What Is An Online Marketplace And How Does Online Marketplaces Work?

    The internet has become a virtual economy due to e-commerce. Retail stores and online shopping sites have proliferated far and wide. It brings us to the question of digital intermediaries and distributor websites. The online marketplace definition is very simple and straightforward.

    It is a website or platform that connects buyers and sellers of goods and services. The distributor’s electronic or digital application facilitates efficient transactions. Sellers can offer a wide variety of products at affordable prices, while the buyers can find what they want from a variety of sellers at the same place.

    Undoubtedly, Amazon and eBay are the biggest online marketplaces. They are veritable cash cows that drive up incomes and profits for various stakeholders. These middlemen operate successful online platforms and attract massive web traffic. Even new consumers have faith in their services.

    How do online marketplaces work? Some would define an online marketplace as just another e-commerce site. If you are wondering what does online marketplace mean, then read on. There is no need to get confused as the workings of this market are well-known. It is a digital connection point for sellers and customers.

    How do online marketplaces function?

    The online marketplaces operate without any large inventory. They do not have to maintain an inventory, bother about logistics, product descriptions, or catalogs. Every element mentioned is the responsibility of the seller of goods and services. A product and all its competitors will be on the same platform. Thus, a seller will make sure to go beyond his comfort zone to provide excellent services.

    These sellers receive a dedicated digital space to maintain orders. Buyers access a product online and go through the digital information. The product catalogs are also frequently updated by the seller. The middlemen make money via commissions, ad revenues, and value-added services.

    Business models

    Subscriptions: The platform provider charges the supplier for access. The revenue model includes a regular fee. The supplier finds potential clients and prospective partners.

    Signup fees: The vendors pay a flat fee and register with the platform. There are no complex technical or legal conditions. Besides, the vendors get motivated to offer early bird incentives to buyers.

    Commissions: The platform charges a fixed fee or commission on each sale. Both the vendor and the buyer can get charged in this model. This value-added practice satisfies all the stakeholders in the deal.

    Product listing fees: This is a two-sided marketplace, which charges the seller for product listings. The pricing model is flexible to facilitate the vendors. More product listing translates to higher income.

    Hybrid models: Mixed and hybrid models are also available on the web. Amazon became a global market leader using this ploy. They facilitate multiple revenue streams for their partners.

    Types of online marketplaces

    Knowing about the different online platforms isvery important.You should also know how do online marketplaces function. The three main types of services are as follows.

    Vertical marketplace

    The vertical market focuses on niche products and services. They cater to a specific type of consumer or buyer. For example, Etsy sells only handmade crafts and vintage items to the customers. These marketplaces ensure higher quality and depth in their business model. They also offer personalized services to consumers. The platform also stands apart from its competitors.

    Horizontal marketplace

    This marketplace is a storehouse of diversity and variety. It offers various goods and services of a single type or genre, without lowering quality. Web platforms focus on specific types of customers and sell diverse items. A good example of such a marketplace is a platform offering second-hand or used cell phones.

    Global marketplace

    What does online marketplace mean in the global context? It is a platform for selling any and every type of goods or service. The finest example of such a platform is the well-known Desertcart website. They are famous for having a large inventory, buyers, and sellers. They facilitate international transactions under reliable payment gateways. Besides, buyers feel like they are in a virtual store.


    Just knowing what is an online marketplace is not sufficient. If you initiate a start-up without a basic understanding, then profits will be far away. There are associated risks as well as capital flows involved in this type of business. However, digital middlemen derive these advantages.



    E-commerce and retail stores can participate in increasing visibility. Their products will get prominently displayed in a high-traffic marketplace. As a result, more customers will have a chance to view the catalog. Besides, the company can divert these buyers to their website or brick-mortar store.


    Relying on the online marketplace is a low-cost adventure than using a dedicated web portal. Even small businesses can promote their goods and services here at par with global products. It gives every business small and large, the same exposure to cover the audience. Since there is no monopoly, the customers can find good quality products with ease.



    Vendors do not have to worry about web technologies. They don’t have to start a website or release a mobile app. A small scale business can use the online marketplace and create an online presence without the hassle of hiring digital marketers, designers, and others. They even do not know in detail about ‘How do online marketplaces function?’ The online marketplace is ready to help them popularize their goods and services. The company’s managers can focus more on crucial processes like accounts and administration.


    How do online marketplaces like Desertcart  work in your favor? Well, they ensure convenient access to a global customer base. Due to the widespread use of the internet, global stakeholders will participate. Besides, modern consumers will enjoy online shopping as opposed to conventional, offline store purchases. Vendors can invest in data-intensive processes to increase their market share and build a brand.

    The online marketplace definition and value varies by the type of operation and the type of middlemen involved. They operate websites and platforms to connect buyers with sellers and earn a commission and contribute to the growth of e-commerce. Their presence offers a wide variety of choices to consumers, gain greater online visibility, and can design and deploy a unique business model at a low cost. What is an online marketplace? The marketplace is a solution and win-win situation for the platform, customers, and sellers.

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