keep their options open at times of crisis.

About Webinterpret

Webinterpret can help marketplace sellers leverage ads on different international markets. With access to data and vast ecommerce knowledge, we can help merchants achieve the best possible ROI and keep their options open at times of crisis. Find out more!

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