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How to Sell on an Online Marketplace: 8 Options

Selling on an Online Marketplace featured blog image

Dazzled by the number of online marketplaces available right now?

So are we. 

Whatever your style, need, or hobby, there’s a marketplace out there that will sell you the products you want.

Online shopping is bigger than ever before, so partnering with online marketplaces could be a smart business move.

But which one is right for your business? And should you just launch your own store? 

We’ll guide you through 8 options to help you find the best platform to sell online.

1. Amazon

Let’s start big. 

Amazon leads the way for online marketplaces – it is the biggest one in the world. With a mammoth market share, it’s easy for anyone to sign up and sell.

Amazon Marketplace Home Page Screenshot

What’s it for?

Amazon started out as a humble bookseller. It has since transformed into a giant, multi-category eCommerce marketplace with products for nearly every need.

Depending on where you sell, you can pick from several categories, each with varying guidelines for third-party sellers. The top performers are:

  • Toys and games
  • Electronics
  • Books
  • Apparel and jewelry

There’s way more than one marketplace on Amazon.

If you want to widen your reach, this is one of the best online selling platforms. Amazon is a truly global brand and it hosts marketplaces for retailers all over the world.

You could start selling in:

  • The US, where Amazon has 95 million users who are Prime subscribers.
  • Germany, which was the second-largest market for Amazon last year.
  • The UK, whose Amazon marketplace has a huge share of the eCommerce industry.

Pros of Amazon

Amazon has a pretty solid setup when it comes to onboarding new online sellers. 

With revenue stretching into billions of dollars, this is a marketplace that makes it easy and appealing for small businesses to join and sell.

Amazon might be the marketplace for you, if you like:

  • The idea of going global. You can keep it local or expand into international markets with Amazon. 
  • Not having to deal with logistics. The slick Fulfillment by Amazon tool means they cover storing, packing, and shipping. You’ll earn a Prime badge, too.
  • Tracking your performance. Sellers can see individualized sales reports on Amazon, which is great for goal-setting.
Amazon Parcel Box Order under Christmas Tree

Cons of Amazon

Every marketplace has its downsides and Amazon is no exception.

Billions of dollars in revenue don’t come without an aggressive business model. You might find that Amazon is too big-time for your brand.

Think about whether you could deal with:

  • Intense competition. With over 12 million products on sale, Amazon marketplaces are crowded with the same products being pushed by various sellers.
  • High service standards. You’ll need to rapidly respond to customer queries and shoppers can filter by star ratings, so you’ll have to shine 24/7.
  • Competing with Amazon’s own retail offer. It isn’t just a marketplace – Amazon also sells private-label goods.

Fees on Amazon

Amazon has a couple of options for third-party sellers.

If you want to sell fewer than 40 products a month, you’ll pay a nominal fee per item sold. If you’re going full-steam into Amazon selling, you’ll need the Professional membership which costs $39.99 a month.

With either option, there are some additional seller fees to be expected. Being a pro comes with some inevitable perks, though.

2. Etsy

Want to strike out as an independent seller?

Etsy has a very different business model to Amazon, and it’s a big success. Last year, this craft-focused marketplace had over 2.5 million active users selling on the site.

Etsy Marketplace Home Page Screenshot

What’s it for?

Etsy prides itself on being a creative marketplace. With unique and vintage items up for grabs, it’s a great store for gifting or special purchases.

This is one of the best online marketplaces for sellers with artsy hobbies or talents. Among the several product categories on offer, there’s:

  • Jewelry and hair accessories
  • Party décor
  • Craft supplies
  • Wall art

You can find Etsy almost anywhere in the world.

Sellers and buyers alike can set up shop from a vast number of locations. Etsy is a global marketplace so you could be sending your crafts wherever your buyers are.

Some of the top locations are:

  • The US, which accounts for around 65% of Etsy’s overall traffic.
  • The UK, where Etsy is popular with small businesses and shoppers.

Pros of Etsy

Much like Amazon, Etsy has a dedicated space for sellers to set up with confidence.

There’s a lot that could tempt you to start making money on Etsy. If you’re looking for marketplaces where community is a big focus, look no further.

