Vertical Marketplaces Stand Up to Internet Giants like eBay

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vertical marketplaces

One of the beautiful things about the Internet (from a small business perspective) is that it provides a place where people can offer or find just about any service.

Whether you’re a painter, a DJ, a professional juggler, or simply someone looking for one of the aforementioned professionals, there are plenty of places for you to advertise or find these services. The obvious places come to mind, like the classified-ads-killer Craigslist or the ultra-inexpensive Fiverr.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get noticed on such massively popular marketplaces. Instead, it might be a good idea to focus on your niche.

To take advantage of this, it’s a good idea to check out vertical marketplaces which allow you to hyper target your audience.

What Separates a Vertical Marketplace from a Horizontal Marketplace?

Unlike Craigslist or eBay, which offer a wide variety of goods and services, vertical marketplaces instead focus on a specific area.

There are several advantages to this: you can avoid the madness of a marketplace swimming with unrelated services; having a site dedicated to a specific type of service is likely to have more detailed information for the user; and your product is more likely to stand out and deliver a higher quality conversion rate.

Bessemer Venture Partners used the example of Craiglist’s declining popularity to highlight the fact that vertical marketplaces are on the upswing. BVP produced an infographic identifying some of the emerging private marketplaces that are beginning to batter the old-school directories. It picks out sites such as MindBody (fitness), Lyft (transportation), and GetApp (business services) as examples of businesses that are disrupting the space.

Vertical Marketplaces in Action

Here are some examples of vertical marketplaces that can offer a hyper targeted audience to businesses in a particular sector:

This site caters to the wide world of DJ’ing.

Beatsy provides a clean design that is remarkably straight forward. It places emphasis on where the DJ is located and, more importantly, their starting price. Another cool feature is the option to search for DJs based on the genre of music.

For example, if you’d like to have somebody like Steve Aoki at your company luncheon but can’t afford the real thing, it’s easy enough to locate a DJ that will play his music and possibly emulate his cake throwing style.


Painting has long been advertised via bulletin boards, classified ads, and tearable contact info found on signs posted on telephone poles. Paintzen provides a centralized place to find someone to paint your house.

Although this isn’t a marketplace that’s open to anyone posting their services, Paintzen provides a simple way to find someone to paint your house through a handy user interface.

And although prospective painters can’t post work opportunities on there, Paintzen vouches for their certified painters.

As of now, it’s staying fairly local as Paintzen is only available in New York, New Jersey, San Francisco and Washington D.C.


While Fiverr may be focused on doing short-term jobs for little cash, Workana handles larger projects. These projects could include website design or creating a mobile app.

The way the site works is that somebody creates a project, which opens itself up to people who bid on it. After that, the project creator chooses the person they feel most suitable based on talent, work history, and price.


What began as a simple site for people to sell crafts has turned into a behemoth that’s generated $1.93 billion in user sales and garnered plenty of attention in Silicon Valley.

Etsy truly demonstrates the power of a vertical marketplace: it’s created a space that’s allowed people to become highly successful in distributing their products. Yet despite it’s celebrity status, Etsy is still a site that’s not difficult to join and put items up for sale on.

There have, however, been complaints that Etsy has grown too big, which has caused smaller designers to go unnoticed.

Image: Etsy 1 Comment ▼

Christophe Primault Christophe is the co-founder and CEO at GetApp. GetApp is the largest independent business apps marketplace. Millions of businesses are using GetApp to discover, try and buy business apps (SaaS & Mobile). GetApp is also an important source of lead generation for thousands of business apps companies.

One Reaction
  1. I am loving Etsy. I think going vertical is better because it offers super targeted goods. This will make it easy for people to shop – because they do it in one place.