Best Online Marketplaces | The Ultimate Guide To Choosing a Platform for Selling Your Products

Looking for the best selling ecommerce sites to sell your merch? You’re in the right spot because, in this guide, we’ll walk you through the best marketplace platforms to promote and sell your products. Moreover, we’ll go through the rising marketplace stars and established, big players, so you’ll get the full picture of the ever-expanding ecommerce landscape. Without further ado, let’s dive into it.

NB: Before we proceed any further, it’s worth noting that in this piece, we mainly concentrate on the B2C sector. If you’re looking for material on B2B marketplaces, please refer to our previous article on the subject The Ultimate Guide to B2B Marketplaces.

What Is an Online Marketplace?

Online marketplaces represent the primary type of multichannel ecommerce platforms where product and service information is provided by third parties. In an online marketplace, there are typically three involved parties, that is – a marketplace owner (or a marketplace operator), vendors (or marketplace sellers), and buyers (or customers and consumers). In a typical marketplace scenario, marketplace owners attract vendors and buyers for trading on the platform, buyers shop and buy products, the operator processes payments, and retailers or wholesalers fulfill and deliver orders.

Examples of the most prominent online retail marketplaces include Amazon, Taobao, and eBay. Although Amazon had long been a trailblazer and a role model for all other marketplaces, the rise of Alibaba group with its subsequent adjacent businesses in logistics, payment systems, and mobile commerce set a unique precedent for the industry and steered the online business into a totally new direction.

Even though there are different marketplace taxonomies, experts generally categorize marketplaces by the business model, such as business to business or B2B, consumer to consumer or C2C, business to consumer or B2C, and direct to consumer or D2C.

Further below, we’ll be mainly talking about B2C or business to consumer marketplaces, where the marketplace customers are mainly consumers as opposed to businesses (for information on B2B marketplaces, see the previously published piece The Ultimate Guide to B2B Marketplaces.

The Benefits of Selling on Online Marketplaces

There are multiple benefits to selling on online marketplaces that far outweigh the costs associated with the selling trade, such as transaction, internet marketing, or subscription fees.

Although potential advantages vary by business, industry, or circumstances, the following benefits seem all too common:

  1. Firstly, online marketplaces allow you to sell your own products without setting up an online store and incurring the costs of handling development works, maintenance, and so on.
  2. Even if you already operate such an ecommerce site, online marketplaces provide you with an additional channel to market and sell your products, with significantly reduced marketing costs.
  3. Online marketplaces unlock new revenue streams and open up new opportunities, particularly, in terms of reaching new markets, geographies, and so on.
  4. Online selling at a multivendor store offers opportunities for securing new partnerships with other vendors, suppliers, fulfillment centers, or buyers.
  5. Finally, being able to sell online side by side with other vendors allows you to compare your products against the competition, monitor pricing policies of others, and adjust your pricing (and/or marketing) strategies accordingly.

How To Start a New Business on Marketplaces

  1. Choose a marketplace you want to partner with and sell your products. Research different options, seek honest reviews, and compare prices, commission fees, and other seller fees.
  2. Partner with a chosen marketplace, pass all the necessary verification (and onboarding) procedures, agree on the terms and conditions, and sign an agreement.
  3. Prepare comprehensive product descriptions accounting for the marketplace-specific rules and SEO. Take and upload high-quality images to accompany your products.
  4. Perform all the necessary integrations of your internal systems with those required by the marketplace. Consider using third-party engines for monitoring your competitors’ behavior, including demand/supply fluctuations and pricing strategies.
  5. Market your product either with the help of a marketplace operator or on your own on third-party platforms, employ both strategies for better results.

For tips, strategies, benefits, and challenges of starting and building your own marketplace ecommerce business, please refer to our piece from the Unlocking New Revenue Streams series, Creating Your Own B2B Marketplace. Although the article particularly focuses on the B2B sector, most of the tips discussed in the piece can be applied to any type of marketplace.

