eCommerce is any online business. An online business can be different: a regular website or a marketplace.
The difference between these two types is the number of sellers on a particular platform. A common website is characterized by only one contributor while on the marketplace platform there are two or more vendors. That is why marketplace platforms are often referred to as a multi-vendor marketplace.
This article is about how to build a multi-vendor marketplace successfully. We provide a detailed ready-to-use plan in this article.
How do I create a vendor website?
There are several important steps to build a multi vendor marketplace correctly and reduce risks. We will dwell on each point in detail, and each block will be added with important mini-blocks related to the topic, for example, you can find here blocks on how to find buyers and vendors or what traffic channels to use for a successful marketing strategy.
Step 1: Business idea
Much of your success depends on what business model you choose and what business concept you stick to. At the stage of creating a business idea, you need to study all possible aspects of this issue. It is important to highlight not one but two or three ideas. Do not choose a lot of them so as not to spend too much effort on researching each one. Primary idea is the one you are going to start with first and which seems to you the most relevant. The rest of the ideas are your plan B and plan C. You can always revert to them if the first idea is not as successful as expected. At this stage, it is important to study the appropriate marketing strategies for your business idea. In this matter, you can rely on the shoulders of the big players in the market.
How can I explore a business concept?
- Study competitors’ ways of advertising
- Create a list of traffic channels appropriate for your idea
- Seek advice from a specialist you trust
- Chat with investors
- Talk to business owners
- Find customers of a similar business and interview them
- Study feedback and reviews on your competitors
- Conduct a social survey
- Study statistics
- View information on the forums
- Make several hypotheses based on personal observations
Note: Many people are afraid to communicate with unfamiliar entrepreneurs and investors, but openness to people and collaboration helps both sides develop. To communicate with no limits, you need to come up with win-win conditions, for example, conduct research and share its results with the people you interview.
Step 2 Practical testing
By testing we mean MVP testing. MVP is the Minimum Viable Product. MVP for a marketplace looks like a multi vendor marketplace platform with basic functions like placing goods or services for sellers and placing orders and making purchases for buyers. At first, all orders can be processed manually by you or a manager. To create MVP marketplace, you need any kind of simple software. At this stage, a no-code platform is enough since you can fastly create a beautiful Interface but without a powerful back-end. No-code or low-code platforms are cheap and easy to use, you can create a small sketchy marketplace in a week on them. You need to create a marketplace that would be interesting to people and bring you good revenue at the same time.
- New or rethought old idea
- Simplicity of creation
- Creation speed
- Schematic representation of business
Step 3 Attracting vendors
It is important to decide in advance on your target audience and providers of products or services. Pay attention to the quality of products and the reliability of vendors.
How to find sellers for the marketplace?
There are three main ways to find suppliers for the marketplace:
- Investigation of competitors—some marketplaces mask their suppliers, others note their partner stores. You can contact them by finding them on the Internet or communicating in person.
- Offline research—if you have the opportunity to find reliable partners in your city or in other available places, you can contact through personal contacts or at an offline meeting. Specialized exhibitions, conferences, and forums are good in this type of research. For example, if you are looking for sellers for a farm products marketplace, you can visit a large agricultural forum and look for vendors there.
- Online research—most stores today have online versions. They usually have websites, pages in social networks like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook, or you can find them as sellers on other marketplaces. You can also seek for their public domain and offer cooperation.
Who can supply products to the physical goods marketplace?
- Direct from manufacturers
- Through aggregators from abroad
Step 4 Running ads
Now you have an idea, sellers and an attractive marketplace prototype, you can start running ads. At this stage, the main goal is to attract buyers. You can implement advanced loyalty systems, discounts, and bonuses.
Here you can test the hypothesis that you set at the first stage. In addition to the already familiar advertising techniques that you have peeked at your competitors, you can test several creative advertising ideas that you think are suitable for the specifics of your marketplace.
How do I find popular traffic channels?
- Search engines—this approach includes SEO optimization. It is a complex tool that requires constant monitoring and work on, but you cannot get it out. It includes analytics from search engines like Google or end-to-end analytics about the site.
