The holiday season has arrived, and with it has come the yearly surge in retail shopping from Black Friday until the days before Christmas. While the traditional rush into department stores dwindled, online marketplaces saw their sales surge in the fiercely competitive world of holiday shopping. Online platforms have fundamentally changed the way Americans shop for their holiday presents and gifts, and the ones driving it all are the small online sellers who are using those platforms to reach consumers.

The 2023 season is already proving to be a windfall for sellers who use online marketplaces. According to CNBC, Black Friday shopping this year reached an unprecedented record $9.8 billion in sales. Ebay, Etsy, Amazon, and other e-commerce platforms all experienced a huge profit for their merchants. Amazon reported that its independent sellers received over 500 million orders during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, while Shopify announced that its sellers notched $4.1 billion in combined sales on Black Friday. The numbers are clear — independent sellers who have made their livelihoods out of using e-commerce platforms are now a force to be reckoned with in the world of modern, digital shopping.

It should come as no surprise that small online sellers are achieving more success by using online retail marketplaces. Forbes reported in February of this year that 16.4% of retail purchases in 2023 would take place online in the U.S., continuing trends from previous years. Given that almost a fifth of the country’s domestic shopping is taking place online now, it also isn’t no surprise at all that 51% of small-to-medium sized businesses use some combination of online and offline tools to sell their products, according to a study conducted by the Connected Commerce Council in 2022, and out of that number 34% are online-only sellers. In other words, more Americans are using online marketplaces as their preferred means of shopping, meaning more merchants are putting marketplaces to good use.

It’s also very clear as to why the small sellers now dominating online marketplaces are flocking to them in the first place — ease of use. Online platforms have a built-in infrastructure that makes it easy for sellers to set up shop, organize their shipping and logistics matters, and focus on quickly reaching their customers. That’s exactly what allowed online sellers to reach and quickly deliver their goods to the millions of Americans who logged onto their favorite shopping platforms on Black Friday and Cyber Monday late last month to do the first round of their holiday shopping.

Online marketplaces have made it easier than ever to start a small business online, and the 2023 holiday season is proving just how well small businesses can reap the benefits marketplaces offer. Independent online retailers have proven they’re here to stay as a favorite avenue for holiday shopping. This year, remember to visit an online marketplace and help one of the millions of merchants using them to build on that success and continue to help grow a prosperous economy every holiday season.

-Arianna Wilson and Courtney Bedient Special to the Arizona Daily Star