By Sree Menon, SVP of Strategy at Tophatter


In 2019, almost every merchant is a multi-marketplace seller, but if sellers are only focusing on utilitarian search-powered marketplaces than they are missing out on a huge chunk of consumer spend.

The internet has perfected search-driven shopping—following Amazon’s lead—and it is great for shoppers who want to find exactly what they need.

Ecommerce retailers like Amazon, eBay, Wayfair, etc. are set up to perfectly to serve the people who know what they want. They have search bars at the top of the screen, curated filters to narrow the search query, and AI technologies that spin up similar items once the shopper double clicks to learn more about an item. However, exactly what the shopper needs only fits about 50% of consumer retail spending. The other half is spent on discovery shopping, the act of browsing for the things they didn’t know they wanted.

Discovery shopping is a mainstay of brick and mortar and is still performing well there. TJ Maxx, Dollar Stores, and others are filled with people who enjoy the experience of walking up and down the aisles waiting for something to catch their eye. These stores usually focus on unbranded items that are discounted or sold for an everyday low price. While discovery shopping is still doing well in physical retail, we all know more and more shoppers are turning to mobile. With this shift though, people are still looking for that shopping as a pastime experience. Mobile shopping marketplaces, like Tophatter, are growing fast, and the market is ripe with opportunities for sellers. So, what do merchants need to know to sell to discovery shoppers?

Think Value Not Brands

Discovery shoppers are looking for deals. They are usually buying something they don’t need—either for themselves, their families, or as a gifts. Shoppers who are looking for a brand name are usually seeking out something in particular, but discovery shoppers are their for the treasure hunt experience. For sellers, this means inventory will move if the deals are right for shoppers. Closeout, wholesale, and other discount inventory can move fast in discovery marketplaces where shoppers want to feel like they are scoring a great deal.

Gifting is All Year–Not Just Q4

The 2018 Tophatter Gifting Survey found that 21.8% of consumers keep a stash of generic gifts at home, just in case—and 41.9% of people said they don’t do this but really should. Gifting happens all year round, and it goes hand-in-hand with discovery shopping. Home goods, toys, and electronics are just some of the categories that discovery shoppers go to when looking for gifts. Sellers can capitalize on gifting inventory that only makes sense in Q4 at traditional retailers, but can be merchandised and sold all year on discovery marketplaces.

Don’t Depend on the Search Bar

Search-driven shopping makes a frictionless experience for consumers, but it means a lot of merchants will never have their items seen. Mobile discovery marketplaces are purpose built for shoppers to spend time in them, scrolling through products, rather than created around a quick and seamless path to purchase. On Tophatter, only 3% of  shoppers use the search feature, but over 75% of shoppers engage with a product. When selling on discovery marketplaces, sellers experience more engagement without huge advertising and marketing spends.

Ready to try selling in a discovery marketplace? Apply to be a seller on Tophatter today and don’t miss our booth at Prosper.