The world we inhabit now is increasingly lived online, in digital spaces and through digital means. Online marketplaces evolved to fill the space between unlimited wants and unlimited provisions, structuring themselves from the bare bones of our new digitized states. There came in the wake of the increasing cultural dominance of the Internet and it’s continuing revolution a recognition that there was more- of everything- to offer (skills, work, information, help) and to take (employees, skilled work, good help) and there just needed a place (or places) facilitate it all. Enter online marketplaces.

The idea is simple. The execution varies. Online marketplaces function much the same as any marketplace or business at any time before it- that connecting people will be beneficial to both the consumer and the provider. It just takes it to entirely new, and bigger, and greater, levels. And that’s where the opportunities for success lie- the need or want, with such a vast selection, no longer becomes bogged down in the minutia of it’s own details. The broadest net doesn’t have to be cast just to catch something, anything, whatever will do. Details are good now. Details can be obtainable- and even more, with the vast platform online marketplaces provide, details can be fulfilled. Specific needs are more easily met with the more people who use your online marketplace. If there’s a network of customers, suppliers, and professionals to be found through an online marketplace, then there are opportunities to be shared, no matter the request.

These needs being met- the needs of freelancers or contractors who have skills to sell and work they want, the needs of potential employers or collaborators who need the skills the contractors offer- comes from the ultimate promise of these online marketplaces- connection. Greater connection with a greater pool of people, any of whom could potentially be exactly what you need. Access to communities you were previously barred from, either through not knowing they exist or being unable to facilitate and foster the relationships necessary.

The prize of it all, of course, is efficiency. If you have a place to search within right from the get-go- well, that’s valuable time not being wasted on chasing leads scattered across the internet, or apps, or yellow pages. The greater the selection, and the ease at which it is accessed, using a cohesive platform through and online marketplace, is invaluable to your chances of compatibility and ultimate success. Find everything you want in one place. Let the platform do the work of bringing your wants and needs and desires together- and you can just point and click.

Online marketplaces bring with them the broader ideals of giving people what they want and need, no matter what skills the solution requires or how unique the specifications are. A platform that functions as a community unto itself becomes an even more valuable asset to any users who would utilize their information. You become both part of- and informed of- the interconnectedness it provides. The full breadth of what’s available- for work, for workers, for skilled jobs- is realized through online marketplaces in a way physical brick and mortar institutions simply can’t provide.

The source of employment for online marketplaces is what’s known as ‘The Gig Economy’- AKA the modern market made up of gig workers operating in and seeking out increasingly less traditional, and more flexible, careers. And variety, of jobs and of choice, is its main feature.

Another economic models that are built from online marketplaces include the Sharing Economy. The Sharing economy is enabled through new technologies and online peer-to-peer and B2B networks that focus on collaboration and the sharing of assets in ways that maximize efficiency and facilitate community.

Despite the differences in names, the gig and sharing economies aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s more often the case that one platform or online marketplace can be made up of multiple economies coexisting on a spectrum with P2P and B2B networks.

Whatever the nuance that comes with a particular name, connecting the workers who inhabit these newer economies, like the gig and sharing economies, with jobs is a major function of online marketplaces. While freelancers and independent contractors can thrive in this new way of work, it’s not just for them anymore- contract companies and big business are finding phenomenal success with this model as well. And contract companies and big businesses have the added bonus of stability along with flexibility.

All sides stand to benefit- the workers, who have a greater say in their careers, which is arguably one of the most important aspects of their lives, and the customers, who have better selections and less restrictions overall- and the opportunity to work with multiple, specialized workers.

The foreseeable future is favorable for online marketplaces and the economic models that are part of them. Industry leaders who recognize the upward swing of these trends and platforms and who utilize them to their fullest potential stand to stay ahead of the game- and at the top of their fields.