Once you decide to become an independent entrepreneur and create your own online selling business, the first and the foremost question that appears in front of you is “What kind of online selling business is better to build – a plain e-shop or a multi vendor online store?” Some start-ups prefer open source platforms because they offer a possibility to create unique design and architecture without spending days and weeks on development from A to Z. It seems to be a good compromise between a packaged solution and writing code from scratch. The second one can be very time, effort and money consuming.

Let’s see what features are essential for any successful multi seller platform like AliExpress or Ebay. It may be a niche store like Etsy, or a multi-category one like Amazon. Whatever path you choose, you’ll need a solid basement – a reliable and scalable multi-vendor system. This golden mine, your online store, will bring you profit only if done right. From the customer’s point of view, the most important things in any e-shop are attractiveness and price. What can draw attention of a prospect? First of all, it’s visual information – photos, previews, videos, neat but restful colors of home page and navigation. It goes without saying that all these should load quickly enough – impatient customers may become sick of waiting and leave your storefront before seeing even the first image or a super promo offer.

As far as you’re going to rent the selling space to numerous vendors, be sure to offer a really well-designed and maintained environment capable to attract clients. That’s why it’s important to study carefully the marketplace solutions providers and choose those who offer hosting and security options. In this case you’ll have all-in-one: the software itself, hosting (web site domain) and security (SSL certificate, its installation and tuning). Your vendors would certainly appreciate a scalable solution that can be used for small (10-50 products) and for middle or large shops (50 products and more). If their business develops well with time (and with a good help of your selling platform) they won’t have to change the storefront. They’ll just load more and more products in their shop.

If you’re eager to create a marketplace website with one of numerous software solutions available today, don’t forget about the most attractive thing in selling – price. It’s the core point for your vendors as for their customers. That means your rent price shouldn’t be very high, and your offer should comprise not only the selling page itself, but also several services:

  • quick, reliable and secured payment processing. Your vendors and theirs customers will leave personal information and banking details on the website, so any transaction, financial or not, should be secured. If your marketplace domain is well-protected by an SSL certificate, the word “Secured” together with a closed lock icon appear in the left-side corner of the browser address bar.
  • numerous design patterns, so that every vendor could choose one according to the nature of products he sells, and personalize his shop.
  • different payment methods, like credit cards (Diners Club, Visa, MasterCard, American Express), cash, bank transfer, cheques or virtual money like PayPal). Be ready to modify them according to vendors’ sales geography – for example, in China or in the USA the most popular payment methods aren’t the same.
  • flexible policy for complaint, return and refund handling. It’s a delicate role as you’ll act as a mediator between vendors and their customers.
Don’t forget to remunerate vendors for their loyalty – promos, new comer/referral offers and bulk subscription can draw new sellers to your storefront and retain the existing ones. A good marketplace software platform should offer a comprehensive admin tool that will help you to gather statistics, analyze and draw conclusions about efficiency of your marketing strategy and of business in general.

Multi vendor online store

Some multi-vendor system providers offer separate plugins to use with their standard shopping cart solution. Unfortunately, such constructions are difficult to maintain and manage, so the easiest (and the most sure) way is to opt for an integral platform developed especially for online marketplaces.

Customers don’t need to visit several e-shops – they choose products from different vendors and add them to the cart in the one single e-market. They pay the order in bulk, and every vendor will receive its part after admin payment processing. When it comes to delivery, the ordered products may be shipped separately according to delivery terms and conditions of each seller. Usually it doesn’t influence the delivery price. Managing an e-store with many vendors isn’t an easy job, so you’ll need some intuitive tools. Such things as payout records and vendor-specific shipment methods can facilitate the task. Don’t forget about moderation as a part of your admin work. Any changes published in vendors’ e-shops, should be previously approved by marketplace admin, that’s you or a hired person.

Another useful tool is sales report. It can be general or individualized for every vendor. An individual report shows whether the vendor sells well and stays on track. General reports provide a store manager with a lot of valuable information: sales volume by season, month, vacation period; sales by product group, vendor, country, city… it’s a powerful analytical tool that allows you to find management deficiencies and set them right. When your marketplace is running already, think about customer loyalty and branding. Perhaps, a unified and recognizable brand will draw more clients – vendors and customers – to your ecommerce store, as well as customer loyalty and partnership programs.

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