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What Independent Retailers Can Learn from Marketplaces

author Bolt Team

Bolt Team

Why the “Checkout as Guest” Button Is Holding You Back
Ecommerce Customer Expectations: Understanding Shopper 2.0

Shopper 2.0 is what we call today’s online consumer. And let’s face it, Shopper 2.0 is demanding.

These ecommerce customers have high expectations. They’re used to simple one-click checkouts and speedy free shipping from mega marketplaces that have cookied and recognize all of their browsers, know their credit card and shipping data, and have years of purchasing behavior available.

Shopper 2.0 expects that same seamless experience from all brands. These shoppers will abandon their carts when faced with any inconvenience—required account registration, surprise fees, long shipping times, etc.


Want to know all the secrets to improving online shopping customer experiences?

Download our ebook: Transform Guest Checkout into a Member Experience with Identity-Powered Commerce

Eliminate Roadblocks and Retain Customers

Mega marketplaces such as Amazon and Alibaba successfully meet these ecommerce customer expectations through a combination of selection and convenience. That’s great for them, and to a lesser degree, for their customers. However, it creates a huge challenge for brands.

Even brands that elect not to offer their wares on these marketplaces still suffer from the same problems as brands that have embraced them. This is because it is nearly impossible for brands to prevent third parties from offering their products in both new and used conditions. Customers will continue to defect from brand stores to marketplaces as long as marketplaces provide more convenience.


Possibly the biggest problem is that marketplaces dis-intermediate the shopping experience between the brands and their customers. Brands are unable to know their customers, customize their experiences, or excel in post-purchase experiences . . . essentially, disintermediation makes it impossible for brands to fulfill their brand promise to customers.

Marketplaces cut brands out of their own product-brand relationships.


By their very nature, marketplaces create and promote the commoditization of every customer segment that they serve. Selections are instantly sortable by price, feature, and style. The fulfillment process is identical no matter what brand is selected.

The opportunity to convey brand essence, specialization, and expertise is lost. Brands are forced to promote their products in the same templatized format, making it nearly impossible to convey any meaningful differentiation beyond basic specs and pricing.

Even worse, customization and personalization opportunities are in the hands of the marketplaces—not the brands. So, the customer experience doesn’t meaningfully change as they move from product to product or brand to brand.

The structures that make marketplaces so appealing and meet ecommerce customer expectations leave no opportunity for brands to distinguish themselves.

Unfair Competition

Furthermore, marketplaces are jumping into the private label game in a big way, further commoditizing those product categories that they choose to enter.

The marketplace, not the brands, has access to the complete data set across brands. They can easily compare brands and data points to uncover which features are important, where the pricing sweet spot exists, and how customers conducted their search. This allows them to precisely calibrate their market entries to gain maximum profits from incumbent brands. Because the marketplaces are so diversified, there is little downside for the marketplace if their private label triggers a price war that dooms profit margins across the entire product category far into the future.

The more brands participate in the marketplaces, the more information they give away to their competitors.

To compete, brands need a viable alternative that meets Shopper 2.0’s expectations as readily as the marketplaces do.

Improving Checkout: The Key to Meeting Ecommerce Customer Expectations

You don’t want to be like the marketplaces, but you have to meet these ecommerce customer expectations to continue to drive transactions. The good news: you don’t have to sell your products through mega marketplaces to make this happen. The better news: you don’t have to offer guest checkout either—you just need to provide Shopper 2.0 with a superior checkout experience.

Now, we understand that offering guest checkout seems like a simple answer. According to the National Retail Federation, 48% of brands have seen an increase in conversions by offering guest checkout. But part 3 of our blog series explains why this anonymization has more negative impacts than you realize.


Want to know all the secrets to improving online shopping customer experiences?

Download our ebook: Transform Guest Checkout into a Member Experience with Identity-Powered Commerce

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