Posted 05/03/2021

Your Ultimate Guide to Marketplaces in South Africa

Your Ultimate Guide to Marketplaces in South Africa

In the last year we have seen a rise in the number of online marketplaces. While marketplaces have been around for some years, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought online solutions to the forefront.  

Why are marketplaces booming right now? 

According to Shopery Insights 60% of sales already happen through marketplaces and some of the most successful companies operate on this business model. 

The Covid-19 crisis and unexpected lockdown also greatly contributed to this as we saw small businesses being unable to trade in person. Many customers resorted to using online stores to make purchases, leaving many brick and mortar small businesses to have to fend for themselves. Marketplaces became the unsung hero that ensured that small businesses were able to have a digital presence and sell their goods and services online. 

What is a marketplace? 

Marketplaces are traditionally platforms that enable buyers and sellers to come together to perform transactions. In the last few years we have seen marketplaces go online, creating an opportunity for vendors to transact with their customers through an ecommerce platform. 

What is an online marketplace? 

An online marketplace, sometimes referred to as an e-marketplace, is an online platform where vendors can list their products and services in order to meet sellers and complete transactions that would otherwise be completed offline.

Who can trade on an online marketplace? 

Any one who sells a particular product or renders a service can sell on a marketplace. It is important to note that there are different types of marketplaces and some may not cater for your product category or service.

Service marketplaces for instance are purely intended for service businesses. For example Serv is a B2B service marketplace. This means only businesses that offer business services such as marketing, accounting, human resource, IT, supply chain and legal are allowed to trade on the platform

Tip: Research the marketplace that you want to join, ensure that they have your product category before enlisting your business. 

What types of marketplaces are available? 

1. Social Media Marketplaces 

Social Media has become an integral part of our lives and offers people greater convenience. In a world where we are all constantly busy, finding a place where you can not only socialize, but also buy essential items is a bonus. Social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram have made it easier for customers to buy online. 


2. B2C Marketplaces 

B2C Marketplaces cater for businesses that operate and deal directly with the end consumer. These are small businesses that offer either a product or a service to the end consumer instead of a business. On these marketplaces customers can find plumbers, hairdressers, cleaning companies, as well as products such as books, bags, clothes, cosmetics and more. 


3. B2B Marketplaces 

B2B Marketplaces have filled the gap that the other marketplaces have not. These marketplaces are helping B2B service providers in the SME sector to connect with B2B service seekers. On B2B Marketplaces you can find services such as Accounting, Human Resource, Web Development and more. 

How do buyers and sellers interact in the marketplace?

This varies depending on the type of marketplace. Below we explore how buyers and sellers interact on a service marketplace like Serv. 


1. The seller (referred to as a Service Provider) lists their business on the marketplace directory. 

2. They highlight their services and wait for service seekers to request a quote. 

3. When a service seeker requests a quote, the service provider receives a notification that there is a lead and will be asked if they would like to purchase the lead.

4. Once the seller purchases the lead they then receive the details of the buyer and can send them a quote directly.



1. Buyers (referred to as Service Seekers) can browse through service providers on a marketplace and request a quote from more than one business.

2. The service seeker will then get contacted by the service provider with a quote

3. If the service seeker accepts the quote, services can then be rendered. 

4. Service seekers have the option to review the service provider on the marketplace, ranking them on the quality of their service. 

How Serv Can Help You 

On the Serv service marketplace, leads or potential customers come to you. Once you have secured your leads all you have to do is convince them to choose your business over your competitors.

Serv gives small B2B businesses a platform to shine and compete with big corporations. Join Serv now for as little as R125 per month and get qualified leads straight to your inbox.

List Your Business on Serv Now!

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