As an ecommerce seller, your success relies heavily on the online marketplaces where you choose to list your products 

Your marketplace determines your audience, your reach, a good chunk of your overhead costs, and the policies and rules you have to abide by as a seller — and all of these can have a big impact on your reputation and your bottom line.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the top 15 online marketplaces, how they work, and how to get set up on them.

What is an online marketplace?

An online marketplace is an ecommerce site where multiple third-party sellers list their products. On online marketplaces, transactions are processed by the marketplace, not the sellers. 

How do online marketplaces work?

Here’s a simplified explanation of what happens when a shopper makes a purchase from an ecommerce marketplace.

1. Shopper makes a purchase on an ecommerce marketplace

Let’s say shoppers get to the Amazon Marketplace (directly or via another site such as Google), browse, and ultimately select an item(s) via a product page. When the shopper goes to check out on Amazon, their order will be submitted through the Amazon marketplace.

 

Shopping on the Amazon Marketplace

2. The marketplace passes the order details along to the seller

When a shopper makes a purchase, the marketplace (in this example, Amazon) lets the third-party seller (in this example, Sony) know by sending the order details from the marketplace to the seller.

3. The third-party seller sends the customer the product

The third-party seller then handles fulfillment for that purchase. Different marketplaces have different fulfillment policies, but this is the basic structure of how online marketplaces work with third-party sellers.

Selling on Amazon Marketplace

Benefits of selling on an online marketplace

Why should you sell on an online marketplace?

One of the biggest benefits: pre-existing customer bases. Online marketplaces are already trusted by hundreds of millions of shoppers who check those marketplaces first when they need to buy something.

Selling on an online marketplace can also be easier and faster than building your own ecommerce website because the interface is built for you — which often makes it a better experience for shoppers who are already familiar with the site. Once you’re approved as a third-party seller on an online marketplace, you can simply create your product listings, then you’re ready to sell!

Many online marketplaces also offer third-party sellers opportunities to promote their products to shoppers, such as Amazon Advertising, and options to outsource order fulfillment, such as FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon).

15 top online marketplaces

Here are the 15 best online marketplaces for ecommerce retailers.

1. Amazon Marketplace

Amazon is the leading online marketplace in the United States, with close to $280.5 billion in net sales in 2019. The Amazon Marketplace is one of the most well-known marketing channels for online retailers — which also makes it one of the most competitive.

How to sell on Amazon: To sell on Amazon, you’ll need to choose a plan, create a seller account, and upload your products to Amazon. For a complete guide to selling on Amazon, check out this post: How To Sell on Amazon in 2020: Setup, Fees, & Strategy.

Amazon Marketplace fees: The cost to sell on Amazon depends on which plan you choose.

Amazon seller fees for a professional seller include:

  • A monthly subscription fee of $39.99
  • Referral fees on each item sold (varies by category)
  • Variable closing fees (varies by category)

 

Amazon seller fees for an individual seller include:

  • No monthly subscription fee
  • USD$ 0.99 fee for each item sold
  • Variable closing fees (varies by category)

 

Amazon best practices: Here are some of our top tips for selling on Amazon:

  • Keep Amazon SEO and the A9 Algorithm top-of-mind when creating your product listings
  • Invest in your Amazon, including A+ Content, Enhanced Brand Content, and Amazon Stores
  • Keep your supply chain, inventory management, and fulfillment consistent and reliable — your Amazon success depends on it
  • Enroll in the Amazon Brand Registry to protect your brand and create a trusted customer experience
  • Research potential niches before deciding on the products you want to sell.
  • Take advantage of Amazon Advertising by building out a comprehensive Amazon Advertising strategy (an agency can help!)

 

2. Walmart marketplace

Walmart.com brings in 127 million unique visitors every month, and according to consumer research gathered by Tinuiti, there is a large overlap between Amazon.com and Walmart.com shoppers: Over 57% of Amazon buyers also shop on Walmart.com. Having a presence on both marketplaces gives you a better chance of capturing those shoppers.

How to sell on the Walmart Marketplace: To sell on Walmart.com, you need to fill out the Marketplace Application, which takes about 15 minutes to complete. If your application is approved, you’ll need to create your Next, you’ll register and complete your profile, verify your bank account, upload a product, and launch your account. Once the Walmart Marketplace team approves your account, your products will go live within 24 hours.

