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A successful marketplace does more than just connect people and products—it creates the groundwork for a thriving commercial ecosystem. Here we examine each of the key features of marketplace success and provide insight into how they can improve your marketplace’s relationships and margins. We also cover how global marketplaces are capturing the revenue opportunities embedded in international costs like foreign exchange (FX)

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The five core pillars that successful marketplaces share:

What makes a global marketplace successful?

One of the world’s oldest and most foundational business models, marketplaces have driven globalisation for ages. From the brick-and-mortar marketplaces that shaped ancient trade routes to today’s best digital marketplace platforms, a successful marketplace does more than just connect people and products—it creates the groundwork for a thriving commercial ecosystem. 

But a marketplace doesn’t need to service everyone, everywhere, to be successful. While industry giants like Amazon hold a significant global marketplace share, popular homegrown marketplaces in Europe (like Zalando), Asia (like Alibaba), and the Americas (like MercadoLibre) are a testament to the vitality of this business model. 

Here are top global marketplace examples by industry:


Amazon, MercadoLibre, eBay,, Allegro, Zappos, Zalando, H&M, Zara, SHEIN

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Alibaba, IndiaMART, Bukalapak, Rakuten, GitMarket, Acast

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Travel, Trivago, Kayak, AirBnB, Turo

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Italki, Udemy, Preply, FluentU, Coursera

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Gig economy

Upwork, Fiverr, Qwick, Toptal, 99designs, Rev

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Understanding marketplace success metrics

Chief financial officers (CFOs) and other business development executives use various key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure a marketplace’s revenue, economic health, stakeholder confidence, and customer behavior. These might include:

Gross merchandise value (GMV) — The primary reference for global marketplaces measuring overall performance, a marketplace’s GMV represents the total value of goods and services sold through the marketplace.

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Gross payment volume (GPV) — Measures the total value of transactions processed through a marketplace’s payment portal.

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Compound annual growth rate (CAGR) — Shows a marketplace’s growth trajectory.

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Average order volume (AOV) — The average amount of money a customer spends per order within a specific timeframe.

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Return on investment (ROI) — Demonstrates the value a marketplace delivers to stakeholders. ROI can be used to measure the effectiveness of different investments or initiatives, regardless of their scale or complexity.

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Marketplaces can use KPIs to assess opportunities for platform monetisation, like embedding fees or onboarding merchants in a particular sector. They can also use these metrics to assess risks tied to growth initiatives or to follow marketplace growth trends.

Fastest-growing online marketplaces worldwide between 2021 and 2023, by revenue CAGR

Source: Statista

Introducing alternative revenue streams for global marketplaces

Global marketplaces have access to more revenue-building opportunities than local marketplaces. Economic hotspots like China give international marketplaces the means to introduce greater product variety and more competitive pricing. When working with global vendors, marketplaces also have the advantage of working with foreign exchange (FX) fees, which—when leveraged correctly—can introduce new opportunities for monetisation.

Mercado Libre

For instance, South American e-commerce giant MercadoLibre reported a 113% rise in its second-quarter net income for 2023 amid heightened sales and the addition of 8.1 million new users across its operations. 

But it’s not just sales that have led to MercadoLibre’s rise in revenue. The company’s significant second-quarter performance is largely credited to Mercado Pago, MercadoLibre’s comprehensive financial arm. Through Mercado Pago, the company has established its own digital bank, launched credit card services, and offered payment terminals to businesses ranging from small enterprises to larger organizations. 

