5 Best eCommerce Platforms for Multi-Vendor Marketplaces

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Ever since the websites such as ThemeForest and Etsy have proven to be a massive success the popularity of multi-vendor eCommerce marketplaces that sell both digital and physical products has been on the rise. The reason is quite simple – it is an incredibly easy way to host third-party vendors, making customers happy because they are enabled to choose between a wide selection of products while you get the commision from other vendors. Sounds like a marriage made in heaven, right? Well, for this one you’ll also have to spend some time looking for a perfect wedding ring, or, in this case – a perfect platform.

The basic idea behind this multi-vendor concept is that you have one shopping cart through which customers can process various products from different companies or designers in a certain niche, and the payments are divided among the vendors. Since we live in an age where time has become a luxury it’s no surprise that multi-vendor marketplaces have become gold mines. But in order to extract that gold, you need to build your supportive beams right.  Some of the most popular eCommerce platforms such as Squarespace and Shopify won’t provide you with the multi-vendor interfaces, so you’ll need to conduct a bit of a research in order to find a specialized software that will enable you to run one effectively. We’ve put together a list of best offers out there to help you find the perfect way to your eCommerce future.

The Essentials

Before we start the countdown let’s take a look at the essential features which make a quality multi-vendor marketplace:

  • Open invitation

The process of registration and listing for third-party vendors must be an easy and quick one. If they find it difficult and frustrating to list their products they’ll go to the competition without hesitation. Don’t forget to supply them with their own profile page where they’ll showcase these listings.

  • Navigation

A quality search is essential for any eCommerce, but in the case of multi-vendor marketplaces, the importance of this feature is doubled.  Working with a lot of third-party vendors can create a vast sea of products that need to be navigated properly.

  • Feedback

One of the most important things for every seller is the user reviews because they are the foundation stone of their reputation.  Since you’ll be working with a large number of sellers you need to make sure the customers will be able to easily review their products.

  • Secured bucks

As the owner, you’ll generate revenue through a commission. It is important to make sure your platform allows this, but also that the process of handling payments is simple so you won’t lose track of the money.

Besides these essentials, you need to be aware that marketplaces are often limited to physical or digital products, so you’ll need to pick an option that best fits your goals.

Now, let’s meet the contestants.

1. The Shape-shifter of Creativity

If you want a full creative freedom over your multi vendor marketplace than Omnymart is probably your best pick. Its customizable designs will break all the constraints that others out-of-the-box designs and themes burden you with, allowing you to bring your own.  That doesn’t mean you will have to do all the work – this platform will manage your infrastructure and technology, allowing you to focus on your business growth. And the growth it will be since its open API teamed with the legendary connectivity of Magento will enable unrestrained communication between your marketplace and any other online platform for enterprise data integration. But what really opens the gate to your creativity is its unique set of features that will enable you to offer both, physical products and services.  Beside fixed-price services, there is also an option for appointment booking and vendors could even run events on your marketplace.

2. The Digital Devourer

If you have chosen to deal with strictly digital products and you plan to go huge, then the popular WordPress theme called Marketify is the thing you’re looking for since it integrates tightly with Easy Digital Downloads, creating a perfect multi-vendor marketplace for digital products. Despite its healthy digital download appetite, the familiar WordPress interface makes it easy to use and the price is more than affordable. Although it runs on WordPress, vendors won’t be forced to use its generic dashboard since they are allowed to submit their listings from the front-end after they’ve gone through a very simple registration. They’ll get their own profile page including a short biography and user navigation is a simple keyword search that leads them to products sorted by date and category. This already great functionality can be additionally extended with Search & Filter Pro.

3. The Expandable

Another way to use the simplicity of WordPress is to team it up with WooCommerce. Then all you have to do in order to create a multi-vendor marketplace is to add one of the plugins, and the best one is certainly WC Vendors Pro since it has both free and premium versions and it’s well supported. This powerful combo for both digital and physical products has its greatest advantage in the fact that you can use a huge number of extensions and support, making it highly expendable and it significantly improves search functionality. Adding products is slightly more user-friendly, while vendors can have reviews, social accounts, and logo on their profile page. They have an option of reviewing individual products and these are then aggregated into one overall ‛store rating’ on the store profile page, giving a nice snapshot of a vendor.

4. The Instant Supplier

If you’re looking to develop a business that is focused more on customers’ instant needs than on a wide range of constant offers, Sharetribe is a platform tailored for that.  Its focus is more on creating peer-to-peer marketplaces than the ones with organized storefronts. This makes the interface quite slick, but not suitable for uploading a large number of products. This restriction in quantity doesn’t mean there’s a restriction in variety – products, services, or rentals are all an option. Seller’s profile pages are more individual and keyword search can be filtered by category, price, and tags. In spite of this individuality, users can leave feedback other shoppers can see. This way of business allows you to set minimum fixed fee, percentage, or both, and the best part is that you don’t need to be involved actively in any part of the payment process.

5. The Secure Searcher

If precision and security are the most important qualities you want for your business and you’re ready to spend some extra buck for them, then the feature-rich multi-vendor edition of CS-Cart is right down your alley. Through a very neat dashboard panel sellers can easily manage and search all of their stock and products. Its default search functionality that allows customers to filter and sort by a variety of options is definitely the best one out there. But the biggest gem of this platform lies in a search option ‛only that vendor’ on each vendor’s profile page. While customers can only review individual products, you can choose to enable or disable them globally. You’re allowed to set the commission rate for individual sellers, either flat fees or percentages. And when customers pay the money goes directly to you so you can distribute it directly according to the commision structure. Because of the fact that this software allows you to run the site off of your own server, the security is top-notch and the complete control over the content and maintenance procedures is in your hands. Maybe the only flaw is the lack of an option to mark a product as ‛digital’, so your business should be restricted to physical products.

As you could notice, every platform listed above has some particular advantage of its own, but also some restrictions that go with it. Are you in for the digital or physical? Do you prefer a wide range or an instant supply? What is more important to you – top-notch organization or creative freedom? The variety is there, so take your pick.

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