Global Trends and Corporate Strategies in Marketplaces

June 2021

The transformation in the retail industry is accelerating, with more products sold online every day and e-commerce becoming more important than ever. Already dominating the space, marketplaces are well positioned to facilitate this shift, in an increasingly competitive digital environment. This report profiles a diversity of marketplace business models from around the world, while analysing the trends that drive the transformation and the successful strategies built around them.

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Key findings

Marketplaces dominate online sales

E-commerce reached a value share of 16% of total retail sales in 2020, with the top 10 marketplaces generating almost half of the world’s online sales. Amazon, Tmall and JD are the clear leaders. The platform economy transformed the retailing industry, and the way businesses sell products online.

COVID-19 brings both opportunities and challenges

2020 brought an unprecedented shift to e-commerce due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Searching for alternative channels to continue selling their products, retailers ramped up their omnichannel operations, listing on marketplaces or investing in own websites. This led to higher competition in marketplaces and fragmentation in e-commerce.

Key success factor for marketplaces is customer centricity.

With the competition one click away, successful marketplaces need to understand and adapt to consumers’ current and future needs, focusing on service, satisfaction and engagement. By doing so they enhance the shopping experience and build loyalty.

Partnering with the right marketplace is a critical step for sellers

Although marketplaces can provide quick access to online sales, the sellers’ positioning and goals need to be well aligned with the hosting platforms, and their capability to deliver in terms of user base, geographic reach, logistics, last-mile delivery, specialisation etc.

Increasing online sales will likely bring more regulation

The explosive growth in e-commerce is likely to be followed by increasing digital sales regulations and taxation focus, with the goal to create an environment dominated by fair competition, to promote innovation and to protect consumers’ interest.

Online sales to drive the future retail industry growth

Even if ongoing vaccination campaigns provide hope for a return to normality, e-commerce is expected to continue its growth, pushed by increased interest from both companies and consumers. As a result, we expect e-commerce to generate more than half of the absolute value growth for the global retail industry by 2025.



About this briefing
Key findings
Companies profiled in this briefing

Marketplace Trends

The marketplace business model outpaces the wholesale model
Trend 1: loyalty
Trend 2: logistics
Trend 3: category specialisation

Company Profiles

Hepsiburada : key facts
Hepsiburada’s marketplace strategy
Hepsiburada’s marketplace strategy in context
eBay: key facts
eBay’s marketplace strategy
eBay’s marketplace strategy in context
Flipkart: key facts
Flipkart’s marketplace strategy
Flipkart’s marketplace strategy in context
Jumia: key facts
Jumia’s marketplace strategy
Jumia’s marketplace strategy in context
MercadoLibre : key facts
MercadoLibre’s marketplace strategy
MercadoLibre’s marketplace strategy in context
Pinduoduo : key facts
Pinduoduo’s marketplace strategy
Pinduoduo’s marketplace strategy in context
Shopee: key facts
Shopee’s marketplace strategy
Shopee’s marketplace strategy in context
Wildberries : key facts
Wildberries ’ marketplace strategy
Wildberries’ marketplace strategy in context
Xiaohongshu : key facts
Xiaohongshu’s marketplace strategy
Xiaohongshu’s marketplace strategy in context

Looking ahead

The outlook for marketplaces
Lessons for marketplace operators
Lessons for marketplace sellers


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