By offering in-platform financial services to sellers, global marketplaces like MercadoLibre can increase their wallet share and grow their revenue. These embedded services can include owning their own payment ecosystem. Not only does owning their payment ecosystem give global marketplaces more control over how payments to sellers are distributed and structured, it offers the potential for additional revenue streams, such as by establishing custom margins over the wholesale FX rate

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MercadoLibre isn’t the only global marketplace that is moving to expand its payout functionalities. Indonesia’s B2B marketplace, Bukalapak, became one of the first digital companies to be listed on the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) while generating over $230 million USD in 2021. Since this success, Bukalapak has made bold moves, including its acquisition of 11.5% ownership of Allo Bank. The intention behind Bukalapak’s investment is to make funds more readily available to their B2B sellers. This keeps sellers on their platform—and accounts interconnected—making the entire payment ecosystem cheaper and easier to automate.

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Opportunities for marketplace success 

Companies of all sizes and scopes are gravitating toward the community-building power of global marketplaces. Whether you are relatively new to the marketplace landscape (like TikTok) or approaching 30 years of online marketplace expertise (like eBay), today’s global marketplaces have more options to get around pain points like steep international transfer or FX costs than ever before. 

These five pillars of success can help you navigate the trials—and ride the tribulations—of growing an international marketplace.

1. Streamlined onboarding

When a marketplace operates on a global scale like those in the e-commerce, e-learning, and shipping and logistics industries, it’s common for workflows to spill across borders to places where production and labor costs are low. For these businesses, working with merchants, educators, and even seafarers in countries like China, India, and Indonesia is a way to secure one of the most favorable net quality-to-cost ratios in the world. 

Marketplaces often kickstart their expansion efforts when one or more of their regions are experiencing high demand. By inviting new sellers to the platform, marketplaces can introduce exciting new products to their customers and drive up GMV.

While proving the value of international merchants is easy for marketplace shareholders, sourcing and establishing a rapport with sellers can be a time-consuming, resource-intensive process. By removing barriers to entry, advances in digital onboarding can help marketplaces bring on new sellers, introduce new products, and adapt as needed to customer demands.

With PingPong, marketplaces can discover new vendors by connecting with our trusted network of global sellers. Expedite and risk-proof onboarding while strengthening your relationships with international sellers. Offer more attractive payout options to your sellers, and put the money you’ll save on FX fees back in your pocket.

2. Diversity of goods or services

One of the primary factors enticing customers to choose marketplaces over individual vendor websites is the variety of options. As a result, marketplaces with greater product diversity often have a leg up when attracting and retaining customers.

And while marketplace diversity is the goal, it’s not without challenges—especially when it comes to payments. Comprehensive cross-border payments solutions like PingPong help marketplaces diversify by creating opportunities to scale, grow revenue, and promote user satisfaction globally.

Creating a diverse marketplace can refer to several things:

Product categories

Marketplaces aim to provide a wide range of products to cater to different customer needs. That’s why even retail marketplaces operating within a niche—like Zappos, specialized in footwear—don’t limit themselves to a handful of brands or styles. Instead, marketplaces like Zappos connect buyers with a spectrum of shoe types, colors, functionalities, and accessories. By becoming a one-stop-shop within its niche, a marketplace can gain loyalty from a seemingly infinite range of customer segments.

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Services and solutions

Service marketplaces, like international travel and freight marketplaces, also thrive when more options are made readily available to customers. Travel marketplaces like offer diverse destinations, accommodations, and experiences, empowering customers to plan trips to their liking. Similarly, freight marketplaces like Flexport offer diverse shipping containers, vehicles, and payment options to international business customers.

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Regional and global expansion

Economic recessions can pose a threat to marketplaces and their line of business. But even global recessions don’t impact all countries or regions uniformly. By servicing diverse regional and international markets, marketplaces can assure stakeholders that business will be steady even in unsteady times.

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Personalization and customization

Personalization and customization are indispensable when building a satisfying marketplace experience. By offering custom-tailored benefits for sellers—like multi-currency wallets and connected accounts for fee-less payouts—marketplaces can foster growth in merchant wallet share. Features like personalized recommendations for customers and scalable pricing for enterprise buyers are a great way to encourage and promote competitiveness and diversity within your marketplace.

