Globally, more than 50% of ecommerce sales were made through online marketplaces in 2018, and that is forecast to grow to about two-thirds within five years.
We are well acquainted with the likes of Amazon, eBay, Rakuten and Alibaba – the giants of online retail – but who are the rising stars? Who are the other big players around the world? Which are the best places to sell niche products?
In this post, we have compiled a definitive list of all the online marketplaces around the world, and we answer those questions and more.
We start with the complete list of 146 marketplaces, then we look at the most popular product categories, and the best-served global regions. We include a detailed breakdown of the top four product categories – fashion, books, homewares and electronics – and finally take a look at the top marketplaces by region.
What is an online marketplace?
There are two key features that define an online marketplace:
- There are many sellers and buyers trading through the same website.
- Buyers are able to purchase products without leaving the site (or app).
This excludes price comparison sites like Shopping.com. Although they have products from many sellers, you cannot make a purchase without leaving the site. They are advertising channels rather than online marketplaces.
It also excludes some sites where you can sell used products such as decluttr and ubup. With those, you can only sell your stock directly to the company, so there is only one buyer. They are sourcing products from you to resell themselves (often through online marketplaces!)
For this article, we have focused on marketplaces that meet two further criteria:
- The buyers are mainly consumers, not businesses.
- The marketplace sells physical products, not just services.
This means that marketplaces that only support business-to-business (B2B) trade, such as diamond trading site RapNet, are excluded. Marketplaces specializing in services such as freelancing website Upwork and also excluded.
In summary, we are looking at true online marketplaces where you can sell physical products to consumers.
The world’s top online marketplaces
Key: = marketplace and = retailer
1 – Estimated monthly visits for February 2019, from SimilarWeb. Traffic to different domains for the same marketplace (e.g. amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.de etc.) has been combined.
It’s no surprise that Amazon and eBay head up the list, with Amazon pulling in more than 4.5 billion visits per month and eBay getting 1.8 billion. You can find the biggest sellers on these marketplaces in our articles on the world’s top Amazon sellers and the world’s top eBay sellers.
Amazon and eBay are the only marketplaces to break the one billion visits mark, although AliExpress and Mercado Libre aren’t too far behind with 865 million and 634 millions visits per month respectively.
Looking at the Product Category, the top 20 marketplaces overwhelmingly sell items of virtually any type, with only three specializing in a specific product category. Etsy is the largest of these marketplaces, underscoring the popularity of handmade and craft items. It’s an incredibly strong niche, especially when you consider that competing marketplaces are trading in mass-produced products such as electronics and clothing.
In the top 20 there is almost a 50/50 split between marketplaces that are retailers themselves, and those that are only marketplaces. The best known retailer with their own marketplace is Amazon, where over 50% of sales are actually made by marketplace sellers. But it also includes companies like Walmart, Wayfair and Zalando. These companies have added marketplaces to their existing retail websites, giving shoppers greater product choice and creating price competition between sellers.
When it comes to regions, there is a really diverse mix represented in the top 20. The top three – Amazon, eBay, and AliExpress – are all global brands, but there are also marketplaces in North America, South America, Southeast Asia, Poland, China, Japan, India and Russia all represented in the top 20.
It’s important to note that this list is ranked by estimated monthly website visits, using SimilarWeb data. While GMV (gross merchandise value) would be an ideal measure of marketplace size, this is not reliably available for most online marketplaces. Traffic data provides a consistent measure of popularity that can be applied to all marketplaces worldwide.
Top product categories sold by online marketplaces
|6||Arts, Crafts & Gifts||2||186.9M|
|7||Collectibles & Antiques||2||5.5M|
1 – Includes only marketplaces with more than one million visits per month.
General marketplaces, where a very wide range of products are sold, are by far the most common type, comprising almost 50% of all marketplaces, and 17 out of the top 20.
Online marketplaces selling mainly fashion take the second spot, despite not being featured at all in the top 20.
Books, Home, and Electronics come next, ranking above Arts, Crafts & Gifts. Although Etsy features at #12 in the overall list, there is only one other marketplace in the Arts, Crafts & Gifts category with more than one million visits per month – the U.K.’s notonthehighstreet.
Fashion online marketplaces
Clothing and accessories are one of the most popular online marketplace niches. Retailers who have added an online marketplace to their website, such as Zalando and ASOS, make up ten of the 17 fashion marketplaces with over one million visits per month. The other seven are pure-play online marketplaces.
Europe and North America dominate the fashion marketplaces. We looked into the best places to sell clothes online in an article last year.
