If shoppers have to choose between walking into a brick-and-mortar store and heading online to buy something, chances are they’re going to choose online shopping. In fact, about 1.92 billion people are expected to buy something online in 2019. In particular, shoppers are turning to marketplaces to browse, compare prices, and buy products for the convenience of shopping in one place. Just like the department stores of yesteryear and the convenience they offered, shoppers love online marketplaces — so much so, they spent $1.86 trillion globally in 2018!
As a retailer, there are clearly a ton of benefits to selling your products in marketplaces. But with the sheer number of them available at your fingertips, how do you know which ones are right for you?
To help you in your search, here are eight of the best ecommerce marketplaces available. They’re each unique in their own way, so based on the features you need, your budget, and your overall ecommerce goals, use this guide to figure out which marketplace will help you stand out and earn your share of the substantial revenue available.
Amazon has evolved to become the largest ecommerce marketplace in the States. With 5 million marketplace sellers and 197 million U.S. shoppers browsing the site every month in 2017, Amazon is one of the most popular online marketplaces available. It’s best suited for medium to large sellers that want exposure to millions of customers and are equipped to handle the influx of traffic when it comes.
One of the main draws of the Amazon marketplace is its strict product listing guidelines. Amazon standardizes product listings, so whether shoppers see your products or an Amazon listing, they all look the same. This is helpful because your products automatically earn the same level of prestige as Amazon products, which drives up sales.
For example, these are both high-quality computer backpacks, but the first one is from Matein and the third one is from Amazon:
Shoppers are looking at price and features and not the seller’s name. As long as your products are priced competitively, they’ll stand out to shoppers.
When it comes to features, the two that sellers enjoy the most are Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and the built-in affiliate program.
With FBA, Amazon packs and ships every product you sell. You don’t have to worry about storing your inventory or hiring extra staff to manage fulfillment. FBA also means that Amazon manages product returns for you.
With the affiliate program, influencers in your niche get a unique URL that links to their own mock storefront. Every time they share your products with their audience, you get extra exposure you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise and a boost to sales.
Finally, to help you simplify your advertising, the Amazon marketplace helps by offering it as a built-in feature. Depending on your advertising goals and the audience you want to reach, you have the option to choose sharing sponsored product ads, sponsored brand ads, and custom store pages to redirect traffic to an Amazon page to show off more of your products.
Marketplace cost: $39/month + additional transaction fees
Walmart is the largest retailer in the world, and in 2000, they entered the world of ecommerce when they launched Walmart.com. In 2018, ecommerce sales grew by a whopping 43%, and this growth doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
Like Amazon, the Walmart marketplace is ideal for medium to large sellers that want to increase their exposure. There’s an application process to become a seller on the marketplace, but once you’re approved, you’ll have access to over 110 million shoppers who shop online every month.
To be approved, you have to have fast fulfillment practices in place, a wide range of high-quality products, and competitive pricing. Walmart doesn’t accept sellers that only use FBA, but they do cater to drop shippers. Keep in mind, you can only sell as either a dropship vendor or a seller, not both.
Since Walmart’s been around for so long, shoppers know the brand really well. As a marketplace seller, you can take advantage of this recognition since your listings look similar to Walmart’s listings. For product categories that get a lot of traffic, you can use your pricing, custom shipping, and return policy information to stand out and increase your sales.
Other benefits to using Walmart’s marketplace include access to their customer support and safety features. Plus, the marketplace integrates with various service providers, so you can automate as much of the selling experience as you want. For example, you can integrate with Deliverr to enable two-day shipping of your products.
Marketplace cost: There isn’t a monthly fee, but a referral fee is charged on sales.
Since eBay first launched all the way back in 1995, it’s evolved from a site that only sold used goods to become one of the largest ecommerce retailers in the world. This marketplace is suited for sellers that sell new and used items and are open to auctioning their products for a higher price.
With eBay, you don’t have to apply to use it. Just sign up for an account and create your first listing. There are currently about 180 million active monthly users globally, so there are lots of opportunities to get noticed.
What’s great about eBay is even if you’re starting out and don’t have a website yet, the eBay Seller Hub is designed to help you run your business as smoothly as possible. For example, you can run promotions on eBay and print shipping labels on your own.
You even have insight into product trends to see which of your products are best sellers, which promotions shoppers use the most, how long it takes you to pick and ship products, and much more.
Marketplace cost: There are three plans to choose from. The Standard plan has no monthly listing fee, but there’s a fee when items sell. The Plus plan costs $13.50/month with extended access to features, and the Premium plan offers advanced tools with pricing to be unveiled later this year.
Etsy caters to shoppers looking for unique products, which makes this online marketplace ideal for small to medium sellers specializing in handmade or vintage products.
Unlike other marketplaces, Etsy sellers sell products independent of the Etsy brand. Meaning shoppers know they’re buying your products vs. products that look like they’re sold by the marketplace.
Notice how the seller names are displayed on the results page of this search:
When shoppers click on your brand name within product pages, they’re redirected to your custom Etsy storefront.
This preserves your brand identify — especially if you don’t have a separate website. If you’re just starting out in ecommerce and want to build awareness about your products and brand, Etsy gives you the flexibility to cultivate and nurture a loyal customer base as you grow. With 33 million shoppers looking for products like vintage clothing, jewelry, and collectibles, you’re bound to find a segment of ideal customers to target within your niche.
