According to a UPS and comScore study of online shoppers, online marketplaces are shifting the e-commerce market.

For many retailers, selling on online marketplaces should be a part of their e-commerce strategies. That’s because, increasingly, more consumers, particularly millennials, are starting their searches and ultimately buying on those platforms, Louis DeJianne, director of marketing at UPS, said at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition on Wednesday.

It’s no secret that Inc. dominates the U.S. online retail market, and continues to take a bigger share of consumer dollars each year. But Amazon’s marketplace, which fuels the breadth of products available on its site (roughly 350 million SKUs are from marketplace sellers on Amazon), isn’t the only marketplace consumers are shopping on.

97% of consumers who shop on online do so on marketplaces, DeJianne said, citing the just-released study “The UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper,” by UPS and comScore. That’s up from 85% last year. Of those marketplace shoppers, 90% surveyed said they shop on Amazon, up from 70% last year.

The 2017 study was fielded in Q1 2017 and is based on a comScore survey of more than 5,000 U.S. online shoppers. Respondents made at least two online purchases in a typical three-month period.

38% of consumers start their online search on a marketplace, more than any other channel, the survey showed. The top reasons for purchasing on a marketplace instead of a retailer are better prices and free or discounted shipping, consumers said. Other reasons consumers pointed to: the total cost of the order including shipping costs/taxes, speed of delivery, broader selection of products within any given category and in-stock products.


DeJianne noted that the millennial generation engage the most with marketplaces, which shows that the future buyers will shift more toward this channel. “How you engage with marketplaces will determine your success,” DeJianne said.

Looking forward, 30% of survey respondents said they’ll purchase more products on marketplaces and 29% said they will research on marketplaces more.

The growth in shopping on marketplaces has also helped increase cross-border shopping. Nearly half of the respondents purchased merchandise from international retailers, up from 43% a year ago. 32% say they discovered the retailer on a U.S. marketplace. Furthermore, finding lower prices from international retailers on U.S. marketplaces is the top reason respondents said they shopped cross-border.


“Oftentimes if you’re purchasing from large marketplaces, customers don’t know that they’re buying from an international retailer until they get to the checkout or when they begin tracking the purchases,” DeJianne said. “More competition and more price pressure means retailers need to understand how their products exist in the global market.”