While studies show that many consumers still prefer to shop in person, online shopping is growing in popularity year-over-year. In 2022 global ecommerce sales are expected to hit $5.5 trillion. A large portion of this is driven by online marketplaces.
Online marketplaces are websites and mobile platforms that serve consumers products from many different sellers. They act as a singular shopping experience for buyers to purchase a wide variety of products with just one cart, one checkout, and one shipping invoice. They date back to the early internet but have grown in popularity in recent years as online shopping has become more of a normal for people (heightened by the COVID stay-at-home protocols).
Inherent in the online marketplace model, sellers need to be savvy about marketing their products because these platforms are basically virtual stores. Sellers have to remain competitive (through pricing, deals, compelling images and descriptions) because their products are often placed next to similar products and brands—just like they would be on a retail shelf.
Here are the top globally top ranked marketplaces and how to get your products listed on each one.
Amazon is the largest online marketplace available to sellers, globally. For many brands, being listed on Amazon is crucial for sales because the platform has such a high volume of traffic.
It’s the biggest player in the US and Canada, and there are also sites that serve Germany (and European countries), the UK, and India. At this point Amazon has over 20 marketplaces worldwide, most of which have cross-border capabilities and serve multiple countries surrounding the region they serve.
Amazon is a horizontal marketplace, meaning all types of products can be found there.
While it used to be only a first-party seller, the platform is now close to 60% third-party sellers.
In some markets eBay is known primarily as a channel for secondhand goods.
It is the market leader in Australia, quite big in the UK and Germany, and it has a strong presence in Canada and the US as well. Globally, eBay is one of the biggest players and many brands use it for global cross-border shipping. Because of this, brands use it as a very simple tool to reach audiences across the world.
eBay works differently than Amazon though. Each product on eBay can have several listings. There can be a product page done by your company, and another seller can also create a product listing. They can provide different information which can be confusing for the sellers as well as consumers. Promoting your products with clear, compelling language and images is one of the top ways to excel on eBay.
Alibaba is an interesting marketplace because it’s a conglomerate of a few companies that don’t share the same web interface. In effect, Alibaba is just the parent company of three very big, and also very separate online marketplaces.
- Tmall is the dominant marketplace in China. It serves primarily local regions in China.
- AliExpress is very popular in Russia, but also in Spain, some European countries, and some Latin American countries. AliExpress also serves the US but there is minimal traffic. It was originally set up for resellers from China, so that’s why it has a reputation for cheaper goods.
- Lazada is a massive player in Southeast Asia. Lazada was set up with brands in mind and there is a separate section of Lazada where brands can have their own store.
This set of channels makes up one of the biggest global marketplace systems. But being on one doesn’t equate to easily being on the others—they each have different requirements and separate APIs.
Walmart has rapidly expanded its online marketplace opportunities for sellers in the past few years. In 2022 Walmart welcomed more new sellers than Amazon did. This was a result of implementing an easier signup process, lowered restrictions, and a new cross-border option for US and UK sellers to ship to Canada.
Walmart is the second biggest platform in the US, behind Amazon. With these growing opportunities it may become more of a contender in the next few years.
Walmart is also a horizontal marketplace which attracts a wide variety of sellers.
It’s worth noting that there are many regional marketplaces that have a big presence in certain countries. Just because they aren’t global household names, doesn’t mean they aren’t popular regionally. Here are a few to consider:
- Mercado Libre is very popular in Latin America.
- Jumia is big in African countries with different landing sites for various countries.
- Bol.com dominates the Netherlands and northern Europe.
- Allegro is very popular in Europe, based in Poland.
- Zolando is popular across Europe for fashion and apparel.
There are many more than this list. Some serve small regions, and some are just starting out and don’t have much market adoption yet. This list will surely grow much larger in the coming years as online shopping has become a normal way for most people to shop.
Tips On Picking the Right Marketplace for Your Brand
Choosing the right marketplace means first assessing your brand needs. The biggest marketplace won’t necessarily give you the best sales volume or consumer loyalty. The right fit largely depends on your product and the region where you want to sell. Some marketplaces are known for high-end goods, and others lower value products. Fashion and apparel might do well on one platform but not another. Here are the top tips when choosing an online marketplace as your next sales outlet.
Be Active Where Your Customers Are
The goal when selling your products through an online marketplace is that consumers will see your brand there.
If you are a re-seller, or have very popular goods, chances are consumers are already seeing very similar products to yours on marketplaces. It’s important to remain competitive to get on those platforms and market your brand.
Get Your Content Right
Whether they’re discovering you there for the first time, or they’ve come to the platform from a social site and are seeing your brand for a second or third time, you want to make sure that the content around your products is accurate. Branding is key and it’s so important to make sure you are consistent across all channels.
It’s also important to take control of the vertical that your products are in. There are many brands that are not yet on marketplaces. You can still shape the narrative of how your type of products are marketed and sold.
Cross-Border Versus In-Market Platforms
It’s important to choose a platform that serves the customers you want to reach. Some marketplaces serve only a single country (called in-market platforms) and others will ship to countries outside of where they are located (called cross-border platforms).
The distinction may seem small, but there are many implications.
- Cross-border platforms often have more multinational support (like currency exchange and language translation).
- Cross-border platforms may handle customs needs for shipping internationally.
- In-market platforms will average faster shipping times to all customers.
Whichever type of platform you choose to work with, make sure it’s a good fit for your brand.
Finding the Right Tools and Partners to Automate Your Presence
There is a lot of back-end work required to get your products listed on the marketplace of your dreams. Brands need to create and update their product listings with compelling content and images. With any deals, promotions or sales, that adds another layer of attention to the platform. Additionally it’s not always operationally easy to get products to the marketplace fulfillment center. Some marketplaces (like Amazon for example) are notoriously strict when it comes to storage requirements. Finding the best fulfillment method for your marketplace can be difficult.
There are many tools that now help sellers automate these processes. Channel Engine is one that offers the technical infrastructure to make it possible. Their tools will help connect your ERP and WMS systems to the marketplace. This means automating content within marketplace listing. They also have a customer success team who can advise sellers on which channels will bring them the results they’re looking for and the ecosystem around it to help their brand grow.
If you are looking for marketplace fulfillment support, DCL Logistics has many years of experience working with many different online platforms. We work with brands looking for Amazon support, whether FBA, SFP, or any of the other Amazon programs. Reach out to us for a quote and to hear more about our online marketplace services.