13.02.2024 | by Lili
In the few short decades of its existence, e-Commerce has become as diversified as physical retail. The increasingly often uttered phrase “I bought this online” may refer to any type of e-Commerce store starting from well-known general marketplaces through single webshops, social commerce outlets and even artisan shops offering one-of-a-kind handmade goods.
However, it seems that a large number of consumers tend to turn to online marketplaces when it comes to online shopping. Indeed, a recent study by OC&C Strategy Consultants found that in 2022, 60% of all online consumer spending occurred on marketplaces, which translates to a staggering $4.1 trillion spent on these platforms worldwide.
Considering that this figure used to be “only” $2.1 trillion in 2019, the growth is even more impressive. But not only general marketplaces like Amazon, eBay and AliExpress are responsible for all that growth.
In fact, specialised online marketplaces seem to be on the rise.
As their name suggests, specialised marketplaces narrow their focus to a certain element of commerce, e.g. a type of product, a location, etc. Based on what this element actually is, we can differentiate between vertical-focused, second hand and hyper-local marketplaces.
The aforementioned OC&C study found that specialised marketplaces are experiencing a rapid growth phase, especially when it comes to third party sellers. In fact, the GMV of third party sellers on specialised marketplaces is 1.6 times as big as that of the same type of sellers on general marketplaces. This trend is especially visible in Europe where consumers seem to be more familiar with and more willing to shop on specialised marketplaces.
Let’s take a look at each individual category in more detail.
As their name suggests, these platforms focus their offering on a specific vertical, like fashion, furniture, electronics, etc. This specialisation allows them to create a brand image that’s more professionally involved with their subject, which helps build trust within consumers.
In addition, they can offer a deeper and better curated inventory with more engaging shopfronts, making them more attractive to sellers and customers alike. This also includes a more targeted variety of after-sales services (e.g. repairs for faulty equipment, adjustment of garments, or assistance with furniture assembly).
However, these advantages only work for your brand if the marketplace you’re appearing on is free from infringing and lookalike product listings that distort your entire brand image on the platform.
Vertical marketplaces are so popular that some of them have become mid-size platforms with a third party seller GMV greater than $1 billion. Some, like Zalando, have even managed to surpass $10 billion third party GMV.
Screenshot of the homepage of houzz.com
The second category aggregates all types of marketplaces that deal with pre-owned products. This includes second hand platforms, both C2C and B2C, as well as refurbished marketplaces and platforms specialising in the auction of pre-owned items.
C2C markets like Vinted, Kleinanzeigen or Gumtree have always been popular as consumers welcome the opportunity to let go of unneeded and disused products while acquiring pre-loved goods for cheaper than buying new.
With growing concerns over climate change and the future of our planet, the sale of second hand and refurbished products have become more popular - and more necessary - than ever. No wonder that recommerce marketplaces see a considerable surge of demand amongst their target markets.
Platforms in this category have an array of services they can offer to consumers (both in the role of sellers and buyers) to help with the difficulties of pre-owned trade. These include assistance with payments, shipping and returns, as well as communication among the parties.
Notable recommerce marketplaces are the aforementioned Vinted and Thrift Plus in fashion, BackMarket and refurbed in refurbished electronics, as well as eBid and The Saleroom that organise auctions of pre-owned items.
Screenshot of the homepage of refurbed.de
Marketplaces that focus on an exact, small location usually deal with products that need to be delivered within a very short time, i.e. usually food or grocery deliveries. Many of these marketplaces cooperate with restaurants and supermarkets, enabling them to offer local food and groceries deliveries to their customers.
Doordash, Takeaway.com and Deliveroo are marketplaces that started with food deliveries from restaurants. Recently, all of these platforms have expanded into grocery deliveries as well, adapting their services to the rapidly growing demand. According to the OC&C study, the top 250 grocery marketplaces have experienced a significant growth, nearly quadrupling their worth between 2019-22. The size of this market is predicted to reach $5 billion by 2030 worldwide.
Screenshot of the homepage of deliveroo.be
From an online brand protection point of view, specialised marketplaces don’t differ that much from generalists.
In most cases, fraudsters have just as big a chance to infiltrate specialist platforms as they do with general marketplaces. Considering the rising popularity of these platforms amongst consumers, it’s quite likely that fraudsters will try to post their infringing product listings on a specialist marketplace to get the attention of potential buyers.
Luckily, our online brand protection services also work just as well on specialist platforms as on generalist.
As a starting point, our marketplace monitoring service is perfect for detecting IP infringing listings on over 150 marketplaces worldwide. With flexible keyword based monitoring, we’ll quickly give you a picture of who’s using your brand name, product name, or any other phrase that may dupe customers into thinking they’re dealing with your brand.
Thanks to all that information, you’ll have excellent data on your hands about previously unknown specialist (and any other) marketplaces, which may even help you decide whether to take the plunge and enter the market yourself. (After all, if fraudsters are doing so well with your products, why wouldn’t you give it a try yourself?)
A great addition here is our image monitoring service, which detects your IP protected imagery, or copies of them, anywhere online. This is essential to catch fraudsters who avoid marketplaces but use your pictures on single webshops or social media for advertising their infringing products.
Then, if we need more information about the origins of a product or its seller, we recommend a test purchase. This service is crucial for learning as much as possible about elusive fraudulent sellers, and whether the listed item is indeed counterfeit or original (in which case it’s most likely a grey market product.)
Finally, we offer to enforce your rights and demand the removal of the infringing content, including product listings and images from the internet.
Specialist marketplaces have many advantages for brands. Make the most of them - and prevent fraudsters from doing the same!
Contact us and let’s create your online brand protection strategy, perfectly tailored to your brand’s exact needs.