How online marketplaces have become the shopping mall of the future

May 20, 2016 03:18 PM

Online marketplaces are big business.

These shopping portals, where consumers can purchase from several merchants on one website, are gaining momentum as retailers are turning to marketplaces to reach more consumers and grow their businesses.

The just-released report, “Online Marketplaces: The shopping mall of the future,” shows that 10 of the largest marketplace operators in the U.S., which include Inc., eBay Inc., Etsy Inc., and others, sold more than $100 billion worth of goods to U.S. consumers in 2015, according to Internet Retailer’s analysis of data from company reports and ChannelAdvisor Corp., a marketing firm that helps retailers sell on marketplaces. That’s nearly a third of all e-commerce sales in 2015, according to U.S. Commerce Dept. figures.

Many retailers, especially those with little-known brands, are realizing they can increase sales by selling on online marketplaces, as customers increasingly shop through these channels for a vast selection of items and competitive prices. Take Amazon and eBay—two marketplaces that make up about 95% of marketplace sales in the U.S., according to ChannelAdvisor. 92% of consumers surveyed by Internet Retailer in May shopped on Amazon in the past year and 72% shopped on eBay. What’s more, retailers may acquire new customers through marketplaces, as nearly 65% of consumers surveyed said they feel comfortable purchasing from merchants they’ve never heard of before on marketplaces.

And there are growing opportunities for retailers beyond and Several major retailers have launched their own marketplaces, inviting merchants to sell on their websites. These retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (No. 4 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide), Sears Holding Corp. (No. 14), Bluefly Inc. (No. 223) and Newegg Inc. (No. 17), operate marketplaces to rapidly increase the number of products listed on their sites, providing a larger selection of items to their customers.

A number of startups are also creating marketplaces that specialize in a narrow range of merchandise. Niche marketplaces allow retailers and brands selling on those sites to reach a specific customer, as opposed to marketplaces like Amazon and eBay whose customers are looking for a broad selection of products in multiple categories. More than a dozen specialty online marketplaces have launched in the last two years, and many of those are gaining the attention of venture capitalists.

Whether its these startups creating more niche marketplaces, large retailers inviting merchants to sell on their websites or Amazon continuing to gain market share by attracting more sellers and consumers, it’s increasingly clear that small and mid-sized retailers can grow by joining the marketplace arena.

In the newly released “Online Marketplaces: The shopping mall of the future” report, read more about how merchants are growing on marketplaces, which ones they’re selling on, key details of some of the largest marketplaces in the U.S. and what they’re doing to keep up with Amazon.

Included in the report:

  • Data-filled profiles of 10 large marketplaces in the U.S., including each marketplace’s 2015 and 2014 gross merchandise value, the number of sellers, number of products, commission rates charged by marketplaces, traffic data and mobile app data.
  • In-depth analysis of the key trends in the marketplace landscape, including how retailers are growing on marketplaces and which marketplaces they’re selling on. The article also delves into some of the large retail chains that have launched their own marketplaces.
  • An exclusive consumer survey conducted by Internet Retailer that reveals what consumers really know about marketplaces—and how they behave on them.
  • A list of retailers in the Internet Retailer Top 1000 Guide that sell on marketplaces and how much they sold in 2014 and 2015.
  • Infographics of Amazon and eBay showcasing key data points from each marketplace.
  • Details and charts on niche marketplaces, including a feature on Etsy Inc. 



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