The Sticky Marketplace: A Qualitative Analysis of Demand Side Platform Stickiness in E-Commerce Marketplaces

Merlin Schüßler

Student thesis: Master thesis


Platforms have managed to revolutionize various companies and industry sectors in the past decade and are continuing to do so. This also includes the retailing sector. While some online retailers have realized the importance of platform, they are planning to adopt platform business models to their retailing shops. However, when looking at the marketplaces landscape in Europe, some marketplaces seem to be more successful than others to attract and maintain external relationships with its affiliated parties. The ability of platforms to foster affiliation and engagement of the platform participants as well as the platforms ability to curate its distinct sides effectively, in summary understood as platform stickiness, can be seen as key factor for a healthy platform. Thus, the aim of this research is to explore the factors that motivates demand side customers to stick with the marketplace as a literature review of e-commerce and platform theory shows that the customer perspective has been neglected so far. In a qualitative interview approach with ten customers of European marketplaces from various countries this research aims to gather subjective insights of how customers want to affiliate and engage with a marketplace as well as which convenience factors and platform mechanism they expect from a marketplace. The interviews are then analyzed with a general inductive approach. Generally, this research shows that five overarching themes in relation to platform stickiness; affiliation, engagement, convenience, platform curation and adjacent areas, are important in the eyes of customers. Specifically, stickiness can be achieved through a successful interplay of convenience and platform curation mechanism however the underlying factors thereunder varies based on the subjective preference and expectations of the customers. Moreover, customers can be engaged on an informational and inspirational dimension especially in regard to reviews and ratings. Lastly, membership programs can be identified as a successful mechanism, however, are limited to specific customer types. Conclusively, this research shows that platform stickiness cannot be achieved through a one size fits all solution as customers are individual and assign different importance to factors categorized under the five themes.

EducationsOther, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages64
SupervisorsKalina Staykova