Popular Italian web retailer ePRICE has announced the official launch of its online marketplace following a short period of testing. 

European merchants have been granted access to a post-Beta version of ePRICE’s e-commerce platform in a move destined to improve two things; product selection and the operator’s presence in Europe. 

The current ePRICE store hosts over 800,000 items spanning across categories such as home accessories, DIY and consumer electronics. That figure could be set to rise further with listings from retailers other than ePRICE, who may use the marketplace as an easy way to expand their own business in Italy.

While the country’s e-commerce sector may not boast the same level of spend as others on the continent, it still generated a total of €24.2 billion in 2014, according to market researcher Casaleggio Associati.

Branching out

The ePRICE marketplace is being launched through technology from Mirakl, which has built selling systems for online beauty store The Beautyst, consumer electronics firm Darty and chain store Nature & Decouvertes, all of whom are based in the tech provider’s home nation of France.

Mirakl’s latest client in ePRICE hopes that moving into marketplace territory will assist its ability to offer products in ‘secondary categories’ such as home improvement and toys. 
With an eye on the main players, Raul Stella, ePRICE’s CEO, says a marketplace is still one of the best ways for a retailer like his to expand.    

“An online marketplace is a growth accelerator for ePRICE in a high-potential and competitive market,” he commented. 

“By significantly increasing our product range and offering the best possible price to consumers, we will be able to improve the overall customer experience and also help us to further accelerate our growth in the Italian market.” 

Competition ramps up

With Amazon and eBay now asserting their dominance in Europe, adjusting to selling via a marketplace won’t be plain sailing for ePRICE.

Mintel reported back in 2013 that sales of products within Amazon accounted for 9.8% of all goods sold online in the continent. Germany’s Otto, its next closest rival, saw its share drop to 3.9% from 3.3% in the year before.  

Amazon is particularly strong in one of ePRICE’s major points of focus – electronics, where the marketplace reported sales of €45 million in 2013 following year-on-year growth of 14%.

Adding to the mix is competition from German fashion retailer Zalando, which in Q1 of this year recorded ‘larger-than-expected’ sales growth of 27-29% to hit an estimated figure of €635-648 million.