Alternative International eCommerce Marketplaces

The are many online marketplaces worldwide, but only a few are of interest to western merchants, either because they are too small or the setup and management is too complicated. Self-service marketplaces are cheaper and easier to run than those requiring a local partner.

Below is a (very) incomplete list of online marketplaces.

CDiscount

With 11 million unique visitors to the site every month, Cdiscount is a major marketplace in France. It offers products in over 40 distinct categories, operates a fulfilment service and has a network of 18,500 pickup points. CDiscount was launched 1998 and is a household name among French shoppers. It is particularly well-known for electronics and tech products and is popular with tech-savvy shoppers looking for reasonable prices.

Pros: Major marketplace in France and the second most popular after Amazon. Catalogue based system and so easy to list inventory against existing listings. Integrates with most major eCommerce platforms.

Cons: Back end is a bit clunky.

Fruugo

Fruugo is a UK marketplace that connects buyers with products from all over the world. It launched in 23 countries in 2013. One of its primary selling points is that it uses a single feed to give you access to multiple countries worldwide.

Fruugo’s marketplace automatically translates listings to 15 different languages, which removes the need to list items on numerous localised versions of a marketplace. Payment is on a commission basis with no monthly fees. Fruugo has around 1.5 million customers worldwide and is growing quickly.

Pros: Easy to list products using a product feed. Great for international sales

Cons:  Back end can be challenging to use.

OnBuy.com

OnBuy is a fast-growing UK based marketplace. It offers much lower fees than other marketplaces (5 to 9%) and has a presence in 51 countries. Payments are managed via PayPal.

Pros: Catalogue based system, which is easy to set up and integrates with most major eCommerce platforms. If you do not hit £500 in sales in a month, your subscription fee is refunded.

Cons: Small by comparison with the other marketplaces mentioned here.

Bol.com

Bol.com is an online marketplace and store serving consumers in the Netherlands and Belgium. It operates in a comparable way to Amazon. It sells directly to consumers but also offers its platform as a marketplace where other online retailers can list products. Bol is based in the Netherlands and has a turnover of more than €1 billion.

Pros: the market leader in the Netherlands, one of Europe’s largest economies. Catalogue based system which makes product listing easy.

Cons:  Picky about the sellers they accept. Rigorous performance metrics. Product creation process involved.

Tmall and Taobao

Alibaba, the Chinese eCommerce colossus, runs three enormous online marketplaces. Tmall is the domestic business-to-consumer marketplace, Tmall Global is for international brands and Taobao a consumer-to-consumer eCommerce site. These marketplaces process a staggering number of transactions and boast a billion monthly users.

Selling on Tmall as a foreign company is complex and out of reach of small to mid-sized retailers. To sell on the platform requires the following:

  • Letters from suppliers stating the company has the right to sell that product in China.
  • $25000 deposit
  • Services of a Tmall Partner (TP) which start at about $5000/month.

Also, shipping into China is complicated and requires the use of a specialist courier to ensure deliverability. Listing and customer service must also be localized into Chinese.

Pros:  Enormous marketplace.

Cons: Challenging for small retailers to get started. Only interested in international brands.

Rakuten

Rakuten is the biggest eCommerce site in Japan, with Amazon Japan a close second. Products are sold at a fixed price. Unlike Amazon, it is a pure marketplace and does not sell products.

To sell on Rakuten requires a local partner’s services, and both customer service and product listing are in Japanese.

Pros: Biggest marketplace in one of the world’s largest markets.

Cons: Requirements for a local partner makes it difficult and expensive to get started.

Allegro

Allegro is the leading eCommerce platform in Poland and the fifth most visited European marketplace (Source: bvoh.de). The site has over 20 million customers and has been trading for over 20 years. Allegro has a significant market share in electronics (62%), home and garden (74%) and fashion (46%).

Brands of all sizes sell on Allegro. Some notable names include Superdry, Hollister and Abercrombie, to designer labels like Versace and small boutique brands.

Pros: Poland is a large marketplace where eBay and Amazon do not have much of a presence.

Cons: The Allegro backend system is in Polish, and both product upload and integration are complicated. Product descriptions and customer service are also in Polish. Many eCommerce platforms do not support allegro.

Mercado Libre

Mercado Libre is an online marketplace with operations in 15 Latin American countries. It is the 7th most visited online retail site globally, with 175 million active users.

Mercado Libre operates a cross-border trade programme covering the 5 Latin American countries of Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and Columbia. The programme offers automatic translation. Mercado Libre does not charge listing fees and only a percentage commission on items sold.

Pros: South American is a vast marketplace where Amazon does not have a strong presence.

Cons: The postage system in South America is terrible, and so a specialist courier is required. Duty is also charged on most deliveries and is hard to calculate. If you utilize the cross-border trade programme, you will need to ensure these products are compliant with local regulations. Not supported by many eCommerce platforms

Lazada

Founded in 2012, Lazada Group is Southeast Asia’s leading eCommerce platform with a presence in six countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The Company offers products from several categories, including consumer electronics, household goods, toys, fashion, sports equipment and groceries.

Cons: Postage systems in Asia are not as reliable as in the west. Lazada has gotten around this problem by developing a delivery network. Consequently, all orders need to be labelled using Lazada delivery labels and then shipped in bulk to their Hong Kong processing hub. This makes shipping difficult as the merchant needs to factor in getting the item to Hong Kong and the charge which Lazada will make for their delivery services. The duty also needs to be factored in and varies by country and product class. Not supported by many eCommerce platforms

Wish

Wish is a popular and growing online marketplace. Shoppers install the Wish app or visit the website to receive a scrolling shopping feed personalised to each shopper’s browsing and buying behaviour. This customised feed makes the marketplace highly engaging and addictive for consumers while making it easy for sellers to get their goods in front of new and relevant audiences.

Pros: Fast-growing online marketplace which is mobile-focused. Wish has over 300 million users across over 120 different countries. It is particularly popular with younger people, with 60% of its customers Millennials or Generation Z.

Cons: Wish is a marketplace for bargain hunters looking to source cheap goods directly from Chinese manufacturers. Many products are of low quality. Wish imposes stringent performance rules and fines on its merchants, which can seem harsh to established retailers.

Another drawback is shipping is slow. 87% of Wish sellers deliver directly from China, and consequently customers frequently wait for between two and four weeks to receive their order.