Total U.S. retail sales growth stood at 14.4%, according to a Digital Commerce 360 analysis of U.S. Department of Commerce data. Meanwhile, total U.S. ecommerce sales growth hit 17.8% But the Top 100 U.S.-based online marketplaces beat that performance.
They recorded 18.7% growth in total GMV in 2021 to reach a record high of $917.79. (Total gross merchandise value, or GMV, includes first- and third-party merchant sales.)
And it was third-party sellers that drove that rise. Third-party GMV on the Top 100 U.S. marketplaces rose a whopping 22.4%.
That’s a departure from the peak of the pandemic during 2020 as well as 2019, when total GMV growth topped that of third-party growth at the largest U.S. marketplaces. It’s a similar story at the Top 100 global marketplaces, where 2021 saw third-party (3P) GMV growth of 18.4% versus total marketplace GMV growth of 18.1%.
Interestingly, that’s quite different from 2019 and 2020, when total marketplace GMV growth topped that of 3P GMV growth across the top global marketplaces.
Merchants have long recognized the value of selling on online marketplaces. The marketing power and reach of the giants of the marketplace world are such that smaller merchants have little choice but to sell on marketplaces. In comparison, larger merchants see the advantage in using marketplaces to boost overall sales and find new customers.
Online marketplaces in China
That’s particularly true in China. Taobao (No. 1 in the 2022 Online Marketplaces report) and Tmall (No.2) — each owned by China-based Alibaba Group Holdings — are “pure” marketplaces. In other words, they do not sell their own products. They have very different business models. Taobao is a consumer-to-consumer site comparable to eBay Inc. (No. 5). It’s free to list an item on Taobao, and millions of sellers do so.
Tmall serves larger merchants. Selling on Tmall requires a $25,000 security deposit and an annual fee of as much as $10,000. Roughly 50,000 sellers do business through Tmall.
To compare with the U.S., Amazon (No. 3 globally and No. 1 domestically) is a “hybrid” online marketplace, meaning it sells its own goods and does business with third-party sellers too. Amazon has about 1.5 million sellers of varied sizes. EBay (No. 5 in the world and No. 2 in the U.S.) is a pure online marketplace with 19 million sellers. No marketplace anywhere on earth does business with more merchants.
It can be illuminating to look at how the largest retailers view marketplaces. And the data suggests that most of them view marketplaces as worth doing business with. More than half of the Top 1000 retailers and more than half of the Next 1000 retailers sell on marketplaces, according to a Digital Commerce 360 analysis.
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