While online selling has been making great contributions to global online retail, multi-vendor marketplace platforms are also becoming more and more popular among online business owners.
When it comes to marketplaces, there are some giants in the game that you may have already heard of. In 2019, the Chinese platform Taobao is the biggest online marketplace based on gross merchandise volume with a GMV of 538 billion US dollars, followed by Tmall and Amazon respectively.
With the help of hundreds of plugins, you can easily convert your eCommerce store to a multi-vendor marketplace or build one from scratch. This is a great option to consider if you want to further promote your products and drive more sales.
The best eCommerce platforms for Multi-Vendor MarketplacesWooCommerce
To help you make a decision, today we will review some of the best multi-vendor marketplace platforms that may help you make an easy start. Let’s begin!
What is a multi-vendor marketplace and why do you need it?
A marketplace is a type of eCommerce website where there are multiple third-party vendors selling their products. Customers can choose different products from different sellers and add them all to a cart during checkout.
Transactions are processed by the administrator and it’s the sellers’ duty to deliver and fulfill orders. Being the marketplace owner, the administrator will earn a commission on every sale by third-party vendors.
A marketplace is a wonderful option as it creates a win-win situation for every party involved. Customers have a lot more choices at competitive prices. In the long run, this helps create loyalty towards your site, thus increasing both sales and overall traffic.
All of the hard work regarding site building or marketing is done by the marketplace owner. Consequently, third-party vendors can cut down on expenses and focus on improving product quality.
Apart from website traffic gains, marketplace owners will earn passive income through commissions and monthly charges.
What should you look for when choosing a platform to build your marketplace?
Identifying the most important attributes of a robust marketplace holds the key to a wise choice of a suitable platform. Here are some basic features to consider before making a decision.
Ease of registration
Registering is the first step when a vendor decides to sell on your marketplace. Having a good first impression can encourage more vendors to come to your site. If they find it hard to register, there is a high chance they will consider other places to sell on.
Separate product listing page and admin panel for each vendor
Even though making your marketplace a unified system is a must, each vendor should have their own distinctive shop page and a certain level of control over what they’re selling. This encourages them to be more competitive and helps bring more traffic via each vendor’s separate promotional plans.
Comments and reviews
As there are multiple options for each type of product, comments and reviews definitely help avoid confusion and decrease time spent on deciding which product to buy. They will also increase trust and satisfaction among customers.
An effective search functionality
This is a vital factor to consider especially when there are a large number of products and vendors on your site. Bad navigation is the last thing you want on a busy marketplace.
To create a multi-vendor marketplace, you need to install a plugin/extension that enables marketplace functionalities to your eCommerce store. Therefore, you have to take into account not only the cost of an eCommerce platform but also plugin/extension’s price.
Many plug-ins don’t offer free trials that have full features. That’s why you have to carefully consider what features meet your needs and whether they’re worth the price.
Now that you’ve got the broader picture, let’s look at some marketplace plug-ins made for the best eCommerce platforms.
What are the best eCommerce platforms for Multi-Vendor Marketplaces?
Why WooCommerce? Simply because one in every 4 eCommerce sites is powered by this platform. It is currently one of the best options to start an online business with.
If you search for multi-vendor plugins for WordPress, the number of results can be overwhelming enough. However, it is safe to say that things can hardly go wrong with Dokan.
With 50.000+ active installations, Dokan is one of the most popular marketplace builders for WooCommerce. Rated 4.3 out of 5 on Capterra, the plugin comes with a wide range of extensions in addition to the core functionality. The most outstanding features include frontend dashboards, sale commission calculations and a vendor rating feedback system.
Opting for Dokan also brings you the benefits of full compatibility with numerous WooCommerce themes. It also supports 17+ languages for further multinational growth.
Apart from the a-bit-lacking-in-features free version, the paid plan starts at $149 per year, extending to $999 with the most popular option at $499. If you’re not quitting anytime sooner than 4 or 5 years (hopefully so), Dokan lets you choose a one-time payment option with appealing discounts.
There are other WooCommerce plugins available that you should take a closer look at. For example, WC Vendors and WCFM Marketplace are also two of the plugins that have an impressive number of active installations.
Just like WooCommerce, Magento is a platform dedicated to eCommerce websites and doesn’t offer built-in multi-vendor features. You can only convert your store to a marketplace by using extensions.
Developed by Webkul, Multi Vendor Marketplace Module is the most popular extension when it comes to building a marketplace on Magento.
The extension lets third-party vendors register with ease via a front-end form. It just takes an approval from the admin for them to sell on your website with their own separate seller profiles. The profile page will display their products and public reviews.
