If lately you have been thinking over the idea of starting your own small business and becoming your proper chief, may be it’s high time to create an online marketplace, which with times may turn into another AliExpress or Feverr. Let’s see how you can manage it, and what is indispensable for anyone looking for a successful startup. First of all, you’ve got to make a choice what kind of a web shop you’ll build – a single vendor (i.e., yourself) or a multi vendor one. If you don’t manufacture any special and unique goods, perhaps, it’s more reasonable and safe to opt for a multi vendor web store, which multiplies your chances to succeed due to numerous products of various sellers.
Popular online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay prove that this business model is highly scalable and applicable nearly in any ecommerce area. To create a multi vendor website from the ground up you’ll certainly need an appropriate IT solution. Don’t try to write your own one, if only you aren’t a magician or a genius – it’ll take you too much time and efforts which you’d better spend on launching and basic tuning of your newly born store. What is really essential and time-consuming, it’s a sound strategy and analysis of best practices in the field. You’ll have to work hard even when you’ve done with these two – unfortunately no shortcuts exist for launching and bringing to success a multi seller web shop.
Before starting any development steps, sit quiet and reflect on 3 points – why, what and how. Why are you willing to build an online marketplace? Is it because you’re deadly tired of working for somebody strange? May be you are eager to save the world, gain billions or create a small but moneymaking side business. Whatever the inner reasons are, articulate your real motivations as far as your strategy depends upon them. Focusing on a small or niche market might be reasonable if you’d like to create a small business just to support your family and eventually several employees. But if your plans are totally different and you’re dreaming of raising money from venture capitalists, focus on huge market.
There’re some key points to follow while looking through multi vendor marketplace platforms available on the market. Try as many solutions as possible, as far as demo versions are free, to make the best choice. It’s necessary to understand how you see your business developing in a year or five, because your solution should grow with it, so it’s better to opt for a scalable program with numerous add-ons that you could pay and use later on. Another important thing is design and usability. Both should be excellent and attractive – your website has got only 3 seconds to make the first impression on the customer. Quick and easy navigation is also one of the major points – alas, modern Internet users are so impatient that they prefer switching to another web store instead of waiting the download of your product page. Be sure your pages open at blazing-fast speed, and that every customer can find any information needed just in several clicks.
Talking about product pages leads us to one more essential feature – the visual support. Colorful and teasing pictures should invite visitors to look through the products and seduce them to buy. Take your time to make really catching photos, and don’t forget about zoom function. In fact, it’s the photos that sell, so they must be perfect and polished. Even fascinating products will lose if presented on fuzzy or faded pictures. Such images won’t interest visitors, and they are unlikely to become your customers. And vice versa, simple goods may be sold pretty well if their presentation is irreproachable. If you’re intended to build an online marketplace, be sure to provide simple and rapid check out. Customers like to order but don’t like to pay, so this procedure should be as quick and easy as possible. Usually comprehensive multi vendor platforms offer each vendor the possibility to choose payment and shipment methods according to the seller’s and buyer’s country.
One of the best multi vendor marketplace solutions
It goes without saying that the scalable solution you choose should allow adding as many vendor accounts as you want, so that your startup e-shop could grow. As far as you’d have a lot of sellers, they should have the possibility to load whatever marketing events they want and whenever they need. Season sales, promos and coupons would certainly add popularity to your online marketplace and increase its traffic, conversion rate and, consequently, sales. If you try to create the best multi vendor marketplace or at least the one like Etsy or Airbnb, you surely won’t ignore such powerful customer loyalty building instruments as social networks and customer support services. Inform your prospects and clients about future events in your marketplace, be available 24h/24h to solve the delivery and other customer problems and complaints. This will help you to retain clients and build their loyal attitude.
Beware of high competition between marketplace businesses. That’s why it’s highly important to find your proper idea and strategy different from those of your rivals. You need neither to run your own inventory, nor to rent shop premises and other brick-and-mortar stuff. Actually, all your actions are completely virtual and due to that so appealing for entrepreneurs. At the very beginning you’ll have to solve this chicken and egg problem: how to draw vendors (and their inventory) if you have got no customers yet, and how invite customers if you haven’t got any sellers (yet).
And the core point is that you need to launch your marketplace and start selling as soon as possible. Doing all the necessary tuning and corrections in practice is easier than thinking them over in theory.