How Online Marketplaces Might Benefit Your Ecommerce Business

Reach more people with less effort.

Amanda Pofahl

Latin American Market Expert
March 8 2018 · 7 min read

 Every business owner dreams of reaching hundreds of thousands of people everyday with their products or services. However, not everyone has the money to invest in advertising, customer support, let alone logistics to support all this traffic. That's where an online marketplace comes in.

Working together with an online marketplace is one of the strongest forms to amplify your efforts with your e-commerce store.

An online marketplace is what Amazon, Mercado Libre, Ebay, Etsy and many others are called. It's a place where customers can safely buy a big range of goods from thousands of different sellers all over the world.

That's where you come in. You and any other business owner can add their own products in there and also sell them to people you wouldn't be able to reach otherwise. The marketplace will use all their efforts to advertise and spread the word about what they have to offer – your products or services included. When a product gets sold through the marketplace, they're capable of dealing with delivery, customer support, returns, safe payments, and much more. In exchange, you pay a small percentage of the sales that came from them.

With an online marketplace to boost your sales, you're able to reach more people, sell more, and have the marketplace support while being part of a whole community of business owners just like you.

You can benefit from an online marketplace being a solo business owner or even a big company. Websites such as, Alibaba, Linio, and Zalando are entry doors for e-commerce platforms, big or small, to fight for really competitive retail and millions of customers with little effort.

Biggest online marketplaces out there

When you think about online marketplaces, it's impossible to not talk about Amazon, the most valuable retailer in the United States. The online marketplace allows third-party sellers to sell used and new products while charging a referral fee for each sale made through them. In some regions, you don't even need to have your own inventory, because Amazon offers their own fulfillment centers while dealing with shipping and customer services.

However, your products might be more successful in specific marketplaces. There are thousands of websites focused on niches that are extremely successful among their target. From dog lovers to foreign brands, if you have an e-commerce and hopes to benefit from the power of online marketplaces, you should start by doing your research.

In China, Alibaba Group Holding is responsible for three quarters of online spending all over China, that has an online market 80% bigger than the US. Alibaba Group holds a number of different online marketplaces focused on different purposes, with TMall being the largest of them all.

TMall is an online marketplace focused only on imported goods, making it possible for brands that are not physically in China to sell to the Chinese market as well. This opens up a huge opportunity among business owners all over the world to invest in markets that they would not  be capable of reaching otherwise.

Unique business opportunities

Not all online marketplaces are working in the exact same way – there's a lot of space to be creative!

WeChat is a Chinese multipurpose social media app with the most monthly active users in the world. Today, the app offers dozens of unique functionalities such as advertising, content, finance services, and e-commerce. Anyone can open up a shop inside WeChat today, even if you don't have a chinese bank account, and start selling whatever you decide.

Another famous online marketplace focused on a niche is Rover. They connect dog lovers with pet sitters, walkers, daycare services, and all things related to your furry friend. Instead of offering products, this marketplace main goal is to offer services to a growing number of people all over the US.

Another great example of uniqueness when we talk about an online marketplace is Ebay, which provides thousands of tips and tools to their sellers, ranging from spell checking to auto-replies. Because teaching your sellers on how to sell better is always a good idea when you live off of referrals, right?

How is Latin America dealing with online marketplaces?

When talking about opportunities using online marketplaces, we cannot leave Latin America out of it. As one of the top regions experiencing huge e-commerce growth, Latin America is expected to outpace established B2C e-commerce industry in North America and Europe by  2021, according to a forecast mentioned in a yStats report.

An interesting fact? You might already know that the whole continent is experiencing a high smartphone penetration rate, and e-commerce stores are definitely benefiting from it as well. Online payment and mobile-commerce are promised to contribute a lot to online sales in the next few years.

In case you're interested to know more about that, we wrote an article focused on the reasons why every e-commerce stores should also invest in a mobile app right here. Mobile shopping especially in this part of the world is key.

In the end, who doesn't love the mobile e-commerce convenience, right?

The biggest e-commerce market penetration in Latin America comes from Brazil, followed by Mexico and Argentina. While there are a lot of opportunities to be explored from Chile to Mexico. It's such a huge booming market that Amazon and Walmart are already expanding and investing a lot of time and effort while expecting huge growth very soon.

Largest Marketplaces in Latin America

 Here are some of the biggest marketplaces in Latin America to keep an eye on.

Mercado Livre | Mercado Libre

The biggest highlight in Latin America is the online marketplace called Mercado Libre – or, when in Brazil, Mercado Livre. The #1 online marketplace in Latin America is also the biggest one in Brazil and Mexico when it comes to online shopping. The website basically has the first and the second-largest markets in Latin America in their pockets.

Originally from Argentina, Mercado Livre leads e-commerce across Latin America and the company operates in 13 countries, having more than 174.2 million users in 2016. Acting similarly as Ebay, Mercado Livre is a great alternative as a way to kickstart your business into the LatAm market.

Having over 45 million monthly visitors, is a Brazilian online marketplace that offers a range of over 200.000 products focused on homeware, fashion, consumer electronics, books, baby products and so on. Which started as a physical store in Rio de Janeiro has now grown to become one of the most important marketplaces in Brazil.

The company is owned by B2W Digital, the most important company in Latin America when it comes to e-commerce. B2W Digital also owns another online marketplace in this list called Submarino.


Extra is a Brazilian marketplace that receives over 26 million visitors per month and shares an integrated marketplace platform with other companies such as Submarino and Netshoes. This partnership helps to exponentially increase your chances of selling products across the country even as a smaller retailer.

Extra is another company that started out as a physical store in the midwest of Brazil and grew to become one of the biggest marketplaces in the country.


Linio is an online marketplace with more than 3 million products in-store, 50 million sellers across its platform and getting around 20 million visitors per month coming from Mexico, Argentina, Peru, and other Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America. It's the perfect place to focus your efforts in the Spanish-speaking market.


The first e-commerce store in Brazil, created in 1999, started with a focus on technology and innovation. However, today Submarino reaches a growing number of niches ranging from clothes to pet supplies. It's one of the most popular online marketplaces in Brazil.

Final thoughts

Investing in an online marketplace can be an amazing way to reach more customers while outsourcing services such as marketing, inventory and, in many cases, even customer support. Marketplaces are a great way to use third-party resources to handle bigger issues such as international delivery, language barriers, returns and logistics. It's easy, it's practical, and simple to try. Marketplaces are a great way to test the waters in a new country before going all in – or just to generate some extra profits.

An online marketplace gives you the opportunity to be part of something much bigger than only selling on your own website. To be side by side with huge brands, sell faster and better, with the great support of business experts who can help your business reach new levels.

If you have a small, medium or big sized ecommerce business and you're looking for ways where you can grow without spending too much time thinking about logistics, keep those online marketplaces in mind.

You might have the opportunity to reach more customers, be it from your own country or all over the world, with the help from big market players that will be by your side, helping you grow from day one. Why not try it?