online marketplaces
Couple sitting on sofa at home. Wearing Christmas sweaters. Together enjoying in the warmth of their home for Christmas. Using digital tablet.


This Christmas season, more consumers are moving away from standalone retailer websites towards online marketplaces.

Search marketing firm NetElixir’s 2016 holiday shopping behaviour survey revealed 57 per cent of shoppers surveyed said they would be buying Christmas gifts online this year, with 42 per cent buying from online marketplaces compared to just 15 per cent from retailer websites.

NetElixir surveyed just over 1,000 American shoppers using the Google Consumer Survey Tool to gather its findings. Some of the survey’s results cast light on why consumers are shifting towards marketplaces as their preferred forum for online shopping.

Breaking down the survey results in a webinar presentation, NetElixir’s director of analytics and account strategy, Don Rodriguez, said retailers have to rethink their channel strategies in the wake of the continued strong growth of online marketplaces as a preferred channel for shoppers.

“What is kind of eye opening and surprising is … 42 per cent of people choosing an online marketplace,” said Rodriguez, noting these online marketplaces included Amazon and eBay as well as smaller, niche online marketplaces.

“That is really a telling sign of things to come,” he said. “For retailers, marketplaces are something you should definitely be keeping an eye on. Marketplaces have become a dominant force in the last several years. We found a survey last year of retail executives that [predicts] marketplaces will have a 40 per cent market share by 2020.”

Rodriguez said marketplaces offer smaller retailers quick and easy access to a bigger customer base than they could reach independently on the back of their own online store.

“So if you’re a retailer that has been struggling to drive traffic and sales from your own ecommerce site, marketplaces are something you can consider participating in and marketing through,” he said.

Another illuminating finding from the survey was that marketplace shoppers tended to come from higher income bracket groups.

“I call it the one-percenters, [with] household incomes above US$150,000 a year. All of them pretty much said, ‘I’m going to buy from an online marketplace’. None of them cited a retailer’s website.

“Then when you look at the top three income brackets, the majority of them chose the marketplaces over retailer websites.”

Some of the other interesting findings from the survey include:

  • People started shopping for Christmas earlier this year, with more than 10% having already completed all their shopping before October.
  • Almost 25% have already started at least some of their shopping by October.
  • 57% plan to buy gifts online.
  • 82% of respondents place little or no emphasis on brand names when buying a Christmas gift.
  • Gift cards and cash dominate every age bracket except for the 18-24 age groups.
  • The 25-34 age groups are the top givers of experience gifts.

Jeremy Francis is the marketing director of Marketplacer.


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