Selling through just one channel is always risky. But, when that channel is Amazon, it can be a very dangerous plan. Competition on Amazon is always intense and even borders on the downright dirty, with sellers frequently being brought down.
The threat doesn’t just come from rogue competitors, as seller performance or product quality issues can very easily lead to suspension. And, the longer that your ASIN is blocked, or your listing is suspended, the more money you lose.
Now, there is no way to guarantee that you’ll never be suspended but having a multi-channel strategy can cushion the blow. It means that if you aren’t able to sell on Amazon, you still have sales coming in from other sales channels. The more marketplaces you add, the easier it will be to sustain your business until you’re back on Amazon.
So, in this post, we will look at some Amazon alternatives. They all have similar features to Amazon, for example being catalog-based, and have the potential to be a key part of your multi-channel approach.
This article is the second in a two-part series looking at alternative marketplaces for Amazon and eBay sellers. Be sure to check out our guide to eBay alternatives.
How do the Amazon alternatives compare?
|Marketplace||Operates In||Product Categories||Sales Commission|
|Fruugo||Everywhere||All||15% of the sales price excluding VAT|
|Newegg||Everywhere||Computer parts, electronics, gaming, appliances and tech.||8% -14%|
|Pricefalls||U.S.||All||$1 per order, plus 7% -12%|
|Tesco||U.K.||All||Not stated publicly|
When we talk about marketplaces that have similar characteristics to Amazon, what do we mean? Well, they should be generalist marketplaces, where sellers can offer products in a range of different categories. They should also be catalog-based. This is where there is just one listing for each unique product, and all sellers do is set their price and the quantity they have available.
Another key feature of Amazon is the Buy Box. So, alternatives must have their own version, which automatically chooses the offer it judges to be best and presents it to buyers. Other sellers offering the same product may be displayed elsewhere on the product description page.
Amazon’s ethos is also worth considering, as the majority of Amazon sellers are highly organized and professional, due to years of adhering to strict rules. This means that they are more likely to meet the tough entry criteria that some of these marketplaces have.
Asides from the look and feel of the marketplace, Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) is a big attraction for sellers because it means they don’t have to worry about shipping orders. While it is not a prerequisite for an Amazon alternative to have a logistics arm, it’s certainly a desirable feature for sellers who are used to FBA.
Operates in: U.S.
Alternatives to eBay and Amazon are often criticized for a lack of traffic. This isn’t an issue that Walmart has, as their site receives 110 million unique visitors every month. And, that figure is growing. It is now the second largest shopping website in the U.S.
While this might seem a mouthwatering prospect, sellers have to apply to sell on Walmart and there’s no guarantee of acceptance. They only want the best sellers, and it can often take several weeks for application to be reviewed.
Like Amazon, Walmart is a retailer, so if you are accepted to sell on their marketplace, they may also be competing against you. This doesn’t stop people selling on Amazon though, and shouldn’t stop you applying to sell on Walmart either.
Walmart don’t charge listing fees but do charge a category-specific referral fee of between 6% and 20% when an item sells.
Walmart’s marketplace was rebooted recently and still not much is known about what it’s like to sell there. Matt Ferguson gave us some good insights about selling on Walmart last year.
View our directory listing for Walmart.
Operates in: Everywhere
Another option is Newegg, a retailer and marketplace best-known for electronics, gaming equipment, computer parts and laptops. Sellers have to be accepted to sell on Newegg, and can apply via their website. It is a catalog-based marketplace, and listings feature a Buy Box-style option, as well as showcasing other top sellers.
One really attractive feature that Newegg offers is its own fulfillment service, called Shipped by Newegg (SBN). It works in a similar way to FBA. You send your stock to one of Newegg’s five U.S.-based fulfillment centers and they store it for you. Then, when you receive an order, they pick, pack and ship it.
SBN can also be used to fulfill orders from other channels. However, they will only handle the customer service for orders made through Newegg. Listings that use SBN get a similar boost to Prime listings on Amazon, and are featured prominently on the site.
Newegg doesn’t charge listing fees, and sales commission is category dependent, ranging from 8% to 14%. Newegg sellers get paid weekly.
View our directory listing for Newegg.
Operates in: Everywhere
Fruugo is an interesting marketplace, combining features of both Amazon and eBay. Each sellers submits their own listing with a title, description and images. However, the product pages allow no seller-specific branding, and do not even give the name of the seller offering the product. Consumers could actually miss that it is a marketplace, and think that they are buying directly from Fruugo.
