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Choosing the Best Online Marketplace to Start Selling: Amazon, Walmart, or eBay

With the rapid advancement in technology, the art of selling and buying has equally not been left behind. Most stores have an online presence in addition to their physical location.

The online marketplace landscape has grown in leaps and bounds recently, and online businesses are becoming the norm other than the exception. Online selling and online sellers is quickly becoming a path to successful entrepreneurship.

Many shops and market hubs are being established at an unprecedented rate, and the already titans in this digital space are calling the shots.

This article will expose the three leading players of US online marketplaces to give third-party sellers and businesses a head start in determining a proper fit for their companies and undertakings.

With so many popular marketplaces emerging every year, this will serve as an unbiased comparison of Amazon, Walmart, and eBay and help decide which platform to partner with to take their business sales to the next level.

Amazon

With Amazon’s robust advertising and marketing tools, sellers promote their products and effectively reach targeted audiences.

Additionally, the company’s ability to adapt and innovate has contributed to its exceptional success, allowing it to disrupt traditional retail models.

Amazon has been a household name for a long time. Just as most people think of Google in the context of search, Amazon is synonymous with shopping or buying. This giant online tech founded in 1994 is like a “mustard seed” that sprouted from just an online store to a mega, global online store with a humongous market share and unusually high traffic, making it appealing to customers and businesses alike.

Excellence begets excellence; Amazon’s remarkable outcome did not merely happen. In addition to some standout features, this dominant industry player has experienced exponential growth due to the following:


Early technology adoption: The retailer turned tech company harnessed the internet’s growing power and jumped at every opportunity to improve its business strategy from leveraging robotics to capitalizing on the “last mile”. They have mastered squeezing out efficiency without sacrificing experience.

Customer-centric culture: Whatever Amazon has been up to, the customer is always the focus, geared towards improving customer experience and meeting even non-verbalized customer needs. Acquisitions of service or “happiness” oriented companies like Zappos bolstered this focus.

Service excellence: Amazon has maintained an incredible drive to be the best through a relentless pursuit of high service standards and ensuring their systems are in tandem to deliver exceptional quality service consistently.

Expansion strategy and diversification: Amazon has never stuck with one-product line. Instead, this thriving business titan has strategically increased consumer goods offerings, acquired other businesses, and developed tech products that have continually spurred its growth.

Customer confidence: High service standards, community product reviews incorporated in the digital market platform, and continued innovation to enhance user experience have contributed to customer trust, loyalty, and repeat purchases.

Advertising and marketing tools: Affiliate marketers and sellers employ proactive measures to vigorously promote their products, effectively reaching their intended audience and generating unparalleled web traffic.

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) Service

The Amazon marketplace for third-party sellers (3P) was initially inventory free but foresaw the need to be in total control of consumer deliveries. That is how Fulfillment by Amazon was born.

This approach enables sellers to store their products in Amazon’s fulfillment centers and also allows Amazon to be fully in charge of order processing, packing, shipping, and customer service. With distribution centers popping up around many major metropolitans around the country, Amazon can fulfill the promise of fast free delivery for online sales to Prime members. 

As a result, sellers can allocate their time and energy to other facets of their business. FBA also leads to centralized quality control that ensures consistent excellent customer service.

Amazon Prime Membership

One driving force of this top-tier online retailer and tech company is innovation. Amazon Prime is a subscription developed that offers numerous benefits to customers, such as free and expedited shipping, access to streaming services, and more. It has enjoyed immense success since its inception.

Amazon Prime is a cash cow and has continued to generate significant profitability and contributes to Amazon’s financial success. The service’s ability to attract subscribers, generate recurring revenue, and drive customer engagement makes it a precious and lucrative aspect of Amazon’s business. Sellers can leverage FBA to make their products eligible for Prime to tap into the enormous market of new potential customers.

Walmart

Since its inception in 1962, Walmart has emerged as a prominent retail entity, seamlessly blending its online presence with a vast array of physical stores. Its vastness is advantageous and is leveraged to provide high-quality products at affordable prices where its business model is centered. While not as dominant online as Amazon, Walmart has been expanding its e-commerce presence in recent years and has emerged as a force to reckon with in the retail business. Leveraging the traffic the online retailer yields, an expansion to becoming an online marketplace was a natural next step. Hence, the birth of the Walmart Marketplace. 

Features of Walmart

The following other features make Walmart a formidable contender in the digital market space for an online business.

Advanced technology use: Walmart is all out to improve customer experience. It has been actively utilizing artificial intelligence and cloud computing technology to deliver services, applications, or solutions in its digital space.

Walmart’s sustainability agenda: Walmart has been big on sustainability. The objective is to achieve 100% renewable energy and recycling. Ultimately this contributes to its long-term business success by reducing wastage, enhancing brand reputation, attracting environmentally conscious customers, and complying with regulations.

Walmart’s big brother role to small businesses: Through partnerships and dedicated programs like “Open Call,” Walmart provides a gateway of a vast market for products from small and independent sellers.

eBay

eBay was originally known as AuctionWeb and was for selling collectible items.
Some of eBay’s key features include the following:

  • eBay offers a wide range of products but is particularly popular for making available unique and rare products.
  • Products are sold through auctions, but there are also fixed pricing listings.
  • eBay boasts of a vibrant and engaged community of buyers and sellers. Reviews and ratings come in handy in building trust between buyers and sellers.
  • There is no barrier between sellers and customers, promoting personalized customer service and creating strong relationships leading to more business.
  • Sellers determine their offerings’ selling process and pricing strategy, whether auction-style listings, fixed-price listings, or a combination suiting their needs.

