Nowadays every little event is immediately pictured for Instagram and talked about in Twitter, Facebook and personal blogs. One can even say that if there’s not a word about something in the Net that means it doesn’t exist. Everyone searches the Web for any sort of information – about new movies in the cinema around the corner, open hours for a local store, new restaurant menu, fashionable shoes, etc. We’ve also got used to buying online because home shopping is advantageous on every hand – in time, money, effort and comfort, both for store owners and customers.
So, it’s quite reasonable to build a web marketplace together with traditional brick-and-mortar shops. By the way, you can develop a web mall only, without a physical one, at least at the beginning. It will certainly reduce risks and costs – you don’t need your own inventory because you don’t sell final products, like your vendors do. To build a profitable and reliable shopping mall, you need to put yourself in customer’ shoes. What is vital for him in shopping? What are his key priorities? What he’d like to avoid? And don’t forget that in your case ‘customer’ means not only a final user of goods, but also vendors who’ll rent your shopping platform. You should consider the interests of both.
The first and foremost thing is the choice of software for your shopping mall. This platform will be your working instrument for service selling, vendor management, payment processing and marketing. So, it’s goes without saying that it should be comprehensive, user-friendly and safe. It’ll take you time to puzzle out how to use it properly. Be sure the builder has a professional support with 24/7 access, because you’ll certainly get thousands of questions, and all urgent!
Before starting your ecommerce marketplace solutions survey, decide whether you’re looking for packaged or open source software. Keep in mind that software development is a rather time and effort consuming task. Sometimes even tech geeks opt for ready-to-use solutions, because they prefer being engaged in business development and not in never-ending coding, debug and testing. It’s up to you, to prioritize little budget or quick e-mall launch. Whatever your choice, don’t be in a hurry and investigate all possible solutions. Ask other marketplace owners and solution users for references, study ratings and builder forums. Once you make up your mind, go to any of your preferred web shops and simply write down everything you like there – tools, usability, design or other. These will be the items for your list and the target functionality for your own multi vendor store.
On the next step you can serf the web for different selling platforms, popular or not, and compare your feature list with the description of their products. A simple comparison will help you to significantly reduce the number of suitable solutions. Once you’ve done with all this preparation stuff, concentrate on your proper user experience. You’ll need free demo versions of all licensed shopping mall software you’ve chosen during the previous step. 2 or 4 weeks are usually enough to get things straight for each platform.
Software for shopping mallAs for open source marketplace solutions, they look like a construction set – you’ve got some ready-to-use blocks, but it’s you who build he final product according to your proper needs and desires. Nevertheless, there are several key features, real must-have for any successful online marketplace. See below their brief description. The first and most important characteristic of any flourishing web platform is usability. Your prospects and customers have different level of computer literacy. Perhaps, they aren’t experienced PC users, and it’s their first attempt to shop online. Your e-mall should be very intuitive and easy to navigate even for beginners and lamers.
Another big set of features has become nearly inevitable due to recent globalization. Today you can buy anywhere – in China, Europe or Brazil – without visiting a physical shop. Online shopping has facilitated and accelerated globalization, has made goods from all over the world accessible to any buyer in any country. So, consider all this and take advantage of international customers, by adding multi-language version (at least in English, which seems to be an international business language) of your web marketplace. The same goes for multi-currency and credit card types for payments, and shipment options for delivery. Try to do your best to make your online mall accessible to customers all over the world. It won’t cost you much, but can bring great benefits and boost sales.
Visual part of your shopping mall is also of high importance. Preparing clear and high-quality pictures, design patterns and short videos will take you a bit more time and effort, but it’s worth it. Images and photos are the first to draw customer attention, and if they don’t grab the prospect, you’re likely to lose him at the very beginning. Don’t forget about mobile users and people with slow Internet connection. Small previews and brief product descriptions will be highly appreciated by those who pay every Mb of traffic or have low speed Internet. The same goes for a marketplace mobile version – it’s more comfortable for prospects who access the Web from smartphones or tablets.
Nevertheless, the mobile version of your online trading center should offer the same functionality, but for devices with less screen resolution. And, certainly, think of simple marketing tools to help you organize promos, sales and seasonal events. It’s rather simple but always attire customers who’d like to save money. Your management tools are also of high importance. They should be user-friendly but functional, and offer at least the basic instruments for payment processing, vendor management, sales analysis and customer support.
Here’re just several major features for any successful online mall. Visit such web giants like AirBnb or Amazon, and you’re sure to find dozen other interesting and attractive functions. Don’t try to adopt them all at once, otherwise you’ll never start selling. You can use them as a certain guide that shows you the ways for future development.
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