3 Different Types of eCommerce Marketplaces and 6 Examples to Leverage Them

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eCommerce isn’t just the future. Undeniably, it’s also the present. From the accelerated growth we’ve seen over the last year, there’s never been a better time for a business to launch its own eCommerce marketplace.

Spurred on by the pandemic, 2020 saw eCommerce account for 19%, up from 16%, of all global retail sales. COVID-19 drastically advanced the move away from brick-and-mortar stores to the different types of eCommerce marketplaces available. To put a number on that, five years of projected gains in eCommerce were compacted into just one year in 2020.

With that kind of traction happening in online sales, if you’re selling anything, you need to be, at a minimum, competitive in the digital landscape of eCommerce marketplaces. What types of eCommerce marketplaces are out there for you to take advantage of? Read on to find out.

Types of eCommerce marketplaces

Traditionally, there are primarily three different types of eCommerce marketplaces. They are:

  • Business-to-business (B2B)
  • Business-to-consumer (B2C)
  • Consumer-to-consumer (C2C), sometimes called peer-to-peer (P2P)

A fourth, consumer-to-business (C2B), has also started to claim its piece of the pie in the eCommerce-everything world we see developing in front of us, but we’ll save that one for another day. 

Each type of eCommerce platform has its own audience, focus, advantages, and disadvantages. However, multiple and significant benefits are available in all the different types of e-marketplaces. More customers and sales channels, scalability, and the ability to quickly start selling are a game-changer for those selling products or services. To find out more about what makes an eCommerce marketplace a good one, take a look at this article that will tell you all about it.

Let’s dive a little deeper into each of these different eCommerce marketplaces.

B2B eCommerce marketplaces

B2B marketplaces concentrate their effort on providing a platform for a business to sell products and services to another business. Rather than trying to get as many customers as they can, businesses using this type of eCommerce marketplace focus on building trust and relationships with their customers so they’re around long term.

Businesses using a B2B marketplace will have the most success if they automate their sales processes to make them as painless as possible for the customer while also providing a stellar customer experience (CX). To find out more about building a B2B eCommerce marketplace, take a look at this step-by-step guide. Let’s check out a few examples:

Conrad: A B2B marketplace for electronics

Conrad Electronics B2B merketplace

Conrad is a German company that is one of the largest suppliers of electronics to businesses. They wanted to offer their customers a better experience and more products that would all be available in a single eCommerce marketplace. After successfully launching its e-marketplace, the company was able to attract more customers and add three million more products.

TIM.pl: A B2B marketplace for electrotechnical goods

Tim.pl electrotechnical goods B2B marketplace

TIM.pl is a Polish company that was doing 100% of its sales offline. The eCommerce system they had developed for them was anything but simple. It required implementing custom pricing algorithms and many integrations. Sophisticated features were also added that included quick orders, credit limits, multiple carts, and customized logistics, among others. Following the launch of its eCommerce B2B marketplace, 90% of its sales are now online.

B2C eCommerce marketplaces

Arguably, this is the most common eCommerce marketplace that everyone is familiar with. Think Amazon, Walmart, Newegg, etc. Many of the biggest brands have their own B2C marketplace platforms. As opposed to B2B marketplaces, B2C marketplaces are businesses that sell to consumers. 

There are a few key differences between a B2C and B2B marketplace. One is that a B2C marketplace wants to increase sales by attracting as many customers as possible. While CX is still critical, less emphasis is placed on individual relationships with customers. How payments, delivery, and pricing are handled are also big differences between the two marketplaces. Here are some examples:

Kubota: Reviving a brand and creating a B2C marketplace for slide sandals

Kubota slide sandals B2C marketplace

Kubota is a company that sells slide sandals. Founded in 1994 and although iconic in Poland, the company soon succumbed to the global footwear giants like Nike, Adidas, etc. Since it was out of the market for many years, it faced an immense challenge when it decided to develop and launch its own eCommerce marketplace. Not only did it need to reengage its former customers, but it also had to attract new ones. After launching in 2019, Kubota sold 1,000 pairs of sandals in the first month. Since then, its e-marketplace has seen 192% growth in daily visitors and 5% more returning visitors.

Malianta: Creating an online fashion brand and a B2C marketplace

Malianta fasion B2C marketplace

Malianta wanted to create an online fashion brand. With competition in the fashion industry so fierce, creating and developing an eCommerce marketplace was its best solution for being able to contend against the fashion giants. After two unsuccessful attempts at launching an eCommerce marketplace, Malianta found success on the third try. By using a “less is more” approach, its third eCommerce marketplace, launched during Black Friday in 2018, had 755% more pageviews than it would usually see in a typical week.

C2C eCommerce marketplaces

A C2C eCommerce marketplace can be thought of as a digital garage sale or the classified ads section in a newspaper. Other than the business that creates the e-marketplace, there’s no company involved at all. C2C marketplaces connect one person who has a product or service to offer with another person looking for that same product or service.

The distinction between the people interacting with these types of marketplaces is very fluid. One day someone might be buying something on the e-marketplace, and the next day they might be the one offering a product or service for purchase. The big players in these eCommerce marketplaces are eBay, Airbnb, Etsy, etc. Let’s take a look at some you might not have heard of:

Poshmark: Making it simple to sell on a C2C marketplace

Poshmark fashion c2c marketplace

While it has a pretty massive audience, Poshmark isn’t widely known. This e-marketplace launched in 2011 and is dedicated to fashion. The site has over 200 million items for sale and 70 million dedicated users. Poshmark is ideal for people who are new to eCommerce platforms because they make it simple to sell. They only charge sellers a final value fee, and they also provide shipping and logistics support.

Carsales.com.au: Transforming a traditional sales model with a C2C marketplace

Carsales c2c eCommerce marketplace

Carsales.com.au upended the traditional model for reselling vehicles in the Asia-Pacific region. They are the largest eCommerce marketplace for selling maritime vehicles, cars, trucks, and motorcycles in Australia. They have more than 200,000 cars for sale on their eCommerce marketplace and aim to make it easy for buyers and sellers. They also have a robust news section on their site and offer a variety of services, including vehicle inspections, history reports, and determining the value of vehicles.

The time is now

While these different types of eCommerce marketplaces have helped sellers around the world find tremendous opportunities to increase their revenue, there’s still plenty of room for businesses to get in the game. Over 50% of the top-selling eCommerce marketplaces have been around for less than 10 years.

However, the trend of e-marketplaces moving into a dominant market position isn’t going away. Make no mistake, if you offer products or services, the time is now to develop your own eCommerce platform.

For a ton of information on the different eCommerce marketplaces, take a look at our ultimate, complete guide to online marketplaces. It begins with the big picture, and then it narrows down into the different eCommerce marketplaces. This down-to-earth guide was created with help from our eCommerce leaders combined with tips from industry experts, and it’s ideal for CEOs, CTOs, and tech leaders.


Published June 21, 2021