A separate dashboard gives vendors the ability to customize their own page’s appearance, for example logos, images or product collections and so on. It also offers all the fundamental options for product management, wish lists and newsletter subscriptions checking and more.
Additionally, with the extension, you can provide different commission rates to every vendor. This is a great way to give vendors freedom of choice and encouragement to join your site.
The search functionality is decent. It allows customers to sort by category, relevance, price or name.
Starting from $349 per year, the Marketplace module still has excellent value for money since it has already included all the features. Further upgrades include 6 or 12 month support service from the developers, and installation service costs $70.
Even though the price may seem a bit high compared to other options’ starting plans, the number of features that come along with it will definitely satisfy users in the long run.
OpenCart is a free, open-source eCommerce platform. Despite not being at the top in terms of number of users, its flexibility and functionality has been proven over the years. If you decide to build a marketplace on OpenCart or convert your store to one, Multi Vendor / Dropshipper is a good choice.
The sign-up process offers vendors a default account setup where they can configure their commissions, stores, categories and so on.
A secured dashboard for each vendor allows them to manage their sales, products, orders and view statistical charts. The marketplace administrator can manage every product on the marketplace and set up different commission levels to vendors.
Other useful functions include the automated notification emails. It will notify vendors when customers place their products during checkout.
If you or a third-party seller has digital products, the good news is that Multi Vendor/Dropshipper integrates really well with them. This makes creating a marketplace with a range of software, images or music a breeze.
With the price of $159 for the extension, we can say this is rather an affordable option.
The software mainly concentrates on giving you full control over your site and flexibility in configuring monetizing options. A strong admin panel lets you see your site performance easily.
The theme store is quite large with more than 300 pre-made themes that allow real-time editing. Prices may vary a lot, ranging from free to $1,599.
CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has a configurable review system that lets vendors decide to publicly display reviews or not. Besides, a vendor-specific search feature allows customers to navigate to their favorite vendor’s products seamlessly. This makes handling a site with as many as 200+ vendors not much of a problem.
CS-Cart’s advanced vendor payout system makes things a lot easier for administrators to handle payment management. All the money from sales will come to you and then be distributed automatically to respective vendors. The payout system will deduct the commission, which can be set to a flat fee or a percentage of each sale.
Apart from the commissions, you can set different vendor plans which earns you an extra amount of money. Commissions are pre-set for each plan and when vendors register to sell on your site, they just need to pick the most suitable option. There will be no time needed to configure commissions for each vendor manually.
The price starts from $1450 for a lifetime use of the marketplace platform. If you demand more, the Plus plan at $3500 comes with a lot of additional features, and the Ultimate plan at $7500 includes everything!
As an eCommerce platform, Prestashop may be a little outweighed by some other competitors in terms of functionality. But when it comes to marketplaces, it’s a completely different story. A marketplace extension developed by a third-party app maker will ensure maximum dedication and user experience to its users. If you want to convert a Prestashop site to a marketplace, Advanced Multi Vendor Marketplace is here to help.
The extension is from Webkul, the team that made the Multi-Vendor Marketplace module for Magento that we just reviewed earlier. Dedicated to maximum customer satisfaction, the marketplace builder lets viewers of your site navigate to each seller’s shop page where they can rate and review products and contact sellers directly.
With this extension, sellers can get almost all the back-end functionality including Combination, Features, Shipping and so on. On the other hand, this marketplace gives administrators full control over third-party sellers. You can customize how seller details appears and choose whether to enable automatic approval of sellers’ requests.
You can also assign your existing products to a vendor to take care of. This is a helpful function when you can’t handle the heavy workload of managing and selling at the same time. Furthermore, the Prestashop extension also optimizes itself for extra user personalization with the ability to add custom CSS, and a built-in multi language function in case you’re not a native English speaker.
The extension alone costs you $99 a year for all of its features. You can choose to pay more for extra support from the team, or to have it installed at $19.80.
Sometimes choosing the right platform to build your marketplace could be a challenge as the number of options available could be overwhelming. If you can’t make up your mind, going for the ones with the most users such as WooCommerce or Magento is a safe way to start your business. The support from such large communities can help you quickly find solutions to most of your problems and learn new skills in no time.
However, rushing head first into a majority of people’s choice is not always a wise decision. Since different people have different needs and goals, you should always specify what you expect from a marketplace platform in the long run so as to avoid later frustrations.
In case you’ve decided to go for one of the options above but it’s not the platform you built your current store upon, don’t worry! With LitExtension’s help, all of your data including products, customers and orders will be migrated to your new site. Besides, 301 redirects and SEO URL migration are top-notch additional options if you want to keep your rankings untouched. And if you still need more, our All-in-one service will have you stay away from all the heavy work until your new store is ready to come into operation!
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