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Ecommerce is a multi-trillion-dollar industry and growing. Millions of people sell products and services online through their websites and marketplaces. Selling from your site is efficient with software applications, like Shopify and WooCommerce. Sellers also leverage marketplaces that have established online footprints and customer databases. Both mediums, standalone and marketplaces, have advantages and disadvantages. For example, a website owner has full control, but he or she is responsible for driving traffic to the site. A seller on a marketplace may pay listing fees and split revenue, but the marketplace will spend millions on marketing to attract customers. It doesn’t have to be an either-or decision as many sellers use both channels.
Many marketplaces exist for various types of products and services. Let’s explore several highly visited online marketplaces for business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) selling. My list comprises of online markets in which the everyday person can start selling. In most cases, you don’t have to be an established business.
Best Online Marketplaces Overview
Operating in North American and international markets, Amazon provides its services through websites such as amazon.com, .co.uk, .de, .fr, .jp, .ca, and so on. Its ecommerce ecosystem includes specialty websites like Zappos and Audible. Amazon enables creators including authors, musicians, filmmakers, app developers, designers, and others to publish and sell content through its branded websites. For instance, I’ve been selling books on Amazon since 2013. Customers can purchase virtually everything on Amazon such as books, electronics, food, and apparel. Merchants, creators, and designers should explore the following:
- Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)
- Amazon Advantage
- Amazon Business
- Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and ACX
- Merch by Amazon
- Amazon Handmade
eBay connects millions of buyers with sellers globally. Like Amazon, eBay operates in many markets including North America, Europe, Asia, and Australasia. Its ecommerce ecosystem includes specialty websites like Shopping.com, StubHub, Gumtree, Kijiji, and Vivanuncios. Products are sold via a silent auction in which users can input the maximum prices they’re willing to pay. Also, “Buy It Now” allows users to purchase items at set prices. Featured product categories include fashion, home, garden, electronics, motors, collectibles, antiques, visual art, stationery, electronics, and more. It’s been several years since I sold anything on eBay, but I have fond memories of the money I made.
Rakuten is the largest ecommerce company in Japan and the third-largest ecommerce marketplace worldwide. The company has operations throughout Asia, Western Europe, and the Americas. It provides a variety of consumer and business-focused services including ecommerce, e-reading, travel, banking, securities, credit card, e-money, media, online marketing, and professional sports. Learn how to sell on Rakuten.
North American Marketplaces
Bonanza is a fast-growing online marketplace where sellers offer everything from isometric sunglasses to Bieber perfume. Merchants use the platform to open stores spanning all product categories. It empowers more than 30,000 entrepreneurs to create their dream businesses. Learn how to sell on Bonanza.
Etsy is a marketplace for buying and selling handmade and vintage items. Product categories include clothing, accessories, jewelry, craft supplies, tools, weddings, entertainment, home, living, infants, vintage, and more. Thirty million buyers around the world shop for unique items on their site and mobile application. Etsy attracts crafters, artists, and collectors who sell their handmade creations, vintage goods (at least 20 years old), and handmade/non-handmade crafting supplies. International shipping is available at the seller’s discretion. Learn how to sell on Etsy.
Overstock is an online retailer that sells a broad range of products including furniture, home decor, bedding, bath, housewares, jewelry, watches, apparel, designer accessories, health, beauty, electronics, computers, and sporting goods at clearance and heavily discounted prices. The company’s other platforms include Worldstock Fair Trade, Main Street Revolution, Farmers Market, Pet Adoptions, Insurance, and Supplier Oasis. Overstock’s international business offers products to customers outside the United States using third-party logistics providers. Learn how to sell on Overstock.
South American Marketplaces
MercadoLibre is Latin America’s leading ecommerce technology company. Through its primary platforms, MercadoLibre.com and MercadoPago.com, it provides buying, selling, and advertising solutions. Mercado Libre serves millions of users and provides a market for a wide variety of products and services. It maintains a leadership position in 18 Latin American countries. Learn how to sell on Mercado Libre.
Jumia is a leading internet group in Africa with a presence in more than 20 countries. Its ecosystem includes more than 100 online and mobile marketplaces and classifieds. Customers across the continent can peruse an extensive assortment of affordable, high-quality products for fashion, consumer electronics, home appliances, and beauty products. Learn how to sell on Jumia.
AliExpress is an online retail service made up of small businesses in China and Asia. It’s owned by Alibaba. Companies and individuals can sell on AliExpress. AliExpress is aimed primarily at international buyers in the Americas and Europe. Although it may position itself as an online retailer, most sellers understand that most of their customers are resellers and drop shippers. Currently, only suppliers from Mainland China can sell on AliExpress. Learn about using AliExpress to drop ship your way to profits.
JD is a leading online Chinese retailer. Its direct sales model is based on sourcing products directly from brands and suppliers and selling them directly to customers through the company’s website and mobile channels. Currently, only suppliers from Mainland China can sell on JD.com. However, JD Worldwide offers international merchants the ability to tap into the Chinese market even if they do not have a physical presence in China. JD Worldwide is open to brands, franchisees, retailers, and traders located outside China.
Shopee is a leading online shopping platform in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. It has localized sites for Indonesia, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Learn how to sell on Shopee by visiting the help section for the country site, for example, Shopee Malaysia’s help section.
TMall (Alibaba Group)
TMall, formerly Taobao Mall, is a leading online Chinese retailer that sells domestic and international branded goods. TMall has over 500 million monthly active users. It provides a marketplace for foreign brands to open storefronts. Global brands without a physical presence in China can sell directly to Chinese consumers. If you want to enter China, TMall is one of the more viable options. Learn how to sell on TMall.
Flipkart is India’s largest ecommerce marketplace with a customer base of over 100 million. It offers over 80 million products across 80+ categories including smartphones, books, media, consumer electronics, furniture, fashion, and lifestyle. It was a pioneer in offering services like “In-a-Day Guarantee” and “Same-Day-Guarantee.” With over 1 million registered sellers, Flipkart has redefined the way brands, and small businesses sell online. Given that a seller requires a GSTIN number and PAN Card, Flipkart appears to be limited to local sellers. Learn how to sell on Flipkart.
Snapdeal is one of India’s largest online marketplaces and features fantastic prices on consumer products like mobile phones, electronics, computers, apparel, cosmetics, perfumes, watches, bags, sunglasses, footwear, and kitchenware. Given that a seller requires a GSTIN number, PAN Card, and current account number, Snapdeal appears to be limited to local sellers.
High traffic classifieds sites and apps are worth reviewing including Craigslist, Letgo, Mercari, and fashion-focused Poshmark. Some social media platforms offer social and ecommerce capabilities, for example, Facebook has a Marketplace (mainly for used goods) and users can sell in ecommerce-centric groups.
Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing activity. An affiliate promotes a product/service online and receives compensation for achieving a specific objective or action. A merchant or advertiser specifies the goal, which is usually a valid sale. For example, a merchant will pay the affiliate a 30 percent sales commission. Learn more about affiliate marketing.
Many online marketplaces have affiliate programs for individuals who prefer marketing goods instead of selling them. For example, eBay offers the eBay Partner Network, and Amazon has Amazon Associates.