How To Choose an Ecommerce Marketplace That’s Right for You

We suggest you follow the steps outlined below to select if not the best, then perhaps, the most optimal option to market your product.

– Research your competition

Search for the types of products your competitors sell, the descriptions they use to describe their products, and most importantly, the platforms they use to market and sell them.

– Research your buyers

Once you’ve whittled down the kind of marketplaces your competitors use, see where your buyers are most likely to shop. Look at buyers’ reviews, seek out individual buyers for interviews, and peruse social media websites and forums for marketplace-specific discussions.

– Choose several platforms

After doing your research, narrow down your choice to a few platforms and seek out terms and conditions for selling online on those marketplaces. Identify the best conditions and reach out to marketplace operators for further onboarding and verification policies.

– Narrow down your choice even further

Choose one marketplace to start with and see how that plays out. You might discover that selling at one marketplace is enough to make a reasonable income. Once you get into the groove, you might add other platforms into the mix, and start selling at a few marketplaces simultaneously.

Top 5 Strategies for Selling on Marketplaces Successfully

To leverage an immense array of opportunities that good online marketplaces offer, you’ll need to master online selling and its associated challenges, such as circumnavigating fulfillment, marketing campaigns, pricing policies, and customer engagement, among others. Below are a few suggestions on supercharging your online store success.

  1. It might sound like a no-brainer but it’s one of the best (and perhaps, the cheapest) things you could do – excel in customer care. Whatever you happen to be selling, wherever that is going to be, your customers must be your top priority. Ensure your customers are provided with adequate information on products and receive their orders in the best possible condition. Address negative reviews and encourage customers to seek your assistance whenever necessary.
  2. The next important thing you must do is to optimize your product content and create product listings that not only provide the full information about your merchandise but also make people want to buy your product rather than your competitors’. Take the time to find the right keywords, create compelling product descriptions, and upload high-quality, attractive images that highlight the advantages of your product.
  3. Invest in digital marketing. See if the marketplace of your choice offers additional marketing services for a fee, seek out bloggers to partner with to promote your products, and advertise on social media.
  4. Since the majority of customers typically shop around for cheaper prices (typical online shopping behavior), it makes sense to watch out for competitors’ pricing strategies and adjust your prices accordingly. To do so effectively, you might want to consider using an automated algorithmic repricer. Ask if the marketplace operator has any suggestions in regards to AI/ML engines to use.
  5. Diversify and optimize shipping strategy. Leverage the fulfillment programs offered by the marketplace, partner with third-party fulfillment service providers and logistics companies, or combine both strategies for optimal results.

TOP 5 Best Marketplaces To Start Selling Online & For Online Shopping

The best marketplaces to start selling are probably those that are the most popular, at least for a few reasons, such as:

  • Quick verification and onboarding,
  • Established, comprehensive, and well-defined policies,
  • Good third party sellers support,
  • Agile platform,
  • Multiple integrations, and so on.

We’ll discuss a few such marketplaces in the next section below.

visits per month per marketplace - amazon, eBay, aliexpress, Walmart, etsy

Amazon

amazon

Amazon is a well-known American multinational corporation (and one of the best global marketplaces) that operates the biggest marketplace in the world. Amazon offers a fantastic opportunity to start selling quickly, reach millions of customers across the entire world, get a grip of the market, as well as monitor and connect with other sellers. The good news is that Amazon welcomes new and established sellers alike. The platform has extensive seller guides (and even the Seller University) with useful tips, instructions, and advice on how to start selling on the platform. Amazon fees depend on your selling plan, referrals, fulfillment costs, and additional seller fees if you choose to use Amazon’s advertising and other services. Amazon offers two selling plans, for individuals and for businesses, where the former are charged $0.99 per unit sold, whereas the latter $39.99 per month regardless of the number of items sold.

