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Build a Marketplace Website

Today Etsy comprises more than 1 million stores. In 2014 they were “only” 800 thousand. Such amazing development in 2 years means a simple thing – nowadays building an online marketplace is a profitable and promising business idea. The major difference between a marketplace and an online store is in number of sellers – a marketplace is a bulk of independent shops united on one website and under one platform. The marketplace owner provides a ready-to-use platform, acts as a manager and administrator (or hires somebody to do this job for him), distributes payments for paid orders. He also identifies general policies and rules of his marketplace, such as what kind of goods aren’t admitted for sale here. Surely, all these services aren’t free – vendors pay you a definite commission. Visitors walk in the web marketplace, browse shops of different vendors and buy products they like, in as many independent shops as they want to.

So, a digital solution to create and manage all this stuff – that is, a multi vendor shop system – is much more complicated than a simple online shopping cart. Actually, is consists of unlimited number of shopping carts gathered under the same virtual roof. A marketplace owner controls the work and system in general, and every single e-shop manages itself his products, stock, orders, shipment and promos. Everyone who wants to build a marketplace website should consider several key points. The first and the most Important objective is to choose the multi seller ecommerce software that will meet all your expectations – whether it’s price, hosting parameters, product page load speed, usability, required features or admin tools. Don’t forget about ease of use – it’s one of the main reasons vendors stay away from certain web marketplaces. For a person who’s a far-cry from IT, web design and development, a 3-page list of necessary settings may seem a real disaster.

Another essential point is your commission. As a marketplace owner, you’d like to get your bit from every transaction, but you surely don’t want to do it manually. That means you need a reliable instrument to track all sales, count your commission and effectuate automated pay-out to vendors. Today it will take you about 2 weeks to build an e-marketplace from scratch. All you need is the best multi vendor ecommerce platform that will totally correspond to your needs, will be reliable, comprehensive, well-supported, adjustable and scalable. Don’t hurry up at the planning stage, because a correctly counted and realistic business plan is the basement of your future online business. Take your time to think over every little point. A weak basement destroys the whole building, so do your best and arm yourself with patience. Once you’ve got a sound strategy, you can pass to the next stage – realization – which is much more dynamic.

All contemporary multi seller programs have front end submissions that permit vendors to create their own shop and upload their goods. You’ll also need a tool for recommended products and reviews – both are proved powerful marketing instruments that can multiply your sales and draw potential customers. Wish list is another modern feature that has already won much popularity. It helps customers to make presents to others and enables you to get loyal customers.

All successful marketplace platforms like Etsy, Fiverr or Airbnb have an evaluation system – customers give rates to products they buy, write references about them and recommend (or not) others to buy the same thing. Such system can be helpful both for new customers and shop visitors and for you as it provides you a real feedback.

Multi vendor shop system

Another crucial point you’ll have to decide is whether you opt for a commercial system or prefer open source ecommerce marketplace software. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and it’s better to learn all of them beforehand. Weigh all pros and cons before choosing a commercial out-of-the-box solution. Once you buy it you won’t be able to change the package content, just buy some extra add-ons or change for an extended package. If you consider yourself a strong coder and are ready to dive into HTML codes for hours and spend days on developers’ forums trying to find the answer to your specific questions, may be, open source solution is just for you. Its code is open for modification, and everyone can use or change it according to his needs. Some open source systems have a team of full-time developers and after-sale technical support. These people are able to answer all your technical questions about the code, system tuning and possible bugs. This support is surely payable but it’s worth the cost. Such systems are the best choice if you prefer open code.

Whatever is your choice, try as many multi vendor shop systems as you can. Firstly, it’ll help you to get a clearer vision of your ideal marketplace system, and secondly, numerous free trials will give you small but indispensable experience in tuning, use and navigation. You’ll get an idea of which features and tools are easy to use and which aren’t – briefly speaking, you’ll get hand in it a bit. Once you’ve studied best practices and have decided on a definite solution, go ahead without trying to get every little thing perfect. Inform potential vendors about a new web marketplace coming soon – through social networks, local mass media, online adverts and direct mailing. At the beginning you won’t have many sellers, but that’s even better – these early birds will serve you as guinea pigs and will help you to get acquainted with technical and admin parts of this new business project.

A lot of ups and downs are waiting for you on this thorny way, but don’t let them get you down. As far as you’ve got a sound strategy and enough energy, perhaps you’ll succeed in building – you never know - another AliExpress or Amazon.

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