Can you guess the number of online shoppers in the world? According to Statista, figures are expected to reach over 2.14 billion globally, by 2021.
Nowadays the majority of them prefer to navigate through multi-vendor stores than mere online shops due to the abundance of options and price competitiveness.
If the success of platforms like Airbnb, Alibaba or Amazon has inspired you to build a marketplace website, then you are at the right place!
Surely, turning into another Amazon is hardly a piece of cake. But with ready-made platforms, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You can conveniently rely on a good ecommerce solution like StoreHippo to set up your multi seller business quickly.
This step by step guide is everything you need to know - from ideating and creating your Multi-Seller Business to launching and growing it.
1. Come up with a business idea and a model
From selling gadgets and jewelry to offering cab and salon services, the market is filled with online marketplaces. Broadly, all lucrative niches may be already covered. So you might need to narrow down your focus in a potential segment.
Amazon was a vertical multi-seller model that began by selling books only. Today, it is one of the most successful examples of a horizontal multi vendor model that sells almost everything.
Thus, you will have to build a marketplace website depending upon what you want to sell and what the market needs. You can also take inspiration from other business models like Swiggy and come up with services determined to resolve customer pain points.
2. Validate your idea
In the initial stages of business development, finding the product/ market fit greatly matters. This means being present in a promising market with a product that matches the present demand.
Since every online marketplace idea begins with a hypothesis, it’s probably best to write down your assumptions. Conducting a consumer dip-stick survey to achieve problem/ solution fit is even a better idea!
Make a list of suitable questions that can help you validate your business idea such as;
- Who are your primary, secondary and tertiary customers
- What is the feedback on your product/ service
- What are other similar options in the market
- What will be the future of the products/ services that you are going to host on your portal
Planning makes an important stage when you build a marketplace website. It is at this point that you will define the value proposition for your potential users.
Take Airbnb for example, it solves customers’ problems by helping them save money on expensive hotel rooms. Similarly, with Amazon it is more about getting quick delivery, reasonable pricing and availability of a variety of products.
What is your promise to your customers and how are you going to satisfy them?
Depending upon the answer you get and the type of online marketplace model you select, you will need to have a distribution channel in place. This will help you take into account different aspects like how you will be dealing with inventories, vendor listings along with the establishment of the revenue streams.
From registering a domain name to start accepting customer payments - there are various points where authentic registration is required.
The most important amongst these is the registration to ensure a secured site. Also, SSL certification is something that most vendors will look into when you build a marketplace website.
To attract good vendors and a steady flow of customers, it’s important to have minimum standards of desired certifications including PCI DSS certification for secure customer payments.
Also, if you are selling some delicate products such as fine jewellery then customers would want to validate your certification from an authorised body. In this case, registration plays an even more significant role to build credibility.
5. Find the perfect domain name
Frankly, in the ecommerce world, a lot depends on the type of domain name you select for your business. This is also one of the major milestones when it comes to launching an online marketplace.
Years back, Amazon was named – Cadabra, Inc. But Bezos later realised how difficult it was for people to remember. Also, he wanted something that would justify what the website was selling – like the river Amazon, a broad expanse of almost everything.
Hence, the trick is to try and select a domain name that is short, simple and easy to remember. Also, it’s probably wise to pay a little extra and go for ‘.com’ rather than ‘.in’. This will help the online marketplace to expand at later stages when you want to ship or sell internationally.
6. Select an ecommerce platform
The success of your multi-seller space is quite dependent on the type of platform you choose to create it. Fortunately, ready-made solutions rule out the need to hire a web developer and build it from scratch.
Nowadays, best software options such as StoreHippo can help you create your desired business model in half the cost and time that would otherwise go if you opt for traditional approaches.
StoreHippo is well-recognized in the ecommerce industry to build a marketplace website. It is not only the most reliable, user-friendly and cost-effective way for entrepreneurs to start their multi selling business but also offers several options to customise the website and scale it for growth.
What do you get in a StoreHippo ecommerce platform?
- Support of a trusted industry player
- 360-degree support to design, launch, run and grow your business
- Easy-to-use features to manage the business flow
- Awesome marketing tools to drive traffic
- Secured website with necessary certifications
- 24/7 multi-channel support
7. List vendors and add product pages
Once you are done with the initial formalities of registration and website designing, it is time to list vendors, distributions and the products on your online marketplace.
Most of the ready-made solutions allow you to do this using easy drag-drop features. A good platform such as StoreHippo comes with the promise of handling unlimited vendor listings or products. The easy built up allows you to have;
- Individual vendor accounts and simple registration process
- Unlimited vendor and product listings for a greater variety of choices
- User-friendly dashboards for sellers to help them manage products, inventory, sales and more.
- Approve/reject the vendor products to help admin keep control of the store
- Easy product management on the online marketplace to upload bulk products using CSV
8. Setting up a transparent flow
Considering the complexity of a multi vendor business, more often it is difficult to satisfy customers and vendors at the same time. However, ethical and transparent business processes can easily help you achieve this.
You will need a platform that is integrated with a good shipping aggregator for easy and automated shipments. Along with this, you will also need to ensure that taxes, commissions and customer and vendor payments are in an organised flow.
When you build a marketplace website, make sure to ensure that your software allows;
- Flexible commission flow for vendors depending on their performance or product categories
- Vendor-specific shipping charges and discounts to promote best sellers
- Management of orders and shipments by vendors without any intervention
- Comprehensive vendor ledger for jotting down the payments/receivables for vendors
- Adaptive payment for auto split of customer payments between admin and vendor
- Tax settings provision to give seller control of taxes
StoreHippo provides you the above mentioned features for your online marketplace. Along with this, it also lets shoppers compare different vendors and products and help them analyse, rate and review different sellers to make a good choice.
9. Marketing and Promotion
As an owner, it is your responsibility to attract high-quality distributors as well as good traffic. The cutthroat competition might compel you to design and implement a marketing plan even before you build a marketplace website and start selling.
While you can socialise online and connect with groups of vendors or run ads to attract customers, the support of a good ecommerce platform goes a long way. With a top ecommerce software like StoreHippo you can avail of several tools that help you;
- Create customer-winning product pages for individual seller
- Apply marketing gimmicks like product bundling or upselling and cross-selling
- Generate product and vendor reviews to create long-tail keywords
- Have a powerful blog engine to optimise content and drive organic traffic
- SEO tools to support your content marketing strategy for your online marketplace
- Unified notifications to update customers and vendors via email, browser and push notifications
10. Test the site and go live
During the launch of your online business, every detail counts! Ignoring the need to check and test your site before it is live for customers can throw you in dark.
It’s always better to not rush the launch to avoid time wastage, cost and regrets in the process. Instead, why not allow for contingency time and sign everything off so that you can have a smooth launch?
The best thing to do is opt for a soft go-live of your online marketplace two weeks before the actual go-live. This will allow you to thoroughly check for any glitches or disjointed user-experiences.
For instances such as these during the test time and even after you are live, StoreHippo stands by your side to provide multi-channel support. You can reach out to us via emails, SMSes, live chats, etc. and trust that any technical errors will be resolved quickly.
Let’s build a marketplace website!
By now entrepreneurs have realised that multi vendor businesses have a lot to offer in terms of scalability and growth.
The only real challenge lies in building one the right way. That’s where we come into the picture. Our 14-day trial store seems a perfect idea to take hands on experience of building your multi vendor store step by step.
If you have any further questions, we are ready to help. Reach out to us at …. to get started!