amazon quick statistics

eBay

ebay

eBay is one of the largest ecommerce marketplaces that empowers both individuals and businesses to sell their products on a global scale. Just like Amazon, eBay features comprehensive guides and best practices for all stages in a selling cycle, from creating a listing to accounting for selling fees. Speaking of which, eBay charges two types of selling fees, that is – an insertion fee for creating a listing and a final fee for making a sale, both of which depend on the item’s price, the format, and the product category. To incentivize online sellers, eBay offers 250 zero insertion fee listings or more if you operate an eBay store. Most notably known for its auction-type online sales, eBay allows for other types of listings, including those in the likes of classified ads or those that sell for a fixed price.

eBay quick statistics

Walmart

Walmart

Walmart is an American retail corporation that operates its own online marketplace. So if you’re based in the US and would like to cater to the US market, then Walmart might be a good option to consider. To become a Walmart seller, you’ll need to have some marketplace experience, US Tax ID, Form W-9, GTIN/UPC GS1 company prefix number, a fast and reliable fulfillment provider, and a US-based warehouse. However, if you’re an international seller not based in the US, you can still trade on Walmart; to check if you qualify, you’ll have to fill out an international seller form. Once you meet all of those prerequisites, you’ll need to fill out Walmart’s application, pass verification and approval processes, choose integrations, add your products, and request a launch! You’ll be relieved to know that there are no marketplace setup fees, monthly fees, or annual fees; however, Walmart does charge a reasonable referral fee depending on the product category.

Walmart quick statistics

Etsy

Etsy

Etsy is the fourth largest ecommerce company in the US and a global marketplace that’s focused on handmade items, craft supplies, and vintage, rare finds. Etsy provides its sellers with useful guides, selling tips, and powerful tools that support selling automation, product management, and promotions. Etsy's listing fee is as low as 20 cents; however, there are other fees that you can incur on top of it, such as a 5% transaction fee, 3% + $0.25 payment processing fee, and 15% for advertisements off the website. If you’d like to have an expanded set of tools for managing your account, you can subscribe to a Plus account for an additional 10 dollars a month.

Etsy quick statistics

Wish

Wish

Although founded in San Francisco, Wish is now active in more than 100 countries around the world. Most of the merch on Wish comprises small items manufactured and shipped from China. However, if you’re based somewhere else in the world and would like to join the Wish vendor family, you’re welcome to join, provided you can compete with relatively low prices set up by Chinese sellers. Wish is free to sign up and list an unlimited number of products without paying any fees unless you make a sale, that’s when Wish charges its commission. Just like other featured ecommerce marketplaces above, Wish has a comprehensive resource center for merchant support and useful tools for account management.

Wish quick statistics

Top Online Marketplaces by Region

Below, we’ll list some of the top online marketplaces in the world, divided by the region and ranked in order of monthly visitors.

Global Marketplaces
Amazon 5.2 billion
eBay 1.7 billion
Aliexpress 534.4 million
Etsy 391.8 million
Wish 90.1 million
North America
Asia Pacific
Walmart 410.3 million Rakuten 575.8 million
Target 182.2 million Shopee 457.9 million
Wayfair 179.1 million Taobao 329.4 million
Poshmark 46.9 million Pinduoduo 241.5 million
Overstock 40 million JD.com 178.8 million
Kroger Ship 37.6 million Flipkart 176.9 million
Newegg 32.6 million TMall 113.3 million
Barnes and Noble 22.5 million Mercari 107.8 million
Best Buy Canada 20.3 million
Europe
Latin America
Allegro 190.2 million Mercado Libre 683.9 million
Wildberries 154.5 million Americanas 130.6 million
Zalando 134.8 million Casas Bahia 84.2 million
Ozon 88.9 million Dafiti 28.7 million
Bol.com 80.6 million Netshoes 27.2 million
Otto 55.0 million Extra 24.8 million
La Redoute 17.3 million Falabella 24.5 million

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace might be an ideal solution for those who wish to sell locally. You can sell both as an individual and a business. If you list any products on Facebook Marketplace, your items will be automatically visible to anyone on and off Facebook and discoverable by search engines, provided it passes the verification process by Facebook and is approved for publication. Facebook doesn’t charge any listing fees. As of now and until June 30, 2022, Facebook suspends any fees on sales, so if you sell something, the profit is all yours. However, some fees might still apply if you use Commerce Manager to sell products on Facebook and Instagram and use the platform for checkout.

