Australia’s retail stage is buzzing with both opportunity and challenge. Economic pressures are perhaps top of the list when it comes to challenges, but in many opinions, competition is not far behind – particularly when it comes to global marketplaces.

The looming presence of global giants like Amazon, which already boasts a 10% share of online spending in Australia and registered $5.8bn AUD in gross transaction value for 2023, has been labelled a huge challenge for the local industry.

Yet, amidst this so-called ‘challenge’, lies an opportunity for retailers of all sizes. Marketplaces – not just Amazon, but eBay, Etsy, and Alibaba etc – offer a platform for retailers to expand audience reach and augment business growth alongside their own channels, such as website and social media.

Despite the dominance of global players, Australian retailers can leverage local support and consumer sentiment by strategically engaging with marketplaces to drive acquisition and retention strategies. By doing this, retailers can directly connect with Australian consumers who value supporting local businesses.

So, how can Australian retailers harness the potential of marketplaces, alongside their own channels, to thrive in an era dominated by global giants?

Unlocking marketplace potential

Marketplaces offer many benefits to retailers. First and foremost, they provide access to a vast, established customer base. For instance, Amazon – probably the most high-profile in a long list of marketplaces – boasts over 4.5 million Prime members in Australia, a built-in audience that retailers can tap into without the need for extensive marketing campaigns. This is particularly beneficial for small and medium-sized retailers who can’t reach the same audience through their own website.

Financially, clearly, marketplaces can be lucrative. They also often offer various seller tools and analytics that help retailers optimise their product listings, pricing strategies, and inventory management. This data-driven approach, which mimics strategies they can deploy on their own ecommerce platforms, can lead to increased sales and profitability.

Marketplaces also offer robust infrastructure and logistics support. Their broad, established fulfilment networks, for example, allows retailers to leverage its sophisticated warehousing and delivery systems, ensuring timely and reliable shipping. This not only enhances the customer experience but also frees retailers from the complexities and costs associated with managing their own logistics operations.

Mastering marketplace strategy

Retailers should create high-quality, detailed listings with captivating titles, rich descriptions, and vivid, high-resolution images. Think of keywords as the secret notes that enhance searchability within the marketplace, making products stand out.

Leveraging advertising and promotions is also vital. Marketplaces offer various tools to boost product visibility and drive sales. With SHOPLINE’s integrated marketing solutions, retailers can easily manage and optimise these campaigns across multiple marketplaces from a single platform.

With all the data that retailers have on hand, they can maximise the insights it creates by regularly analysing performance metrics. By tracking key indicators like sales volume, conversion rates, and customer reviews, retailers can understand what’s hitting the mark and what needs fine-tuning.

Then there’s compliance. Playing by the rules and staying compliant with marketplace policies is non-negotiable. Each marketplace has its own set of guidelines that sellers must adhere to. Retailers should ensure they understand and remain compliant with these policies to avoid penalties or account suspensions. This includes sticking to pricing policies, product listing standards, and fulfilment requirements.

Embracing marketplaces as a growth opportunity

For all the ‘fear’ around Amazon, eBay and other marketplaces, can be a significant growth opportunity, too. They offer retailers a platform to reach new customers, leverage advanced infrastructure, and enhance their overall business operations. Integrating owned channels with marketplaces helps retailers to establish a balanced and effective unified commerce presence.

While marketplaces excel in driving broad reach and acquiring new customers, owned channels specialise in nurturing direct relationships and fostering customer loyalty. This enhances the retailer’s market position and sustains growth in a fiercely competitive retail landscape.

The future of retail is interconnected and dynamic. Retailers who embrace marketplaces as part of their broader strategy will not only survive but thrive in this competitive landscape. As consumer expectations evolve, a well-executed marketplace strategy will be key to meeting and exceeding those demands, ensuring long-term success and growth.

Vasko Ckorovski is head of commercial operations at SHOPLINE.