It’s very much a business-to-consumer feel, so we have decided to include Fruugo as an Amazon alternative.
A big advantage to Fruugo is that it offers easy international expansion. You just need to upload your products, and set the price in your own currency. Fruugo will then translate the listing and make your product available on all 23 of its global marketplaces. They will also handle customer service, but you are responsible for shipping the product overseas.
Fruugo doesn’t charge sellers to list products. Instead, they take a commission of 15% of the sales price excluding VAT.
View our directory listing for Fruugo.
Operates in: U.S.
Jet is a retailer and marketplace that works differently from all the others covered in this article. Their emphasis is on customers getting the lowest price possible. As customers add more items to their cart, the discount increases. They can get further discounts by waiving their right to free returns, using a debit card, or entering their email address. The latter can be good for sellers, as it allows them to build a customer base, and target them with marketing emails.
In terms of style, Jet makes sellers pretty anonymous, especially on listings, where it’s not really clear who you are buying from. When the product isn’t sold by Jet, a third-party seller is picked, based on a number of factors. These include price, the size of the discount you offer, your proximity to the customer and the other items that the buyer has added to their cart.
A slight drawback of selling on Jet is that you have to integrate with its API. This means you’re going to need to use a third-party inventory management system, which is an additional cost to consider, if you aren’t already using one.
To sell on Jet, you have to apply. The form is straightforward though, and as long as you’ve got a business entity based in the U.S., your application is likely to be accepted. Commission is usually charged at 15%, although this is lower in some categories.
In 2016, Jet.com was acquired by Walmart, but has been kept as a separate retailer and marketplace.
Operates in: U.K.
UPDATE: Tesco direct will close down on 9th July 2018
Tesco marketplace is a good option for U.K.-based sellers, as it has a large customer base, and allows sellers to offer products in a range of categories. Access to the marketplace is restricted, and Tesco are quite strict on who they select as an approved “partner”. Application is via email.
If you’re accepted, then there are two big benefits to selling on Tesco marketplace. The first, is that you can offer next day, Click+Collect at thousands of Tesco stores across the U.K. Buyers love this as they can collect their item while doing their weekly shop. The second great feature, is that buyers earn Clubcard loyalty points on all of their marketplace purchases, making it a popular choice for regular Tesco shoppers.
When it comes to fees, listing on Tesco is free but they charge a sales commission. Rates are not made public.
View our directory listing for Tesco direct.
Operates in: U.K.
U.K.-based marketplace, OnBuy, calls itself “the direct Amazon alternative” so it’s no surprise that they are very similar in design. Just like Amazon, there is one single listing for each unique product. The product detail page also resembles Amazon, featuring OnBuy’s very own Buy Box. Offers from other sellers can be found at the bottom of the page.
Alongside a category-specific sale fee of between 5% and 9%, OnBuy sellers have to pay a monthly subscription. There’s the Standard plan at £19 per month and the Partner plan at £39 per month.
OnBuy say that the Partner plan boosts sellers in the same way that Prime does on Amazon, giving them priority in the Buy Box. OnBuy also chooses a selection of sellers with Partner plans to appear on the main category pages.
View our directory listing for OnBuy.
UPDATE: Pricefalls was acquired by Loblaw in 2019 and is no longer operating.
Operates in: U.S.
The final marketplace we’re going to look at is Pricefalls. The name comes from its initial reverse auction format where the product price drops until all units are sold, but now Pricefalls is exclusively a fixed-price, catalog-driven platform.
The way Pricefalls is designed makes being the top seller on a listing even more important. When you click on a product, a preview screen shows just one buying option, and customers can make a purchase without ever clicking through to the full product details. If buyers do decide to view the product details, other sellers have fairly good visibility on the right-hand side of the page.
A big downfall of Pricefalls is, ironically, the price. There is a one-time setup cost of $499.99 for your store, followed by a monthly charge of $49.99. On top of this there is commission of $1 plus a percentage of the sales price of between 7% and 12%. This makes Pricefalls most suitable to sellers with high value products, and large profit margins.
View our directory listing for Pricefalls.
In the current climate Amazon is an integral part of any ecommerce strategy. When things are going your way it’s unbeatable. Your products have great visibility, they’re selling well, the logistics are taken care of, and your business is heading in the right direction.
The waters can become choppy though. So while very few of these marketplaces really rival Amazon, they can provide nice supplementary sales, help you to reach new customers and build a business away from Amazon.
In time, that can be enough to make your business sustainable, even if the worst happens.