Marketplaces

Note from the editor

Marketplaces are here to stay. 

The concept of a bunch of disparate sellers coming together in one place is nothing new. How that marketplace definition will ultimately change is still coming into focus with the proliferation of online retail experiences. 

What type of shopping experience do consumers want, or expect, when they order from third-party sellers? Should it be uniform in nature, even though the businesses may be vastly different? Do shoppers expect all marketplace sellers to have the same standards when it comes to shipping

And ultimately, who is responsible when things go awry? Does a marketplace like Amazon or Tmall have an obligation to police counterfeits? What corporate processes or government regulations will emerge in the space?

As e-commerce continues to grow, third-party sellers may be a lynchpin to a larger business model. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos released data that revealed the rapid gain of marketplace businesses — the percentage of Amazon sales by third-party sellers rose from 3% in 1999, to 30% in 2008 and 58% in 2018. "[T]hird-party sales have grown from $0.1 billion to $160 billion — a compound annual growth rate of 52%," he wrote in a letter to shareholders.

While marketplaces find their footing, an opportunity has also emerged for retail to redefine the industry and what it wants to be in the future. Brands could potentially find their audience through different means and on a variety of platforms, and those channels are poised to provide a creative way of reaching new audiences.

Kaarin Vembar Editor

Will US lawmakers rein in marketplace counterfeits?

As retailers like Amazon try to police the sale of knockoffs, several congressional bills aim to regulate online merchants to protect consumers and brands.

• Published March 16, 2021

Walmart opens its marketplace to BigCommerce merchants

• Published Feb. 24, 2021

Why the founder of Charming Charlie has joined the rush to acquire Amazon-native brands

Charlie Chanaratsopon and Boosted Commerce are in the race to build a consumer brands giant for the 21st century.

• Published April 20, 2021

Powell's Books has had enough of Amazon

The Portland, Oregon, bookstore has been a marketplace seller from the get-go, but is now calling it quits and staking a claim for independents.

• Published Oct. 1, 2020

Retailers embrace Senate effort to fight fakes sold through marketplaces

• Published March 24, 2021 • Updated March 24, 2021

Citing privacy concerns, some online marketplaces move against seller transparency

• Published March 30, 2021

Hudson's Bay online marketplace will feature more than 500 third-party sellers

• Published Feb. 4, 2021 • Updated March 22, 2021

Amazon poised to overtake Walmart as largest retailer by 2025: report

• Published May 3, 2021

Bernie Sanders' mittens propelled $1.9M in Etsy sales

• Published Feb. 26, 2021

EBay hosts in-person events to authenticate collectibles

• Published April 12, 2021

The future of online marketplaces

As e-commerce continues to grow, third-party sellers may be the cornerstone to a larger business model. While online marketplaces continue to find their footing, an opportunity has also emerged for retail to redefine the industry and what it wants to be in the future.

included in this trendline
  • Walmart opens its marketplace to BigCommerce merchants
  • Hudson's Bay online marketplace will feature more than 500 third-party sellers
  • Amazon poised to overtake Walmart as largest retailer by 2025: report
Our Trendlines go deep on the biggest trends. These special reports, produced by our team of award-winning journalists, help business leaders understand how their industries are changing.
Davide Savenije Editor-in-Chief at Industry Dive.