Facebook Marketplace quick statistics

Craiglist

Craiglist

Craiglist is perhaps one of the oldest online websites and classified sites on the Internet. Founded in 1995, it has sprawled across the United States and the world, and now serves 570 cities in 70 countries. Craiglist is a classified advertisements website that features ads for jobs, gigs, discussion groups, items for sale and items wanted, housing, rentals, and other services. To start selling on Craiglist is super easy, all you need to do is click on ‘post to classifieds,’ select the type of posting you want to make, choose a product category for your item, create a description of your product, with high-quality images, and publish! Once you agree to Craiglist’s terms and conditions after following the link sent to your email box, your ad will become visible to potential customers. If your posting is free, how does Craiglist is still the most profitable classified ad company in the world? It’s true that Craiglist only has a few revenue streams and is mostly free; however, it does charge posting or listing fees in several categories, such as job ads or a rentals.

Craiglist quick statistics

Nextdoor

Nextdoor

Nextdoor is a hyperlocal social networking service, founded in 2008 in San Fransisco and available in 11 countries. Nextdoor is where locals come together to exchange the latest piece of gossip, get updates, borrow and sell items online. Besides neighbors, Nextdoor welcomes nonprofits, local businesses, and small business owners who want to highlight or inform locals about their products or services. So if you want to advertise your business or draw in new customers, you can use Nextdoor, provided you post the ad in the neighborhood where your business is physically located, since e commerce companies cannot utilize business posting.

Nextdoor quick statistics

How COVID-19 Changed the Market

COVID-19 and the ensuing quarantine have spurred the growth of e commerce and marketplaces in particular. Thus, the ecommerce sales made on marketplaces amounted to 47% of global e commerce sales or nearly two trillion dollars in 2020. According to Gartner, businesses that have been operating marketplaces for more than a year will see at least a 10% increase in revenue by 2023. We are positive that given the boost by the pandemic, marketplaces will grow even further in numbers over the upcoming years. So if there’s any right place or time to start a business, then it’s definitely now and on marketplaces.

Building Your Own Store/Marketplace

Building your own online store is not exactly the same as building a marketplace. We suggest that you have a mature digital solution first before attempting to build a marketplace of your own. The reason for having a mature solution is rather straightforward – without an established, well-developed e commerce platform, it will be difficult to attract suppliers, buyers, and partners. The marketplace business model requires a complex infrastructure that allows all parties to interact with each other in an efficient manner.

Suppose you have a digital solution that’s flexible enough to accommodate third parties and scale up depending on business needs. In that case, you’ll need to think about the monetization of your marketplace. You can charge subscription or transaction fees, monetize your data or offer value-added services like promotions or advertising. Then, you’ll need to think about the amount of control you’re willing to give to your suppliers. You can choose to allow your suppliers to manage their own catalogs or fulfillment, or you can choose not to, and instead – do it yourself or offer fulfillment services for a fee. These are only a few questions to ask yourself before embarking on a marketplace journey. The first step, however, is to ensure you have a reliable ecommerce platform at the core of your store. Everything else comes second.

Benefits of Using Virto Commerce Solutions

Virto Commerce might be an ideal solution for your marketplace venture, and these are the reasons why:

  • It’s modular and extensible: you can create as many modules as your business logic requires
  • It’s API based, meaning it can integrate with any third party systems
  • It’s cloud native, meaning it’s scalable by default
  • It’s headless, meaning you can create as many storefronts you want
  • Virto is flexible and open source
  • It has many out of the box modules that you can either use as-is or tweak to suit your business agenda

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Marina Vorontsova
Technical author and eCommerce advocate