July 5, 2015
Building your own website and e-commerce store is challenging enough, but establishing an authoritative online marketplace in which other vendors and retailers can sell their products is even more difficult. When you run your own online store, you’re free to manage the site as you see fit, and your primary goal is to satisfy your site visitors and customers.
However, when you’re building a platform for other vendors to host their e-stores on, you have to continually consider the needs and preferences of other retailers. At this point, your focus switches to appealing to the site’s users (the vendors themselves). The following five tips should start you on the path to building an impressive online marketplace:
1. Take Your Vendors’ Feedback Seriously
When you’re running a digital marketplace it is important to remember that the opinions of your vendors are just as important as the opinions of your site visitors and customers. Pay attention to complaints and requests sent to you by your vendors and be sure to provide a consistently reliable method of communication between vendors and site administrators.
2. Use Multi-Vendor Scripts and Plugins in Your CMS
If you use a content management system to maintain your site, it would be a good idea to explore plugins, extensions, and scripts that will make it easier for third-party vendors to set up their storefronts in your online marketplace. There are two main routes you can take in this regard – hire programmers to create a bespoke solution, or settle for a ready-to-go e-commerce CMS like Magento, which would be less costly than a bespoke platform yet still provide plenty of flexibility. There’s even a multi-vendor script that will give your marketplace the functionality of high ranking e-commerce sites like Etsy. However, if you do not have a lot of knowledge, you can easily use WordPress since it has some pretty interesting free responsive themes available and so many free plugins to utilize.
3. Include Catalogue Building Tools in the Backend
After joining your marketplace, a vendor should be given all the tools they need to construct an impressive store of their own. A great example of a large online marketplace is eCrater that provides a comprehensive suite of store building tools. Your goal should be to make building a store in your marketplace as easy as adding items to the shopping cart or building a social media profile. Sellers should feel welcomed and appreciated, and the best way to achieve this is to give them all the resources they need to succeed within your marketplace.
4. Waive or Reduce Fees and Commissions
Nothing attracts new vendors more than the prospect of being able to build a new storefront without affecting their bottom line. If you make the signup and store construction process easy enough, and you have the extra incentive of no fees for a limited time only, you’re sure to see an increased number of signups, provided you have the web presence to generate enough attention.
5. Know How to Attract New Vendors
In a regular online store your job is to attract visitors and convert them into customers. When you’re building an online marketplace your main focus should be attracting vendors, who will then take care of attracting visitors and customers for you. Think of it this way – every new vendor who sets up shop in your marketplace is another evangelist for your brand. Most vendors will have storefronts in multiple online marketplaces, and many of them read and comment on popular e-commerce related blogs. Do your research to determine how to best spend your outreach efforts and you’ll be rewarded with a steady flow of new vendors.
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