How disruptive technology is transforming buying behavior

When you think of garage sales, auctions, and collectible shows, you can’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia. Think of any toy that was popular 20 or 30 years ago; as you peruse the vast and eclectic display of goods for sale, you know somehow, someone has managed to break the tight grip of their past. It’s all fair game in pursuit of the highest bidder. Many common online marketplaces offer classified-style listings including: eBay, Kijiji, and Craigslist. They’re among hundreds of sites available as either country or region specific.

According to Statista, an online source for eCommerce analytical reporting, in 2018, global eCommerce retail sales amounted to $2.8 trillion USD and the projection is that by 2021, it will reach to more than twice as much. Shopping online has been one of the most popular global activities. This trend has expanded not just from business-to-business sites but to social media platforms. Deborah Liu, VP of Facebook’s Marketplace, predicts the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI). She says that behind the scenes, AI is making Marketplace more efficient and personalized for buyers while also helping sellers connect with more potential buyers, faster. AI can automatically improve the quality of photos and translate listings and Messenger conversations.

In emerging economies such as Asia and Latin America, buy and sell platforms have adopted social media marketing in many interesting ways. Alibaba’s Singles’ Day, a China-exclusive event, brought in $30.8 billion in record sales last year, according to its website. The site owes its popularity to brands engaging buyers through active discounts on its mobile app; extending beyond the community forums and their blog sites. Another example is “Mercado Libre,” the 8th most visited retail site in the world, according to CrazyLister’s Co-Founder Max Godin. Mercado Libre caters to 18 countries in several languages and it promotes posting quality controls to engage users with better images and content. Just as an Instagram user would upload a filtered image, applying hashtags to promote content distribution is an attractive feature for many account users.

The world has become an international buy and sell playground for many companies. Beyond your neighbour’s yard sale, whether you are selling a vintage toy or buying an internet of things (IoT) gadget; future users’ interactions will be predetermined by AI algorithms and their social media browsing and shopping patterns. While this disruptive technology may one day bring buyers and sellers closer than ever, Liu predicts our attitudes and feelings about what to buy and when to sell will continue to challenge businesses for faster and user-driven solutions.

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