E-commerce in Poland – consumer habits
To no one’s surprise, online shopping is growing in popularity – in Poland, 79% of consumers say they buy online. Equally interesting, as many as 30% buy (or at least check offers) from foreign sellers. As users become more digitally competent, the percentage of online shoppers increases proportionately.
However, consumers don’t like to limit themselves – especially since it’s much easier online than in real life. Few people, as a rule, only buy from brands’ own online stores or are loyal to marketplaces. However, we can find a lot of intriguing information in the “E-commerce in Poland 2023” report, from which all the listed data is taken, for example, on the time shoppers spend on sales platforms and in specialty stores. The statistics compare favorably for the former – Internet users spend 55% of their time in marketplaces when shopping.
Further data show significant customer behavior – as much as 55% of “shopping” time is spent on mobile apps, 29% of time on desktop computers, and only 16% of time on mobile store websites. This shows how important the convenience and accessibility of apps is – after all, collectively as much as 71% of our shopping time is spent using mobile devices!
What is a marketplace?
An online marketplace is a platform whose owner provides sales space to various sellers. In Poland, the most popular marketplace for years has been Allegro.pl, which allows entrepreneurs to open a store within the portal’s structure. Consumer sales, on the other hand, are made possible by the Allegro Locally service.
Other examples of marketplaces operating in Poland: Empik, Amazon, AliExpress, Temu, OLX.
How do sales platforms work?
An entrepreneur who wants to sell his products on sales platforms must have a registered business and create an account on the chosen portal. After completing all the necessary information (including billing data), the trader can start “listing” his products, i.e. creating offers according to the template available for the marketplace.
Customers visiting a particular platform can find the seller’s products, and when they decide to buy, the seller fulfills the order and receives payment for it.
Simply setting up a seller’s account is generally free, but it should be noted that such sites charge a number of fees, ranging from a listing or renewal fee, to a number of additional services (such as highlighting a listing in the “promoted” or “recommended” section), to sales commissions.
What do you gain and what do you lose by selling on the marketplace?
Launching a store on a sales platform is often dictated by lower upfront costs, but that’s not the end of the advantages. Let’s take a look at the potential benefits of setting up store on the marketplace.
Quick, convenient start
…and few personalization options.
All you need to do is to have a business, enter its data and complete a few mandatory fields in the form. Then confirmation and… you can actually start publishing offers. Sales platforms tempt sellers primarily by their readiness to serve customers. The various necessary listing templates, the usually clear categorization, the multitude of available filters – all this is included in every popular marketplace, making it even easier for you to actually start selling.
What is missing? Often platforms do not provide the ability to add custom filters or product categories. Most stores are unlikely to notice such a specific inconvenience, but if you sell niche products, it could be a problem.
… but only by way of introduction.
By using the ready-made infrastructure of a large sales platform, you don’t have to incur a lot of costs that, if you decide to set up your own online store, will be charged to your company’s account. What’s more, creating an account on many martketplaces is completely free! So you avoid fees for website design or server and domain maintenance. What’s the catch?
Sales platforms are not non-profit organizations, and they charge for the convenience and provision of space, usually in the form of a commission on each sale. Depending on the type of products and the portal’s policy, it can be as much as a dozen percent, but usually the fees are lower. Some platforms also charge a fee for launching the offer or allow the product to be displayed for a specific period of time, in which case extending the validity of the offer incurs additional costs.
Access to an unreachable customer base
…and huge competition.
Whether you want to sell on Allegro, Amazon or Morele, any of these platforms will give your business the necessary exposure. Your listings will be seen by thousands of customers the very same day. This is an invaluable benefit so that you don’t have to invest a lot of money in marketing. Marketplaces are already professionally positioned, so customers looking for specific products easily end up shopping right there. If your offer is compelling, you have a good chance of getting customers to it from the first positions in search engines.
Of course, nothing is free – access to a huge customer base tempts not only you, but also thousands of other companies. You all want to sell as much as possible and make every effort to attract customers. By choosing to sell through the marketplace, you are in a sense agreeing to participate in a price war. On Allegro or Amazon, there is no room for sentiment and customers who are looking for the best possible customer service and are willing to pay extra for it. In these places, in the crushing majority of cases, attention is paid only to price, and this means that the best way to stand out from the competition is to offer the lowest purchase amount.
How does setting up your own store compare in this comparison?
If, despite the advantages that sales platforms offer, you prefer to put up your own e-store, you must expect some inconveniences, but this approach guarantees benefits that are lacking elsewhere.
A domain and your own website, or perhaps an e-commerce platform?
You are waiting for the need to purchase a domain name, as well as to design a store website, although there will be a way to do this as well. Setting up your own store from scratch can be a daunting task, which is why entrepreneurs are increasingly turning to e-commerce platforms such as Shoper, Sky-shop and Selly.
These companies enable much more than just launching an online store. It’s also integrations with multi-channel sales platforms, quite a few templates so you can personalize your store, and – at least in some cases – no commissions. In the case of SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions, such as those mentioned above, there is a fixed monthly fee for services. Its amount depends on the selected package of limits (for example, on the number of products) and additional services.
Unlike the marketplaces discussed earlier, your own online store requires extensive promotion. No one will know you are selling until you start advertising. This involves not only costs, but also a lot of work.
Create your independence
Want to try something out of the ordinary? Suggest an interesting page layout? Do you have a clarified vision, the implementation of which can be the key to success? With your own online store, you are only limited by your budget and… the law. So if you’re not doing anything illegal, you can operate unhindered, without reading into the regulations of sales platforms and without grumbling about their restrictions. Your store – your rules.
The commission? I don’t know
You don’t have to pay anyone to put up a listing, to renew it or, even worse, to sell it. You incur a number of other costs, that’s obvious, but what you earn from sales is yours. You can set margins at will, and convince customers not necessarily with the lowest prices. If you want to, create a premium brand with products of the highest quality workmanship, and convince your business with a pro-consumer approach and outstanding customer service. Having your own online store won’t make your competitors disappear, but you can choose how you stand out from them.
Build a personal brand
Do you remember which company sold you the last item on Allegro or AliExpress? Sales platforms give a lot, but they also make it difficult to build your own brand. It’s much harder to become a recognizable store when customers only associate buying your products with the marketplace where you display them.
Is there an objectively better solution?
No – both sales platforms and selling on your own terms offer many advantages, and it is only up to you, the current situation of your business and market conditions to decide which solution will prove more attractive. However, there is a third way, which is definitely worth considering, although it is still not ideal. It’s all about multi-channel sales.
Setting up your own store and selling on marketplaces requires even more effort, but allows you to reach many customers and sell on your own terms, although not at the same time. What does this actually mean? You can gain a lot of reach on sales platforms, and then “drag” customers acquired in this way to your store’s website. Make sure that every package they receive from you clearly states where it came from. Company packaging, ribbon, a letter from the store, and even an invoice on letterhead – all small elements that nevertheless contribute to building brand recognition.
Whether multichannel sales will be successful also depends on the type of assortment you offer your customers. If you run a handicraft studio or sell other niche products, you won’t get many customers on Amazon. Consumers who search for such products often conduct in-depth research, rather than simply typing the product name into a search engine on a frequently visited shopping platform.