Image: Adobe Stock | Focus on Europe

Marketplaces are The New Countries – A Look at eBay

As eCommerce democratizes (a buzz tech word for “make available to everyone”) small businesses to sell globally, marketplaces are taking the lead to establish powerful ecosystems. Often the companies individually provide global trade opportunities that rival or exceed all domestic eCommerce opportunities in the world’s largest economies.

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Even borrowing money is cheaper for Marketplaces than for some governments.

`Image: CC BY-SA 3.0 Nick Youngson
Image: CC BY-SA 3.0 Nick Youngson

Just last week, a story in Business Insider discussed how Amazon issued bonds to finance the Whole Foods purchase that was below the interest rates paid by China, Chile, Greece, Mexico, and Russia. The money was so cheap that it was better for Amazon to finance it even so it had the cash on hand!

When it comes to Marketplaces, there is often a lot of talk about Amazon. But let’s not slide eBay on this one, they are a major player, and on its platform, sellers do not compete with the platform owner.


In 2017, eBay to date has 169 million users, and that number is rising. Compare that to the population of these countries:

  • Germany, 81.7 million
  • France, 66.5 million
  • The United Kingdom, 65.1 million
  • Italy, 60.7 million
  • Spain, 46.4 million

For 2016, eBay enabled $84 billion in global GMV (Gross Merchandise Value). That is the value of the total Dollar sales value on eBay. Again, let’s compare this to B2C eCommerce sales in these five countries (2015 statistics):

  • Germany, $66 billion
  • France, $72 billion
  • The United Kingdom, $73 billion
  • Italy, $18 billion
  • Spain, $20 billion

In the United States, for 2016, eBay reported $34.58 billion in GMV. That means all the other eBay marketplaces (or regions) contributed about $50 billion to the global GMV.


eBay’s growth in Europe has been substantial. In 2016, almost 2,000 sellers sold over £1 million or €1 million in merchandise each.

What makes these numbers important is that Europeans are generally not thought of as enterprising as Americans when it comes to starting a business. But that tide is changing and eBay’s largest seller today is U.K. company MusicMagpie with an annual turnover of over £100 million.

Image: Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Image: Markus Spiske on Unsplash


With all the global opportunity that eBay brings to the table, if one reads through the community forums on eBay, one would think that eBay 20+ years ago was the millionaire maker for U.S. small businesses.

Too many sellers seem hung up on the past and complain about improvements that were long overdue to be competitive in global eCommerce.

Even global shipping is still not as common from U.S. listings. Again, lots of fears about losing product in customs or dealing with people in foreign languages.

eBay’s European sellers are embracing eBay more. The numbers show it.


If you are an eBay seller, eBay’s global reach is larger than most countries. While not an entirely accurate comparison, but eBay’s GMV would rank the company as the 67th largest economy in the world.

As more people around the globe look at eBay, and other marketplaces, to sell goods and services, the competition will grow.

Those sellers that are on the platforms today have a huge advantage. But it seems too many are more concerned about complaining about Pennies than building their businesses to make Dollars.

We love to hear your thoughts about eBay and Marketplace growth. Are you taking advantage of the opportunities? Let us know in the comments section below.

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