Wednesday 12th October 2016

Which Online Marketplaces Can Help Boost Your eCommerce Sales?

Tom Shackleton

More and more eCommerce retailers are deciding to adopt multi-channel strategies to broaden their online reach and boost sales. Because of this, the use of online marketplaces is growing. Huge marketplaces offer a great opportunity for retailers to reach new customers at a relatively low cost, and as competitors move into marketplace selling, the competition and choice for customers just keeps getting bigger.

It can be difficult to assess whether selling through marketplaces is the right move for your business. There are plenty to choose from, all with their pros and cons, so which (if any) should you pick?

Here’s how to turn your eCommerce business multi-channel with online marketplaces:

Is Marketplace Selling Right for You?

The first thing to decide is whether marketplace selling is even right for your eCommerce store. There are some pretty big advantages to marketplaces, like their huge potential customer base for example. But there are also some potentially deal breaking disadvantages such as the often margin crushing price wars that can occur and the dilution of your brand.

Marketploace selling for you

The Pros

As mentioned, online marketplaces are able to attract huge volumes of traffic without you having to personally invest in driving it to your products. Some will even fund Google Shopping results for your product listings, if they are optimised well and popular enough.

All of this extra traffic is sure to broaden the reach of your eCommerce business and products. New customers reached through marketplaces could navigate through to your site and make further purchases directly from you.

This could add up to plenty of extra sales which ultimately is the aim. Many eCommerce businesses rely on marketplaces for a large portion of their revenues. The right product at the right price on the right marketplace can really take off.

The Cons

On the flip side of this, selling on a 3rd party marketplace means you lose a lot of the control over how your products are displayed to customers. Opportunities for branding are usually minimal and marketplaces can even restrict some features to those who don’t fork out the extra fees.

Some marketplaces will take quite a sizeable percentage of your sales revenue from their platform, even up to as much as 25% in some cases. This can make marketplace selling difficult for some retailers. Add onto that the race to the bottom that tends to take place when similar sellers begin to compete on price, and you could see your margins quickly evaporate.

The more channels you sell through, the more difficult it becomes to manage inventory and marketplaces are no exception. You’ll need to be able to track inventory across different platforms, which can get very complicated. If you’re using Shopify for your eCommerce store however, this is less of an issue.

Top Marketplaces

So if you’ve decided that marketplace selling might be right for you, there are a few popular sites you may want to consider. Some cater to specific product types and have different fee models, so pick the marketplaces that best suit your business.


Amazon logo

The biggest, and often most infamous, marketplace is Amazon. The global eCommerce giant charges £25 per month plus selling fees for access to it’s 310 million active users. There are very few limitations on what you can sell here, but be prepared to lose 25% of your sales revenue to Amazon.

Such a huge market is Amazon that you’ll most certainly be met by numerous competitors, all fighting to offer the lowest price. If you can deal with very small margins and even losses on a few products, Amazon could be for you.


ebay logo

Behind Amazon in terms of users, but still a huge flourishing marketplace is eBay. Usually known for second hand or low cost goods, eBay gives you the option to sell through auction or standard listings. It’s also a platform that’s great for local sellers, with users able to filter their search results by location.

eBay’s fees structure is often a little more complex, but consists of a fee per listing, along with a percentage of your sale price once the item sells. If you’re selling second hand goods like furniture for example, you’ll find a thriving community of buyers on eBay, more than willing to haggle over price. Probably one to avoid for luxury and premium price retailers though.


Etsy logo

Turning away from the big two marketplaces, there are a few smaller sites that eCommerce retailers in certain markets may find very useful. The first of these is Etsy. Founded in 2005, Etsy is a markeplace focused on handmade and vintage goods. Over the past 10 years it’s grown to become the marketplace of choice for it’s market niche and now has over 1.6 million sellers reaching over 25 million customers.

Etsy also has a very simple fees structure, charging only a 3.5% commission on sales, significantly less that Amazon’s 25%. The individual nature of the products on sale also help Etsy avoid the race to the bottom that plagues some other marketplaces.

Not on The Highstreet

Not on the Highstreet Logo

Finally, Not on The High Street is a marketplace that shares some characteristics with Etsy. It focuses on personalised goods and targets a similar market to Etsy. However, Not on The High Street operates a more closed method of recruiting sellers. You have to apply to sell on the site and not all applications are approved.

This makes for a more curated selection of products that you could argue gives customers a more consistent quality. If you have a string brand and unique products, applying to Not on The Hight Street could be a good option.

Choosing Your Marketplaces

There are many factors that should impact on your choice of marketplaces. You need to look at the product range you’re looking to sell and decide how much you are able to compromise on margin and control of branding. Some marketplaces, like Amazon in particular, can squeeze your margins down to nothing if you’re not careful.

Choosing marketplaces

You should also be looking at the brand image of the different marketplaces. Do they fit your brand? You don’t want to compromise the strength of your brand by selling on a site completely at odds with it.

Another consideration is inventory management. Some marketplaces will integrate with your eCommerce site and track inventory, simplifying the process. However, you need to be sure that you can handle extra orders and process them efficiently.

In Summary…

Selling on marketplaces is a great way to turn your eCommerce store into a multi-channel business. With customers looking to marketplaces for the convenience of being able to find what they’re looking for quickly, selling via marketplaces can allow you to boost your sales, capture new customers and reach new markets. As long as you select the right marketplaces for your business and understand the customers who use them, marketplaces can become an important and fruitful part of your strategy.

Are you using marketplaces to reach new customers for your eCommerce business? Get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter and let us know.

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