If you’re a seller on the move — perhaps you sell at brick-and-mortar popup shops or weekend markets — you can use the Sell on Etsy app to manage your store from anywhere.
If you’re new to online advertising, Etsy also helps with that as well. You can set up ads with tools like Promoted Listings and Google Shopping to get as much exposure for your products as possible. You can even create special offers and email them to your subscribers.
Marketplace cost: List products for $0.20 each and pay transaction and payment processing fees for each sale.
Compared to many of the online marketplaces on this list, Jet is the new kid on the block. It was introduced back in 2015 and was acquired by Walmart not long after that.
Jet is the ideal online marketplace for sellers that cater to a specific customer segment — price-sensitive, millennial city dwellers. There are about 400,000 active monthly users on the site and about 2,400 sellers. This marketplace is still small, but it has two things going for it:
- It gives you more exposure than other marketplaces that have millions of other sellers.
- It has a repeat buyer rate of 23%, which is higher than Amazon and eBay.
What’s also different about Jet is it values lower prices over fast delivery. Plus, shoppers find your products based on factors like their location, your location, and the warehouse location of the product(s). So shopping is inexpensive and convenient, which keeps shoppers coming back. This helps keep costs low for your customers and gets your products in front of the people most likely to buy them.
What’s also great about this online marketplace is it lets you collect customers’ email addresses through the platform. This way, you can continue to nurture new customers and invite them to buy more. There’s even a built-in feature that lets you offer shoppers incentives to keep shopping. For example, by offering shoppers a lower price, they can waive their option to return products.
Marketplace cost: Commission is charged on products sold.
The Newegg online marketplace is different because it specializes in one product category. If you’re an established retailer selling tech products, then Newegg is the place for you. Since tech products tend to be in demand during major holidays like Christmas and special occasions like birthdays, Newegg is also a good fit for seasonal sellers.
It’s one thing to list on an online marketplace and another to get a reasonable amount of traffic to your product pages. Newegg helps with this by offering sellers access to marketing and merchandising programs. With banner ads, features on the Hot Deals page, and inclusion in email marketing campaigns to Newegg subscribers, you get lots of exposure to the over 20 million shoppers who visit Newegg annually. This, in turn, boosts your chances of increasing your sales.
To simplify your shipping, Newegg also offers their own fulfillment option called Shipped by Newegg (SBN). Newegg will store your inventory, then pack and ship it as orders come it. It’s an excellent solution if you’re ready to grow but don’t want the added cost of storing inventory at a warehouse and then hiring a team to pack and ship it. SBN takes care of all of that for you.
Marketplace cost: Commission based on product categories
Rakuten is the fourth largest ecommerce site in the world. It’s a global marketplace based in Japan with the potential to expose sellers to a considerably large audience. Rakuten is a good fit for medium to large sellers that want the option to ship beyond North America and grow their business internationally.
With Rakuten, once your application to become a seller is approved, you get a storefront you can customize so that shoppers can easily identify your brand. You also set up your own privacy and return policies.
One of the major perks of using the Rakuten online marketing platform is the option to offer incentives to shoppers as they browse. For example, customers who participate in the Ebates program — they receive a small percentage of every purchase they make online — can use it on Rakuten. There’s also a Rakuten Super Points loyalty program. The more purchases customers make, the more points they get to redeem on future purchases.
Having programs like these built into an online marketplace saves you the time of creating and managing your own and simplifies the redemption process. This is important because 40% of ecommerce revenue comes from repeat customers. In the long run, this feature helps you save on new customer acquisition costs. You can instead funnel your increased revenue into product development.
Marketplace cost: $39/month + a $0.99 transaction fee per item sold
Over the last few years, the subscription box industry has exploded onto the ecommerce scene. With thousands of boxes catering to countless niches and more boxes launching every month, there’s a lot of competition out there. If you own a subscription box, one way to stand out from the crowd is to use the Cratejoy marketplace. It’s the only marketplace for subscription boxes, and owners of boxes of any size can use this marketplace — as long as the monthly fee is within your budget.
Since a subscription business operates a little differently from general storefronts and drop shipping, Cratejoy offers unique features like subscription-specific logistics, fulfillment management and shipping, tax-smart checkout, and resource guides like their blog and webinars. These features cater to the specific needs of subscription box owners, so your experience here is simple and efficient compared to other marketplaces.
Even if you have your own website, Cratejoy gets your box in front of people who are already familiar with subscription boxes and want a one-stop shop to find exactly what they’re looking for. With over 3 million page views and over 30,000 transactions every month, chances are you’ll get more exposure on this platform than if you relied on your website alone.
Marketplace cost: $39/month + transaction fees
Choosing an e-commerce marketplace that’s right for you
There are lots of online marketplaces to choose from, so to find a match, you have to be clear on your goals and needs. Each platform has unique features and is geared towards different seller sizes and niches.
Keep in mind that if more than one marketplace meets your needs and gets you the exposure you want, use more than one. You can use Sellbrite to help you manage your inventory across all of the marketplaces, so regardless of where shoppers find you, there’s up-to-date product information available.
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