- Contextual advertising—banner advertising is placed on other websites. For many marketplaces this is a great source of traffic.
- Social networks—there are several techniques within social networks.
- Newsletters—email, messenger, or even paper notifications if your business model and product allows it.
- Messengers is a relatively new but rapidly growing traffic channel. These are not only mass mailings, but also thematic chats, bots, groups, and pages.
- Crowd marketing—it is communication with the target audience mentioning your product. To start contact with the audience, you need to select an article or forum that is relevant to the topic and carefully insert unobtrusive advertising and a link to the product into the context of communication.
- Targeted advertising—it can be placed on social networks such as Facebook or Instagram in the form of posts and stories. This type of advertising has become especially popular in recent years.
- There is also a fairly popular tool—advertising with bloggers when you ask a public person to promote your product or company.
- Giveaway technique—it takes place when an organization sponsors a competition within a social network, supplies goods for a raffle. Participants have to fulfill several conditions aimed at advertising a sponsor.
Step 5 Improvement and optimization
This step can only be considered if all the previous four steps have been successfully completed and brought tangible results. You need to focus on improving the back and front end, automating business processes and customer services.
How do I choose a marketplace software platform?
It is very important to choose a reliable software platform. A good platform should meet five important criteria.
- Great opportunities for growth and development
- Price and payment type
- Good user experience
- Technical support and information resources
- Development oriented
CS-Cart Multi-Vendor is a nice solution for all types of marketplaces. There are a lot of features in add-ons and they are constantly added by new ones. It is an open code software so you can develop your marketplace via adding pure code. There is a one-time payment available so you do not pay for an advanced platform with big payments monthly. Try a free demo version to learn how it looks.
Why should I implement automation systems?
At this stage, it is also very important to move away from manual data processing. Manual labor has many negative aspects:
- Errors due to human factor
- Increase in the number of employees without increasing efficiency
- It is a slowed down work in comparison to automated work
What automation systems exist?
There are some handy and popular systems to automate business processes.
- CRM—Customer Relationship Management—these are special systems for improving customer services. It contains all information about clients in one place.
- CMS—Content Management Systems—they allow for creating and editing content on a website or a marketplace.
- Automated accounting system—these systems allow for controlling documents and money flow.
- Automated storage and retrieval systems—these systems are indispensable for big marketplaces and stores with physical goods since they optimize place usage in warehouses and help to control left-overs.
More details can be found in this article.
Step 6 Scaling
You definitely have heard about Amazon’s development case: it was a book marketplace. It worked exclusively in the United States. When its influence on the market stabilized, CD disks were added to the assortment, and the delivery area gradually began to expand to neighboring countries. Today it is a global marketplace in terms of product categories—there are a lot of products of completely different categories, but it is also a global marketplace in terms of location—delivery works all over the world.
The purpose of the entrepreneur at this stage is to expand the influence and, if necessary, the categories of goods. This step is optional. Many entrepreneurs are satisfied with a local highly specialized marketplace, as it allows them to concentrate on their uniqueness and the quality of the services provided.
You may be interested in reading about highly specialized marketplaces, why they are relevant on the market now and how to choose the right niche and specialization.
What is a multi-vendor marketplace?
It is an online platform which allows for placing products and services for vendors and buying for customers. In comparison with a common website where there is only one vendor, on a marketplace there are several of them that is why it is often called multi vendor.
How do I create a marketplace website?
There are some essential steps: create an idea, find vendors, test MVP, automate business processes, and scale your business. There is more information in the article.
Which platform is best for multi vendor marketplace?
A software platform is very important. You can compare platforms according to opportunities, payment method, price, and information resources.
Multi-vendor benefits for sellers?
Marketplace is an additional customer traffic channel for stores, sellers do not spend money on advertising, and can expand the area of services.
Marketplaces are a profitable and growing business. How to build a multi vendor marketplace and be successful? The answer is to be consistent and confident. Only by doing the work in an appropriate way, can you reach a certain result.