What is a marketplace or e-marketplace?


What is a marketplace or e-marketplace?

Marketplace or e-marketplace is an online digital sales platform that allows users to trade with each others. Sellers offer their products or services to buyers through the platform.

What is the role of the marketplace operator?

The e-marketplace platforms are managed by a marketplace operator (usually a company), which in most cases is not a party to any transaction or disputes between Seller and Buyer. Its main role and responsability is to provide an online venue for buyers and sellers and to make sure the platform is functioning properly.

Why an e-marketplace is different compared to a typical e-commerce?

Certainly its triangular structure. Unlike the classic e-commerce website, where the platform manager is usually also the entity which sells the product or service, in the e-marketplace platforms the platform operator organizes the orderly conduct of transactions, without being part of those, but by providing users (seller and buyer) with the tools to operate.

What role does platform operator play?

Potentially, three different roles, depending on the specific platform.

The role of mere provider of the online platform which provides users with a tools to operate and conclude sales contracts.
The role of supplier of the platform which also sets the general conditions of sale applicable to the relationships between users (seller and buyer);
The manager is also a party of the sales contract. Therefore, it is no longer just a mere provider that facilitates the conclusion of the contract between users of the platform but a party to the online sales contract (the Amazon model, which operates the platform but also sells its own products).

How are digital marketplace platforms regulated at European level?

To date, regulation may differ depending on each State. In recent years we have seen an interest from individual countries, including Italy, to regulate marketplaces . On January 27, 2016, Law Proposal No. 3564 was filed: “Regulation of digital platforms for sharing goods and services and legal provisions for the promotion of the sharing economy” with the aim of increasing transparency, tax equity, fair competition and consumer protection in transactions related to the sharing economy.

However, a European approach to the phenomenon is urgent, along the lines of what has already been provided for consumer protection and protection and electronic commerce.


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