Walmart Marketplace fees: Walmart Marketplace doesn’t charge a seller fee to maintain your seller account; they only charge a referral fee based on the product category.

Walmart Marketplace best practices: 

 

3. Kroger

Founded in 1883 in Cincinnati, Kroger is the largest grocery chain in America. While you might not associate Kroger with ecommerce, the grocery chain’s grew digital sales 58% in 2018 and ranked #86 on the Internet Retailer Top 1000 list. 

How to become a Kroger vendor: Retailers can apply to become Kroger suppliers or vendors online through Kroger’s website. Kroger suppliers and vendors must use Kroger’s Supplier Hub to apply and manage their Kroger vendor accounts. To be considered as a Kroger supplier,you must be certified by a third-party agency, complete registration in our Supplier Management System, and meet Kroger’s selection criteria and requirements.

For information about fees and best practices, you’ll need to reach out directly to the Kroger B2B team or apply on their site. To learn more, check out Kroger’s full Business 2 Business Vendor Site.

 

4. eBay

With 182 million worldwide buyers, eBay remains one of the biggest online retailers internationally, with nearly every category of product you can imagine.

How to sell on eBay: eBay offers a “Quick Start” guide to help you start selling in 4 easy steps. Merchants can create a “My eBay” page from which to answer questions and view sales information. eBay also offers business consultation (for free), a Business Efficiency Guide, and Seller Development Resources, which is a program eBay designed to assist merchants in successfully selling their product.

eBay fees: eBay charges 2 different types of selling fees: an insertion fee when you create your listing, and a final value fee when your item sells. For a complete list of eBay fees, here is their guide to selling fees.

eBay best practices:

  • If you can, offer fast and free or low-cost shipping and free returns to convert more shoppers
  • Optimize your titles and product descriptions for eBay search (and to pique customer interest)
  • Make sure your product listings and photos are accurate and give as many details as possible to avoid customer confusing (or dissatisfaction)
  • Price your products competitively, including shipping costs

 

5. Chewy

Acquired in 2018 by PetSmart, Chewy.com is one of the biggest online marketplaces for pet products, beating out Amazon in pet products sold in 2018. Chewy is known for excellent customer service and affordable prices. 

How to sell pet supplies online on Chewy: Chewy doesn’t list information on how to become a Chewy vendor, but they recommend emailing [email protected] for more information.

 

6. Wayfair

If you sell home decor, furniture, mattresses or any other household item, Wayfair can be a great place to sell your products. Launched nearly 17 years ago, the site has over 11 million active users and boasts seriously high checkout averages (nearly $230 per transaction!).

How to sell on Wayfair: Wayfair operates as a dropship model and calls their third-party sellers “partners.” When a shopper places an order on Wayfair, Wayfair forwards the order to your warehouse, then you pick, pack, and ship the order to the customer — while Wayfair covers the shipping cost. You can apply to sell on Wayfair here.

Fees: Wayfair doesn’t charge fees or take a percentage of partners’ sales. Instead, Wayfair pays partners the wholesale cost of the items, then sets a higher retail price. 

Wayfair best practices:

  • Wayfair is a good option for nice, higher-priced niche home items that might not fit well on Amazon or other budget-friendly marketplaces
  • Take advantage of Wayfair’s promotional opportunities, like the annual Way Day (their version of Prime Day), to drive customers to your products

 

For more information about selling on Wayfair, check out their Wayfair partnership site here

 

7. Costco

Costco is one of the biggest brick-and-mortar retailers in the US. For consumers, Costco has become synonymous with quality, bulk-buying, and value, with warehouses stocked with premium brands and private labeled products at below-market price-per-unit prices.

How to sell to/in Costco: Costco has limited information available about becoming a vendor. If you are selling non-food or sundry items, you can contact the corporate office. If you are a prospective vendor of food and sundry items, you can contact the appropriate division office. See their vendor contact page here.

For our full guide on how to sell to Costco, check out The Costco Vendor Guide for Beginners.

 

8. Target

Target is a retail giant both in brick-and-mortar stores and online, with ecommerce sales growing more than 25% for five years in a row

How to become a Target vendor: To sell your product on Target.com, you’ll need to connect with their merchandising or sourcing team and submit a proposal. If your product is selected, you’ll set up an account on Target’s Partners Online portal.