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PingPong benefit: By embedding automated payments into your platform with PingPong’s APIs, your marketplace can batch mass payouts to sellers in different local currencies, expanding the variety of what your marketplace can offer in the process.

3. Up-to-date tech stack

Once in place, legacy processes can feel hard for a marketplace to change, no matter how outdated, expensive, or cluttered with add-ons they are. If marketplace CFOs and CIOs can agree on anything, it's that these cumbersome old technologies have a silent but deadly impact on a marketplace’s bottom line. 

As the marketplace landscape has evolved, cheaper, more unified, and more efficient technologies have come to the foreground. Newer technologies are typically designed to be flexible and scalable, allowing marketplaces to adapt quickly to changing market conditions and customer demands. 

Whether it's handling increased transaction volumes, integrating new payment methods, or handling an increasing number of currencies, a modern tech stack offers the agility marketplaces need to stay competitive. Actively seeking up-to-date technical solutions helps marketplace platforms expedite processes, reduce costs, and stay competitive.

Cross-border payments are a fundamental expense for global marketplaces, but traditional banking channels use expensive, outdated technologies for international transfers.

Creating a connected ecosystem of accounts using PingPong’s API empowers marketplaces to make immediate transfers to sellers within their networks. Our product uses local payment rails, meaning marketplaces can quickly make external payouts to vendors around the world, including China, and do it cheaply.

4. Trust with buyers, sellers, and global partners

Trust is an amplifier of marketplace growth; it accelerates transactions, fuels investment, and attracts desirable buyers and sellers to your platform. Buyers and sellers may not know or trust one another, but that doesn’t matter so long as a trusted intermediary is connecting them.

Trust in a marketplace has to be earned and maintained. Delays to cross-border payments can send ripples through the order fulfillment process, backing up key business functions like shipping, fulfillment, and stocking of merchandise. This can damage your buyer and seller relationships, causing marketplaces to lose their share of a merchant’s time and wallet to a competitor.

No two countries navigate Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations exactly the same. Compliances like these become even more difficult to navigate in nations with tighter banking laws and currency exchange controls, where on-the-ground support is often limited.

International regulations pose a significant logistical challenge for marketplaces transacting with global buyers and sellers. Marketplaces may wait up to five days for a standard SWIFT payment to clear, resulting in missed opportunity costs. In extreme cases, unforeseen circumstances such as a misstep, technical error, or even a political event can cause a global payment to be frozen indefinitely.

To avoid compromising their sellers and the company assets, marketplaces must ensure they have the most reliable cross-border payment platform in place. The broader your coverage for local merchant payouts, the faster your vendors get paid.

With PingPong’s streamlined API, marketplaces can automate payments in batches, and thanks to our global payment network, vendors can trust their payments to arrive as expected.

PingPong's platform is proven to reduce fulfillment disruptions, and our homegrown relationships with international banking partners promote long-term buyer and seller relationships. We can also serve as a PSP of record for global marketplaces and are fully equipped to handle KYC.

5. User-centric innovation

Marketplaces aim to build revenue by maintaining a growing pool of customers and merchants. To accomplish this, marketplaces must be open to user experience (UX) innovations.

Improvements to your marketplace’s digital UX may vary according to the requirements of the niche it serves. B2B marketplaces, for example, may experience the pain point of being a forum where buyers and sellers discover one another but don’t transact. Often, negotiations, terms, and payments are set outside the B2B marketplace’s jurisdiction, with customers only returning when they need to find a new supplier.

By removing barriers to profitability like scattered paper trails, clunky invoice processing, and steep cross-border transaction fees, B2B marketplaces can enhance their data visibility while making their platform stickier for customers.

Set your marketplace up for success: Focus on innovating your product, and leave the global payment setup and processing to us. 

With PingPong’s API, our managed marketplace solution can flex to meet your organization’s unique needs. Own your payment ecosystem. Automatically collect funds, deduct platform fees, route money to seller accounts, and control the timing of singular and mass payouts.