online marketplace challenges

5 Online Marketplace Challenges and How to Beat Them


In 2023, Canada will have a total of 29.6 million digital buyers, more than any year so far. As shopping trends change, it becomes increasingly important to keep up with the times. Digital buying is quickly overcoming other typical shopping methods, and merchants have to keep up with a new suite of expectations. Online marketplace selling is becoming a popular method of expanding digital buying options.

Digital buyers refer to consumers who shop directly from the internet, but this can mean a variety of things. Online shopping no longer means purchasing from just a website. Consumers have access to endless online shopping tools, from eCommerce websites to marketplaces selling an abundance of items.

Online marketplaces allow various third-party sellers to collectively advertise and sell their products along with everyone else. Online merchants now have options to sell on more than one platform and don’t need to rely solely on their own websites. But every advantage comes with other disadvantages that have to be considered. What types of problems do online marketplace sellers face, and how can sellers overcome them?

Do Online Marketplaces have Benefits?

Selling on an online marketplace has a wide array of features merchants can benefit from.

With so many sellers on one platform, merchants can reach an entirely new audience and significantly increase their sales. Many consumers search online marketplaces when they aren’t exactly sure who they want to buy from. Marketplaces are an easy way to expand your audience, even as you’re still growing. By relying on solid advertising and keywords, you can receive attention from other merchants’ customers.

Online marketplaces can also give you the opportunity to earn more while paying less. While websites can be costly to build and maintain, marketplace spaces may be less expensive. Merchants pay a small fee to list their goods on the website, but the actual site is developed by someone else. In addition to your own website, marketplaces can also be an inexpensive addition and allow you to reap the benefits of both.

Finally, marketplaces offer online sellers the ability to sell internationally without hassle. Most merchants have limits on where they can sell and adding additional countries to this requires paperwork and money. Many online platforms make it easy to list your products for sale in other countries without having to set them up yourself. Marketplaces will help you complete the proper forms and registrations necessary to start selling to consumers everywhere. This support makes it much easier to expand globally.

Overall, selling through an online marketplace has plenty of benefits. However, there are some barriers you’ll need to overcome if you want to stand out from the rest. If you set the proper protocols in place, you can easily overcome the challenges other sellers face.

Most Common Marketplace Seller Challenges

On top of the many benefits, marketplaces can be crowded and bring up challenges that merchants are unprepared for. If you’ve never sold through an online marketplace or are not seeing the success you imagined, these problems might be affecting you. Here are the top 5 marketplace seller challenges, as well as our best recommendations for quickly overcoming them.

1. Achieving Fast Fulfillment

Fulfillment refers to all parts of order processing. Once an order is placed, you need to be able to gather the items, pack them together, and set them out on delivery to make it to the customer. Fulfillment requires a lot of steps and managing them efficiently will directly affect how satisfied your customers are.

Fast delivery is becoming more and more expected. Maintaining a competitive stance in the busy online market means you have to offer fast, affordable delivery. When given a choice, consumers will always choose the quickest delivery time (as long as it’s still price-competitive). This means that as a merchant, you need to have your supply chain, operations, staffing, and delivery protocols in place. Order fulfillment that is too slow will often turn away customers.

Our recommendation: We recommend optimizing and streamlining your fulfillment processes step-by-step. By taking a deep look at how well you pick, pack, and deliver items, you can understand where you might be slowing yourself down. Paying close attention to this process is the only way to see where you might be losing time and where extra work might be needed.

For the most optimal success, you might want to outsource your deliveries to a third-party provider. Delivery, in particular, is often the slowest part of any fulfillment process. Delivery providers can provide fast delivery options, and since they are working with more than just one seller, the prices are significantly lower. Costs of delivery agents, vehicles, and sorting space are all spread across various merchants. Managing your own deliveries, on the other hand, can be costly and stressful. Being able to offer affordable, same-day delivery can really help your business stand out.

2. Maintaining Customer Loyalty

When selling through your own website, you have the complete attention of every browsing user. But in an online marketplace, all shoppers have access to hundreds of stores, if not more, and not just you.

In a crowded space with more competitors than ever, customer loyalty might feel impossible to gain in an online marketplace. It can be difficult to make a connection when customers receive instant gratification by jumping from store to store. Everyone wants to offer them the best price to gain their business, so unless something sets you apart from the rest, customers have no problem switching vendors often.

Our recommendation: The solution here lies directly in the problem. If you feel like customers are not loyal because they don’t view you as unique, the way to solve this is to plan to stand out. Highlighting what makes you unique, even among strong competitors, will increase your customer loyalty. If you focus on environmentally friendly production, use recycled goods, or prioritize diversity, these differences are what catches the attention of customers. They create an aspect that allows you to stand out from all the other merchants available by helping customers feel a stronger connection to you.