Some of the benefits of Etsy include:

  • A like-minded community. You can almost guarantee that all active users on Etsy’s marketplace are interested in arts and crafts.
  • An easy interface and quick setup. There aren’t many hoops to jump through, and you can even customize your storefront.
  • Learning tools. You can benefit from tips on how to sell, advice from other sellers, and more.
Craft Table Sewing Top View

Cons of Etsy

If you’re ready to monetize your jewelry making hobby, you might want to get started on Etsy right away.

Check out the cons first, though. 

Like all marketplaces, being a third-party seller doesn’t always go without a hitch:

  • It’s still tough to stand out. Even if your designs are unique, your brand is kind of invisible when it’s formatted for Etsy.
  • It’s hard work to make this your only gig. With no upselling capacity on Etsy, this is more of a side hustle marketplace. 
  • Your labor costs might outweigh your profits, especially when you’re giving Etsy a portion of your sales.

Fees on Etsy

Unlike some bigger marketplaces, Etsy makes its fees very clear.

There are listing fees and transaction fees. You’ll be charged $0.20 per product listed, plus 5% commission for every item sold.

Etsy also offers a pay-monthly subscription option, with perks like customizable storefronts. Or you can join for free instead.

3. eBay

This is a marketplace with staying power.

Founded way back in 1995, and with 182 million users last year, this is one of the most successful online marketplaces in the world.

eBay Website Home Page Screenshot

What’s it for?

Known for being an auction site, later adding a ‘buy it now’ feature for those of us who aren’t into bidding wars, eBay is a popular marketplace for used goods.

But a lot has happened in 25 years and it’s now possible to start a business selling new products on eBay. People love to purchase:

  • Electronics
  • Health and beauty products
  • Video games
  • Furniture 

Having achieved global domination like Amazon, eBay is a household name.  

If you’re keen to sell on this platform, check out the user demographics. Like many online marketplaces, eBay appeals to some age groups more than others.

The top eBay sellers are located in:

  • The UK, where it’s rated as a top eCommerce marketplace.
  • The US, where eBay was founded and where just under half its users are based.
  • China, which is home to some of the biggest marketplaces in the world.

Pros of eBay

A well-established marketplace like eBay comes with loads of perks.

Turning over billions of dollars in revenue, this is still a red hot platform for businesses looking to grow. 

Check out some of the reasons why eBay is still one of the top online marketplaces:

  • You can diversify your selling tactics. Boost your profits by using the auction format or keep your prices fixed. 
  • You don’t have to sell used goods. Although it’s definitely still an option, over 80% of products sold on eBay are new.
  • You have a global reach. Just as with Amazon, eBay allows you to target one of the biggest customer bases in the world.
eBay parcel held by hands

Cons of eBay

It’s inevitable – of course there are some cons to selling on eBay.

You could find a winning formula and make this marketplace your own, but be aware that making a profit on eBay is hard work.

Here are some factors you might not love:

  • eBay charges a value fee. This is 10% of the sold price of an item, which can vary wildly depending on what it is you sell.
  • Competition is fierce. As you’d expect from most huge online marketplaces, it can be difficult to stand out here.
  • It takes a concerted effort to keep your customers happy. Some will want to negotiate. All will want to rate you. 

Fees on eBay

Aside from the aforementioned transaction fee, eBay has a long list of seller fees, depending on who you are and how often you sell.

Subscribers can pay from between $8 per month as a ‘starter’ up to $350 per month as an ‘anchor’. You can also pay varying listing fees if you want to implement upgrades.

4. Zalando

Looking for marketplaces with a focus on fashion?

Zalando started life in Berlin as a shoe retailer. Now selling thousands of products to 17 countries, it has become one of the top online marketplaces in Europe.

Zalando Home Page Website Screenshot

What’s it for?

Zalando is all about apparel. There are nearly 2,000 brands on offer in this marketplace, with shoppers able to find both low- and high-end options.

Having turned over €6.5 billion in revenue since it launched, Zalando’s range is huge in scale and popularity. It offers:

  • Clothing for men, women, and kids
  • Sportswear
  • Designer labels
  • Accessories 

Zalando reported that 31 million customers ordered on its website last year.

Although it isn’t on the same scale as some truly global online marketplaces, this is still a hugely exciting place to sell if you’re based in Europe.

