Shopping at e-commerce marketplaces has increased significantly in Europe in recent years. The likes of Amazon, Wish, eBay, and others have seen a growing number of European customers. It’s interesting to note that international marketplaces are common in large countries but less so in smaller ones. The main example of this is Amazon, which has deliberately focused on the largest markets in Europe. Yet shopping at marketplaces will probably increase in smaller countries as well over the next few years. Most likely, the major market players will expand here, or perhaps a domestic participant will succeed in positioning itself before the giants barge in.

diagram shopping at international marketplacesIn those countries with a high usage of marketplaces, one clear effect is the growth in consumer purchasing frequency. In countries where more people shop online from marketplaces, the number of those also shopping online every week is higher as well. This development is probably due to the fact that it is convenient to shop in marketplaces, and that they also often offer attractive member benefits.

A well-known membership service is Amazon Prime, which provides access to Amazon’s streaming service, discount coupons, and most importantly – free shipping with every order, and this drives sales sharply upwards. Prime customers have been known to shop for more than twice as much as ordinary Amazon customers, and the difference appears to increase each year.

Yet international marketplaces also seem to have different strategies when it comes to Europe. This becomes especially clear when comparing for example Amazon, based in the US, and Wish, which is based in China. Amazon is very strong in a few markets, while Wish instead has smaller market shares in many countries. Loyalty to Amazon is extremely high in the countries where the company is established. Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the UK are all examples of this phenomenon. In contrast, customers in neighboring countries do not appear to be particularly inclined to shop from Amazon – the giant loses its grip on customers as soon as the product has to cross a border. This means that Amazon has a few strong footholds in Europe, but without much reach. Wish, on the other hand, pursues the opposite strategy. Wish is relatively popular in many countries, but does not have a really strong position in any. In Europe, Norwegians and Swedes are the ones who shop most from Wish.

More information on consumers’ usage of marketplaces throughout Europe will be available in a forthcoming PostNord e-commerce report.

Source: PostNord

Oftentimes, when looking for new trends, many people tend to look to the west. However, when it comes to e-commerce, one should definitely look eastwards.

– When people ask me why I live in China, I usually turn it around and ask why they have not come here yet, says Filippa Bätjer, a Sweden-born digital marketing specialist now residing in China.

When it comes to everything digital, including marketing, China is many years ahead of the West. There are several reasons for this. Partly, it’s the economic super-growth that created an affluent middle class in China in just one generation, and partly it’s because this coincided with smartphones becoming popular. When all these millions of people wanted to buy gadgets and status, there was no retail market that could sell these to them, neither in physical stores nor online. Instead, creative tech startups were the ones that saw the opportunities with new technologies. This has resulted in China leapfrogging laptops and web shops. “In China no one uses a computer, but people of all ages use smartphones for everything”, says Filippa Bätjer.

Customer uses his smartphone to scan QR code on the parcel from online shopping“Chinese consumers are not passive recipients of advertising, but instead, ad content here is much more engaging and entertaining. WeChat, also called “China’s app for everything”, really is used for everything and is the primary channel for all e-commerce and marketing today, along with the other major social platforms. Live streaming is very popular, as are QR codes that form the basis of many campaigns and help to tie together the physical and digital world.

This new technology, new behaviors, and new ways of communicating with target groups in China will soon also spread to western countries. Thus, if you want to be successful there in the future, you should observe and learn from what is happening in China today.

Filippa Bätjer has three tips for how to get insight from China:

  1. Turn towards China. Realize that the future has already arrived there. Make a habit of looking east for new trends.
  2. Get to know China. Learn more about how Chinese digital platforms work and what the Chinese consumer mindset is all about. Behavior and culture are key to understanding Chinese retail and marketing.
  3. Go to China. Many people wanting to sell in China or take advantage of the opportunities here have never been in the country. They barely know how Chinese marketing works, and for example how popular QR codes and livestreams are.

Thus, it’s important to get involved, do your homework and then it will be easier to sell to Chinese consumers and be well prepared when these trends are embraced also by the western world.

Malin Herzig, Business Development, Direct Link

Source: DM Magasinet (in Swedish, pdf)