How To Tell If You’re Ready to Start Selling Through Online Marketplaces

If you’re thinking of launching your products on an online marketplace, like Amazon,, eBay or any other regional platforms, there are many questions you need to ask in order to see if your brand is ready.  

Brands often make the mistake of jumping into a new sales channel without understanding the operational and administrative needs. Online marketplace selling often requires seeking out new fulfillment operations—plus you’ll need to manage a spike in order volume and navigating more customer requests. Does your brand have the systems in place to ensure these things are done correctly and efficiently?  

Think of a marketplace like a new geographical region: Is your target audience already there? Or will you have to build a following from scratch? Does your product fit well there? Are there competitive products already selling there? Is there a clear ROI to launch there?  

Here are a few of the key markers that your brand is, or is not, ready to sell on an online marketplace.  

Where in the World is your Audience?  

Just like launching any new sales channel selling on an online marketplace requires understanding the audience who shops there.   

Where your customers live—both geographically and also where they spend time online—are key aspects when deciding if you’re ready to sell on a marketplace. Most online platforms cater to a specific region. If your customers are already in that region, there’s a high likelihood they will adapt to buying from you on a popular marketplace in that region.  

Here are some of the top marketplaces and the regions they correspond to:  

  • Amazon is the biggest platform globally, and the most known. But it has specific regions that it caters to: US, Canada, Germany, UK, and India. Any regions adjacent to these countries (for example EU countries shop on Amazon Germany) may also have a large presence on the corresponding Amazon site.  
  • eBay is the market leader in Australia. The site also has a large presence in the UK, Germany, and some in the US.  
  • Mercado Libre is very popular in Latin America. It offers cross-border opportunities to ship to many countries within the region.  
  • Jumia is an online marketplace that serves many countries in Africa. The site has different landing pages for country-specific platforms and products.  
  • Alibaba is another global marketplace that has different APIs that are popular in various regions: Tmall dominates the market in China, AliExpress is big in Russia, Spain, and a few other European, Latin American countries, and it has a small presence in the US, and finally Lazada is a big player in Southeast Asia.  

Do You Need Cross-Border Support? 

A cross-border platform will support sales within the country where it is located, plus other countries as well. Some marketplaces will only ship within the country where they are located, these are called in-market platforms.  

If you intend to ship products to more than one country from an online marketplace, you need to have your operations set up to make this happen.  

Shipping products cross-border requires a lot of administrative support. For smaller brands, having a marketplace help you handle this is a benefit. They may take care of some of the customs responsibilities. But you will likely need to do extra work as well. Different countries usually require slightly differentiated products—labels in a different language, for example.  

Cross-border sales require a lot more than just shipping support. Currency exchange is incredibly important as well. Look for a platform that will help you navigate currency exchange, both to display for customers as well as on the back end for easier operations.  

Listing your content in multiple languages is also often a function of cross-border marketplace platforms. For example, if you sell on Amazon in the US, you’ll have your content listed in English. If you want to expand to Mexico, you’ll need to ensure it’s also listed in Spanish.   

Making these changes at scale is not easy. Look for tools that can help automate the process, like machine translation and currency conversion. If you are a growing brand, you’ll need to quickly get all your listings ready for a new local audience.  

What Type of Products Do You Sell?  

Finding the right fit for your specific products is key. Get to know what products do best on each marketplace you are considering.  

Amazon is arguably the best platform for testing products because it is a horizontal marketplace, meaning almost all types of products can be found there. Some marketplaces will be better for high-end goods, some for cheaper products, etc.  

Look at your competitors. This can give you a good gauge of where to sell. You may want to try to list products on a marketplace where you have no competition or go for the ones with which you will have direct competition.  

There are some online marketplaces that are better or worse for various products. Fashion and apparel, for example, tend not to do well on Amazon. If you have high-value goods, don’t try to grow your audience by selling on a platform that’s known for cheap goods.  

Is Your Content Ready? 

One of the biggest mistakes many sellers make is not updating their content. With a growing brand it can be hard to keep up with the changes you need to make regularly (sales, promotions, seasonality, etc.). Look for ways to automate your content updates.   

Companies like Channel Engine have robust platforms that help brands manage the automation and updating they need to do. If you’re updating products often, it’s going to be worth your while to invest in a great tool to help take the administrative work off your team’s shoulders.  

It’s also important to keep your messaging consistent throughout all your channels. If you have an omnichannel retail strategy, marketplaces likely aren’t the only place you’re selling, and you’ll want customers to know they’re getting the real stuff from your brand by giving your product listings the same messaging you use everywhere else.  

Make sure content is correct, compelling, and clear. If you’re on a platform with competitive products, if your listing isn’t clear, you’re not likely to be chosen by new customers. The better your content is, the more positive reviews you’ll get, and that leads to more sales. 

Can You Ship it to Customers Fast Enough?  

One of the biggest factors in online marketplace success is your performance on the platform which is formed from fast shipping and good reviews (which is a product of fast shipping!).  

Amazon has placed a very high bar for speedy delivery in our culture. Now most consumers associate online shopping with a similar type of experience.  

If your products are on a site with many other competitors, fast shipping might be your best differentiator. If your product listing says items won’t ship for two weeks, you’re not going to do very well on the platform, and you may not be ready for online marketplace selling. 

Can You Get Your Products to the Marketplace Distribution Center?  

Your fulfillment method can really make or break your relationship with an online marketplace, and your end-customers as well.  

Many marketplaces have distinct shipping rules for brands sending products to their distribution centers and warehouses 

Amazon has a fulfillment service that sellers can opt into, which is a benefit for brands wanting to test out a new market. For example, if you’re already selling on the US Amazon site, but you want to test your product in Australia, you can easily apply to sell abroad using Amazon’s FBA (fulfillment by Amazon)’s functionalities.  

This applies to a lot of countries where Amazon is active, you can translate your product to a new market through the FBA program. That way there is less operational loss if there isn’t as much demand for your products.   

Most other marketplaces don’t have fulfillment services included in their platform capabilities. Some, like eBay use a third-party to support brands who need fulfillment support.  

Brands need to work with reputable fulfillment providers to ensure they get their products shipped out correctly and on time. An independent 3PL, well-versed in online marketplace fulfillment, will be best suited to the natural increase in order volume when you launch your products on a new marketplace.  



If you are looking for help with online marketplace order fulfillment we would love to hear from you. You can read DCL’s list of services to learn more, or check out the many companies we work with to ensure great logistics support. Send us a note to connect about how we can help your company grow.