The complete marketplace glossary
Your lexicon to the world of marketplaces.
Marketplace terminology can sometimes feel like a bunch of buzzwords. What exactly are network effects or platform leakage? How about commission and liquidity? Though these terms may seem inaccessible at first, they were coined for an important reason: to explain the concepts, challenges, and opportunities unique to marketplaces. In this glossary, we’ve compiled definitions for the essential terms you need to know to make the most out of the marketplace content and conversations out there.
The basic concepts
A marketplace is an online platform where multiple providers and customers offer and buy products. The marketplace facilitates transactions between these users and creates value for both – the ease of purchase and a large selection of options for the customers and access to demand and revenue for the providers.
Marketplaces can also be called two-sided marketplaces or multivendor marketplaces. The term two-sided marketplace emphasizes the two user groups the marketplace brings together, i.e., the customers and the providers. Multivendor marketplace highlights the difference from single-vendor online stores: instead of just one provider or seller, marketplaces have several.
Liquidity is the probability of providers selling what they offer and customers finding what they are looking for on your marketplace.
Supply and demand
A marketplace has two types of users: supply and demand.
Chicken and egg problem
The chicken and egg problem is one of the unique challenges of marketplaces: how to get customers without many providers and how to get providers with only a few customers.
An admin, or administrator, is the operator of a marketplace. They can be the owner or an employee.
A listing is an entry posted on a marketplace to reach customers or providers.
Network effects are a phenomenon where a product becomes more valuable as the number of its users increases.
Business model terminology
A P2P (peer-to-peer) marketplace is a type of online platform that facilitates transactions between individuals rather than between businesses and consumers.
A B2C (Business-to-Consumer) marketplace is an online platform where businesses sell products or services directly to consumers.
A B2B (Business-to-Business) marketplace is an online platform where businesses sell products or services to other businesses.
Service marketplaces are for providing services. Good examples are Fiverr, Thumbtack, Uber, and Urbansitter.
A product marketplace is an online platform where physical goods are sold and purchased.
A rental marketplace is an online platform where items, properties, or services are rented out rather than sold.
A local marketplace is an online platform that focuses on connecting buyers and sellers within a specific geographic area.
A global marketplace is an online platform that facilitates the buying and selling of goods and services across international borders.
A vertical marketplace is an online platform that specializes in a specific industry, sector, or type of product or service.
A reverse marketplace, also known as a demand-driven marketplace, inverts the traditional marketplace model by focusing on the buyer’s needs first.
A managed marketplace is an online platform that not only connects buyers and sellers but also actively participates in and oversees transactions to ensure quality, reliability, and customer satisfaction.
A curated marketplace is an online platform where the selection of products or services is carefully chosen or "curated" by the platform's team or experts in the field.
Commission or take rate
Commission, also known as take rate or transaction fee, means the percentage or fixed fee a marketplace collects on a transaction.
Market structure concepts
The opposite of fragmentation, concentration means that a large part of a marketplace’s revenue comes from a small number of sellers or buyers.
Commoditization is the process of reducing variation between the services or products offered in a marketplace.
Symmetry on marketplaces refers to how much overlap there is between supply and demand.
User behavior concepts
Matching is the process by which your customers and providers find each other on your marketplace.
A transaction is an exchange of value between a customer and a provider.
Payment service provider / Payment Gateway
A payment service provider or payment gateway is a third-party service provider that facilitates monetary payments on your platform.
Splitting payments means that the customer’s payment is divided among multiple recipients.
Delayed payouts mean that the funds are held and not released to the seller before agreed-upon conditions are met.
Escrow is a financial arrangement where a third party holds and regulates the payment of the funds required for two parties involved in a given transaction.
In a double-blind peer review process, the provider and customer review each other at the end of a transaction but can only see the review they received once they’ve sent a review themselves.
From the basics to marketplace business models and market structures and user behavior to UX concepts, we’ve defined terms that exist to explain the unique nature of marketplaces as businesses.
You can continue learning by diving into Sharetribe’s Marketplace Academy, which has a host of excellent articles designed to guide you through your marketplace journey.
Were you looking for a definition and did not find it? Let us know which term (email@example.com) – we’ll be happy to add it to the glossary! 👋