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Adapt or die: eCommerce is moving at a pace where experts don't know where it's going to end up

The Drum 11 Oct 2019 08:00
Adapt or die: e-commerce moves at a pace that experts don't know where it's going to end up

In a world where people can shop at the touch of a finger and you can receive items within a day, it’s no surprise that there has been a surge in online marketplace popularity.

In the UK alone, the online market continues to grow strongly, changing retail both on and offline.

Ahead of The DADI Awards 2019, we speak to Lawrence Jones, founder and chief executive officer of UKFast - a partner of the awards - on the top online marketplace trends, why businesses should build their own online marketplace, top e-commerce tips and the emerging technologies for SMEs.

There has been a recent surge in online marketplace popularity. What is driving this growth? What are the top trends?

We live in a world where we can access anything and everything in an instant. Naturally that means that convenience is one of the main drivers. When you go into a marketplace as a consumer, you’ve got everything you want in there: from nappies for your child all the way through to a tennis racket. Plus, they've already got your shipping addresses and payment details. It's frictionless.

Marketplaces are where the consumers are going, perhaps because these marketplaces are doing a better job at becoming really personal with their customers. Good marketplaces know your size and your colour preferences, they know all of this information before you've even navigated anywhere on the page. It’s guiding you to give you what you want, sometimes before you know that you want it yourself.

If you're going to sell on an Amazon or an eBay you've got to deal with their fees, but more importantly they're also collecting all the data from the products you're selling to make informed decisions for their own private labels. You then face the risk of them then building their own products to compete with yours.

A company I’m closely involved with, Mercarto, helps people to become the Amazon of their industry. The enterprise side of Mercarto facilitates businesses to build their own custom marketplace, so they don’t have to rely on the established marketplaces.

It's really simple: adapt or die. e-commerce is moving at a pace that even the experts don't know where it's going to end up tomorrow, let alone in the next few years. With that in mind, you need to be working with technologies that allows you to be dynamic and a mind-set to adapt to change whenever change throws itself in front of you.

The tech you should focus on will vary depending on how you deliver your products and services. Remove the approach of wanting to use specific technologies because they’re trending and focus first on how tech can improve your customer experience. Work with tech that makes your business work more effectively for your customers, rather than following trends, and you’ll be in a good position.

When you invest into a marketplace technology, you have to ask if you’re locking yourself into that one piece of technology. With Mercarto, for example, people can take the entire marketplace offering as a whole, but they can also take blocks of it and integrate that with different systems and technologies.

UKFast is a partner of The Drum Awards for the Digital Industries 2019.

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