Expanding an eCommerce business profitably and effectively is all about going where the customers are. Today, that could mean third-party marketplaces. Companies looking for new ways to grow without purchasing their own assets can integrate their online sales arms with the platforms operated by eBay, Amazon and others around the world.

When it comes to being discoverable, visible and customer-friendly in the current landscape, expanding to third-party marketplaces is a shrewd move. Current marketing and customer acquisition trends are leaning toward inbound – meaning that businesses are primarily concerned with making themselves as appealing and available as possible to shoppers who are browsing and performing searches. Appearing on heavily trafficked marketplaces can give sellers visibility to new audiences around the world.

Where do third-party marketplaces fit into the worldwide logistics picture?

Networks that are already huge

While official data on how much money flows through online marketplaces is scarce, Tamebay recently estimated that Amazon’s third-party marketplace is responsible for $230 billion in transactions. In a year, Amazon fulfilled over 2 billion items for customers, with many more handled by merchants with their own fulfillment operations. This massive network of sellers is a promising place to list items, provided a company can accomplish the integration without too much trouble.

Opening a third-party storefront via Amazon may help organizations get into more overseas markets – the commerce giant is clearly interested in expanding its reach. Seeking Alpha pointed out that the company has marketplaces in Canada, India, China, Japan and many European countries to go with its U.S. version. The source also noted that the companies partnering with Amazon to become marketplace sellers aren’t necessarily small home-based businesses: The marketplace has seen an uptick in large sellers getting nine-digit revenue from their Amazon sales.

More opportunities are popping up all the time. As Retail Dive recently explained, Amazon plans to expand its reach to the Middle East by acquiring Souq, the so-called “Amazon of the Middle East.” The expansion of various third-party marketplace sites allows retailers that sell on their marketplaces to go along for the ride, taking their eCommerce operations into places they’ve never been and potentially becoming visible to new audiences for the first time.

“In an online world that has many ways to reach clients, there’s no need for sellers to limit themselves.”

Wal-Mart on the rise

If eBay is the prototypical online marketplace and Amazon is the eCommerce giant lending its muscle to others, where does that leave Wal-Mart? The famous chain is trying to become another major face in the third-party marketplace crowd, making it another possibility for sellers eager to reach new audiences and markets.

The Associated Press recently reported on Wal-Mart’s attempts to make its third-party space into a contender. That included buying Jet.com and taking a more focused approach to online sales, installing the acquired company’s leader as website CEO. The progress thus far includes a lineup of 35 million items in the marketplace, with integration deepening between the Wal-Mart brand and the sites it acquires.

With acquisitions by Wal-Mart including ShoeBuy.com, Moosejaw and a stake in China’s JD.com, it’s clear that the big-box store wants to redefine itself as an online power player. Merchants looking for third-party sales opportunities may find them here in addition to on eBay and Amazon.

Reaching those audiences

While attempts to reach into third-party marketplace spaces may backfire if sellers don’t have an eCommerce platform that will let them manage these side stores as effectively as their own assets, those prepared to make the jump could benefit immensely from putting their lines of products in front of millions of new eyes. Suddenly having a new channel through which to make sales, one with international reach and an installed customer base, could be a transformative moment for a business.

Third-party marketplaces are yet another expansion avenue for eCommerce companies.

Third-party marketplaces are yet another expansion avenue for eCommerce companies.

This is one of the many compelling advantages of today’s top end-to-end solutions for eCommerce and omnichannel businesses. Companies’ own eCommerce sites are of course provided for and covered by these platforms, but they don’t stop there. In an online world that has many different ways to reach clients, there’s no need for sellers to limit themselves.

The key is to not let the sales environment become fragmented. When an online marketplace is completely disconnected from a seller’s other commerce platforms, it may become a proverbial headache to deal with. When it’s a seamless part of the whole, though, orders can flow in from that source alongside purchases made on the company’s own store – or even in brick-and-mortar shops. The possibilities of such convenience and flexibility are exciting.