Interesting Ideas We Learned from 5 Online Marketplaces in the UK

Written by Arcadier, 22 May 2017

It’s intriguing to see the different online marketplaces that are set up around the world and how they came about. While some focus on vertical niches and local areas, there are those that aim to compete with the likes of Amazon and eBay using different pricing models.

It’s no secret that competition is tough in the online marketplace business. Rakuten, which saw great success in Japan, closed its UK marketplace late last year, while ASOS Marketplace continues to be the go-to for fashionistas looking for pre-loved designer treasures. In this article, Arcadier studies the ideas behind 5 interesting online marketplaces based in the United Kingdom. How do you think they will fare against international online marketplace giants?

OnBuy

Headquartered in Dorset, OnBuy is similar to Amazon and eBay in that it allows businesses to list a wide range of products, from IT equipment to arts and crafts. Focusing exclusively on European countries, it’s different from Amazon and eBay in that it operates on a £49-a-month subscription model to lower the costs of selling, making products cheaper for the customers and enabling the seller to increase their profit margin.

With this unique value proposition, OnBuy hopes to attract buyers and sellers from competing sites. Due to negative feedback from users regarding the subscription model, in late 2016 OnBuy also introduced a commission-only selling model (6% compared to Amazon’s 8-15% commission) for smaller sellers to improve seller sign-up. Additionally, sellers can gain API access (to integrate client-side web applications with the OnBuy platform), advertising opportunities, prominent placement and tailored account management and support from the OnBuy team if they sign up for the £89-a-month subscription.

GAME Marketplace

With over 200 stores in the UK, GAME claims to be the UK's leading video games, consoles, accessories retailer. Following a few rocky years that caused several suppliers — including Nintendo, Electronic Arts and Capcom — to refuse supply their products, GAME launched GAME Marketplace in 2015. The online marketplace also includes categories such as electronics, retro and vinyl products, arcade machines, as well as toys and memorabilia from gaming franchises, both new and pre-owned.

Fans queue outside GAME Westfield Stratford City. Photo credit: Kotaku.co.uk.

This new offering is designed to drive strong engagement both online and offline. Recognizing that the physical store continues to be a place to bring the gaming community together, last year the firm announced its plan to trial in-store digital Marketplace kiosks to showcase its range of products.

McKenzie Friends Marketplace

This UK-based marketplace was born when a Law undergraduate at the University of Westminster, Fraser J Matcham, saw a lack of affordable legal assistance. The platform aims to aid those facing court proceedings without representation in accessing “practical, moral and legal assistance”. It connects the litigants with the McKenzie Friends community, a collection of legal professionals and academics who agreed to share their experience and time to support Matcham’s initiative.

With the support of universities, academics, barristers, solicitors and charities in the UK, the marketplace was established. The platform provides a secure messaging system, and costs are capped to ensure that it remains affordable and accessible to those in need. At a lower commission percentage, law students can also join the marketplace to offer their services in supporting litigants in court.

Pedlars Vintage Marketplace

Originally a vintage item store and cafe located just off Portobello Road in London, Pedlars has gained a cult following and expanded their offering to evening courses and a vintage marketplace. Known for its well-curated vintages, Pedlars continues to build its community by involving them in projects such as the Pedlars Friday Vintage initiative, which allows the store to “work with a network of dealers to create weekly parcels of best-quality vintage items for the home and garden.”

Pedlars leverages on its reputation and trustworthiness to build a marketplace that can help it cater to what it says is a higher demand for vintage than it can sustain. While its general store showcases a curated range of homewares, bags, stationery and gifts, the marketplace — which was launched in 2016 — highlights Pedlars’ hand-picked community of vintage dealers and enthusiasts. Pedlars aims “to create the best curated vintage community in Britain; a sort of high quality virtual flea market.”

Pedlars General Store. Photo credit: Pedlars.co.uk.

Our Skillsforce Marketplace

Our Skillsforce is an organization that helps employers in Scotland find and access national and local support, including free advice and information, skills planning, and HR support (recruitment, training and development). It strongly believes that “building closer links with schools helps make sure young people are entering the workplace with the right skills.”

As part of its services, it connects businesses with schools through its online marketplace. The marketplace allows businesses to pass on knowledge of their sector through workshops, talks, workplace visits, or competitions. This allows businesses to not only give back to the community, but also prepare the students — Scotland’s future workforce — for the working world and expand their career options.

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