The ubiquity of smartphones has accelerated the evolution of e-commerce and social commerce. More brands are keen to adopt an ‘always on’ approach and try to facilitate seamless online purchases at every opportunity, directly connecting marketing communications with the opportunity to purchase.


E-commerce describes the trading of goods and services online. Social commerce describes online retail which uses social networks or peer to peer communication to drive sales.

Key insights

1. Digital marketplaces are overtaking search as the key source of online product information

According to a digital advertising benchmarking report by SaaS, brands are increasing their e-commerce ad spend by up to 40%, with Amazon the key beneficiary. While search engines used to be in pole position for online shoppers, Amazon is becoming the go to place for product information with 56% of shoppers saying they use it for information on price, availability and reading reviews - compared to less than half for search engines. Other marketplaces like eBay, Rakuten and Etsy also score highly on product search and attract more customers than many retailer and brand sites. Marketplace or Amazon optimisation may become as important as SEO. Search is in decline particularly amongst the under 24 age group, while Gen Z is more likely to go straight to a brand website.