E-commerce year in review: ChannelAdvisor discusses marketplace highlights from 2014

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Zoe Ripley, international head of marketing at ChannelAdvisor, looks back at the marketplace triumphs of 2014 

The e-commerce landscape — especially online marketplaces — continued to evolve in 2014. At the beginning of the year, businesses and consumers were excited by the prospect of Amazon’s drone delivery offering. Towards the end of the year, we saw UK consumers get into the bargain-hunting spirit during the Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales period, known as the Cyber Five.

In the UK, Amazon and eBay saw a 76 per cent ncrease in sales on Black Friday compared with last year, and Amazon saw a further 31 per cent increase in Cyber Monday sales. These impressive results highlight the increasing popularity of online marketplaces amongst consumers. With this in mind, we’ve taken a look at some of the other marketplaces highlights from 2014.

Play.com’s transition to Rakuten.co.uk

Back in August, Rakuten announced that it would be transitioning Rakuten’s Play.com over to Rakuten.co.uk. This decision was part of the Japanese e-commerce giant’s plan to offer ‘global borderless shopping in the future’. As a result, the Play.com marketplace will effectively close in the first quarter of 2015, and all traffic will be directed to Rakuten.co.uk. The transition means that retailers will be able to unlock the potential of cross-border trade with the Rakuten Group in Europe and globally.

Global shipping programmes and click and collect

The popularity of click-and-collect services amongst consumers has come as no surprise to retailers. Over the past year, the e-commerce space has witnessed some of the biggest names in retail jumping on the click-and-collect bandwagon, aiming to make the shopping experience even more convenient for consumers. We’ve witnessed the rise of collection-point services based in railway stations, post offices and retail stores. For example, e-commerce marketplace eBay partnered with Argos, enabling eBay buyers to pick up orders from Argos stores nationwide. As we look to 2015, it will be interesting to see whether small and mid-size retailers adopt these advancements in fulfilment infrastructure.

The rise of cross-border trade

In August, ChannelAdvisor published a multichannel e-commerce study that revealed that almost half (43 per cent) of UK retailers reported that 21-30 per cent of their online sales come from international marketplaces. Because of the general growth of the global e-commerce landscape and a shift in shopping habits, more and more retailers of all sizes are discovering that going global is not only a possibility, but a necessity in today’s economy. At ChannelAdvisor, we expect to see the number of retailers expanding overseas continue to increase throughout 2015.

China’s rapid e-commerce growth

During 2014 we saw China’s e-commerce market accelerate at a rapid pace. The buzz around China’s e-commerce boom reached fever pitch in September, when the Alibaba Group filed for its initial public offering (IPO) in the US. Alibaba went public with a valuation of $170 billion, and its IPO ranked as the largest in US history, cementing it as a household name. With a massive population and a seemingly insatiable appetite for consumer goods, China may have gotten off to a late start, but it’s out in front now.

Amazon’s same-day delivery partnership

This year Amazon decided to meet shoppers in the middle by offering same-day shipping with customer pickup. The marketplace giant announced a partnership with Smiths News, the newspaper and magazine wholesaler, to offer customers same-day collection service at more than 500 locations. Savvy retailers should be on the lookout for how they might capitalise on this growing trend of hyper-fast delivery.

eBay defect rate

This year, eBay introduced new seller performance standards, in particular the eBay defect rate. EBay’s outline of a defect is a transaction that creates a negative shopping experience for buyers. Providing a quality customer experience remained a priority for eBay in 2014, so the idea behind this new performance measurement was to help identify and reward sellers that provide an excellent customer experience. As more customers turn to social media channels to express frustration with disappointing service, it’s imperative that both retailers and marketplaces look after their customers.

2014 has been an exciting year for the retail industry, and here at ChannelAdvisor we’re looking forward to seeing what e-commerce updates and innovations 2015 has to offer.