We all are now very well acquainted with e-commerce. And in the present situation, the growth of e-commerce is much higher than any other time in history. Globally, online shopping is one of the most popular online activities. According to eMarketer, worldwide retail e-commerce sales were US $3.535 trillion in 2019, and e-retail revenues are predicted to grow to US $6.542 trillion in 2023. And around half of the global online purchases are generated from online marketplaces. Online marketplaces have always been a crucial segment of e-commerce, and its popularity is increasing
rapidly. These marketplaces are considered as primary multichannel e-commerce and can be a way to streamline the production and distribution process.
Before exploring the world’s top online marketplaces, let’s have a brief discussion about what online marketplaces really are and their benefits:
The online marketplaces in this article refer only to the marketplaces involved in e-commerce. Service providing marketplaces like freelancing websites are excluded.
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What is an Online Marketplace?
An online marketplace sometimes called an online e-commerce marketplace, is a kind of e-commerce website or application where products are offered by many different sellers directly to the buyers. The operator or owner of the marketplace may not hold his own inventory but facilitates a platform for trading as well as process the purchase. So, there exist many third-party sellers who sell their products
through the marketplace and buyers can purchase from them without leaving the platform. Some online marketplaces also allow trading second-hand/used products. In an online marketplace, traders list and display their products in accordance with certain rules and policies and for a fixed fee or commission.
Simply an online marketplace is similar to the physical markets from where we used to shop, but the digital one. In a physical market, we usually purchase our products from different vendors. There we can compare the price and quality of the product and choose the right one for us. Like any physical market, you can find a number of sellers trading the same kind of product from different companies or
manufacturers with a lot of price and quality options in an online marketplace. It’s the main difference in online marketplaces from any other e-commerce platform.
Benefits of Online Marketplaces
The first essential thing for e-commerce merchants is a website or application through which shoppers can find their products. So as an e-commerce seller, you have to build and maintain your own site but besides this, you can go for the online marketplaces that have many pre-existing customers. That’s the main benefit of online marketplaces — a strong built-in customer base. Popular online marketplaces are trusted by many online shoppers who use to check those sites first in a time of buying something. These
marketplaces comprise almost all sorts of products so that customers can find everything they need in one place. That’s a major reason behind the huge customer base of online marketplaces. Again most customers are likely to use the site or app that offers a wide range of products from different vendors rather than from a single or specific retailer. For small e-retailers, often it’s cheaper to sell their products in an online marketplace rather than build and maintain a website or app. Online marketplaces are designed and maintained on the basis of customer needs. They always try to fulfill customer’s expectations at their best because the competition in the e-commerce business is higher. Many big companies and famous brands are selling their products through online marketplaces. They usually make high investments in those marketplaces to grab all their benefits. Being an e-commerce seller, if you are planning to go for the online marketplaces then it’s important to choose the marketplace according to your targeted customers. Every marketplace has its own requirements, features, and customer base. There’s a number of top-ranked online marketplaces
worldwide. Here, we have listed the top 10 of those marketplaces.
Top 10 online marketplaces around the world
according to monthly visits and active users
Amazon is the biggest online marketplace with around 5 billion monthly visits worldwide. It operates 16 Global online retail sites. It has one of the largest customer bases and also it’s the biggest e-commerce retailer with around 350 million active users globally. Again it has 100 million prime members who
spend an average of $1,400 a year for shopping on Amazon. All these incredible benefits of Amazon makes it one of the most popular marketplaces among retailers, wholesalers, and obviously for leading companies and brands. Amazon maintains strict product listing guidelines for standardizing product listings. It brings proper equality between the products listed by Amazon and third-party sellers. Another great feature of Amazon is FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon), by which merchants can store their products in an Amazon warehouse, and then Amazon will handle everything from packing to shipping the items. Amazon charges on average 7-15% of an item’s value as seller fees. It provides a professional selling plan for $39.99 per month and an individual selling plan for $0.99 per sale.
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eBay is an ideal marketplace for third-party sellers approaching over 1.5 billion visits a month globally. It is one of the largest e-commerce retailers with over 200 million active users worldwide. eBay has 23 online retail sites with a presence in 100 countries of the world. It’s also very popular for its large customer bases. The Global Shipping Program (GSP) of eBay allows sellers in the USA and UK to reach
around 190 global markets. eBay offers the products in three main categories — New, Used, and Unique items. Thus it generates great value for small retailers and individual sellers. Again you can sell products through its auction house. It also provides some amazing tools for easy and quick product listing and selling. There is no setup for monthly or annual fees on eBay. Sellers have to pay an insertion
fee for product listing and a final value fee of 10-22% on average when an item gets sold.
Rakuten is the largest e-commerce platform in Japan, as well as one of the largest in the world. In addition to Japan, it’s one of the most popular marketplaces globally with 44,000 sellers and 105 million active members. It operates online retailing of a wide range of products in 29 countries and regions of the world. Rakuten allows listing optimization and also has some excellent features for selling and marketing. With its unique customization feature called eCommerce Consultant (ECC), sellers can design their own custom storefronts. The key operating principle of Rakuten is based on a Japanese concept called ‘Omotenashi’ which encourages providing high-quality and personalized service. It helps to build a strong and more direct relationship between buyers and sellers. The monthly fee is JPY 19,500 (roughly $175) in Rakuten along with a seller fee of 8-12% on average. 80% of Japan’s total population purchases through Rakuten, also it gets over 621.14 million visits per month globally.
