Q&A: Demystifying Marketplaces and Ecommerce Trends

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By Published On: May 16, 20240 Comments

We sat down with Mark Gray, Managing Director, CrescoData, to unveil the upcoming trends, patterns, and the technology powering marketplaces.

Mark Gray is the Managing Director of CrescoData, a headless middleware solution for retailers of all sizes from marketplaces to ecommerce stores. With 19 years of e-commerce experience, Mark has been on both the retail and brand side representing and growing sales across multiple channels, working with multiple software service businesses.

From building out and launching the Catch marketplace, the, Westfield Direct, and our very own Click Central, Mark has had wealth of experience growing marketplaces, overcoming omnichannel challenges, and identifying cross channel opportunities. 

Mark joined CrescoData around eight months ago, jumping at the opportunity to help brands and retailers to expand globally with a powerful solution after using CrescoData as a white label product for years when building out these marketplaces. 

We sat down to find out more about the middleware solution behind our favourite marketplaces, and got Mark’s insight into the current trends and upcoming predictions in the online retail space. 

Can you tell me a bit more about what CrescoData does and who you are? 

CrescoData has been in business now for just under nine years. They were founded in Singapore as a middleware solution, helping large enterprise customers connect back into front end challenges that they were having. We realised then, that there was a need out there for connecting platforms directly to marketplaces. And that was the birth of CrescoData.

CrescoData historically has focused on Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia. But with a recent acquisition by American technology company Pitney Bowes, that’s allowed us to really start to expand globally and put our offering out to the rest of the world, certainly in India, North America, Europe. 

When I took over as Managing Director, I realized that the enterprise solution that CrescoData had built was really solid, but we didn’t really have an offering for the everyday small to medium business or mid-tier enterprises. So very quickly over the last couple of months, we were actually able to launch a new platform called Marketplace Maximizer that was released last month. And that is a product that’s set up from day one to allow any retailer irrespective of their size and wherever they’re at in the world to ship products across multiple regions. platforms and social channels as well. 

What really differentiates us is the flexibility that we have. We are a headless solution. We allow one-off connections to occur quite seamlessly as well and allow for a lot of bespoke work to be done without interrupting the data flow of what’s needed within businesses. 

The biggest need for mid-tier to smaller SMEs is that there’s just really been nothing out there to suit those needs. You almost had to have a huge IT team to really make this happen in the past. So we’re really allowing that functionality to be rolled out to everybody, regardless of the size of your business or the budget that you may have. 

We accommodate for unique needs by allowing them to have direct access to our engineering team on that headless side and creating those connections for them. So they don’t have to come up with their own third party or even their own in-house IT solution. We can actually provide that for them as an intermediary. 

What trends are you seeing in the industry and how are you addressing them?

There was a lot of uncertainty and shifting particularly within online channels and marketplaces since COVID. Everyone had to have a marketplace then! But now we’ve seen a leveling out. 

Over the last couple years, that consolidation happened where some of them have gone out of business for various reasons;  investors have stepped back, and a slew of acquisitions have led to smaller marketplaces getting gobbled up by the larger entities. 

We’ve started to see a paradigm shift of customers actually going back to how they like shopping. So, yes, the likes of Amazon and eBay shipping solutions are quite convenient, people do like that ability to to get products quickly. 

But we’re starting to see the shift of people like to shop how they shop. Just because something is a dollar cheaper or a couple of dollars cheaper or you can get it the next day doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to shop on Amazon as compared to your favorite retailer.

Looking at the rise of things like TikTok shops and live marketplaces, people are just shopping differently than they were a couple of years ago. 

A lot of the platforms out there are separating their marketing channels like Google Shopping feeds, Facebook, and TikTok from online marketplaces, treating them separately whereas in actuality, there’s a huge crossover and we treat them the same. 

Our suite of products has a dedicated rules engine that we have in the background that has some AI, allowing you to be able to identify those trends. 

As an example, we support a number of brands and merchants on TikTok shops in Southeast Asia. In particular, Singapore is an example where they’re able to look at a product that’s being sold on Amazon as compared to, let’s say, Lazada or Shopee, and their TikTok shop. And in real time, they’re actually able to make decisions around price points, around when to make products available or pull them off  based on the activity that’s happening on those social channels and how it’s influencing the other marketplaces. If you see a surge of activity on your TikTok shop around a product –  and maybe it’s not converting, we can give you the insight as to why, and how to react to buyer trends.

What’s in the works going ahead? You have these trends that are happening now. What are your predictions and how are you going to tackle those? 

I think one of the other big trends and predictions that we’re making and we’re starting to see in the market is obviously we’ll call it the “Temu effect”, which is where shoppers are changing their activity online and how they’re  shopping, especially among younger shoppers.  

These low cost marketplaces are pushing products cheaply and at almost ridiculous price points, and we’re starting to see that trend and investment slow down quite a bit.

So we’re starting to see those marketplaces shift their strategy now that they have a customer base to start to bring brands on. 

We predict, in the upcoming months and certainly year, you’re going to start to see a lot of these brands you would never think would be on these fast marketplaces, to start really embracing those opportunities because they do have that groundswell of younger demographics that they can start to market to in a different way. 

We’re already starting to see it happen and support some of those platforms already. 

We’ve also enabled our Marketplace Maximizer tool, so you’ll start to see a solution from us that has hard baked in a top tier shipping solution married alongside of all your channels in one solution. We have that AI in the background, being able to really generate real-time instances of decision-making options for merchants and brands to be able to not just shift the price around, but to be on top of what trends are happening within their own business. 

In terms of omnichannel support, there are thousands of customers that probably don’t even realize they’re using the CrescoData solutions in front-end POS systems and inventory management systems. CrescoData helps marry together that physical bricks and mortar to  online platforms, bridging that gap.

Find out more about CrescoData
here. All Power Retail subscribers receive 3 months free and up-to 25% off set-up fees until June 30th, 2024!

About the Author: Rosalea Catterson

Rosalea is the Editor of Power Retail. With a keen interest in consumer behaviour and tech, she covers everything ecommerce and hosts the Power Retail Power Talks Podcast.

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