Coronavirus has rapidly changed the world we live in and has forced a shift in the day-to-day of people and businesses around the world.

With non-essential retailers being forced to close their doors in March, consumers became heavily reliant on online shopping for both essential and non-essential items. This shift in consumers’ shopping habits meant that brands had to quickly rethink and adapt the way they sell their goods and move to an online-first model.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) the proportion spent online soared to the highest proportion on record in May 2020 at 33.4%. This increase in online spending doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. A report by Alvarez & Marsal and Retail Economics estimated that over 25% of the country’s total population plan to permanently shop online to decrease the health risks of shopping in-store.

The current backdrop means ecommerce and digital disruption has accelerated. Retailers and brands are looking for additional online partners to reach their target buyers and are looking for more permanent solutions to diversifying their online offering. In fact, recent research commissioned by ASCG found that 42% of retailers plan to increase sales by selling through more channels.

This turbocharging of online retail has pushed the sector forward in a fast and unexpected way forcing retailers to future proof their businesses and diversify the way they sell.

The rise of the online marketplace

This year, online marketplaces such as ASOS and Zalando have only solidified their position as a go-to for both retailers and consumers. Research by GlobalData shows that by 2024, UK shoppers will spend 50% more than they do now on online marketplaces, with yearly UK spend rising to £39.3bn.

For consumers, marketplaces are a one-stop-shop for all things beauty, fashion and lifestyle. It means shoppers only have one website to visit, one checkout process and one delivery. What’s more, marketplaces use sophisticated technology to learn users’ likes and dislikes over time, offering a personalised shopping experience that displays curated products from various brands.

For retailers, online marketplaces offer an easy solution for generating sales and providing end-to-end logistics solutions including warehousing, shipping and returns. They also provide an established platform for lesser-known retailers to share their products with their target audience.

By expanding to online marketplaces, retailers can rely on the expertise and systems of an established partner where the customer journey is being considered from start to finish, allowing retailers to focus on other areas of their business, such as expanding its product offering.

The rise in marketplace popularity has seen a number of smaller, niche marketplaces opening their online doors. Earlier this year, Nike pulled its products from marketplace giant Amazon and instead partnered with Zalando to offer a better customer experience.

To be truly omnipresent, it’s here that retailers should be focusing their efforts – small, niche marketplaces that provide the best possible experience for its customers and retailers alike