Mapping the World’s Top Online Marketplaces

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At Linn Academy last week I had the pleasure of moderating Tamebay’s International Growth Panel which Dan Callaghan was on. Dan is founder and CEO of CPL, an online retail company which sells perfume and cosmetics across the world and also has the dubious reputation of being kicked off The Apprentice in week one, although that’s not harmed his ability to build a large ecommerce business with Linnworks as his multichannel solution of choice.

Dan had one of the most interesting, although obvious, tips I’ve heard for a long time, which is when considering a country to expand to you should focus on the dominant marketplace in that country. That’s where you’ll find the most buyers and it makes sense to launch to the widest possible audience.

Website Builder Expert have done some interesting research using data from Alexa Internet to gather the top 50 most visited websites in 174 countries — 8,700 urls — and categorized them into types. Search engines, portals, social media, and so on. Numbers on top search engines, or top sites globally, are nothing new, but we are interested in ecommerce so are focusing on mapping the world’s Top Online Marketplaces.

By combing through the data, identifying the most visited online marketplace in each country, and working out who owned them, Website Builder Expert were able to map the world’s current ecommerce empires.

Key Findings from Mapping the World’s Top Online Marketplaces

  • Amazon is the most popular e-commerce site in the world with an online reach of over 1.2 billion, and strongholds in every continent.
  • Amazon is winning the e-commerce race right now, but Chinese multinational Alibaba‘s (2nd) online population of 1.07 billion operating in 15 countries makes it a worthy adversary.
  • Argentine enterprise MercadoLibre (3rd) reigns supreme over South America and presents the biggest resistance to Amazon’s complete global takeover.
  • Online shopping in the ex-Soviet territory is dominated by South African company Naspers, with an online audience of 260 million
  • A number of ecommerce sites are vying for the dominant position in Africa. Amazon, Rocket Internet, Naspers, Be Forward and eBay all have a presence in the African market but none have succeeded in expanding their empires across the whole continent.

Amazon is comfortably the most far-reaching ecommerce platform on earth. Of the 174 countries included in the study, Amazon was the most visited online marketplace in 58 — almost exactly a third. The online population of Amazon’s empire is over 1.2 billion.

Amazon pops up in every continent, while Taobao and Lazada dominate East Asia, both of which are owned by Alibaba. Alibaba is also a leading investor in Tokopedia, Indonesia’s online marketplace of choice. The Alibaban online population is just over 1 billion.

South African media group Naspers has managed to wrangle itself most of the old Soviet Union. Avito is the online marketplace of choice for Russia, with OLX coming out on top in most of the other post-Soviet states. It was Naspers who sold Souq to Amazon.

Norwegian media group Schibsted is carving out a market for itself in Northeastern Europe, its subsidiaries topping the ecommerce rankings in Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Belarus, amongst others. Savvy purchases have allowed it to resist Amazon to the west and Naspers to the east.

eBay is still going strong and it remains the most visited online marketplace in eight countries, including Australia, and owns another five platforms topping their national market.

A word of caution with the findings, national borders are much more fluid on the internet. Just because a platform is the most visited doesn’t mean it’s the only one that’s widely used. It does, however, point to regional preferences (and rivalries) when viewed from afar.

You can view the Mapping the World’s Top Online Marketplaces full size image here.


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