The Three Types of Online Marketplaces & What They Do for You

Online marketplaces represent different things to people in different positions. There are end users and sellers, but this line gets blurred sometimes, too.

Businesses and individual shoppers may carve unique paths in online marketplaces that aren’t so straightforward, using one or more models simultaneously to complement their business or sales model.

Let’s look closely at three types of online marketplace to see where you fit in.

1. Business-to-Consumer (B2C)

Familiar to everyday people, the Business-to-Consumer online marketplace involves traditional companies offering products to the public. The most straightforward form of B2C involves a digital storefront where people can make purchases.

The story changes when it comes to more expensive sectors, like real estate. There isn’t simply a “real estate company” where homebuyers shop for properties. Nobul, for one, is a business to consumer real estate platform founded by Regan McGee that quickly pairs homebuyers with the most suitable real estate agent.

Buyers can compare agents’ profiles to see which delivers the most appealing package. For example, some homebuyers need an agent with lots of experience closing high-end deals, while others look for competitive rates.

As all business to consumer platforms should, Nobul takes privacy seriously, as they don’t share user data with the agents on their platform. Instead, all communication runs through the app itself, so it’s easy to stay connected and share listings and pictures with agents, but user data can’t fall into the wrong hands.

People usually mean B2Cs when they talk about online marketplaces, which are popular for how they offer buyers better prices and a streamlined and convenient shopping experience.

2. Consumer to Consumer (C2C)

Another popular type of online marketplace involves consumers selling products to other consumers using a company as an intermediary. When people buy crafts from an artist located in a different city or country, they do so through websites like Etsy, eBay, or Amazon.

The middle-man company gets a cut, as they give a sales boost to independent retailers who otherwise wouldn’t have such significant sales opportunities at their disposal. This sales model may appear to the consumer like a B2C, who engages in them in the same way.

But only because consumers aren’t very invested in what’s going on behind the scenes. To the seller, the change in approach between models is very significant.

3. Business-to-Business (B2B)

When a business sells products to another business who then sells them to consumers, that’s known as B2B. For example, a camera company makes a product it sells through a larger retailer rather than having its own store.

Best Buy doesn’t make the products that they sell. But you can walk into one of their stores and buy them or purchase the same item online.

Your position in the consumer and seller hierarchy determines which of these three models is right for you. Many people are consumers in their private life but may run a business or side-hustle reliant on a different type of marketplace. Ultimately, consider your commercial and consumer needs and use whichever model suits you best.