Selling Through Marketplaces: An Opportunity Or Limitation?

Avatar for Demi Soubasaki

Marketplaces have transformed the way businesses operate online, providing a virtual space where sellers and buyers connect with ease. These online platforms have reshaped traditional retail and opened new avenues for entrepreneurs to reach a global customer base. However, the allure of marketplaces as a selling channel has its complexities and challenges.

In this blog post, we will explore the dynamic landscape of selling through marketplaces, examining the opportunities they present and the potential limitations they impose.

The Top Global Performers

According to recent reports, in 2022, the top online marketplaces experienced significant growth, collectively generating $3.25 trillion in goods sold. Third-party sales through platforms like Alibaba,, and eBay accounted for 77.5% of the total gross merchandise value. Interestingly, hybrid marketplaces, which sell both their own goods and third-party sellers’ products, outperformed pure marketplaces in terms of growth, with players like Amazon, Walmart, and experiencing a 7.2% increase in gross merchandise value. In contrast, pure marketplaces such as eBay,, and Alibaba’s Chinese marketplaces, Tmall and TaoBao, saw a decline of 0.9% in GMV. Despite that, they still remained leaders in third-party GMV globally, followed by Amazon, while declining numbers allowed Indonesian Shoppee to secure a spot in the top five.

Benefits of Selling Through Marketplaces

Sellers who choose to operate in a marketplace can leverage their user base and unique features to their advantage. Marketplaces offer several benefits that contribute to their appeal. Firstly, listing a shop on a marketplace grants access to the platform’s online visibility and strong reputation. These online markets often rank well in search engine results and attract significant traffic, providing sellers with many potential customers. Moreover, they allocate substantial budgets for digital marketing and advertising, ensuring users a secure and streamlined shopping experience.

Another advantage of selling on marketplaces is the potential for increased sales volume and growth. The enhanced visibility provided by marketplaces naturally translates into more sales opportunities. Sellers can tap into a broader customer base without the need for significant financial investments. By adapting their product offerings to meet evolving customer demands, sellers can continuously expand their inventory and cater to a broader audience. This dynamic allows for continuous growth and the acquisition of new customers. Furthermore, marketplaces offer streamlined logistics and technological solutions, reducing costs for sellers. Many platforms provide integrated features for inventory management, stock control, invoicing, order synchronization, and product dispatch

Limitations of Selling Through Marketplaces

Selling on online marketplaces may come with certain drawbacks alongside the perceived benefits. Beyond the commission that cuts into profit margins, sellers encounter various challenges. One prominent example is the intense competition among numerous sellers offering similar products. That pushes even harder sellers to differentiate themselves in order to stand out.

Additionally, the competitive landscape necessitates additional social media marketing expenses, further impacting already reduced profits. While selling through marketplaces saves time and costs, it doesn’t foster brand-building or long-term customer relationships, as customers primarily focus on the products rather than the seller’s brand. Moreover, the payment process adds complexity as the marketplace retains the payment before deducting service fees and commissions, resulting in delayed payouts that can strain the cash flow of new sellers.

How Does The Near Future of Marketplaces Look Like?

The future of selling through marketplaces holds promising trends driven by evolving technology, expanding market reach, and shifting customer preferences. One notable trend is the rise of mobile commerce, with an increasing number of customers opting to shop via mobile devices. Marketplaces adapt to this shift by optimizing their platforms for mobile responsiveness and developing user-friendly mobile apps.

Additionally, emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and virtual reality will significantly enhance the online shopping experience within marketplaces. These advancements can enable personalized recommendations, immersive product visualization, and streamlined customer support.

Moreover, customer preferences are shifting towards sustainability, ethical sourcing, and personalized experiences. Online markets that prioritize these factors and offer a diverse range of eco-friendly and customized products are expected to thrive in the future. Overall, the future of selling through such platforms is characterized by technological advancements, expanded market reach, and alignment with evolving customer preferences.

In conclusion

Selling through marketplaces presents both opportunities and limitations for businesses. While these e-commerce platforms offer access to a large customer base, online visibility, and streamlined logistics, sellers must navigate intense competition, additional marketing costs, and limited brand-building opportunities. However, the future appears promising, with trends such as mobile commerce, emerging technologies, and changing customer preferences driving further growth and innovation. By adapting to these trends and capitalizing on the advantages offered by marketplaces while mitigating their limitations, businesses can position themselves for success in the dynamic world of e-commerce.

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