I'm sure you'll agree with me on this one:
The e-commerce industry is HUGE in 2018.
That's right – last year, the global e-retail sales amounted to $2.3 trillion and are expected to grow to more than $4 trillion by 2021.
But there's much more to online marketplaces than your regular Amazon and eBay.
In this blog post we'll look at 42 popular online marketplaces of 19 different types to show you what's going on in the industry today.
This article is part of our series on starting an online marketplace business.
There's lots of stuff you can sell through online marketplaces.
We organized our big marketplace list into these 5 big groups and a number of subcategories – like this:
- Large scale online malls
- The "everything" marketplaces
- Marketplaces that specialize in electronics
- Traditional retailers going online
- Vintage, fashion and handmade goods
- Digital marketplaces
- Themes and templates
- Graphics and visual assets
- Code – software, plugins and extensions
- Mobile apps
- Music and audio
- Photos and stock photography
- Courses and classes
- Reservations, rentals and bookings
- Travel planning
- Events and tickets
- Online services
- Offline services
- B2B-specific marketplaces
You can click each heading to jump to the corresponding section or join us in exploring each of them.
1. Traditional Large Scale Online Malls
This is the type of website that comes to everyone’s mind when you say ‘marketplace’ - a large platform where you can find thousands of products from hundreds of categories.
The "everything" marketplaces
Founded in 1994, Amazon’s grown to become the world’s most dominant online marketplace today. It sells an extremely wide range of physical products and also supports several digital product types. The marketplace allows both used and new items to be sold.
Established a year after Amazon, eBay is the world’s largest used item marketplace.
While many people and businesses sell brand new, out-of-the-box merchandise here, eBay is best known as the go-to place to quickly list your items without extensive verification procedures.
Unlike Amazon, eBay supports auction-type bid-based transactions.
Aliexpress is the retail-consumer oriented offspring of the China’s commercial giant, Alibaba.
Launched in 2010, Aliexpress has become the go-to solution for quality production made in China.
Amazon for Chinese products, if you will..
Dominant in the Arab world, Souq was launched in 2005 and is now owned by Amazon.
Here, you can buy anything from fashion wear to consumer electronics.
Originally an auction website, today Souq is a more modest version of Amazon, tweaked for a specific market.
Founded as a hardware store in 2007 in India, Flipkart has gradually expanded to become a dominant force in global consumer electronics market.
Today, it goes beyond electronics - offering merchandise types like clothes, furniture and books.
NewEgg was founded in 2000 - during the heat of the Internet bubble - and has proven to be one of the strongest commercial forces in the computer hardware and consumer electronics hardware.
Rakuten, founded in 1997, is the NewEgg’s equivalent for the Japanese market.
Based in Tokyo, Rakuten is the largest e-commerce website in Japan, and generates some of the highest sales numbers in the world.
After eBay pivoted towards a more traditional e-commerce approach, eBid has become one of the most trusted auction-based marketplaces in the world.
Operating in more than 100 countries globally, eBid supports a number of currencies and payment options, including PayPal and Skrill to facilitate auction bids.
Although you can virtually find most any kind of merchandise on Bonanza, it is famous for being the digital equivalent of a flea market.
Here, you can expect to find rare, unique and/or used items that you would never even think of.
Traditional Retailers Going Online
With the digital revolution causing massive disruption in traditional retail industry, nationwide brand names like Walmart are fighting for their spot under the sun by trying to capture their piece of the digital pie.
The result? A weird attempt to copy Amazon.
Sell on Sears
Same story with another U.S. retail giant - Sears. On their current online version of the mall, you can find anything from yoga pants to iPhones.
Vintage, Fashion & Handmade Marketplaces
These are the biggest marketplace platforms dedicated to vintage, handmade and fashion items.
For a more in-depth look into these industries, you'll probably like my marketplace roundups on fashion and handmade:
- 96 Fashion Marketplaces & Second Hand Luxury Consignment Platforms
- Handmade Marketplaces for Artisans to Sell Crafts, Art, Gifts Online
Antiques, collectibles, dolls, vintage art - you name it - RubyLane is the go-to marketplace to buy and sell cute, cozy details for your dream interior.
For all things handmade, Etsy is the ultimate go-to platform.
For the crafty, Etsy provides an opportunity to turn their hobby into a source of income.
For people of more refined taste, Etsy is the secret chest of hidden treasures.
2. Digital Marketplaces
Some marketplaces operate exclusively with digital products, like eBooks, software, or online courses.
Creators of these products can enjoy incredible scaling opportunities, and the buyers get instant access to their purchases.
Themes and Templates
If you’re creating a WordPress website, you’ll most likely come across the name of ThemeForest.
Here, web designers across the world offer their templates for sale, giving website owners thousands of high-end theme options to choose from.
If you’re creating a website outside of WordPress, TemplateMonster is the first stop you want to make. Magento, WooCommerce, PrestaShop - they’ve got you covered for all of the world’s most popular Content Management Systems.
Graphics and Visual Assets
There are times when you need a small graphical element on your website. An icon.
That’s when you go to a platform like GraphicRiver and choose from millions of options.
Besides icons, their contributors also offer fonts, logos and other subtle graphic elements.
Like the name suggests, on Creative Market you can buy and sell all digital things related to graphic design. Landscape photos, object illustrations, magazine templates, 3D models and unique fonts - Creative Market is a one-stop shop for those looking to bring their website to life.
Software: Plugins, Extensions, Scripts
What happens if you need an automated chat responder, or a contact form on your website quickly?
You go to CodeCanyon, purchase a code snippet, and put it into your website’s code.
