Online marketplaces: Business models & types for managing supply and demand

Discover how online marketplaces work with their business models, types, and strategies for effective supply and demand management. Read on for insights and examples.
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Table of Contents

Online marketplaces are quite peculiar beasts of business and require unique approaches to help navigate a marketplace to success.

Marketplaces are in the business of connecting two parties – supply with demand, and they can be classified into different models.

This article explores the primary marketplace types and looks at approaches to manage them effectively. 

Different business model types for online marketplaces

Different types of online marketplaces based on business models:

  1. B2B Marketplace

    What: B2B (Business-to-Business) marketplaces are platforms where businesses can buy and sell goods or services to other businesses.
    There are two types of B2B marketplaces: vertical and horizontal. Vertical marketplaces provide online access to businesses vertically across every segment of a particular industry sector, while horizontal e-marketplaces suggest services in different industries, connecting buyers and sellers across different regions or industries.

    Examples: Etsy Wholesale, ThomasNet, Alibaba,, FoodChain, 3D Hubs, Fiverr, UpWork

  2. B2C Marketplaces

    What: B2C (Business-to-Consumer) marketplaces are platforms where businesses sell their products or services directly to consumers.

    Examples: Amazon, ASOS,, Deliveroo, Farfetch

  3. Hyper Local Marketplaces

    What: Hyper-local marketplaces are platforms that enable buyers and sellers to connect with each other within a specific geographical area or region.

    Examples: JustPark, Gousto, Instacart, TaskRabbit, Zipjet, Streetlife

  4. D2D Marketplaces 

    What: D2D (Direct-to-Door) marketplaces are platforms where consumers can buy and sell products and services directly from other consumers, typically in their local area.

    Examples: Shpock, Depop, Vinted, Olio, Gumtree

  5. C2C Marketplaces

    What: C2C (Consumer-to-Consumer) marketplaces are platforms where individuals buy and sell goods or services directly to other individuals without the involvement of businesses or intermediaries.

    Examples: eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Preloved, VivaStreet

  6. P2P Marketplaces

    What: P2P (Peer-to-Peer) marketplaces are platforms facilitating individuals to buy and sell goods or services directly with each other.

    Example: BorrowMyDoggy, TaskRabbit, BlaBlaCar, Fat Lama, Hubble

  7. C2B Marketplaces

    C2B (Consumer-to-Business) marketplaces are platforms where individual consumers offer products or services to businesses.

    Examples: The Plum Guide, Sooqini, Gekko, TrustedHousesitters, Skillbridge

Marketplace Management

Next, you need to identify how your marketplace is managed. Marketplace management can be broadly categorised into these four approaches:

  1. Unmanaged
  2. Curated (lightly managed)
  3. Fully managed
  4. Decentralised

Unmanaged marketplaces

Unmanaged marketplaces such as Etsy, eBay, and Fiverr, operate mainly as peer-to-peer platforms and do not invest in quality assurance, background checks, or feedback analysis.

Customers largely rely on product reviews to make their purchasing decisions. Craigslist is another example of an unmanaged platform that offers sections for jobs, housing, for sale, items wanted, and discussion forums.

Curated marketplaces

Curated marketplaces, often also referred to as lightly managed marketplaces, such as Uber, Grubhub, and Shutterstock, invest in quality control but not to a great extent.

These platforms guarantee the accuracy of the content and may offer services such as address verification and client services to settle disputes.

Uber verifies drivers’ IDs and bans drivers with consistently poor ratings from using the service, thereby managing interactions between drivers and riders.

Fully managed marketplaces

Fully managed marketplaces, such as Opendoor, Luxe, and thredUP, monitor access to the market, supply, operations, and transactions.

For example, Opendoor can help you sell your property in just a few days by buying it, making repairs if needed, and putting the house on the market.

The company handles the whole process, and the only inspection you have to go through is the one from Opendoor to confirm or adjust your offer.

Decentralised marketplaces

Finally, decentralised marketplaces invest heavily in infrastructure to build reliable solutions for exchanging goods and services.

These platforms rely on the blockchain, a decentralised ledger technology that is confidential for non-participants who have no right to interfere with interactions on the platform.

Decentralised marketplaces are not owned or controlled by any entity, and networks of participants can exist within a blockchain. No one can ban agreements made on these platforms or dictate who is welcome to use them.

Users on decentralised marketplace platforms utilise e-wallets to carry out transactions.

The system employs well-designed smart contracts and incorporates certain aspects of traditional lending practices. 


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