I’m currently finishing up my presentation for the Internet Retailer Conference & Expo in June: I’ll be presenting on the non-US marketplace options for brands as part of the global eCommerce track. In preparation for the session, I’ve had a chance to catch up with a number of established global online marketplaces for brands as well as agencies helping to develop some of the marketplace storefronts.
While many North American and European brands are familiar with local marketplace players, it’s worthwhile highlighting just a few key marketplace options originating outside of these two regions:
- Tmall. We’ve written quite a lot about the opportunities for brands to sell on China’s Tmall (subs req'd), the marketplace for brands spun off from C2C giant Taobao. Nowhere else in the world have major global brands turned as consistently to a single marketplace as a point of entry into the market and as a supplemental sales channel. Tmall’s meteoric rise has been the subject of much media coverage, ranging from its $2B worth of goods sold on Singles' Day last year to parent company Alibaba’s likely IPO. Brands complain about the rigid guidelines imposed on them by Tmall, yet more creative storefronts as emerging (see the recently launched Microsoft Store on Tmall as an example).
- Rakuten. Rakuten has been on a buying spree over the past few years, acquiring companies across North and South America as well as Europe and Asia. The company has made Asia a particularly strong priority, with sites in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan in addition to its flagship Japan offering. Rakuten has positioned itself solidly in the B2B2C space, enabling businesses to set up online shops with a particular focus on small- and medium-sized enterprises. I was able to take part in Rakuten’s official launch in Brazil last year following their acquisition of local eCommerce solution provider Ikeda – a launch that also featured Rakuten’s acquisition of eReader company Kobo. While Rakuten Japan still arguably provides the most robust suite of offerings for global brands – see the Benetton Store as one example – the company is steadily building out their offerings globally.
- MercadoLibre. MercadoLibre – known in its largest market, Brazil, as MercadoLivre – remains the dominant online marketplace in Latin America. With a leading market position in many of the top Latin American markets including Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, the company has shifted away from its auction roots to now selling 97% fixed-price goods. MercadoLibre's marketplace approach differs from others such as Tmall in that the company doesn’t promote a separate offering for global brand owners. MercadoLibre provides features to help merchants sell to Latin American consumers such as installment payments and localized payment types (MercadoLibre, like Alibaba and eBay, offers an eWallet solution called MercadoPago).
US and European brands are also working with other leading marketplace partners to expand internationally. eBay, for example, with over half of its revenues from outside of the US, is continuing to make global expansion a priority and extending its offerings for brands outside of the US. In markets such as the UK and Australia, eBay offers enhanced marketplace offerings for apparel, footwear and accessories brands through its eBay Fashion Gallery. Amazon, too, has expanded its brand stores offerings internationally, while other niche players such as Westfield in Australia offer local marketplace options for brands.
Join us on June 5th as we dive into all of these marketplaces in greater detail and explore the options for brands looking to expand internationally.