Books online marketplaces
Books is perhaps an unlikely category for the third spot on this list, simply because it’s difficult to think of buying books online anywhere other than Amazon. For its first four years, Amazon sold nothing but books and marketed itself as “the world’s largest bookstore”. They have come to dominate book sales both online and offline.
So what is keeping online marketplaces selling books alive? There are two main trends:
- Rare books (including antiques and collectibles, as well as out-of-print books)
Retailer Barnes and Nobles takes the top position in this category, closely followed by Amazon-owned AbeBooks. AbeBooks has global coverage, but the majority of the book marketplaces are focused on North America.
Homewares online marketplaces
When it comes to homewares, Wayfair takes the top spot by a big margin.
At #3 on the list, Houzz highlights another important trend creating new online marketplaces, which is the community-driven marketplace. Houzz began as an online community about architecture and interior design, with tools to help users plan renovation and design projects. It later added an online marketplace as well as retailing products itself using a dropshipping model.
Five out of the seven top homewares marketplaces are European. We have classified Wayfair as North American, as its websites in the US and Canada have the highest traffic at 65 million visits in total. But Wayfair also have a strong presence in Europe, with a total of 14 million visits to its sites in the U.K. and Germany.
Electronics online marketplaces
Electronics is perhaps a surprising product category for marketplaces to target, given that electronic goods are typically commodity products that are easily available and price-sensitive.
However, for many of these marketplaces the driver is video games rather than electronics in general. Newegg has its roots in PC components and systems for gaming, while G2A.com is an online gaming marketplace, and GAME is a U.K.-based retailer selling video games, consoles and accessories.
While electronics as a whole is a commoditized product category, video gaming is an area with a lot of innovation and enthusiastic communities.
Note that although G2A.com is best known for digital products such as video game registration codes, it does also sell physical products including merchandise and electronics, qualifying it for inclusion here.
Marketplaces with a strong community-driven atmosphere figure several times in the smaller product categories. Examples include:
- Reverb, for musical instruments and related equipment.
- Bandcamp, for bands to sell music and merchandise.
- BrickLink, specializing in collectible Lego.
These marketplaces work because they relate directly to hobbies and pastimes that people are passionate about, and also meet a strong need to trade products that are collectible, esoteric or simply hard to find.
Two product categories which are in some ways similar are:
- Arts, Crafts & Gifts
- Collectibles & Antiques
Etsy, and its much smaller competitors, also tend to have a community feel, although not quite to the extent of Reverb, Bandcamp and BrickLink mentioned above. These include ArtFire and Ruby Lane in the U.S., and notonthehighstreet and Folksy in the U.K.
The release of Amazon Handmade in October 2015, for craftspeople to sell directly through Amazon, competes directly with Etsy, showing just how large this category is.
Top regions for online marketplaces
1 – Includes only marketplaces with more than one million visits per month.
Note that each marketplace has been assigned to just one region, or “Global”, for this analysis. Marketplaces that target shoppers in specific countries have been assigned to the region where most (or all) of those targeted countries are.
“Global”, however, means here that either:
- The marketplace sells worldwide, with no specific country targeting.
- The marketplace targets 5+ countries across 3+ major geographic regions.
European online marketplaces
Europe has 38 marketplaces which have more than one million monthly visits, and a further 13 with fewer than one million monthly visits.
Why does Europe have so many online marketplaces? It is likely because Europe consists of many developed economies with good transport, internet and payments infrastructure, but also many different languages and cultural differences.
The largest in Europe is Allegro, a Polish marketplace-only platform, with fashion retailer Zalando coming in second. Zalando is one of 11 marketplaces above which target multiple European countries.
Digging in deeper, we can see that Europe has a diverse selection of marketplaces, including a high concentration in France and Germany. France has four marketplaces in the top 15 above, plus three more lower in the list. Germany has only one in the top 15 but appears a total of five times overall.
The U.K. has ten online marketplaces on the list above, but the total traffic to them is only 9 million visits per month. In contrast, France’s online marketplaces have 116 million visits per month and Germany’s have 58 million visits per month. Despite the UK having the world’s highest ecommerce spend per capita, it’s domestic online marketplaces are weak compared to France and Germany.
North American online marketplaces
|2||Best Buy||USA, Canada, Mexico||Electronics||118.8M|
|7||Barnes and Noble||USA||Books||20.4M|
|17||Rue La La||USA||Fashion||2.3M|
|19||eCRATER||USA, UK, Australia||General||1.9M|
|20||Biblio.com||USA, UK, AU, NZ||Books||1.9M|
|24||Ruby Lane||USA||Collectibles & Antiques||1.2M|
|28||ArtFire||USA||Arts, Crafts & Gifts||558.1K|
|31||Hip eCommerce||USA||Collectibles & Antiques||501.6K|
|35||Zibbet||USA||Arts, Crafts & Gifts||242.1K|
|38||TIAS||USA||Collectibles & Antiques||94.0K|
|40||GoAntiques||USA||Collectibles & Antiques||38.5K|
The marketplaces in this list are mostly focused on the U.S. and the top ten are all retailers with marketplaces, rather than pure-play marketplaces, with the sole exception of Poshmark.