Target Audience Analysis

Each online marketplace has its unique proposition and thus will appeal to a broad range of customers but with distinct variations based on, but not limited to, age, income level, and product preferences.

Amazon’s target audience spans different age groups. However, due to the tech savviness of millennials, they reflect the largest share. With diversified product categories, it appeals to customers of various income levels, economical shoppers, those interested in multiple other goods, and those seeking premium products.

With its long-established presence as a store-based retailer, Walmart primarily targets families and individuals seeking value for their money. Here the sale price matters. Its customer base often consists of middle-income households, although it serves diverse income levels. Walmart appeals to a broad age demographic, particularly those looking for affordable and quality products across various categories, including groceries, household goods, and apparel. Baby boomers make up most of the shoppers followed by Generation X and Y.

eBay has an extensive range of target markets primarily because of its website’s broad range of products. However, its target audience is characterized by its focus on unique items. It attracts individuals of various ages, catering to different interests and niche markets. Customers aged 34 to 64 years prefer eBay as their online marketplace and the majority are men.

Seller Fees and Costs

Each ecommerce marketplace will offer a different fee structure to entice sellers to place their items for sale on their site. Business owners must decide if the key benefits of selling on a specific marketplace justify the various seller fees they will incur.

Amazon implements multiple fees, such as listing fees, referral fees, and optional subscription plans.

In contrast, Walmart follows a referral fee structure without charging listing fees.

eBay, on the other hand, employs a fee structure comprising of listing fees, final value fees, and optional feature fees.

Customer Reach and Competition

Amazon as the biggest marketplace boasts a massive customer base and high monthly visitor numbers, making it an ideal platform for maximizing customer reach. A case in point is Amazon employed more than one million employees worldwide, and holds more half the share of US eCommerce retail.

With its extensive physical presence, Walmart attracts many in-store customers, and its digital marketplace is still growing.

eBay’s active user base and auction-style listings make it a destination for customers seeking unique or hard-to-find items or even vintage items creating niche market opportunities.

By understanding these dynamics plus the level of competition within their specific product category on each platform, sellers can strategically choose marketplaces that align with their business goals and effectively navigate the competitive landscape.

Seller Support and Resources

Each marketplace offers different levels of seller support and resources. Here’s a closer look at what each platform provides:

Amazon has created specialized channels and platforms to support new and experienced sellers. These include Amazon’s Seller Support, which can be accessed through phone assistance, and Seller University, an online platform designed for self-coaching. Additionally, Amazon offers the option of hiring professional help for sellers through its platform. Plus the Amazon ecosystem is filled with agencies and consultants to aid in a successful launch and scaling of a store.

Walmart supports sellers through live chat and formal inquiry via the Walmart Marketplace Seller Help Center. They provide resources, educational materials, tips for product visibility, and pricing strategies and collaborate with industry experts for various services like product setup, inventory management, order fulfillment, and pricing.

eBay provides dedicated seller support through applications and platforms like Seller Help and eBay Help. Sellers can log in with queries, get assistance resolving sales issues, and get tips and guidance on selling. There is also a vibrant and experienced online community from whom novice sellers can learn and gain practical knowledge to enhance their selling strategies. eBay also offers assistance in resolving customer disputes, ensuring sellers have access to the necessary support to address any issues that may arise during transactions.

Businesses should evaluate the available support options and choose marketplaces that align with their needs.

Factors to Consider

With the tremendous opportunities the three online marketplaces provide, making a decision can still feel confusing. Here are several factors that should be taken into account when making a choice:

  • How well your product category aligns with each online retail market and customer preferences.
  • Seller resources, support, and facilitation available like Amazon’s FBA in contrast to Walmart’s fulfillment option.
  • Marketing and advertising opportunities available to take your business to new heights.

Recommendations

Here are more attributes for each online retailer that should help prioritize the appropriate online market.

Amazon is an excellent choice for maximum visibility and access to a vast customer base. Additionally, its fulfillment options and Prime feature provides added advantages. A successful product on Amazon drives a high volume of sales resulting in potential lower unit costs and better margins in the long run.

If the business approach aligns with value plus competitive prices, Walmart is the choice of the digital market hub. On the other hand, Walmart’s expanding e-commerce platform offers an opportunity for growth and increased brand exposure.

If your product offering consists of unique or rare items and direct customer interactions play a vital role, eBay’s auction-style listings and active community engagement can provide significant advantages.

Conclusion

With the convenience offered by online businesses, online shopping is becoming the “in-thing”. Companies and sellers must adapt quickly and integrate their sales strategy into online retailing. For new entrepreneurs, an ecommerce marketplace or ecommerce site is a path to financial freedom. For larger companies, it’s a strategic distribution channel which must be owned and managed to protect the brand and drive additional revenues.

Online business owners can leverage the existing platforms to move their business to the next level. Selecting the right internet retail platform to start your online selling journey is critical.

They can make an informed choice by considering the key features, advantages, target demographics, seller fees, customer reach, and seller support of Amazon, Walmart, and eBay.

By conducting thorough research and understanding a business’s unique requirements, success is sure in the ever-changing world of online marketplaces.

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