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February 28, 2018
The estimated time to read this article is 6 Minutes

Omnichannel Shopping and the Rise of Marketplaces – Recap

Last week, we hosted a webinar about Omnichannel Shopping and Marketplaces. Falco van der Maden, Marello’s founder, spoke about the importance of enabling omnichannel strategies and spent extra attention to the role of marketplaces. Did you miss the webinar, no problem! Watch the replay below, or read the recap.

Omnichannel & Marketplaces

Omnichannel Retailing is a modern approach to commerce, that focuses on designing a cohesive user experience for customers at every touchpoint. Omnichannel retailing strategies have become more popular over the past couple of years.

Recently there has been a lot of focus on Marketplaces as an important new sales channel to add to the omnichannel mix. Recent research by the eCommerce Foundation even suggests that marketplaces, such as Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba, will own almost 40% of the global retail market by 2020. Enough reason for us to focus on these sales channels.

Understanding Omnichannel

In order to understand why omnichannel retailing is important, it’s important to understand how the omnichannel model came to be. This was done by looking at the evolution of three models:

  • Single Channel

Single-channel is the traditional retail model. It focuses on one sole channel sale based on the single-distribution system.

  • Multi-Channel

Multi-Channel is a retail model born with the digital revolution. Retailers adopting this strategy offer customers a choice of ways to purchase their products, via both online and offline channels.

  • Omnichannel

Nowadays the eCommerce landscape is more complex than ever before and customer expectations are rising. Many retailers came to the conclusion: ”you don’t need an eCommerce, wholesale or retail strategy, you need a commerce strategy”. 

Omni-channel provides retailers a wholly centralized data management towards synchronization of existing channels. Therefore, it brings shoppers a seamless shopping experience when blurring all boundaries among channels.

Why do I need an Omnichannel Strategy?

So omnichannel is a great way to combine many different channels en focus on the user. However, you might want to know why you need an omnichannel strategy. 

A recent omnichannel study by Big Commerce, conducted in the USA, has shown that physical stores are still very important. People across generations shop online and offline.

Here you can see that online and offline channels are both important, throughout all generations. It’s not only the elderly who shop offline, and the youth who shops online. Instead, all generations are almost equally shopping in both online and offline channels.

How to enable Omnichannel shopping?

In order to enable an omnichannel strategy, systems need to be in place that can facilitate and handle sales in various channels. Falco showed common problems that exist at retailers that have multiple channels, and how an omnichannel ERP can tackle these problems.

Online Inventory Visibility

Customers want product availability transparency across all your channels. Customers now expect you can tell them a product’s location is. In Marello, you can make sure you know your inventory per channel in real-time and display these to customers. 

66% of shoppers say that inventory visibility makes it more likely for them to head out to the retailer’s store location.

Another way in which you can use inventory visibility is by getting real-time insight into supply and demand. How many products are sold through your channels? Are there differences? In short, inventory visibility will help you to determine the supply and demand balance across your channels.

Buy Online Pick up in Store

A popular strategy is buying items online and picking them up in-store. he most common reason cited by customers, is wanting to avoid shipping charges (73 percent), while others cited needing an item right away. While offering an in-store pickup option might feel like an extra thing to worry about for some retailers, it actually brings with it a big opportunity to increase foot traffic and sales at the same time.

Buy Online Return in Store

The same logic applies to return items bought online. Customers want to know that if they need to return something they bought online, they can return it how and where they want. Returning online purchases can be a pain for customers, even if retailers offer free or expedited shipping.

Roughly 83 percent of shoppers prefer to return items to physical stores, regardless of whether they purchased the item online or in-store.

In-Store ordering from Online Stock

Customers may also come to your store without consulting online. They might want a specific item which your store no longer had in stock. Therefore, consumers should be able to order out-of-stock merchandise and have it shipped to their desired destination.

Marello’s in-store assistant

For Marello, we are in the process of creating an in-store assistant. An in-store assistant is a piece of software on a hand-held device that gives store staff insight into inventory, orders and more. An in-store assistant that is integrated with an ERP and POS can help to facilitate various omnichannel processes, including the ones mentioned above.

The In-Store assistant will be available in one of the next releases.


More and more websites are following the Amazon model of opening up their sites as ‘marketplaces’ for other retailers to sell on. As a retailer considering multi-channel eCommerce, you’ll discover there are pros and cons but, in general, working with many clients selling across multiple platforms is definitely worthwhile and profitable activity – as long as it’s managed efficiently.

Why sell on Marketplaces?

As more marketplaces are set up every day, more businesses start selling their products on them as well. According to the eCommerce foundation marketplace giants such as Amazon, eBay and Alibaba will own almost 40% of the global online retail market by 2020. This is not even taking into account all the other marketplaces that are used worldwide. Think about your own online purchases. Do you usually buy on webshops, or on marketplaces? For me this definitely is marketplaces!

Find a new Audience

Marketplaces provide a lower risk approach to entering new markets. You can test products on global audiences without the need for upfront investment into marketing your own site.

Marketplaces as part of the omnichannel strategy

Gain Trust

When people buy your product from eBay, very rarely did they set out with the intent to buy from you. They bought from you because you’re under the name of the marketplace name.

Go International

Trying to sell abroad can be a mission impossible as shipping costs may double the product price. However, marketplaces tend to offer more affordable shipping costs, which makes sellers more competitive. Another important factor when internationalizing is the language barrier. With the marketplaces, there is no problem, because usually treated multi-language platforms also offer customer support in the native language or at least in English.


Let’s compare the cost involved in setting up a new eCommerce website with selling on a marketplace, as a marketplace has all things in place, and the customer base, so the retailer has to hardly make an investment on anything other than just the cost involved in registering on the marketplace. 

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