Marketplace is a multi-seller e-commerce site and not a single seller. If in the beginning, the only marketplace type was aimed at B2B by allowing essentially to answer calls for tender, the generalization of sales between professionals and individuals or even between individuals gave another dimension to the marketplace. From then on, the use of the term marketplace has developed widely and now designates a relatively different concept.
The story of marketplaces
Before tackling about the historical aspect, let’s first take a closer look at the definitions. A marketplace is a platform that puts 2 parties in contact: the seller and the buyer. These platforms can be C2C (from private individual to private individual), B2C (business to business) or B2B (business to business). There are several types of marketplaces: product, service or content. A marketplace can also be “hybrid”. We use this term to say that the activity covers both the B2B and B2C market, but also to talk about companies that sell both their products, and those of their third party sellers like Amazon.
Today, there are countless marketplaces. This growth is directly correlated to the evolution of technology (internet, the emergence of e-commerce, payment by card, smartphones …) and the digitalization of the world.
Evolution of marketplaces
The evolution of marketplaces has developed some marketplace types at three major stages:
1- Ebay and Amazon, founding fathers of B2C
The first generation of marketplace appeared at the end of the 90’s and beginning of 2000’s with a simple but innovative objective for the time: trust and richness of the offer on the customer side, traffic on the partner side. If at the beginning the marketplaces were rather generalists, stemming from a historical e-commerce activity, constituting their main asset, they very quickly diversified to the point where there are today C2C marketplaces in many fields:
Generalist: Trade me (1999), Taobao (2003), Priceminister (2010), Fril (2012), Wallapop (2013), Welp (2015), Facebook Marketplace (2016).
Crafts: Etsy (2005)
Fashion: Vinted (2008)
Childcare : Yojo (2012), Yoopies(2012)
DIY : Ebid (1999).
Web : Fiverr (2010), 5euro.com (2013)
2- The advent of specialized marketplaces
The second generation of Marketplace type is the services one. Its market targets customers with specific needs. In 2006, Blablacar was the first to launch a services marketplace. In 2007, it was AirBnb‘s turn to make its appearance by offering individuals and professionals to rent out their property for vacations. Today, this company is present all over the world and is estimated to be worth 35 billion dollars or about 29 million euros.
Since 2010, more and more marketplace services have appeared in various fields:
In the field of private transportation we can mention :
Uber launched in 2009, is now present in 253 cities: Paris, New York, London, Johannesburg, Beijing, Sydney…
Drivy launched in 2010
In the field of rental we have :
Getaround (ex-Drivy), which was launched in 2010 and allows individuals to rent a car.
Click&boat which allows to rent a boat.
Wingly, which allows the person to do co-pooling.
Doctolib in Europe which allows to manage appointments and health services
Foodora home meal delivery service
Malt online marketplace that connects businesses and freelancers in the digital world owned by Malt Community
Allô Voisin in France, a network for renting objects and providing mutual aid services between individuals
ID Garage, allows motorists to compare quotes from thousands of garages
Planity is a platform for making beauty appointments…
3- Alibaba, the forerunner of B2B
The third generation that we see emerging focuses on B2B needs and uses. Indeed, the marketplace is starting a mini revolution and is no longer limited to the B2C sector. Founder of this new vision of the marketplace, Jack Ma created the Chinese website Alibaba and uses the same codes as B2C marketplaces. Thanks to Alibaba, Chinese factories can be put in touch with Western companies who wish to buy Chinese products at low prices and resell them. Alibaba becomes the intermediary of a transaction between a buyer and a seller who do not have the same commercial and cultural reflexes. Jack Ma proposes to secure the purchase, a system of “gold supplier” label to certify suppliers and reassure the companies that buy.
4- What is the next generation?
The content marketplace seems to be the 4th generation. Indeed, this kind of Marketplace are online services gathering providers (often independent) who offer to write content for a fee. It can be to create a logo, to write a text, to edit a video. So, this booming market should be the next investment field to watch.