Last month I attended E-Commerce Berlin Expo, an exhibition dedicated to circuit eCommerce, Online Marketing, Social Media and Mobile Services for the eCommerce industry. I chatted with Anna Duleczus from Choice in eCommerce which recently came up with a study about online marketplaces across Europe. Below this article you’ll find a map about eCommerce marketplaces across Europe.
What is the BVOH and what is Choice in eCommerce?
Anna Duleczus: The BVOH is the German Federal Association of Online Trade (Bundesverband Onlinehandel e.V.) which is an association consisting of online traders within Germany. The association has been founded by marketplaces online sellers who figured that together they would make a bigger impact in the eCommerce sector than everyone by himself/herself. Thus, 2006, ten years ago, we started to work on a high quality network in order to exchange our thoughts and ideas on how sellers, marketplaces and service providers could grow their businesses together. Furthermore, we are the political and public voice of the online sellers. We exchange our ideas and communicate legal challenges to political stakeholders, on the national and EU level. Therefore, Choice in eCommerce is our international brand. Choice in eCommerce is the visible voice of SMEs in eCommerce, the voice that speaks out in politics and moves political barriers away on the EU level.
Why did you start this project and what were the key findings?
Anna Duleczus: The project started with the demand of the EU Commission on which marketplaces across Europe exist. Thus, we started a research and put together marketplaces across Europe. We clustered them into product categories and also into auction vs. transaction vs. classified marketplaces. Furthermore, we analyzed them by traffic and listed the Top 100 ranked in traffic. The findings were quite surprising. Beginning with Amazon and ebay, the German domains are higher ranked than the UK ones. Next, what we have detected is that allegro.pl (Poland) is ranked right after ebay and amazon. For sellers, it seems to be a highly interesting market, where possibly many transactions could be done. Regarding classified marketplaces, they offer a big chance for sellers to present their products without paying provision to the marketplace provider. A prerequisite to sell successfully on classified marketplaces though is a brilliant customer service as here transactions take place through emails and the phone, or even by personal contact. Thus, there are plenty of possibilities to sell across Europe via marketplaces.
Imagine you are a small startup in Lithuania. You have a cool product, just raised 250% of your target funding on Kickstarter. What’s next? How should you scale up, how to sell globally?
Anna Duleczus: The first thing to start off with is to analyze the market. One product can be cool for one market, but not for another. Once markets are detected where that specific product has a suitable demand, the small startup should focus on one or two distribution channels at the beginning. The questions, whether an own webshop as a distribution channel or a marketplace should be chosen is therefore a key question. Both options deliver great opportunities, however, marketplaces are a good place to start globally and to see how the product is running in another country. Some marketplaces offer possibilities of translating products, others are specialized on certain products and their role is, amongst others, to create the needed traffic on the platform. The next step would be the optimization. Marketing, logistics or customer service… in the end, there is unlimited numbers of possibilities how to scale up. Marketplaces offer a great opportunity to sell globally, either by automated listings in the native language sold in the respective country, due to extra shipping programs to reduce time and costs in shipping or attract with diverse partner programs, where own webshops on marketplaces, extra marketing etc. can be used easily. Ebay, amazon and Rakuten shall be named here, but not exclusively. Our marketplaces across Europe map shows the huge number of marketplaces across Europe. And every day, there are more to come, however, some close down sometimes.
Is drop shipping, fulfillment a good option to sell online?
Anna Duleczus: Customers shop for different reasons online. Some do it due to convenience, others due to transparency in price and service. Depending on which customer is being targeted, fulfillment might play indeed an important role, as the logistics play an important part in online sales. Optimized logistics, short time spans between order and shipping are one important experience for customers. On the other hand, a SME selling goods online might not have the resources to build or lease an own storage. Thus, FBA could be one option. But there are many other possibilities to guarantee highly professionalized logistical handling of goods. eBay has started its World International Shipping Program for instance, online sellers might also drop-ship their goods bought; meaning that the deliverer ships the purchased goods directly from his warehouse, the online seller simply sells them formally to his customers.
Where do you see opportunities in eCommerce? Where will it be in five years?
Anna Duleczus: eCommerce is rapidly changing, online and offline trade is starting to be more and more connected. At some point, we think that within the next years there will be hardly any difference between online and offline trade, it will be enough intermingled that both concepts will be combined in one transaction. In Germany, many cities have launched programs and platforms, where local retailers can reach their local customers online, have them reserve goods, pick them up after work, or simply deliver the local customer within a very short time span (we talk about hours and not days) with the purchased goods. The creativity, how to attract customers is still in its evolving phase. Also, virtual reality gadgets as means of a greater shopping experience have a big potential.