Report: Online experience superior to marketplace shopping

New York -- A report released Tuesday by e-commerce marketplace technology provider Merchantry found that marketplace customer experience compares unfavorably to that of e-commerce sites, particularly in regard to comprehensiveness of product information and logistics transparency.

The State of Online Marketplaces report, conducted by Merchantry in concert with the e-tailing group, found that online marketplaces need a lot of improvement before their full potential is realized.

The team reviewed and evaluated 12 sites as part of the study – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Buy.com, Kohl’s, Newegg.com, OneStopPlus.com, Overstock.com, Sears, ShopNBC, TigerDirect and Walmart. Researchers evaluated product listings, pricing, social media, customer service, shipping and return processes.

Key findings of the report include the following:

  • Only 39% of marketplace products could be added to a wish list vs. 83% of retailer-owned products.
  • Gift registry functionality was available on just half of marketplace products.
  •  Retailers that provide free shipping extend the offer to marketplace products only 33% of the time.
  • The majority of online marketplace products do not have social media functionality.
  • Only 50% of marketplace product listings state seller/merchant details.
  • Less than half of marketplace products feature customer ratings.
    Only 20% of product pages have enhanced guides or videos.
  • Out-of-stock inventory notifications are universal but processing times are not often shown.
  • The average time for customers to receive marketplace orders was high (4.57 days) – more than one day longer than the industry average.
  • Conducting marketplace product returns is more difficult as not all merchants include complete return information.
  • Cross-channel services are not in place for pick-up or returns for online marketplace shoppers.
  • Email responses were incomplete or they redirected customers to the marketplace sellers/manufacturers more than half the time (55%).

“Profit-maximizing practices that have become standard in the e-commerce industry are not consistently applied on marketplaces, where we found incomplete product information, limited functionality and inadequate customer experiences,” said Lauren Freedman, president of the e-tailing group.