There’s limited information available online about how to become a Target vendor and the Target vendor application, as well as Target fees. We do know that Target prefers to sell products with a proven track record, making Target a better choice for established ecommerce brands than for new online sellers.

For more information on Target’s Supplier Program, check out their Supplier page.

 

9. Newegg

Newegg is an online marketplace for electronics and hardware. With over 40 million customers in 20 countries, Newegg is the top electronics marketplace online. If you sell electronics or hardware, you should sell on Newegg.

How to sell on Newegg: To apply to sell on Newegg, fill out this Seller Application. Once you’re approved, you can list your products and start selling. You can ship orders yourself or use SBN (Shipped by Newegg). Newegg pays sellers weekly. 

Newegg fees: Newegg offers 3 different seller plans:

  • Standard: Zero Fees (Up to 5,000 listings)
  • Professional: $29.95 / month (Up to 10.000 listings)
  • Enterprise: $99.95 / month (Unlimited listings)

 

Newegg best practices:

  • Make the most of your product listing by customizing your Newegg Store landing page with featured products, banners, and video
  • Keep an eye on your Newegg Seller Rating, which can range from 1 to 5 eggs — shoppers use these ratings to figure out which sellers are the most trustworthy to buy from
  • Make sure to ship your orders within 72 hours (holidays and weekends not included) to meet Newegg’s requirements 

 

10. Jet

Jet.com is actually owned by Walmart, but its marketplace is completely separate from the company’s main one. It’s a great site for items typically bought in bulk, as it rewards customers with discounts and freebies based on how much they add to their cart. Jet calls their third-party sellers Jet Retail Partners.

How to sell on Jet.com: All Jet Retail Partners are required to connect with Jet via API integration — you can’t manually upload listings via .csv — so make sure you have the technical capabilities to sell on Jet before you apply. To apply to partner with Jet, check out the application on their website.  Like Walmart, the seller standards are pretty high with Jet, so make sure you’re ready for a lengthy approval process. 

Jet.com seller fees: For any item sold on Jet, the amount of Commission charged = Applicable Commission Rate * Retailer Price + Dollar Based Adjustments. The Retailer Price = the Item Price + Shipping Price. To learn more about Jet.com’s Commission structure, here’s their help center article.

Jet.com best practices:

  • Provide as much information about each product as possible, including SKU data, Unique IDs, multi-pack quantity info if you sell in bulk, inventory in stock, and up-to-date pricing
  • Choose descriptive titles for your product listings that include your brand name
  • Fulfill orders quickly and reliably and keep your order defect rate (ODR) below 2% — or risk getting suspended from the platform

 

11. Alibaba

Alibaba is China’s ecommerce giant. What was once a startup employing only 18 people now has over 22,000 employees. The international company’s market cap recently broke $400 billion, and they currently account for 80% of online sales in China.

How to sell on Alibaba: Alibaba can be an excellent marketing engine for suppliers, but new vendors should keep in mind that it can take years to rise to the top of Alibaba’s search results and account for the expense — so make sure that it’s worthwhile for your business before you get started. 

If you do decide to sell your products on Alibaba, you’ll need to register for an account, establish your company profile, and list your products.

Alibaba fees: How much does it cost to sell on Alibaba?

Pricing depends on the type of product you sell and the individual Alibaba portal you sell it on (there are many — including some that are even fee-free). There are also subscription and transaction fees in some cases.

While sellers can join for free, basic membership on Alibaba severely limits the number of products displayed as well as access to promotional tools, rendering it functionally useless to most companies hoping to expand.

Selling on Alibaba can be cost-prohibitive to smaller retailers. Any seller fees are in addition to the 1% charge associated with Alipay, the company’s Paypal-like payment processor.

Alibaba best practices:

  • Given that Alibaba is a B2B website, their best-sellers are generally items that can be mass-produced and sold wholesale to replenish inventory for companies
  • Consider investing in a Gold Membership if you plan to make Alibaba one of your main online marketplace channels 
  • Take advantage of Alibaba’s training and educational resources for sellers
  • Learn more about Alibaba here

 

12. Etsy

Etsy is geared toward “crafters, artists, and collectors”, and except for items categorized as “Vintage” or “Supplies”, Etsy is designed to sell handmade items created by the person selling the product. This makes it a good option for crafters, artists, and antique or vintage shops looking to sell online.

