Fragmented E-Commerce: Anomaly, Or the New Normal?


Is the fragmentation of online shopping an anomaly or the new normal? Our first post in a three-part series focuses on how to apply an ageless merchandising principle to buyers’ online shopping habits.

Until 4-5 years ago, online shoppers had really just a single gateway to the Internet of shopping: Google.com (Both through natural referencing and Adwords).

A quick look at their Google Analytics allowed the merchant to confirm their visitor traffic, and compare it to sales.

E-merchants will tell you that these were the good times.

Now, their complaint is, “The Marketplaces devoured our independent online sales! We know the story. “

Except…that’s not exactly the story.


The marketplaces didn’t devour all the online purchases. On the contrary, they accelerated the consumer adoption of this type of shopping. They have multiplied online purchases.

Online purchases are experiencing a growth level that would have been impossible in the era when Google was the sole master of the web universe.

What they have devoured, though, are purchasing behaviors.

This means things like knowledge of the purchasing site, a trusted third party, credit card and pre-registered delivery addresses, mobile apps and trust in product returns.

However, we understand the resistance of e-merchants, how it used to be easier and all the new marketplace rules are frustrating.

But you have to be careful, because it was exactly the same frustration that the incumbent merchants felt when e-commerce, this new trend, started to take market share away from them.

The same people who embraced e-commerce technology 10 years ago, now find themselves having the frustration of those they said were not following the new trends.

Because make no mistake about it: there is only one rule in commerce, no matter which kind.

There is one and only one rule in commerce. This rule has been the same for thousands of years. It was the same for the itinerant merchant who wandered from village to village (“I know every road to every village.”)

It was the same when this merchant settled in the market in the center of the village, and then when he opened a second shop in the rue de l’Eglise (“I was told that it is busy.”). And finally, when he opened a network of shops in the centers of large cities (“There is transit, I’m just outside the metro”).
Now you will find those same shopkeepers selling online.

“In commerce, there is only one rule: Be present where your buyers are.”

Georges Litinérant – bootmakers at Village St Commerce

Surprisingly, some e-merchants refuse to be present where their potential customers are. A city shop always tries to get closer to the passageways and shopping streets. But on the internet, the “shopping districts” aren’t always so clearly perceived.

Because they believe that distances do not exist on the Internet, some e-merchants have forgotten the meaning of the word “shopping street”.

But distances do exist on the Internet (a subject that we’ll discuss in the next post). They are not counted in meters or kilometers. They are counted in uses. If your buyers use the “Garden and DIY” categories of Amazon and Cdiscount more than your own Garden and DIY site, then the distance between your shop and your buyers can’t even be counted in kilometers distant…because it is infinite: they simply don’t see you.

The fragmentation of online shopping is not an anomaly, but the rule. Buyers, whether they are online or not, have always bought from the nearest store. And on the Internet, “close” equates to the web or mobile applications they’re using : Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, Buy.com, Facebook, or Google Shopping. (Yes, Google has perfected its game and gotten into the “marketplace” concept in its own way.)

There are still many more to come, whose future existence we can’t even foresee. In the meantime, remember the rule: Be wherever it is they go when they decide to start shopping.

Shoppingfeed syndicates search-optimized product listings on all of the world’s most powerful marketplaces, syncs and refines inventory data, perfects your listings, and automates your fulfillment workflow.