What is a multi-vendor ecommerce website?
Multi-vendor ecommerce website allows sellers to sell products and services through an umbrella website. They pay a small commission fee in order to access a wide range of customers.
Multi-vendor ecommerce websites are commonly known as ‘marketplace websites'. They can be standalone, such as eBay or Etsy, or part of an existing site, such as Amazon Marketplace or ASOS Marketplace.
Marketplace websites are great in many ways. They connect people with what they need and they support smaller businesses. They are an attractive business prospect, as they offer a simple and scalable business model.
However the biggest challenge facing those wishing to set up a marketplace website is simply attracting people. You need to find vendors so that you have a product to offer, and at the same time you need to attract an audience willing to buy them. It's vital that you have a website you can be proud of; one which is customisable to your personal vision, easy to use and mobile-friendly. Price is an important factor to consider, but this website will be the backbone of your business and you should not compromise on quality.
1. Magento Marketplace
Magneto is one of the world’s most popular ecommerce platforms. Their marketplace add-on offers easy solutions for clients. Their huge selection of customisable templates ensures that every website feels truly bespoke. They offer free tax calculations and automated filing, making them the perfect choice for any business owner keen to avoid getting overwhelmed with paperwork.
- Easily customisable templates and code
- Ability to add separate seller/vendor profiles and microsites, ideal for hosting numerous SKUs (Stock Keeping Units)
- Interactive feedback, reviews and star ratings
- Secure ‘contact seller’ forms with captcha protection
- Dynamic dashboards to easily track every purchase
- All currencies and languages supported, allowing your business to scale globally
- Free updates
Magento isn’t the world’s number one commerce platform for nothing. Users love its clean code and resilient structure. It offers a wide range of customisable features and is backed by a reliable support team. All in all, this is a great entry into the online multi-vendor marketplace. The developers have even implemented customer suggestions into Marketplace updates in the past. This helps to ensure that Magento remains as relevant as possible.
There is a one-off download fee of £250 ($340) for Magento Marketplace. You should also note that Magento Marketplace is an extension for the Magento ecommerce platform, which you will need to have already.
IXXO offers a multi-vendor service that is perfect for those looking for a reliable, all-in-one ecommerce solution. Vendors can manage their own stores and offer buyers the choice of an unlimited number of additional vendors and stores. These ‘landlords’ can even offer commission based fees as well as subscription services for using their space.
- Excellent compatibility with Joomla, WordPress etc.. or perfect as a standalone solution
- Well-optimised for mobile, allowing you to connect with a wider audience
- Real-time management of shipping quotes, including UPS and FedEx
- Unlimited drop shipping allows for easy calculation of shipping costs when shipping from multiple warehouses
- Ability to integrate easily with social media and sell directly on Facebook
- Ticket support system ensures customer disputes are resolved quickly
- Compatible with huge array of payment gateways
IXXO customers praise the product’s ease of use and reliability. With lots of customisable options, you can really drill down into the specifics of each transaction and tailor your business to the way you want to work.
Prices vary depending on package size but begin at around £220 ($295) for the most basic option.
3. WordPress Marketplace Ecommerce plugin
This plug-in is designed for WordPress, and is available to buy from The Cart Press. It's a useful solution for those familiar with the popular blogging site and its easy to use features. However, as this platform requires three components it can be a little bit trickier to initially set up than other template-based solutions.
- Wide range of integrated payment options
- Merchants can publish products straight to the marketplace
- Quickly browse products by vendor
- Two modes available: Etsy & Classic
- Easy management and adjustment of commission rates
The consensus among users is that you ‘need time’ to fully understand this plugin and get the most out of it. With its range of functionalities, this is potentially a very powerful tool to transform a WordPress site into your vision.
The Cart Press plugin is free and The Marketplace eCommerce extension plugin is currently selling for £74 ($99).
4. CS-Cart Multi-vendor
CS-Cart’s Multi-Vendor software works with existing CS-Cart sites to provide a range of useful features for multi-vendor ecommerce. CS-Cart is a great choice for ecommerce vendors looking to start a marketplace that can grow quickly, but who want to retain a degree of administrative control over who and what sells through their store.
- Unlimited number of vendor accounts, allowing easy scaling
- Individual admin dashboards for each vendor
- Strong security features offer comprehensive store protection
- Configure shipping method by vendor
- Clean interface makes it easy to manage what is sold in your store
- Easy to track transactions and payouts with the in-depth bookkeeping tool
CS-Cart Multi-Vendor stores offer an easy turnkey solution that works out of the box. They are user friendly and supported by resilient back-end coding and in-depth reporting. With multiple vendor order features for customers, single front-end storefronts and an unlimited amount of vendors, CS Cart Multi-Vendor features everything you could need to set up a marketplace ecommerce site.
Prices start at £290 ($385) per year.
5. Drupal Commerce
Drupal Commerce integrates with Drupal’s own content management system. It offers excellent community engagement features and in-depth reporting. It's a versatile option for vendors who want to grow their brand alongside their business.
- Customise the look and feel of the shopping cart and page themes
- Allows for easy setting up of subscriptions and regular payments
- In-depth and intuitive inventory management
- Wide choice of payment and shipping plugins (inc. PayPal and eWAY)
- Easily track and manage transactions and payments
- Easy to read sales reports
Users have found Drupal Commerce easy to use and have praised the wide choice of customisable options. Integration with Drupal’s CMS system encourages content marketing, which plays a large part in ranking well on Google. This integration also saves time and money as vendors and their teams only need to master one set of tools.
Drupal is free to download. Drupal developers are constantly creating a wide range of free and paid-for additional features.
Sharetribe pride themselves on the simplicity of their software. New businesses can get up and running with minimum fuss. They also offer a 30 day free trial, so you can see if the Sharetribe model will work for you and your business.
- Supports payments from all major cards, as well as paypal
- Advanced payment system supports 90+ countries and 20+ currencies
- Advanced tools for categorising and filtering content, improving user experience
- Every vendor has their own profile page and can turn this into a complete storefront
- Well-optimised for every screen to give a great experience to all users
- Complete control over who can view, buy and sell on your site
Sharetribe users love that the marketplace software is testable if you make any changes. It is also great for companies looking to sell overseas, and is constantly updated to further improve appearance and functionality.
Prices range from around £60 ($79) per month for the most basic option, to around £180 ($239) per month for the most sophisticated package.
If you’re thinking of setting up an ecommerce site, then check out our article on how much a website costs for more info.
If you find the prospect of choosing a software and setting up your own marketplace website a bit daunting, or if you’re keen to get your project up and running ASAP, fill in this short form to compare quotes from trusted web designers.