Within its 17 country radius, Zalando thrives in:

  • Germany, where the company was founded.
  • Austria, where Zalando is the second largest eCommerce platform after Amazon.
  • The UK – there aren’t many marketplaces UK customers haven’t embraced yet.

Pros of Zalando

As a relatively contained marketplace, Zalando offers some nice perks for its sellers.

If you’re already a dedicated seller of apparel or fashion accessories, this could be a really viable option for scaling your business. 

You might like Zalando if you want a marketplace that is:

  • Still growing in popularity. Although it’s already international, Zalando has plenty of scope to expand. And it can introduce you to loads of new audiences.
  • Particular about its sellers. You have to already have an online store to be considered as a brand for this marketplace.
  • Helpful and informative. Zalando has teams on hand to guide you in becoming and thriving as a seller.
Zalando Office in Berlin

Cons of Zalando

You may have already found a couple of cons.

Zalando is a little more limited than other marketplaces, both in terms of reach and ease of use. Although its selective nature is great for limiting competition, it might already exclude you.

This marketplace won’t work out if:

  • You’re not based in one of the countries it sells in. At least, not yet. As a massively profitable business, Zalando is sure to expand.
  • You don’t have an online store or brand presence. If you’re completely new to selling online, this isn’t the marketplace for you.
  • You won’t work to their policies. Every seller must work with approved couriers and must allow a 100-day returns window. Ouch.

Fees on Zalando

There are no fees for product listings and no commission rates if you sell products on Zalando.

While this is great news for your sales, this marketplace has very stringent signup criteria, so look before you leap. 

5. Bonanza

This seller-centric marketplace is definitely no Amazon.

Bonanza has made sellers its focus since it was founded back in 2007. It’s one of the more friendly marketplaces you’ll find online.

Bonanza Marketplace Home Website Screenshot

What’s it for?

Bonanza has the same vast product range as other marketplaces. There are electronics, video games, and pet supplies among its 22 million products. 

But this site is more known for its quirky handmade products. With a tagline ‘everything but the ordinary’, Bonanza works hard to look like a homespun marketplace. You could sell:

  • Women’s fashion
  • Collectibles 
  • Garden décor
  • Pet supplies

You’ll be reaching a much smaller audience on Bonanza than marketplaces like eBay or Etsy. 

The site boasts around 5 million visitors per month. It’s hardly insignificant, but compared to some platforms it’s small-fry.

It’s possible to get international customers, though. Bonanza is popular in:

  • The US, where Bonanza was founded and where 75% of its traffic comes from.
  • The UK and Canada, where plenty of Bonanza sellers are based.
  • Outer space, maybe. Bonanza claims it sells in 199 countries – more countries than there actually are in the world.

Pros of Bonanza

Long-term Bonanza sellers often refer to the site as a less-stressful version of eBay.

There are some obvious advantages to selling on a smaller, more quirky marketplace. You have a better chance of standing out, for starters.

The pros of using Bonanza include:

  • Integration with existing eBay, Amazon, and Etsy stores. So you can go between marketplaces if you’d prefer.
  • Plenty of support for sellers. Bonanza puts people at its core, so you’re sure to find lots of advice, best practices, and community ideas.
  • Freedom to express yourself. If you’re a creative soul, this marketplace allows you to fill your store – or ‘booth’ – with whatever you conjure up.
Products on storefront

Cons of Bonanza

You already know your audience will be smaller on Bonanza compared to other marketplaces.

There are some other gripes you should get familiar with before you sign up. As a more community-focused platform, Bonanza users don’t hold back with critiquing the site.

Among the cons, you might notice that:

  • Traffic is low. Some sellers find it hard to get traction for their booths unless they bring it in themselves or use premium advertising. 
  • Profits are low. As this marketplace is a little more low-key, you might have to spread your store across a few platforms to make money.
  • Storefronts are a no-no. Sellers don’t get much of a chance to stand out on their seller pages, similar to other marketplaces.

Fees on Bonanza

You won’t have to pay to list your products on Bonanza, although they do charge value fees on sales plus rates for advertising.

Users can also sign up to different subscription models, as with marketplaces like Etsy. Paying from $25 to $170 per month will open you up to a range of extras.

