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E-commerce marketplaces are customers’ first port of call when searching for a new product. Marketplace optimization could help them discover your brand. Here’s what to consider before starting.

SEO is dead. Long live marketplace optimization.

That’s probably pushing things a little far. But it’s true search engines are no longer customers’ only port of call when they want to buy something. In 2018, 54% of product searches began on Amazon.

This is largely thanks to the explosion of m-commerce. 70% of mobile searches lead to action within one hour. Which is why mobile will make up 67.2% of global e-commerce’s $3.5 trillion dollar revenue in 2019.

This puts e-commerce marketplaces in a good position. Their well-developed apps remove obstacles to purchase by offering speed, convenience, easy product comparisons and high security.

So at a time when Google is making it increasingly difficult to gain organic brand visibility on the SERP, marketplaces are a no-brainer. They offer you a place to interact with customers where they’re ready and willing to buy. A marketplace optimization strategy lets you make the most of this. Here are three considerations to help you get your approach right from the outset.


Amazon accounted for 49% of US e-commerce sales in 2018 – miles ahead of eBay in second place (6.6%). In the UK, it’s responsible for 33.5% of sales. In these countries, Amazon should clearly be your top priority for marketplace optimization. (Don’t forget about other up-and-coming marketplaces like Etsy though.)

The same can’t be said across the globe. In China, Alibaba is king, with a market share of 58.2%. Amazon’s in seventh place, with a paltry 0.7%.

And in Japan, Amazon and Rakuten are fighting for the lead, with 20% of the market each.

The point? Research your customers’ preferences carefully. Don’t waste time and effort investing in the wrong site. First, decide on your priority markets, then agree your priority marketplaces. Here’s a list of the most common marketplaces around the world to get you started.


Marketplace selling is an easy way to launch in a new market. After all, it’s faster and cheaper than creating your own e-commerce site. Understanding your customers’ expectations is key to maintaining sales.

In China, this means that keywords, product listings and ads are just the start of your marketplace optimization strategy. Consumers value customer service and expect personal, direct communication with sellers too.

Each marketplace is unique, with its own distinctive features. But with Asian countries at the forefront of e-commerce growth, tech innovation is starting to flow from East to West. And it’s affecting UK consumer behaviour.

For example, China is a world leader in mobile payments. Skipping credit and debit cards, consumers moved straight from cash to phone. Now, 47% of Chinese phone owners use e-wallets, meaning it’s essential you offer this payment method in China.

By contrast, only 24% use e-wallets in the UK, thanks to the popularity of contactless credit cards. That being said, two million more people started using e-wallets between 2017 and 2019. Keep an eye on this trend. You may decide it’s worthwhile incorporating it into your UK strategy in the near future.

Chinese companies like Alibaba and Tencent take things one step further, combining social media, e-commerce and banking functions. This makes sense: 37% of global consumers visit social sites for purchase inspiration. This integrated approach is increasingly popular in the UK too. Harrods, Selfridges and the Savoy all accept Alipay as a payment method.

So keep up with marketplace trends in Asia. They’ll inform your marketplace optimization strategy there. And they could give you insight into the future of European marketplaces at the same time.


42% of consumers either own or are planning to own a smart device (e.g. Amazon Echo). Powered by virtual assistants like Alexa or Google Home, they allow customers to order from marketplaces using their voices – without comparing products. Over a third of virtual assistant users in Western Europe and the US have done exactly that.

What does this mean for your marketplace optimization strategy? Well, as with voice search, you’ll need to optimize your content for this new way of engaging customers.

Track the latest developments in this space too. There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes to determine if and how advertising could work for smart speakers in particular. Think radio-style ads, stealthy suggestions of branded products, and even ads that talk back. There are plenty of lucrative options out there that could prove difficult for the advertising giants to resist.

We’re only just scratching the surface of what’s possible in the world of marketplace optimization. So be prepared: optimize your marketplace content for voice now, while keeping an eye on the latest developments.


There’s never been a better time to build your global marketplace presence – 60% of global online sales take place on marketplaces.

But we’re only at the start of the journey. There’s no telling where marketplace optimization could lead. For best results, take an iterative approach. Identify the most relevant marketplaces in each market, then optimize accordingly. At the same time, track the hottest trends around the globe and consider how to incorporate them into your strategy.

If you’d like tailored marketplace optimization advice for your brand, speak to our expert digital team today. They’d be happy to help.

Photo by Geoff Greenwood on Unsplash