The United Kingdom is the third largest ecommerce market in the world, with online retail sales reaching $131 billion annually, behind only China and the US.
The UK is also one of the most developed markets for ecommerce in the world, with online sales making up 23% of total UK retail sales. This is far ahead of the US, where online retail accounts for only 14% of total sales.
In this article we look at the largest online marketplaces in the UK The first part focuses on the two dominant players, Amazon and eBay, and then we take a look at other major online retailers in the country, including British, global and European marketplaces.
The largest online marketplaces in the UK
|#||Type||Name||Region/Country||Product Category||UK Visits/month|
|3||Etsy||Global||Arts, Crafts & Gifts||36.0M|
|4||Wayfair||North America, Europe||Homewares||24.1M|
|8||notonthehighstreet||UK||Arts, Crafts & Gifts||4.0M|
Amazon and eBay dominate the landscape of online marketplaces favored by UK consumers. Amazon has 407 million visits per month from the UK, and eBay has 298 million. To put that in perspective, the population of the UK is around 67 million.
Taking a closer look at Amazon and eBay, it’s worth noting that eBay’s UK traffic works out as 73% of Amazon’s. This puts eBay in a much stronger competitive position in the UK than in the US, where it has only 34% of Amazon’s traffic.
The next ranked online marketplace in the UK is Etsy, but with 36 million visits per month it is a distant third place behind Amazon and eBay. Homewares site Wayfair comes next, and then the UK’s own OnBuy.
The rest of the UK chart consists of:
- Homewares marketplaces: ManoMano and Houzz.
- Other category specialists: GAME sells video games, consoles and accessories. Zalando sells fashion. AbeBooks sells new, used and rare books.
- Global fashion and collectibles marketplace StockX.
- UK crafts and gifts marketplace notonthehighstreet.
Across the whole list, OnBuy is the only marketplace for general goods that is focused primarily on the UK. While it is good to see a homegrown marketplace on the list, OnBuy has only 2% of Amazon’s UK traffic so is not currently a serious challenger.
Amazon in the UK
|#||Country||Visits/month||% of Total|
Amazon is the most popular online marketplace in the UK, with 407 million visits per month. This places the UK third for Amazon globally, behind the US and Japan. Amazon’s global gross merchandise volume (GMV) is estimated at $490 billion.
Selling on Amazon UK works in the same way as selling on other Amazon marketplaces, but there is no global account system. There are, however, two “unified account” systems – one for Europe and one for North America – enabling businesses to sell across multiple countries within those regions from one account, but not between the two regions.
In the US, Amazon is often perceived as the only online marketplace that is worth selling on. In the UK, however, Amazon is often seen as one strand of a multi-channel strategy. This is partly because eBay is closer to Amazon’s level of popularity in the UK, but also because selling internationally through multiple marketplaces is more common for UK businesses.
Amazon in the UK is sometimes seen as an “untapped opportunity”, but in reality the level of competition is very similar to the US and other countries where Amazon is a dominant force. There are large numbers of Chinese brands selling directly to consumers, and private labeling by businesses in the UK and worldwide is very much in evidence.
Most of Amazon’s services and programs that exist in the US also exist in the UK, including FBA, Seller Fulfilled Prime and most advertising options. Amazon has a number of European fulfillment programs but the UK sits outside these since Brexit went into effect at the beginning of 2021.
Prime is just as important to customers in the UK as in the US, and free one-day delivery has long been the standard for Prime in the UK. Other UK marketplaces, including eBay, generally allow (or at least tolerate) sellers using FBA to fulfill orders on their marketplaces.
eBay in the UK
|#||Country||Visits/month||% of Total|
eBay is the second-most popular online marketplace in the UK, with just under 298 million visits per month. This places the UK second for eBay globally, behind the US and ahead of Germany. eBay’s global gross merchandise volume (GMV) is reported as $100 billion, making UK GMV approximately $18 billion, based on traffic levels.
Selling on eBay is the same in every country, as eBay has a global account system. However, listings are specific to each eBay site and do not automatically show in the standard search results across all global marketplaces.
