Did online marketplaces just overtake traditional ecommerce?

Did online marketplaces just overtake traditional ecommerce?

marketplace chilliLast year when we spoke at the International Classified Marketplace Association we predicted that sales from marketplaces globally would account for over 50% of the worldwide ecommerce market for the first time, by the end of 2015.


With the results now in, were we right?  Depending on who you listen to, ecommerce sales globally in 2015 were between $1 trillion and $1.7 trillion.  Our own estimates put the figure just higher than the average of the two, at around $1.4 trillion.



global marketplace salesIf we add up the sales from what we believe to be the 12 largest marketplaces in the world, we can get to a figure of over $746 billion in GMV (Gross Merchandise Volume) being processed through these marketplaces.  According to our own estimates, and one the two other surveys mentioned, that does indeed add up to over 50% of the global ecommerce market.


It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. The largest retailer in the world, Amazon.com, quietly announced in its own Q2 financial results that its own marketplace now accounts for 49% of all worldwide units sold.  If you have been following Amazon’s results, you might know that this has been creeping up by 1 percentage point per quarter pretty consistently now. In its next earnings, we fully expect to see this at 50%.


Amazon of course sells its own inventory too, but when you look at the other names on the chart, so many do not, at least in any meaningful way. They are 100% marketplaces.


Of course there are questions to be asked about the data.  Amazon does not actually publish a GMV figure for its own marketplace, so we have to make some assumptions (fair ones I hope – I used to work there!) There may be double counting in the surveys (i.e. a major retailer selling through a marketplace may be counted either as a direct sale in one survey, or a marketplace sale in another, or indeed both).


Additionally digital marketplaces such as Itunes and Google Play, and trade sales on marketplaces such as Tmall, may or may not be included in surveys mentioned above.  This is all up for debate, and I welcome any comments from anyone who wants to join in the dialogue.


However what is hard to dispute is that the marketplace model is beginning to dominate.  It is not just in ecommerce either.  In my next post we will be looking at how online marketplaces are tearing up industry after industry, re-writing the rules and changing the way communities exchange services as well as products.  If you aren’t the one launching one in your sector, then who is?


Marketplace Lab can help you with anything related to marketplaces, no matter how big or small.  If you have any questions relating to your own digital strategy, or are considering launching your own marketplace, we would love to talk to you.  We are always happy to spend an hour with you ‘on us’, getting to know you and your industry.  Email us on info@marketplacelab.com, catch us at the London eCommerce Expo on 28-29 September, or just call us for a chat on +44 (0) 20 8144 4969.




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