5 min read

Top Marketplace Strategies and Trends

Sarah Wheeler
Sarah Wheeler
Updated on
May 22, 2024

Top Marketplace Strategies and Trends

As eCommerce grows to $8B by 2027 and retail media surges, online marketplaces need strategies to make the most of that growth. Savvy marketplaces are capitalizing on these trends in order to capture not only new online sales, but also ad spend. This article outlines top trends and strategies marketplaces can use to grow not only their eCommerce business, but also their retail media network, allowing for two dual streams of income utilizing their online marketplace. 

Trend #1: Retail Media

Leading marketplaces like Amazon and eBay pioneered retail media after quickly recognizing the value of their digital real estate: their website's "shelf space." They launched advertising solutions that allowed brands to connect directly with shoppers during their browsing journey.

Today, dozens of marketplaces have established their own retail media networks and the retail media industry is forecast to hit $136B in 2024. This growth is because:

  1. Marketplaces have first-party data: Marketplaces’ digital properties are dynamic hubs of consumer activity, generating valuable data with every interaction. By offering advertising opportunities within these environments, marketplaces can monetize their online presence while providing brands with targeted access to their audience. Marketplaces can leverage their proprietary data to craft highly personalized ad experiences tailored to individual customers. By analyzing purchasing patterns, browsing history, and demographic information, marketplaces gain valuable insights into consumer behavior, enabling them to anticipate needs and preferences with precision.
  2. Marketplaces value omnichannel marketing: The rise of omnichannel retail has emphasized the importance of engaging consumers at multiple touchpoints along their shopping journey -- a tactic that 66% of survey respondents in a P2PI study plan to use. Retail media networks offer a seamless way for brands to maintain a consistent presence across various channels, delivering relevant messaging and personalized experiences at each stage.
  3. Marketplaces are leveraging the uniqueness of their platforms: Success hinges on a strategic approach tailored to individual marketplace objectives. A cookie-cutter strategy often falls short, leading to generic ad formats that lack relevance and failure to resonate with consumers. Each marketplace has a unique audience and digital experience, making it the perfect opportunity for advertisers to target and find new customers.
  4. Marketplaces are constantly innovating: Continuous optimization and refinement are crucial in maximizing the effectiveness of retail media campaigns. Real-time data analytics and iterative testing methodologies allow marketplaces to fine-tune their advertising strategies, ensuring relevance and driving measurable results. By staying attuned to evolving consumer trends, marketplaces can maintain a competitive edge and deliver exceptional value to both brands and shoppers.

Retail media example
Consider a scenario where a user is browsing a marketplace for outdoor gear. A strategic approach would involve showcasing sponsored listings for camping equipment or hiking gear, aligning with the user's interests and purchase intent. By leveraging first-party data and customization capabilities, marketplaces can curate personalized ad experiences that capture attention and drive conversion.

In essence, the journey from the early days of eCommerce to the current retail media landscape has been characterized by a paradigm shift in how marketplaces approach advertising and consumer engagement. By embracing the concept of retail media, marketplaces have unlocked new revenue streams, strengthened brand partnerships, and enhanced the overall shopping experience.

Amazon runs a targeted camping gear campaign

Trend #2: Social and mobile buying

Much of the eCommerce growth is coming through mobile and social media buying. Emarketer reports a 12% YoY growth in mobile shopping from 2021 to 2022. With more and more users using Apple pay and BNPL apps, easy mobile payment reduces friction to mcommerce, making it easy for customers to buy quickly. 

This even applies to social media buying, with 70% of GenZ being likely to buy directly from Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. 

For marketplaces to stay relevant with this younger buying generation, they must dial in on their social media and mobile strategy. This means optimizing their mobile, online, and app experience as much as possible, as well as using their first-party data insights to target the right audience on social platforms. This way, they can find similar buyers and increase their sales. 

Social and mobile buying example
Marketplaces using influencer marketing are winning more younger generation customers. For example,  natural skincare brands use an influencer like @ShuttheKaleUp to promote their products. This influencer specializes in natural and organic products, so the skincare brand knows they are targeting the right audience. Then, by creating targeted social media ads, they can retarget these potential customers and lead them to buying within the social app.

For marketplaces to stay relevant amongst younger audiences, it’s important to start optimizing their social and mobile marketing strategies. This means spending their budget where it counts: with the right audiences they know are likely to convert on their brand.  

Cocokind's influencer campaign

Trend #3: Augmented reality

Just as we discussed in the top retail media trends article, augmented reality is on the rise for marketplaces. This allows for unique experiences where a marketplace can especially discern buyer intent. A shopper can virtually “try things on,” like makeup, clothes, and accessories. 

For cutting-edge  marketplaces, this is an exceptionally innovative way to appeal to buyers. And, a great way to appeal to  GenZ as they care a great deal about their environmental impact, with 3 out of 4 caring more about sustainability rather than labels. If marketplaces can provide for virtual tryons, it  reduces the amount of returns users make, saving on shipping, packaging, and delivery expenses that also impact sustainability. 

Augmented reality example
Sephora debuted a Virtual Artist Too, allowing customers to virtually test makeup. Walmart is now leveraging AR for inventory, making their internal operations run more smoothly. 

With a reported 66% of consumers interested in AR for help making purchasing decisions, the applications for this new tech can’t be overstated. Marketplaces should look for native and organic ways to implement AR into their digital experiences in order to keep up with top competitors. 

Sephora virtual reality tool (Medium)

Marketplace Strategies & Trends Conclusion

Ultimately, as marketplaces consider new technologies to integrate into their platform, they must ensure they drive positive user experience and positive ROI. It’s critical to ensure that these new trends aren’t just fads, but are true strategies that promote growth. 

As marketplaces look to integrate things like retail media, it’s critical to find partners who are able to deliver on a positive user experience while ensuring revenue growth. Contact us today at Kevel to learn more about how we can help you do both.

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