A comprehensive guide to eCommerce marketplaces

The e-commerce sector is growing massively year on year, with $4.28 trillion in sales in 2020 alone, and a projected $5.4 trillion for 2022.

However, online retailers today have a range of platforms they can sell through, not just their own websites. With so many marketplaces popping up, it is important for companies to assess which ones they want to focus on. Read on for a guide to eCommerce marketplaces

guide to eCommerce marketplaces phone

Of course, that doesn’t mean you only need to pick just one. “The future of the e-commerce industry is, with no doubts, multichannel,” explain the experts at Bezos.ai, who specialise in fulfilment services for e-commerce businesses. “This basically means that as a retailer, you must go (and bring your products) where your customers are… Sellers who embrace the ‘sell more and everywhere’ attitude are the most successful.”

The key is to research and understand the different platforms, consider whether your target market is present on them, and then proceed to set up accounts and workflows that will allow you to fulfil those orders efficiently, even when they come from multiple directions. In order to help with that, we’ve created a guide to eCommerce marketplaces.

1. Amazon

Everyone knows Amazon. By far the biggest, most eclectic marketplace on the internet. In fact, it’s not just the biggest marketplace, it is also the third-largest company in the world. No matter what you sell, you will benefit from presenting your stock on Amazon, even if there are 200 million paying Prime members globally by the sheer volume of users. This marketplace is ubiquitous, to the point where anyone looking for anything online is probably going to search Amazon first.

Of course, the high number of users also means that there’s a brutal competition for their attention, so make sure you invest time and effort into optimising your listings, and understanding how the algorithm works. Customer service is also key, so ensure you reply swiftly and consider setting up paid ads.

2. Etsy

If you sell designed or handmade items, Etsy is unavoidable. The artisan marketplace launched in 2005 and has been a favourite for sellers ever since. And with 81.9 million active buyers, you can be sure your items would gain some traction if you know how to use the platform to your advantage. However, bear in mind that people go to Etsy for a specific type of product — anything that is artistic, handmade, vintage, one-of-a-kind, or fashion-related. So if you sell computers, you might want to skip this one. As long as you sell suitable items, Etsy is a must: just put an emphasis on utilising product tags and on your overall branding, as this marketplace is very visual.

3. Wayfair

Wayfair is all about home goods. Furniture, decor, lighting, anything homeware. If that’s your niche, Wayfair is a no-brainer. The marketplace grew by 45% last year and isn’t going anywhere. They’re known for spending a lot on advertising, which means your products are going to reach far and beyond their membership without much extra effort.

4. eBay

Although eBay is mainly known for second-hand items, it has changed dramatically since its launch in 1995, and now many retailers opt to sell first-hand products through the platform. eBay plays host to over a billion listings in every category under the sun, electronics being the largest portion with 16.4% of items sold. Clothing and accessories, automotive, and health and beauty are also large sections, so if your inventory correlates with any of these, eBay is ideal. However, this is not prescriptive — practically anything can be sold well on eBay. So, similarly to Amazon, you should consider this platform seriously whatever you sell, whether it’s items that aren’t on this list, or even ‘out there’ products.

It can also be a great first step into the global market, but it is still very competitive. A unique aspect of eBay is that you don’t have to establish a set price for your products — customers can bid on them, which is particularly good if you sell one-of-a-kind items. However, this means you might not receive payment until much later, which is less stable.

5. Groupon

Groupon is geared towards vouchers, and although it is moving away from this model, it still very much defines it. Setting up a shop on this platform can be extremely useful, especially for small businesses who want to reach a more local market or are willing to give a little discount to gain heaps of new customers.

The company boasts 25.8 million unique customers, and while this number is lower than some of the other marketplaces on this list, the nature of Groupon accounts is beneficial to your business. This is because they are further down the sales funnel than your average eBay or Amazon users, for example, who might simply be doing research. On the other hand, Groupon buyers tend to have already decided they would like to make a purchase and are just looking for the best deal.

However, it is important to note that the fee this marketplace takes is exorbitant — 50% for every single sale made through them — so have a good think about whether it’s worth the high volume of customers that the website will send in your direction.

6. Fruugo

Another eclectic website, Fruugo is a smaller marketplace built with an international audience in mind. Working in 46 countries, Fruugo’s entire system is modelled to award e-commerce businesses a global reach, automatically translating your listings into 28 languages, and using their tech to analyse your products and infer the locale in which they are more likely to sell. They even advertise your products for you using their integrations. The main benefit of Fruugo for newer or smaller businesses, however, is the fact that there’s no ongoing flat fee. Retailers only pay when they make a sale, making it a great place to start your marketplace journey. With this guide to eCommerce marketplaces, you will have a strong start.