On the other hand, you can focus on buyer feedback to create the most appealing benefits for customers. Rather than focusing on being unique, focus on offering the most attractive services that customers can’t find elsewhere. Buyers love to feel valued and listening to them is the best way to see what they really want. Loyalty programs, like exclusive emails, promotions, and sales, can create connections with consumers that will keep them coming back. These types of incentives set you apart and can therefore increase customer loyalty. After all, offering customers the best options will ultimately turn them into repeat buyers. Emphasizing your commitment to customer satisfaction is often the best way to improve your products or processes.

3. Avoiding Cart Abandonment

Cart abandonment can happen for a variety of reasons, but that doesn’t mean one is better than the other. The ultimate goal of selling on an online marketplace is to bring customers from browsing to completing a payment in as few steps as possible. An abandoned cart ends the process before it gets completed.

There are a few main reasons why most customers say they decide to abandon items after already placing them in their cart. If the checkout process is taking too long to complete or has too many steps, customers might leave before completing their purchase. A lengthy process becomes tedious and gives them a chance to second guess if they really want to complete the purchase. Changes in pricing from the original product information can also cause consumers to change their minds. When they see additional fees tacked on, raising the price from what they initially believed, it often turns them away from buying. Finally, shipping costs are a big reason for turning down a product at the last second. High, unexpected prices often upset customers enough to force them to abandon their carts. Fast, affordable delivery is what customers hope to see before they complete their orders.

Our recommendation: If cart abandonment proves to be an ongoing problem for your brand, take the ease of experience into account. The most important factor of any checkout process is simplicity. Checkouts should be easy, straightforward, and require minimal effort from a consumer. One of the best ways to do this is to have a one-click checkout option with a variety of payment options available immediately. This way, customers don’t have to think or wait, and they can instantly input their details to complete the purchase.

Another addition to consider keeping your number of abandoned carts at a minimum is a live chat box. Chat boxes make it easy to quickly respond to customer comments and concerns, and once you spend the time and effort setting it up, it takes care of checkouts for you. Customers can find answers to all of their questions, and you won’t need to have workers monitoring the chat 24/7.

You should also take your shipping rates and time frames into consideration. Expensive, slow delivery will likely turn away buyers. Since they have access to so many other merchants, they can quickly go find someone else to purchase from with better delivery options. All of this plays into how successful your online purchasing journey will be.

4. Keeping Customer Data Secure

When it comes to data security, online marketplace sellers are in a tough spot. Marketplaces can make protection responsibility somewhat confusing since both the merchant and marketplace owners have access to the data. Consumers are raising concerns about data privacy when purchasing items online, and it’s the merchant’s responsibility to keep them safe.

Our recommendation: To make sure your customer’s data remains protected throughout the checkout process, you should consider investing in a security system. Online data threats are constantly evolving, and utilizing an innovative approach can assist in detecting, removing, and preventing threats to your customer’s data.

Privacy protection is key to showing your customers they can trust you. Trust is a significant factor when it comes to choosing a merchant to buy from, and most customers stay away from sites that don’t appear to be safe. By being with your customers about how you’re mitigating potential threats, you can build up trust and, in turn, drive more sales.

5. Creating a Brand Identity

Branding on a site that isn’t your own can be uniquely challenging. Most times, when a buyer purchases from an online marketplace, they remember the name of the marketplace, not the individual store. Branding your own store can be difficult when your listings are controlled by someone else. However, your branding directly impacts customer loyalty and retention, so we can’t give up on it just yet.

A brand identity can be fundamental when it comes to customer loyalty, repeat rate, and even retention. Customers go back to brands they can remember, but if the shop didn’t stick out to them, there’s little chance they’ll remember to return.

Our recommendation: We recommend promoting products that clearly showcase your brand and its name. Since you have control over limited parts of the selling process, you have to take manage what you can. The images, word choice, and types of products you promote all play a role in how well potential customers obtain your brand.

It is possible to promote your own brand on a site that isn’t your own. Taking a unique approach to this will be the best way to stand out and be memorable to customers.


Online marketplaces can be a great addition to an eCommerce store or even as the sole platform you sell on. Marketplaces can offer you access to a worldwide audience that a single website otherwise couldn’t create. Plus, you can list your products for cost-effective rates and make larger margins on your sales.

However, selling can be challenging as well. You now have to stand out from the crowd and show that your products are better than the competition. Selling through online marketplaces also requires you to simplify your buying processes to be fast and easy, manage customer privacy effectively, and create a memorable brand identity that is able to stand out.

FlashBox can help you manage your online marketplace deliveries with fast, affordable deliveries, no matter how you sell. Talk to an expert today for a tailored quote!

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