6. Newegg

Not into arts and crafts?

Newegg.com is one of the top online marketplaces for tech-savvy shoppers. With over 40 million members joining since 2001, the retailer has a platform dedicated to third-party sellers.

Newegg Marketplace Website Home Screenshot

What’s it for?

Newegg is a computer and electronics supplies store at heart. 

This is a marketplace for pros. Shoppers can pick up component parts and download software, although Newegg is still expanding its range.

From their ever-growing table of contents, you’ll now find:

  • Home improvement tools
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Sportswear
  • Apparel

Newegg hit $1 billion in annual sales by 2004, and started expanding globally soon after.

As a seller, your business will be exposed to up to 20 countries on this marketplace. That global reach could help you diversify your range.

Newegg is available as a marketplace in:

  • Canada, where expansion has helped Newegg generate $2 billion in annual sales.
  • Australia and New Zealand, where the marketplace launched in 2015.
  • China, which has massive buying and selling markets for tech accessories.

Pros of Newegg

It all sounds great, right?

And it definitely is, if you’re up for setting up your marketplace storefront quickly and easily.

Newegg keeps a close eye on competitor marketplaces to ensure its offering a superior service for its sellers. You’ll like it if you’re after:

  • Ease of fulfillment. The Shipped by Newegg (SBN) feature enables you to hand over logistics to the marketplace, no matter your store size.
  • Support for a small business. Much like other marketplaces, you’ll find helpful guides to boost your sales and support your efforts.
  • Range diversity. While this marketplace does appeal to tech experts, there’s a proven demand for non-tech products, too.
Phone and accessories in coordinating red color

Cons of Newegg

Although you can now stock apparel on Newegg, you’re still selling to customers who really know their stuff.

This marketplace is just as competitive as others, and if you’re only interested in turning a quick profit, it might not be the place for you. 

Consider whether you can deal with:

  • Brand-conscious customers. If your business model is to sell unknown or unbranded products, pick another marketplace.
  • Varying commission fees. Depending entirely on which category your product falls into, you could be paying between 8% and 15%.
  • High standards. Newegg expects its third-party retailers to provide excellent levels of customer service and to pass a screening test, too.

Fees on Newegg

You know that you’ll be paying sales commission per product, but what else is there?

As with other marketplaces, different subscription levels starting from $0 up to $100 per month will give you different opportunities. 

7. Zazzle

Marketplaces don’t have to have a ‘z’ in their names to be successful, but it seems to help.

Zazzle has an estimated revenue of $75 million, and with its unique value proposition, it could be a great marketplace for your business.

Zazzle Marketplace Website Screenshot Home

What’s it for?

Zazzle is an online marketplace for designers, retailers, and shoppers who like to use their imagination.

With print-on-demand technology and a forever growing list of product categories, this eCommerce site puts personalization at the forefront. 

Products that you can customize include:

  • Stationery
  • Phone cases
  • Gifts
  • Art prints

Zazzle has over 30 million visitors to its website every month, so you’re guaranteed some international customers. 

Headquartered in California, the marketplace has shoppers in:

  • The US, where the vast majority of Zazzle users are based.
  • Canada and the UK, like a lot of other craft-based marketplaces.
  • Europe as a whole, where Zazzle appears to be expanding as a brand.

Pros of Zazzle

If you’re a maker who’s keen to amp up their skills and boost their audience, this is a great marketplace setup. 

Zazzle has a dedicated site for its makers, giving you a full table of contents on how to set up and capitalize on the perks this online marketplace has to offer, like:

  • A simplified supply chain. Zazzle doesn’t see itself as a listing site and takes care of the shipping so you can focus on making.
  • Loads of product options. Want to print on a mug? That’s doable. Want to produce clothing? Go for it.
  • That all-important global reach. All the most powerful online marketplaces have worldwide appeal.
Opinion quote on a mug on a table

Cons of Zazzle

Zazzle doesn’t come without its downsides, though.

With a print-on-demand service that encompasses any number of weird and wacky products, you’ll need to be aware of what doesn’t work on this online marketplace.

