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E-commerce is a multi-trillion-dollar industry and growing. Millions of people sell products and services online on their websites and marketplaces. Selling from their sites is efficient with software applications such as Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce. Similarly, sellers leverage top marketplaces that have already established their 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 potentially 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 for Sellers
- Mercado Libre
Amazon is an e-commerce giant with sales surpassing $170B (2017), and they’ve more than doubled sales since 2013 ($74.45B). 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. Their e-commerce 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 from books to electronics and food to 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. Their sales surpassed $9B in 2017. Like Amazon, eBay operates in many markets including North America, Europe, Asia, and Australasia. Their e-commerce 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 price they are willing to pay and via “Buy It Now” features that enables its users to purchase items at a set price. Its featured products are categorized as fashion, home and garden, electronics, motors, collectibles, antiques and 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 e-commerce company in Japan, and third largest e-commerce marketplace worldwide. They are closing in on $9B in revenues. The company has operations throughout Asia, Western Europe, and the Americas. They provide a variety of consumer and business-focused services including e-commerce, e-reading, travel, banking, securities, credit card, e-money, media, online marketing, and professional sports. Learn how to sell on Rakuten.
Bonanza is a fast-growing online marketplace of over 15 million items where sellers offer everything from isometric sunglasses to Bieber perfume. Merchants use their platform to open stores spanning all product categories. They currently empower 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. Users can find products in the categories of clothing and accessories, jewelry, craft supplies and tools, weddings, entertainment, home and living, kids and babies, 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 both handmade and 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.
Jumia is a leading internet group in Africa, and they have a presence in more than 20 countries. Their 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 (Alibaba Group)
AliExpress is an online retail service made up of small businesses in China and elsewhere, such as Singapore, offering products to international online buyers. They enable small companies to sell to customers all over the world, and a person can find almost anything for sale. Sellers on AliExpress can be either companies or individuals. They differ from Amazon because they act only as an e-commerce platform and don’t sell products directly to consumers. AliExpress is aimed primarily at international buyers in the Americas and Europe. Although AliExpress 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. JD’s 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. They have 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 selling 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 e-commerce marketplace with a customer base of over 100 million. You might have heard about them in the news given Walmart’s $16B investment in them. Flipkart offers over 80 million products across 80+ categories including smartphones, books, media, consumer electronics, furniture, fashion, and lifestyle. They were 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. 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, kitchenware, and more. Given that sellers require a GST number, PAN Card, and current account number, Snapdeal appears to be limited to local sellers.
Lazada is a popular online shopping and selling destination in Southeast Asia. They are present in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. As an e-commerce pioneer, Lazada helps more than 155,000 local and international sellers as well as 3,000 brands serving the 560 million consumers in the region through its marketplace. With over 300 million SKUs available, they offer the widest range of products in categories such as consumer electronics, household goods, toys, fashion, sports equipment, and groceries. Learn how to sell on Lazada.
MercadoLibre is Latin America’s leading e-commerce technology company. Through its primary platforms, MercadoLibre.com and MercadoPago.com, it provides solutions to individuals and companies buying, selling, and advertising. Mercado Libre serves millions of users and provides a market for a wide variety of products and services. They maintain a leadership position in 18 Latin American countries. Learn how to sell on Mercado Libre.
High traffic classifieds sites and apps like Craigslist and Letgo are worth reviewing. Some social media platforms offer social and electronic commerce, for example, Facebook Pages and Facebook Marketplace (mainly for used goods).
Many online marketplaces have affiliate programs for individuals who prefer marketing instead of selling products and services. For example, Amazon Associates is Amazon’s affiliate marketing division.