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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

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