Sellers note the biggest negatives as being:

  • Questionable quality, sometimes. As you’ll be handing off the printing to Zazzle’s manufacturers, you can’t stay on top of quality.
  • Lower profits, consistently. Because of variable royalty fees, you might want to keep your business live elsewhere, too.
  • Fierce competition, usually. All marketplaces come with independent retailers doing the same thing at the same price.

Fees on Zazzle

If you’re signed up as a ‘maker’, Zazzle demands a 30% commission fee from your sales. This is similar to other art marketplaces both online and offline.

There are also shipping fees that makers have to cover, so make sure you’re clear on what this marketplace expects of you before you start selling.

8. Your own website

We’ll admit it. 

We think you could be just as successful than marketplace sellers – if not, more successful – if you start selling on your own website.

Zyro Homepage

What’s it for?

You choose. With your own online store, you are very much your own boss.

This is the easiest way to showcase your brand, your products, and your service proposition. Give customers a nice backstory, and you’re ready to go.

Here are some ideas, if you’re stuck:

  • Sell your photography. Do you want people to commission you for your work? Set up a website that acts as a gallery for your photos.
  • Sell your baked goods. If you find yourself baking for friends or for fun, think about creating a localized store. Monetize that hobby.
  • Sell your dropshipped goods. Online marketplaces aren’t the only platforms where you can swerve the logistics side of eCommerce.

The extent of your website’s global reach is in your hands – or the hands of an SEO pro, if you choose to hire one.

We’d recommend putting some research into your target market before you dive into the world of online retail. You could find where and how you need to appeal by:

  • Doing keyword research. Put a list together of all the words you think people will use to find your eCommerce site. See how valuable they are.
  • Checking out your competitors. Find out where they thrive, how much their products cost, and if their sales reflect their strategies.
  • Asking around. Online success can be measured offline. Survey your friends and do a trial order. See if your logistics setup is working.

Pros of your own website

Swapping online marketplaces for your own website might sound scary.

But it has never been easier to find a domain and build a store for your own products. You’ll be joining retailers of all shapes and sizes, and this is a great option if you can’t pick a marketplace to suit your needs.

Here are some pros to building an online store instead of joining an online marketplace:

  • You’re in charge of your sales. And every aspect of the sales process. You can outsource shipping if you want, or go at it alone.
  • You won’t be competing with other sellers. All online marketplaces are hard to stand out in, but your own website is completely your domain.
  • You manage the product categories. Set up a table of contents that works for you. Want to add a new product category? That’s up to you.

Cons of your own website

We’ll remain balanced and run you through some potential cons.

There are definite factors to consider before going right into building your own online store. It might not work out for you, especially if:

  • You tend to not plan first. With an online marketplace, you’re partnering with retailers who have their own business plans. Not that you’ll always know what they are.
  • You don’t target your audience. Online marketplaces instantly expose you to several million active users. That’s if they notice you.
  • You want to pay seller fees on your sales. If you’re willing to compromise and fork out money for ease of use, you might prefer online marketplaces.

Fees on your own website

That depends on where you build your site.

We can vouch for Zyro, where setting up an online store will cost as little as $8.99 a month. Monthly hosting costs are $29.99, on average. 

You’ll need to build your inventory as you would if you were selling on an online marketplace. There won’t be any seller fees for product listings or sales – you decide where your profits go.

Marketplace or standalone store?

Can’t decide?

You don’t have to. The beauty of owning your own online store is that you can take it anywhere.

If you set your business up with its own website, you can choose to partner up with online marketplaces, too. 

Most reputable marketplaces won’t demand exclusivity of your business. Unless you specialize in a product category like painting or sculpture, it’s likely you can cross-sell your products.

With an online store, you can also maximize your sales by integrating with social media. Retailers both big and small take advantage of multiple platforms, so don’t miss out.

Ready to launch your eCommerce empire?

With actionable advice, visual explainers, and simple explanations, this is the only guide you’ll need to sell successfully online.

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Martina is an expert in writing about website building and eCommerce, but her real passion is helping others grow their small business online. From solid branding to punchy marketing strategies, you can count on her for the best growth tricks. In her spare time, Martina loves nothing more than a good scoop of ice-cream and a sweaty match of tennis.

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Ready to launch your eCommerce empire?

With actionable advice, visual explainers, and simple explanations, this is the only guide you’ll need to sell successfully online.

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