Thomas Sullivan Senior Marketing Business: The Online Superstore

Hits All The Right Notes

I think we can all agree that Amazon has come a long way in the e-commerce world. In my recent article for Smart Business Marketing, I discuss the evolving role of Amazon in the retail world and how that impacts branding and marketing strategies.

When it comes to retail and e-commerce marketing, traditional tactics like advertising and inbound marketing are paramount. However, when it comes to selling expensive or luxury goods where consumers have tons of choice, traditional marketing alone won’t cut it. For those brands, you’ll need to develop a whole new approach.

One of the most interesting aspects of Amazon is how it grew from simply being an online store to also being a major marketplace for brands and products. They provide a unique platform for sellers, which is why most of Amazon’s customers are either brands or small businesses that sell their products on the platform. This hybrid model presents unique opportunities and challenges for marketers.

The Evolution Of Marketplaces

In my article, I explore how Amazon evolved from a traditional e-commerce site to a marketplace for brands and how that change impacts marketing strategy. You’ll learn about key differences between these two types of platforms and how marketers can best take advantage of them. Let’s begin by taking a quick look at the differences between a marketplace and a traditional e-commerce store.


Even though Amazon is a platform, they still need to operate a traditional e-commerce store, which means they need to have a shopping cart and individual product pages. A marketplace, however, will have a single storefront displaying all the products from multiple sellers. The main benefit to this model is the level of customer interaction it provides; you can easily communicate with every customer that comes into contact with your brand.

In a traditional e-commerce store, customers usually have no contact with the seller beyond the product and the shopping cart. With a marketplace, you can gain customer trust by providing them with quality content and by promoting sustainable and ethical practice.

Marketing is a key differentiator between a marketplace and a traditional e-commerce shop. A marketer for a brand that sells its products on Amazon would have a much bigger role to play in the store’s evolution than one that simply promotes products on the website.

Geographic Reach

Since Amazon is a global company, your potential customer base is spread across the world. A Canadian furniture brand that sells its products only in Canada could find itself competing for sales with big US brands like IKEA or Wayfair. With a marketplace, your reach is global—a major advantage for any brand.

Seller Ratings And Reviews

Traditional brick-and-mortar stores have the advantage of being able to physically inspect the product before purchasing it. This extra degree of quality assurance is something that can’t be provided on a digital platform, and as a result, it’s more difficult for a brand to establish trust with its customers on a digital marketplace. Even if a product appears to be of high quality, there’s no guarantee that it will perform the way the seller promises. This creates a challenge for brands that want to promote trust and quality on a digital platform.

All of this is to say that building a brand is far more difficult on a marketplace. You have to earn the trust of customers, which takes time.

Let’s now dive into how marketers can most effectively play a role in the evolution of a traditional e-commerce store to a market place for brands.

Marketing strategy

When you have a brand that wants to sell its products on Amazon, the first thing you’ll need to do is to establish its identity on the site. This will be more effective if you can do it in a way that doesn’t break the bank. One option would be to use a freelance writer to establish the brand’s voice. The advantage of this approach is that you get to choose the writer, their unique voice will be instantly recognizable by customers, and if you want to change it later, you can always ask for a fresh take. This is one of the main reasons why I suggest establishing a brand on Amazon rather than just using the site as a means to an end—you’ll have the opportunity to grow with the platform rather than just using it as a shop.

Social media

While social media isn’t directly tied to e-commerce, every brand that wants to sell its products online will eventually have to get on social media. It’s an essential part of establishing a brand presence in today’s digital world. Even if you do nothing more than have a Facebook page with a few hundred likes, you’re already making progress. Now, you have to decide whether you want to focus on attracting customers or building a community.

If you want to attract customers, you’ll need to have a social media presence that’s relevant to the target audience. For instance, a fashion brand that wants to sell its shoes to men might focus on creating memes and engaging with its followers on Instagram.

One of the most important things to consider when choosing social media platforms is how search works there. If your brand’s name is mentioned, people will naturally turn to your Facebook page or Instagram profile to learn more about you.


For any brand that wants to get serious about growing its business, the first thing it will need to do is figure out how to measure its success. Luckily for you, we’re live in a world where analytics packages have come a long way. A business that wants to grow and evolve with the times can look into tools that will help it identify the best marketing strategies based on customer behavior and the performance of its sales.


Even for a company that wants to keep its prices low, it’s important to get the right price for each product on Amazon. When customers see other similar products on the site with much cheaper prices, it can create the illusion of an unfair trade practice. To avoid this, you need to make sure that each product you sell is billed at the correct rate.

Final Takeaway

As you can see, there are many ways that brands can play a role in the evolution of a traditional e-commerce store to a marketplace; however, finding the right marketing mix is key. If you want to have a successful brand on Amazon, you’ll need to consider what makes your product special and unique, as well as how you’re going to position it on the site. To start, you can use your own products as test sales to see how others perform and then make changes to fit your needs. As a result of this process, you’ll have a much better idea of how to position your brand for the best possible results online.