The U.S. has a richer range of niche marketplaces than Europe, with 56% of U.S. marketplaces focusing on specific product categories versus 41% in Europe. This shows particularly strongly in the top 10, with electronics, homewares, fashion, and books all present.
Further down the list, there are multiple websites specializing in collectibles, crafts, fashion and even guns.
It’s worth noting, though, that this doesn’t illustrate the huge dominance of Amazon in the U.S., now accounting for over 50% of all online retail sales in the country.
East Asian online marketplaces
The East Asian list includes marketplaces targeting China, Japan and South Korea.
China is the largest ecommerce market in the world, and Japan is the fourth, while South Korea also figures in the top ten. While online marketplaces in East Asia are not particularly numerous, and not at all diverse in terms of product categories, they are all very large.
Note that while Alibaba is one of the dominant forces in ecommerce in China, Alibaba.com does not feature in this post because it is a B2B website. AliExpress is included in this article, but it has a global rather than domestic focus. Only Alibaba’s China-facing websites – Tmall and Taobao – are featured in the table above.
South American online marketplaces
Mercado Libre takes the top spot here, with Americanas and Submarino (owned by the same company) taking second and third place. South American marketplaces are mainly generalists, with the only exception being fashion retailer Dafiti.
Online marketplaces in South America target either Brazil, the largest economy, or multiple South American countries. Of the pan-region marketplaces, Mercado Libre and Dafiti have a presence in Brazil along with their other territories.
Only Linio concentrates just on Spanish-speaking countries and does not sell to Portuguese-speaking Brazil.
Online marketplaces in the rest of the world
Online marketplaces are the dominant force in ecommerce across the entire world. This final table covers marketplaces in:
- Southeast Asia
- Middle East
In the developing world, marketplaces are often mobile-centric because consumers are less likely to own a desktop or laptop computer. In 2015, India’s Flipkart went so far as to shut down its mobile website and force users to download their app (although it later reversed this decision).
Ecommerce faces challenges in many developing countries, due to low adoption of credit cards, slow internet access and patchy delivery logistics. Despite that, online marketplaces are thriving in all regions, with Southeast Asia, India and Russia leading the way.
Middle Eastern ecommerce is growing rapidly (front-runner Souq was recently acquired by Amazon), and is attracting a lot of interest from European online sellers. There are a growing number of affluent consumers there, a demand for western products, and the Middle East is geographically close to Europe.
African ecommerce is finally picking up pace with Jumia being the largest player. Africa has probably the greatest challenges for ecommerce of all regions, with many countries and languages, low trust in online payments and very variable logistics. Still, those factors are more consistent in the largest cities, and innovations such as paying by cash in local stores are helping to address these issues.
Australia and New Zealand have their own unique ecommerce websites. eBay has long been the leader in Australia, but Amazon launched in the country in 2017. Australia also has significant domestic marketplaces Catch.com.au, The Iconic and MyDeal.com.au. New Zealand has a homegrown eBay equivalent in Trade Me, dominating ecommerce in the country.
About the data
This is the first edition of the World’s Top Online Marketplaces.
The lists are ranked by estimated website visits, based on SimilarWeb data for February 2019. Traffic to different domains for the same marketplace (e.g. amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.de etc.) has been combined. Marketplaces with zero traffic data have been excluded.
While GMV (gross merchandise value) would be an ideal measure of marketplace size, this is not reliably available for most online marketplaces. Traffic data provides a consistent measure of popularity that can be applied to all marketplaces worldwide.
“Online marketplaces” are defined in the main text above. We have excluded some marketplaces which are only a small part of the overall offering from much larger websites. These include Facebook Marketplace, Google Shopping Actions and Groupon Goods. It is not possible to separate marketplace traffic from other website traffic for these sites.
For companies that own multiple marketplaces, we have included them separately if they are different brands. For example, eBay-owned Gmarket and GittiGidiyor have their own unique branding so they are included separately. Where brands are simply localized for different countries, they are included with the main brand. For example, AbeBooks is known as IberLibro in Spain, but the brand is identical in every other way.
Have we missed any marketplaces or made any mistakes? Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comments below!
Read the original article on Ecommerce In Depth