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With dozens and dozens of internet marketplaces and comparison shopping channels available to you r products, it can be difficult to choose what channels to go with and how much effort to put behind each channel.

Do you focus your efforts on the biggest players like Amazon, which this past year disclosed that it delivered more than one billion items sold by independent sellers? Or should you concentrate on a marketplace geared toward your particular niche;  should you focus on eBay for if you sell car parts and auto accessories, or Newegg if your products are tech gear and PC hardware or Houzz if your store features are home-related goods?

Obviously, your specific strategy will depend on the nature and size of your business, but the general idea should be to do the same thing that you do in the rest of your marketing: target likely consumers.

For businesses just starting out, this may mean beginning with smaller, niche online sites (possibly even just a single site) where there is less competition and – therefore – more of an opportunity to get noticed. Larger, more established companies will want to build a presence both on smaller niche sites and bigger, more general marketplaces.

Why? It’s pretty simple, really – even if the vast majority of the people who frequent behemoths like Amazon and eBay aren’t likely to be “your” people, the number of shoppers is so huge that you’re still going to find a sizeable number of consumers who are looking for what you have. Plus, regardless of whether a site is big or small, there are ways to design your listings to make them more likely to show up for the type of people you’re targeting.

Even with this strategy, though, it is incredibly valuable to understand the makeup of the various shopping sites. And it goes beyond knowing that Newegg is a tech site that largely focuses on computer and electronic products. By understanding who shops where, you can better target your product descriptions and images to specific types of consumers and improve your ROI.

Online Shoppers in General

First let’s take a look at how online shoppers compare to brick-and-mortar shoppers. Here are a few key facts to consider:

  • A higher percentage of middle-aged Americans (aged 45-54) shop online, compared to other age groups.
  • Millennials spend more online than any other group.
  • Most online shoppers in the U.S. live on the Eastern Seaboard, the West Coast, or in the Midwest hubs of Chicago, Milwaukee, and Denver.

 

Amazon

86% of all online shoppers use Amazon, so chances are good your target customer is using this marketplace. The online retail giant also tends to attract higher-income customers. The average household income of an Amazon customer is $89k, compared to the U.S. average of $71k. And one in five customers in the $500k bracket make a purchase once a week or more. If you plan to target this higher-income bracket on Amazon, be sure to offer Prime, because higher-income consumers are more likely to opt into the service.

 

ebay

Most online shopping channels skew female, so it’s worth noting that eBay actually has slightly more male visitors (51% vs. 49%). Most visitors on the site are between 35 and 64 years old, and 60% are the primary decision maker in their household when it comes to financial matters.

 

connexity

Shopzilla, which is part of the Connexity network, has a largely female audience between the ages of 25 and 54. One “key persona” on Shopzilla is upscale families or couples between the ages of 35 and 64 living in small towns.

 

newegg

This marketplace, which began with a focus on the sale of computer hardware and software, hits a pretty unique audience compared to other shopping channels: young, affluent, tech-savvy males. Most are between the ages of 18 and 35.

 

etsy

This vintage and handmade marketplace skews heavily female (67%), and they tend to be young and moderately educated. 69% do not have children and have income levels between $30k and $100k.

 

houzz

Female homeowners between the ages of 25 and 54 are the most common user on this marketplace-shopping engine hybrid, which is dedicated to all things related to the home. Not surprisingly, 72% plan to decorate or redecorate their home in the next two years, making it a valuable channel for businesses selling products in this industry.

 

rakuten

This marketplace is still gaining a hold in the U.S., but over half of Japan’s population had an account on the site as of 2013, and that percentage has only grown since then. It also tends to skew older.

 

polyvore

This social shopping engine is another one that does well with women, who make up 72% of its total audience. A third of their users have incomes over $100k, making it another place to target affluent consumers. And its audience is primarily young – 46% are between 19 and 34 years old, with 26% between 35 and 54 years old.

Bottom line? Not all channels are created equal. To improve your ROI, you may want to focus on the channels best-suited to your target demographic.