The largest and most popular online marketplace of South America is Mercado Libre, also known as Mercado Livre. With 160 million members, it is the market leader in that region serving Argentina, Brazil,
Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. It is one the most visited e- commerce sites in the world with over 561.77 millions views per month. One of the greatest benefits of Mercado Libre is merchants can sell across operating countries of the platform by using their Libre Cross-Border Trade programme. It also provides some carrier support for the China and US based sellers to fulfill their orders in Mexico. Its “Mercado Shop” feature allows sellers to open personalized retail areas on the platform. Mercado Libre has its own payment processing service called “MercadoPago” that offers a variety of safe payment methods to users. There are no listing fees nor any monthly fees in Mercado Libre. Sellers have to pay a fixed commission which is 16% for each sale in Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Columbia and 17.5% for Mexico.
Aliexpress is an online retail as well as B2B marketplace of Alibaba Group based in China. Famous for wholesale trading, it was first launched as a Business-to-Business buying and selling platform. But later Alibaba expanded it to business-to-consumer and consumer-to-consumer trading. Currently Aliexpress is available in English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Italian, Russian, German, Portuguese, Bahasa and Polish
languages. Thus, it gets heavy traffic of over 557.46 million visits per month globally. Aliexpress is considered as an ideal marketplace for small businesses and wholesale traders. But it is mainly focused on connecting the buyers to Chinese businesses. It also has its own payment services. For wholesalers, selling in Aliexpress requires an Alipay account and they have to pay an annual technical service fee. Besides, there is only a commission fee of 5-8% on per sale. Sellers can open their own branded shop on the website. Aliexpress also offers dropshipping and an affiliate marketing program.
Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer, launched its online retailing site Walmart.com in 2000. Today it’s one of the most popular and largest online marketplaces in the USA with around 110 million active users. The marketplace gets over 450.56 visits per month. Though Walmart has a wide range of its own products listing, it facilitates trading for over 2 million third-party sellers. It also allows the sellers to access their affiliate websites like Jet.com. There is an application process in Walmart to become a seller. The platform prefers sellers with recognizable brand names, who are U.S. based, have a wide range of products with competitive prices, and are able to provide reliable customer services. Along with certain requirements, international sellers can join the marketplace by invitation only. There is no listing fee or monthly fees in Walmart, sellers have to pay an average commission fee of 8-15% on each sale. Over the past few years, Walmart has been looking to expand its online retail sales to other countries, especially in Canada, the United Kingdom, and China.
Taobao is another largest China based C2C e-commerce platform owned by the Alibaba Group. According to Alexa, it is the 7th most visited website in the world, and gets over 440.49 million visits per month. Taobao is a great option for individual entrepreneurs and small businesses since it facilitates consumer-to-consumer (C2C) online retailing and there is no seller fee nor any monthly fees. It offers sales at a fixed price as well as sales through auctions. This marketplace encourages sellers mainly from Chinese-speaking regions. Sellers need an Alipay account and have to open their own stores on the website. Taobao comprises a large variety of products with over 1 billion product listings. Currently,
most of its products are brand new and sold at a fixed price. Since it has a huge amount of active users, sellers can gain high sales volumes in a short time.
Etsy is one of the most successful niche online marketplaces focused on arts, crafts & gifts items. It is an ideal destination for homemade and vintage products. The marketplace has over 60 million product listings most of which is unique and non-commercially made. Currently, Etsy operates in 83 countries of the world and gets around 352.06 million page visits per month. There are 2.1 million active sellers and
39.4 million buyers in this marketplace as of 2018. One of the biggest benefits of selling on Etsy is you can easily get the targeted audience of your goods. It provides sellers an option of products customization and allows them to partner with other sellers of the marketplace. Along with some effective marketing tools, it also offers Facebook integration. Etsy doesn’t charge monthly or annual fees, there is only a listing fee of $0.20 per item and transaction fee of 5% of per item sold. However, sellers can have a plus membership for $10 per month.
Shopee is a Singapore based Southeast Asian online shopping platform owned by the Sea Group. It was first launched as a consumer-to-consumer (C2C) marketplace in Singapore in 2015. Later comprising the business-to-consumer (B2C) model, it expanded its operation to Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, and Brazil. Since it became the leading e-commerce platform in that region with around 336.69 million visits per month and over 20 million app installs. Shopee archived GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) of over US $10 billion with more than 600 million transactions in 2018. Currently, it is available in six languages including English, Chinese, Thai, Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Indonesia, and Vietnamese. Associating with over 70 courier services, Shopee ensures fast and better fulfillment for its buyers. It is considered a perfect marketplace for medium to larger merchants. Sellers need approval through an application process for selling on this platform. There are no subscription fees and listing fees on Shopee. It charges a commission fee of 3-5% of the price when listing the products and a transaction fee of 2% on every fulfilled order.
Finally, we are here with the option to sell your products in China. Since jd.com is one of the largest e-commerce sites in China, JD Worldwide offers a way great to enter the Chinese market. With more than 18 million active users and 195.4 million visits per month, it is connecting Chinese and international buyers and sellers. There are two options available for selling through this marketplace – resale and
retail. In the resale option, JD will purchase your products and resell it through the website to Chinese customers. And with the retail option, you can sell your own products as an independent seller in this marketplace. For that, JD will charge a seller fee of 2-10% on each sale. Sellers also have to pay an annual fee of $1000 which enables them to get marketing support along with the support of JD’s
nationwide logistics network.
The above list of online marketplaces is based on the traffic report from SimilarWeb till July 2020 and the data from respective marketplace’s website. Traffic to different domains of a marketplace (e.g. amazon.com, amazon.co.jp, amazon.de etc.) has been combined. The list may be updated in the future based on the changed information.