Sellers have a few options for selling internationally, from simply setting international shipping rates and using eBay’s Global Shipping Program, to creating individual localized listings for each eBay marketplace and arranging their own shipping. An optional paid upgrade called international site visibility, available in the US, UK and Canada, helps listings on one of those eBay sites show in search results on the others.
eBay has much the same brand image in the UK as in the US and elsewhere: an online flea-market mainly consisting of used products sold via auction by individuals. Although that type of trade still takes place on eBay, most transactions are now for fixed-price new products sold by businesses and other professional sellers. eBay buyers tend towards a bargain-hunting mentality in the UK, as they do in other countries.
While it is common for sellers to dismiss eBay entirely in the US, it’s worth taking more seriously in the UK due to its stronger competitive position. eBay can offer an easier way to experiment with selling to the UK market, so may be worth considering before Amazon for international sellers looking to expand.
Homegrown online marketplaces popular in the UK
The UK does not have a particularly strong line-up of British marketplace businesses, compared to the global players that dominate marketplace ecommerce in the country. However, there are some interesting niche sites with distinctive brands and growing traffic.
notonthehighstreet is a marketplace for crafts and gifts, hosting 5,000 small British businesses. 86% of notonthehighstreet’s traffic comes from the UK. Only UK-based businesses can sell on the site, but international sellers may be admitted in the future.
GAME has hundreds of third-party sellers on its marketplace for video games, consumer electronics, PCs, phones, and accessories. International sellers are allowed, subject to additional security checks. 85% of GAME’s traffic comes from the UK.
OnBuy is a UK-based platform that sells a range of new products in hundreds of categories. It positions itself as a British alternative to Amazon. OnBuy does allow sellers from outside the UK to apply to sell on the marketplace.
Other marketplaces popular in the UK
Seven global marketplaces feature on the list of the UK’s top online marketplaces, including Amazon and eBay. A further two are European businesses.
Etsy is the world’s most successful niche marketplace, focusing on handmade goods and supplies for craftspeople. As a global marketplace, selling on Etsy in the UK is just a case of setting your international shipping rates. The UK is the second largest country for Etsy, providing 9% of its global traffic, but still far less than the US with 61%.
Wayfair is one of the world’s largest online sellers of home goods and furniture, and the fourth largest marketplace in the UK, attracting just over 24 million monthly visitors. Wayfair’s UK traffic (13% of global visits) is second behind only the US (68%).
ManoMano sells DIY, home improvement, and garden products throughout Europe. Its top three traffic sources are France (45%), Italy (21%), and Spain (13%). The UK accounts for 9% of ManoMano’s traffic, which is almost five million visits per month. ManoMano only works with sellers that can meet their quality, reliability and delivery service standards.
Zalando carries almost 2,000 brands in fashion and shoes. It’s a cross-European retailer and marketplace, with more than ten million visits per month from Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands and Poland. Sellers must support shipping via Hermes, and pass an application process. Only 3% of Zalando’s traffic is from the UK, amounting to four million visits per month.
StockX is an online marketplace for hot fashion items such as sneakers and streetwear, along with trading cards and other collectibles. It is modeled after stock market trading with buyers and sellers setting prices independently and trades being made when an acceptable price is found for both parties. StockX has sellers from all over the world and gets 6% of its traffic from the UK.
AbeBooks, owned by Amazon, gets 17% of its traffic from the UK. It is a global marketplace with a single seller account system. Sellers are required to ship internationally but can set their own shipping rates. AbeBooks sells new books, rare books, textbooks, art, photographs, maps, comics and other paper collectibles.
Houzz is an international marketplace selling furniture, home goods, and professional services in 15 countries. Only 5% of Houzz’s traffic is from the UK. The US brings in 62% of Houzz’s traffic.
About the data
This article covers 12 online marketplaces (either pure-play marketplaces or retailers with a third-party marketplace) with more than one million monthly visits from the UK, based on data from SimilarWeb. A global list of online marketplaces, based on the same data, is available in The World’s Top Online Marketplaces.
We have excluded online retailers whose online marketplace forms a very small part of their overall business (such as ASOS), as well as marketplaces with a consumer-to-consumer model (such as Shpock and Depop), and marketplaces with a very narrow product niche (such as Bandcamp).