Business development · 8 November 2017

Creatives, traders and innovators: Which online marketplace seller are you?

Platforms like eBay and Etsy have allowed new entrepreneurs to instantly access an audience
Britain’s growing army of online marketplace sellers, trading onplatforms like eBay and Amazon, brought 11bn to the UK economy in 2016, with this figure predicted to double by 2020. However, there are crucial differences in sizeand strategy between these digital entrepreneurs.

A new report from supply chain standards group GS1 UK hasanalysed each different type ofonline marketplace seller, from those graduallyturning a hobby into a business to large omnichannelcompanies using platforms to establish new international audiences.

Almost three-quarters were typically small business owners and sole traders who fell into the creative? or trader? categories. The two groups, representing 250, 000 sellers overall, had approximate turnover of 70, 000 and contributed 17bn to the UK economy each year.

Further up the scale were growers? and innovators, who represented respective shares of 26 per cent and 14 per cent and are generally considered medium-sized firms, while pioneers? and leaders? were large businesses seeking additional sales avenues.

The six types of online marketplace seller

  1. Creatives

The group of entrepreneurs new to marketplace selling. Creatives have usually started to turn a hobby or passion into a business, and operate on a manual sale-by-sale strategy focused on a single platform.

Their products are typically handmade or second-hand, and sold out of the home. The business is often a side-project or a second form of income (see ‘side hustling?).

Creatives could benefit by’strengthening their understanding of regulations and barcoding, and focus on driving more traffic to listings.

  1. Traders

The second group are those who have spotted a quick and easy money-making opportunity. Traders usually source lower cost products from overseas at a high volume, and sell them through multiple platforms at once.

Brand identity is less of a priority for traders than creatives, who will seek to bulk buy the latest product trends. The best way for traders to grow their business, according to GS1 UK, is to increase efficiency and invest in stock management solutions.

  1. Innovators

Innovators are the group most dedicated to building a brand. Their company will have started online with a startup culture, targeting niche markets with smaller product ranges.

The most successful innovators are able to intergrate sales and product stock updates through multiple channels and drive traffic to their own website.

  1. Growers

Growers are the traditional or family-run businesses which have responded to the power of ecommerce by looking to online marketplaces. Platforms like eBay give such firms the chance to test their online strategy.

To keep progressing, growers could invest in data collection to better compare online and offline sales.

  1. Pioneers

As experienced veterans of marketplace selling, pioneers are usually happy with their current online strategy. The early adopters typically enjoy stable growth but may also be looking to increase automated processes.

The next step for pioneers could be to invest further in marketing and maintaining brand appeal.

  1. Leaders



Praseeda Nair is an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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