China-based sellers increasingly important

By 2023, sellers from China will make up a GMV share of 28% and 27% on Amazon and eBay, respectively

Sellers from China play a special role in the online marketplace world. The third-party platforms are an ideal way for Chinese producers to sell their products directly to customers in Europe or the U.S. at unbeatable prices. “[…] Chinese factories who made stuff for Walmart and the likes for the past 20 years now realize they have a shot at building a brand themselves and selling directly to the world, without the intermediary… and we are that vehicle”, wrote former senior vice president of Amazon marketplace Sebastian Gunningham already back in 2015. Since then, the role of China-based sellers on international online marketplaces has become more and more important, with more and more new players entering the business. According to Marketplace Pulse, 75% of new sellers on Amazon marketplace in January 2021 were based in China, up from 47% in January 2020 and 41% in 2019. Also GMV-wise, China-based sellers play an increasingly important part for leading online marketplaces:

China-based sellers produce 24% of Amazon GMV_final--1

The world’s biggest marketplace by total GMV Amazon has not only seen constantly increasing total GMV numbers over the past years, the GMV produced by China-based sellers increased particularly strong, making up an ever greater share of Amazon’s total GMV. While in 2017, sellers based in China produced a cumulated GMV of US$48 billion on Amazon, which corresponds to a share of 18% of Amazon’s total 2017 GMV, the share reached 24% or a total of US$164 billion in 2021. The relevance of China-based sellers for Amazon’s total GMV is expected to increase further, to a total GMV of US$238 billion or a share of 28% in total Amazon GMV by 2023. But Amazon is not the only internationally active online marketplace which hosts increasingly successful sellers from China:

China-based sellers produce 24% of Amazon GMV_final--2

In the case of eBay, the situation looks different at first sight, but the trend is comparable to the development on Amazon. eBay’s total GMV has been volatile, with growth and decline years since 2017 and a long-term trend pointing towards stagnation. In other words, a completely different baseline situation than in the case of Amazon. Still – the development of China-based sellers does not differ to the same extent: Although Chinese sellers shared some of eBay’s general GMV ups and downs – for example a decline of 7% from 2020 to 2021 – the GMV share of sellers from China in total eBay GMV is expected to increase from 18% in 2017 to 27% in 2023. These are almost the same percentages as in the case of Amazon. Of course, when looking at the amount of total GMV produced on eBay and Amazon, eBay cannot compete – a possible indication that China-based sellers position themselves broadly across different marketplaces to reach their customers in the western world.

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March 2023

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