Alternative Online Marketplaces

By: Trevor Ginn

Date: 20 January 2010

Whilst eBay and Amazon are still the undoubted Goliaths of the online marketplace world, some smaller marketplaces have quietly been doing pretty well.  Selling on these marketplaces can help retailers to reach more customers and increase sales.

Play.com (PlayTrade)

Play.com is the fourth biggest online retailing site in the UK (ranked by visits) after eBay, Amazon and Argos. Play is strongest in media categories (i.e. music, books, DVDs) but in total sells across 12 categories including clothing, electronics and tickets. Play is predominately a UK based site with a small US presence which sells DVDs only (playusa.com).

PlayTrade is Play.com’s fixed-price marketplace. It works in a very similar way to Amazon with retailers adding offers to existing Play.com catalogue items and paying a commission on sales (15 per cent). PlayTrade products can be sold across all Play categories in either new or used condition. All products on Play, including marketplace products, are offered with free shipping, so this must be factored into the price.

PixPlace (Pixmania.com)

Again modelled very much on the Amazon model, PixPlace is the online marketplace run by Pixmania.com. Pixmania is an online retailer owned by the Dixons group which sells across 26 different European countries. The background of Pixmania is in digital cameras and so the platform is particularly strong in this area. PixPlace allows sellers to sell across all of its 11 categories in either new or used condition and charges 15 per cent commission.

PriceMinister

PriceMinister is the second biggest eCommerce site in France and has recently opened up a UK site (www.priceminister.co.uk). Like Pixmania the platform is pan-European and available to residents from 18 European countries and territories. Unlike Play and Pixmania, PriceMinister does not sell any of its own products with all products sold by individual and business sellers. Most items on the site are at a fixed price - although sellers can opt to accept offers - and can be in new or used condition. Listing an item is free of charge but naturally there is a commission on sales.

Etsy

Launched in 2005, Etsy is a fixed price marketplace for handmade items which must be made by the seller. Vintage items and craft supplies are also allowed. This is a niche which is not well served by eBay and not at all by Amazon. As might be expected from a craft and design-focused site the site’s design and usability is great and there is a vibrant community of artisans.

On Etsy, commission listing fees are very low (3.5 per cent) and there is a nominal $0.20 to list an item for four months. On the downside the service is very US-centric

Abebooks

Abebooks is an online marketplace specifically for books, both new and used. The service is open only to professional sellers and has a presence in seven countries. Booksellers pay a monthly fee dependent the number of listings and a sales commission of 8 per cent (plus card a processing fee of 3.5% - 5.5%)

Alibris

On Alibris, professional or individual sellers can sell books, music and films either in new or used condition. The service has US and UK sites but also allows international sales. Like Amazon, Alibris has is own stock alongside which it allows third party sales. Sales commision is 15 per cent and there is also a monthly fixed fee dependent on the number of listings

MyShoppingBank

MyShoppingBank is a fixed-price marketplace previously known as eDirectory. The site charges a commission on each sale and a fairly hefty annual fee (several hundred pounds). All products are sold at a fixed price and the platform is only open to professional sellers.  MyShoppingBank differentiates itself from the other marketplaces by offering cashback, sharing some of its commission with its users.

Other Marketplaces

Trevor Ginn runs the online baby store Hello Baby and is a consultant at Vendlab.  He blogs at www.trevorginn.com and you can follow him on twitter @trevorginn startupdonutbannerbutton728x90

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