The global e-commerce sales have grown from $1.54 billion in 2015 to $2.84 billion in 2018, which is expected to reach the $5 billion mark by 2021. The resounding success of e-commerce in recent years have made it the most sought after business opportunity by millions of entrepreneurs.
However, with everybody vying to secure a place for themselves in the e-commerce boom, your business needs a differentiating factor and a business model that is primed for long term sustainability and growth. Multi-vendor eCommerce, also known as an online Marketplace, is one such model that has proven itself as a winner in the competitive environment.
What is an Online Marketplace?
To understand an online marketplace you can compare it with a real-world mall. Like customers find many stores selling different products, or may be similar products under one roof in a mall similarly in an online marketplace multiple sellers come together on a website to sell their products or services.
Customers can then visit the
The growing popularity of marketplaces like Amazon,
Flipkart, Alibaba is proof of the success of this model.
How does a Marketplace function?
In this setup, you, as the business owner create a website and allow multiple vendors to register and offer their products or services for sale. There is no need for you to source the products or manage the inventory or bother about the shipping. This is handled by the vendors. You maintain the site and customer support and the rest is taken care by the vendors. And yes, you get a commission for every order placed on your multi-seller e-commerce platform.
The vendors pay commission for every sale to the admin. In turn, do not need to worry about the technicalities of maintaining the site, doing marketing or handling the support. This is all taken care by the marketplace owner which frees the vendors to focus on their business.
The customers like such online selling sites better than a regular web store because they get a variety of products and various vendors also offer competitive pricing which allows them to choose the best vendor on a multi-seller e-commerce platform.
In nutshell, this setup has advantages for all the parties involved as they have lesser things to take care of and better chances of a higher ROI.
How to get started with your own Amazon-like multi-vendor eCommerce website
The marketplace is definitely a promising model and it allows to create your niche in the overcrowded e-commerce sphere. However, if you plan to launch your own marketplace, there are two things that you need to consider;
- Whether you have the
resources and the time to build everything from scratch?
- Are there turnkey solutions
that can accommodate your requirements and enable you to go to market quickly?
Going with option a) would mean that you need to be resource rich and spend a considerable time in the building, testing and launching of your marketplace. This also means that your site can be tested in real-time with large traffic volume only when it goes live. Also, this means there will be iterative cycles of development and testing phases to perfect the system and its flows. Overall, it will be a more tricky scenario and might never be sure about the final outcome.
However, if option b) to launch your multi-vendor eCommerce website is an easier option. This gives you a tested turnkey solution automatically reducing the length of the development cycle and making it faster to start selling. However, before you take the final leap you need to choose the turnkey solution for your marketplace by thoroughly analyzing the supporting platform.
How to choose the E-commerce Platform for your multi-vendor marketplace
To stay ahead of your competition you need to select an e-commerce platform that not only offers the basic features but also primes your business for growth. Initially, the cost is one of the most important considerations for entrepreneurs. But, you need to look beyond that and search a stable and stay-on platform that saves you the pain of migration as your business grows. So you need to consider the platform with due diligence and check it on a list of features that are going to help your business take off and grow.
Here are some must-have features of a multi-seller e-commerce platform;
- Simple and hassle-free vendor management that enables you to focus on business
- Customizable and scalable e-commerce platform that can accommodate changes as per the unique requirements of your business
- Mobile Ready website to tap mobile traffic as m-commerce sales are expected to increase to 45% of total e-commerce spending by 2020
Secureand reliable platform so your customers shop with confidence and keep coming back Beautifulstorefront that engages customers and turns them into buyers
- Simplified search, navigation and product display so that your customers find the desired products easily in no time
- Pricing comparison and ability to compare and choose between multiple vendors easily.
- Simplified accounting so commission setting(fixed, variable or custom) and payouts are done quickly and effortlessly
- Multi-vendor e-commerce features like multilingual, etc that allow you to go to global markets as your business grows
- SEO and social media friendly platform that helps in getting organic as well as paid traffic quickly
- Inbuilt tools for marketing and promotions like running mail campaigns, discounts and promotions etc
- A platform that allows for vendor dashboard so the vendors can easily manage their products and orders
- Inventory management tools and features that give a clear view of existing inventory on the multi-vendor e-commerce marketplace to the business owner or the admin
- Support for notifications(email, SMS, Push) so that the admin, vendors
andcustomers can be kept informed at various stages of an order process
- Support for taxes so that vendors can easily add taxes to products based on their location or products
- Simplified refunds and returns processes that are managed easily even if an order contains products from multiple vendors
- Integrated shipping at discounted rates can be an add-on as it gives better visibility and control to admin and also simplifies order delivery for the vendors
Additional things to check in your multi-seller e-commerce platform
Well, now that we know the requirements that will help you choose a good e-commerce platform we should focus on how to get the marketplace up and running. The ideal condition would be if you get a solution that offers you following along with the above-listed prerequisite features.
- There should be free trial wherein you can explore the platform and check for yourself the claims made by them
- The platform should offer easy pricing options that help you choose the ideal plan for your business.
- The technicalities of launching the site are taken care by the team of the multi-seller e-commerce platform
- The purchase cycle is easy and seamless so you can just make the payment and get started
- The platform is DIY, which means you can make changes and get an intuitive experience of the functionalities and features
- There is good after sales support so that you can get your queries sorted
- If you need you can get customizations done from expert developers from the team of your solution provider, even if you need to pay additionally for such services
Rolling out your multi-vendor e-commerce site made easy
Once you have found a platform that fulfils these requirements you can just pay and get started. Just register your domain name and be the boss of your own marketplace that gives you the opportunity to be a game changer.
Once your site is up and running in a few days with the help of the team of your multi-vendor e-commerce provider you can start adding vendors to your platform that will create a rich
Before allowing the products to be displayed in the marketplace you should go through each vendor’s products list and check if the products are of good quality and if their price and quality are consistent with the market. Checking this will help you earn customer confidence. You should reject the products that do not conform to your standard.
Once you have added multiple sellers to your marketplace start advertising and doing SEO with the inbuilt tools and see the traffic coming to your store. Aided by the great e-commerce boom and a multi-seller e-commerce platform that comes with comprehensive features and 360-degree solutions, it becomes super easy to get started and get selling to the customers who are eager to explore and shop more and more online.
Empowered with the extensive set of features you can launch an online marketplace that has every potential to become successful. All you need is good planning and marketing strategy to scale new heights of success and take your business beyond borders.
Binny Joseph is Vice President - Sales & Alliances at StoreHippo.
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