How to sell on Etsy: To get started on Etsy, follow these steps:

  1. Create an Etsy account
  2. Set your shop location and currency
  3. Choose a shop name
  4. Create a listing
  5. Set a payment method
  6. Set a billing method

 

Etsy fees: How much does it cost to sell on Etsy? Etsy seller fees include a:

  • Transaction fee (5%)
  • Subscription fee (varies based on tier)
  • Shipping fee (Etsy shipping labels, USPS labels, FedEx labels, or Canada post labels)

 

 For businesses that are new to the platform, Etsy offers the first 40 listings for free. If you choose the Etsy Plus plan, it costs an additional $10 per month — in exchange, you’ll receive “an expanded set of tools to help jump-start growth and express your brand.”

Etsy best practices: 

  • Check out Etsy’s advertising options, including promoted listings and Google shopping ads, both of which can be managed through the advertising dashboard
  • Sell unique, high-quality products (and make sure your listings and photos reflect that)
  • Take beautiful product photos — the products that perform best on Etsy are highly visual, and aesthetics matter

 

13. Overstock

Overstock.com sells both closeout and new home decor, furniture, bedding, apparel, and many other product categories. The ecommerce marketplace is known for its affordable prices and huge selection.

How to sell on Overstock: Overstock works with businesses and entrepreneurs who join their “Supply Network”, which allows Overstock to list these merchant’s products in their online stores. This helps suppliers boost their online presence and allows an influx of their products into the marketplace. To apply to sell on Overstock, you can submit an online request form. If you’re approved as an Overstock Merchant, you’ll upload your SKUs, content, and images, then set your own retail prices/

Overstock fees: How much does it cost to sell on Overstock? 

There is limited information available online about how much it costs to sell on Overstock. Listing fees range from $0.10 to over $3, with additional fees for listing enhancements.

Overstock best practices:

  • Make sure your fulfillment and inventory is well-managed — you’ll be responsible for fulfilling Overstock orders
  • Use Overstock’s reporting and analytics to track how well your listings are performing 
  • Overstock also offers a range of customized services available to help you drive growth, so take advantage of those if you need them

 

14. Rakuten

The Rakuten marketplace is often called “the Amazon of Japan.” The largest B2B2C (Business to Business to Consumer) ecommerce site in Japan, the Rakuten marketplace has now expanded globally, including a program for US ecommerce sellers.

How to sell on Rakuten: You can apply to sell on Rakuten here. Rakuten sellers can manage their account and listings through the Rakuten Seller Portal. You can upload products to Rakuten using the RMS web tool, FTP feed, their Open API, or a third-party integrator.

Rakuten fees: Rakuten takes a commission of 8% to 15% depending on the product category.

Rakuten best practices:

  • Rakuten merchants can customize their own shipping and return policies, so make sure yours is competitive (aka cheap/free and fast)
  • Leverage Rakuten’s partner ecosystem for integration, shipping, and payment services
  • Keep your customer service consistent and responsive — Rakuten’s feedback system lets customers rate sellers for each purchase. 

 

15. Houzz 

Houzz is a Scandinavian online marketplace that features a wide range of sellers in more than 900 categories of home products.

How to sell on Houzz: To apply to sell on Houzz, reach out to their Seller Support team. Once you’re approved as a Houzz seller, you can begin listing and selling your products through the Houzz Seller Central. For the complete Seller Guidelines for product listings, see this article from the Houzz help docs

Houzz seller fees: How much does it cost to sell on Houzz? Houzz has a 15% commission fee for products sold through their marketplace.

Houzz best practices: 

  • Houzz is very strict about product listings. Make sure your listings are descriptive, clear, properly formatted and categorized, and highlight feature benefits. 
  • Keep your product data accurate and up-to-date at all times. If you need to update your product data, mark it as Inactive until you make your update.
  • Keep your shipping costs and speeds competitive — Houzz says shipping costs cannot “exceed the industry rate.”

 

These are just the top few of the hundreds of online marketplaces available to ecommerce retailers. The right marketplace for your business will depend on your vertical, budget, and goals. To learn more about online marketplaces, check out Tinuiti’s online marketplace brand-building services.

 

 

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