Developers from all over the world are solving the software shortcomings of the world on a daily basis, and are charging upwards of $2 for a snippet.
Many major Content Management Systems have built a separate marketplace by their side to enable developers across the world to recognize the shortcomings and possibilities of their platforms. For website owners, however, it’s just a way to get things done easier and faster.
OpenCart, one of the world’s most popular CMSs, also has a marketplace of its own.
For developers, these marketplaces provide an opportunity so solve some of OpenCart’s shortcomings and make an extra buck.
As a result, website owners and creators can enjoy a variety of extensions, ranging from GDPR compliance packages to sophisticated analytics dashboards.
Mobile App Marketplaces
App Marketplaces barely need introducing. Most smartphone users download apps like the Facebook Messenger or Gmail to their devices, and for there are companies who specialize solely in developing and publishing mobile apps.
The equivalent of Google Play for the Apple mobile devices, Apple Store is the world’s largest app marketplace. Some apps are free to use, and others cost upwards of $0.99.
Steam has revolutionized the way people buy video games. 20 years ago, the only way to purchase a video game was to go to a store, buy a CD, and install the game to your computer. Today, it’s as easy as clicking a button on the Steam Store.
Humble Bundle is a gaming marketplace that differentiates through offering interesting gaming bundles for a good price. Besides video games, people also buy and sell other gaming-related merchandise here - like comics. And, on top of all that, the company is actively raising cash for charity by selling more games.
Music and Audio
Few people think of Spotify as a marketplace, but musicians (or, rather, the copyright holders) are getting paid on a per-audio-stream basis on the platform.
According to CNBC, Spotify currently pays musicians from $0.006 to $0.0084 per audio stream.
The distant #2 in audio streaming game, Apple Music, also pays an undisclosed amount to its musicians, only on a project-based model.
Chance the Rapper, for example, was paid $500,000 for a two-week exclusive with Apple Music.
With millions of talented photographers across the globe selling the rights to their pictures every day on the platform, Shutterstock has become the go-to website to get high-quality stock pictures for your website.
While you can download and use pictures for free on Unsplash, there’s an option to donate money to the author to support their work.
Education and Courses
Since it was founded, Udemy has grown to become one of the world’s largest online course platforms.
Experts from most unexpected niches create and publish courses here - from gardening to management consulting - sharing their expertise with millions of students.
Positioning as an exclusive course platform, Masterclass partners with the world’s brightest stars - from poker master Daniel Negreanu to Hollywood screenwriter Aaron Sorkin - to produce courses of highest quality in all relevant aspects.
3. Reservation, Rental and Bookings
The digital revolution and accessible marketplace technology has changed the way people travel forever.
Today, most of travel planning and booking happens through specialized online marketplaces.
Before AirBnB, couchsurfing was pretty much the only way to go about finding a stay abroad while staying away from hotels and hostels.
AirBnB has created a worldwide-trusted platform where tenants and travelers can easily connect.
Similarly to AirBnB, Tripping.com provides travelers an opportunity to rent a house or an apartment abroad with the ease and credibility of booking a hotel room.
Connecting hotel deals with travelers, TripAdvisor have revolutionized the way people plan their trips.
Today, it’s no longer going to the travel agents.
You simply open up your laptop, look for deals available on TripAdvisor, and take a pick.
For hotels and hostels, marketplaces like TripAdvisor are a great way to promote their deals and services.
Analogous to TripAdvisor, Momondo helps travelers find the best flight deals for their journeys.
On one side of the platform you have travelers planning their trips, on the other - you have airlines, looking to promote their flight destinations and deals.
Events and Tickets
Not only most event organizers sell their tickets through ticket platforms like TicketMaster due to their payment processing systems and reliability, they’re also getting a ton of exposure.
Many people go to marketplaces like TicketMaster without a specific event in mind.
Similar to TicketMaster, EventBrite strongly emphasizes its capability to offer events in the specific locations of their users.
4. Service Marketplaces
One of the most disrupted markets today is the job market.
The way companies hire employees and find contractors has expanded companies’ ability to hire tremendously.
Today, you can hire a developer in Australia while delivering your project to a client in China – and not experience any turbulence in communication.
With the rise of businesses embedded in the digital world, came the rise in demand of digitally provided services.
There’s hardly a business today that doesn’t need a developer, a graphic designed, or a copywriter. Upwork provides opportunities for freelancers to connect with potential clients all over the world.
Fiverr is a digital services marketplace in the purest sense of the word.
Specialists from all corners of the world offer most various digital services - from copywriting to graphic design - for the notorious $5 price tag (hence the name of the platform.)
With 36% of U.S. households owning a dog, the pet care business is a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs - hence the uprising of DogVacay, a dog sitting marketplace.
People who leave on trips can easily find a dog sitter for the time being here, and for service providers, it’s an easy opportunity to make an extra buck.
For anything related to your house - “from light fittings to loft conversions” - Rated People is a platform where skilled tradesmen can connect with house owners in need.
5. B2B Marketplaces
If you need a reliable supplier, no longer you have to go through the yellow pages.
Today, it’s as easy as shopping - just open a B2B marketplace related to your industry and find the right company for your business.
Founded in 1999, on the brink of the Internet revolution, Alibaba today is one of the most dominant forces among global marketplaces for Chinese production.
Unlike its subsidiary AliExpress, Alibaba mostly connects companies across the world with wholesale local suppliers.
With more than half a million suppliers registered on the network, ThomasNet is the go-to marketplace for high-end suppliers for businesses with very specific needs.
Some of the industries ThomasNet covers include Chemicals, Automation & Electronics and Process Equipment.
Now that's what I call the online marketplace industry!
Did I forget an important one? Let me know in the comments!