Sales on online marketplaces crossed $1 trillion in 2016. Internet Retailer’s latest research report, “Online Marketplaces: A Global Phenomenon,” shows that online marketplaces’ growth around the world gives smaller merchants the opportunity to grow, both in their home countries and across borders.

Online marketplaces’ growing role in e-commerce is a global phenomenon.

In the United States, it’s Inc. that is dominating online retail. In China, it is Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s multi-merchant shopping portals that account for three-quarters of all online spending in the country. In other regions, there are large players like MercadoLibre Inc., Flipkart Internet Private Ltd. and Lazada Group that offer consumers low prices, a wide product assortment and convenience unavailable from individual online retailers. And there are a growing number of smaller marketplaces, many that focus on a particular product mix, that are popping up and gaining favor among consumers and investors alike.

It all adds up to a big and growing business. In 2016, the total value of goods transacted on the 18 largest marketplaces around the globe, which include marketplaces operated by Alibaba, Japan’s Rakuten Inc., Nigeria’s Jumia and others, grew 21.5% to $1.09 trillion, according to Internet Retailer’s analysis. Since 2014, the same marketplaces have grown 51.7% over the three-year period. By those numbers, the total value of goods transacted on these 18 marketplaces globally accounted for 44% of the $2.44 trillion spent online around the world last year.


What does this all mean? For many smaller merchants, marketplaces run by Amazon and Alibaba are a great place to reach consumers outside of their home markets since the online retail giants have the resources to handle the obstacles to selling internationally, including language barriers, customs requirements and logistics and shipping.

Marketplaces also help global retailers reach U.S. shoppers. Nearly 50% of U.S. consumers say they have purchased merchandise online from international retailers, up from 43% a year ago, according to a June UPS and comScore Inc. study called, “The UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper.” And 32% say they discovered the retailers on a U.S. marketplace. Furthermore, finding lower prices from international retailers on U.S. marketplaces is the top reason respondents say they shopped cross-border.

Internet Retailer’s latest research report, “Online Marketplaces: A Global Phenomenon,” offers effective strategies for retailers and brands selling on shopping portals both domestically and for reaching consumers across borders. The 54-page report analyzes key data of the 18 largest marketplace operators around the world and explores what’s driving growth, particularly on Amazon and Alibaba’s platforms.


What’s included in the report:

  • 54-page downloadable PDF
  • Key data on the 18 largest online marketplaces in the world, including annual GMV and growth
  • In-depth analysis on Amazon and Alibaba’s market share
  • Features on strategies for selling cross border via marketplaces and on selling into China
  • Exclusive survey of 2,800 online consumers that explores changes in shopping behavior via marketplaces
  • Data on 49 niche marketplaces and analysis of why investors are attracted to the marketplace model
  • List of 41 companies that offer technology and services to marketplace sellers

For more information on immediate access to this report and last year’s marketplace report, click here.