The global online retail sales touched $4.9 trillion in 2021 and are expected to reach $7.4 trillion by 2025, exhibiting a mammoth, 50 percent year-on-year growth, as per the data published by Statista. Another data point, published by Digital Commerce 360, shows that the world’s top online multivendor marketplaces sold goods worth $3.23 trillion in 2021. These statistics indicate why more and more entrepreneurs are going online with their businesses and that too on single platforms. The reasons are understandable: to scale up and make more money, they are looking to set up online multivendor marketplaces.
Online multivendor marketplaces are gaining popularity for many other reasons. There is a surge in demand for online shopping over the past few years. So, retailers are looking to sell their products/services online. Suppliers’ dynamic selling of in-demand products/services to their customers is another big factor. Now, what is a multivendor marketplace? And how is it different from an e-commerce website or online store?
See box: What is a multivendor marketplace software?
What is multivendor marketplace software?
A multivendor marketplace software is a web program. It is a turnkey solution designed to create online marketplaces. So multiple sellers can list and sell products/services. The platform offers all the basic e-commerce functionalities. And vital add-ons to manage marketplace operations. A multivendor e-commerce solution saves you the marketplace development time, hassle, and money. So, you can focus on your core activities of marketing, branding, etc.
Multivendor marketplaces vs e-commerce sites
An online multivendor or multi-seller marketplace is like a shopping mall. This platform lets many independent vendors sell their products from its single storefront. It provides shoppers with a huge range of product choices. And gives sellers reach to a large base of potential customers.
An e-commerce website or store serves a single vendor. Who wants to sell their products/services to own-targeted customers only. So, you create a single-vendor e-commerce site to sell your products only. And all the responsibilities from sourcing, promoting, storing, and distributing products to collecting payments are yours. Such a standalone store can offer only a limited collection of products/services.
All online marketplaces are e-commerce platforms. But all e-commerce sites aren’t marketplaces. Let’s dive deeper into the differences between an e-commerce site and a multivendor marketplace. These can be in aspects such as scalability, growth potential, risks, costs, and more.
• For the buyer: The 'single seller—multiple buyers' e-commerce storefront enables easy rationalization of operations. Orders with a single supplier involve less administrative and other costs. A multivendor marketplace also has an advantage. That's of supply-side competition of product qualities, options, and prices. And if a seller fails, another will come up to meet the demand.
• For the seller: A multi-shop marketplace presents vendors with a cost-effective foray into online B2C or B2B business. And the opportunity to reach new markets and customers. It rids the owner-entrepreneur of the hassles and costs of the development of an e-commerce site. But fees may discourage suppliers to form a prolonged partnership with the marketplace. Besides, their products always face competition, sometimes forcing price cuts to entice buyers.
• For the owner:
(1) Financial risk — A multivendor marketplace is financially less risky. Because it enables diversification of the product basket. Also, there is no need to invest in inventory.
(2) Supervision — In a multivendor marketplace, overseeing the quality of products sold and the authenticity of transactions is difficult. A right vetting process, however, can help cut the risk of managing a deceitful partner.
(3) Product choices — With many suppliers, a multi-seller marketplace gives customers a wide range of choices. E-commerce sites have limitations in this regard.
(4) Traffic — Vendors on your multi-store marketplace prove great traffic drivers. On a single-vendor e-commerce store, getting traffic is challenging as you need to do everything yourself.
(5) Pricing — As the owner of an e-commerce site, pricing is a double-edged sword. To entice buyers, you sometimes cut prices. But you can't do that below a threshold. There's the risk of losing customers. As the host of a multivendor marketplace, you need not rack your brain over saleable prices or product alternatives.
Benefits of multivendor marketplaces
• For vendors:
- Cost-savings related to marketplace development, marketing, etc
- Hassle-free management of inventory, orders, etc
- A huge worldwide audience
• For customers:
- A list of limitless product options 24x7x365
- Incentives such as offers and discounts
- Great shopping experience because of many factors
• For owner/host:
- Multiple revenue streams
- A large customer base across borders with a huge product collection
- Focus on presence and business expansion with no everyday activities
Other features of a multivendor marketplace
- Parties: In an e-commerce store, there are two parties — the single seller and many buyers. A multivendor marketplace serves three participants — the owner, sellers, and customers.
- Risks: The owner of a multivendor marketplace has some risks — (i) Limited control over the goods and services offered and sold; (ii) Customers getting poor-quality goods; and (iii) Sellers’ fake accounts to cover illegal transactions. E-commerce site owners have no such risks. They know what is going on.
- Potential: With an e-commerce site, you can’t get multiple income streams. But your business can grow if you have quality products in your niche market. A multivendor marketplace gives you many revenue streams and sustainable business.
- Scalability: Scaling up your online multi-store marketplace business is easier. Add new vendors to achieve that very easily. And no need to worry about costs. An e-commerce site business can also grow. But it is challenging with limited resources.
- Inventory: Products in an e-commerce store are limited. And sometimes you need to sell stocks at reduced prices before they can be reloaded. But in a multivendor marketplace, vendors build a huge inventory. They also handle storage and distribution themselves. So, if certain products aren’t selling, you can just opt for other suppliers with better-selling products.
- Revenue: There's no intermediary involved in e-commerce site transactions. So, the revenue earned from a sale is all yours. But with a multivendor marketplace, only a tiny commission on each sale goes to your bank account. The marketplace, however, promises much higher revenues as you can sell in much greater volumes. You can also earn extra from services such as listing fees and premium listings.
- Navigation: Shoppers’ site-browsing experience has a huge impact on sales. So, both e-commerce sites and multivendor marketplaces place importance on the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). Being a single-seller platform, an e-commerce store gives users a silken navigation experience. But a marketplace needs high-end tech tools to turn the complex buyer and seller site journey into a memorable experience.
If you want to build a scalable, customizable, and future-proof multivendor marketplace. Like Amazon, eBay or Etsy. You must select a reliable, feature-rich multivendor e-commerce software/platform. That fulfills your business goals and needs.
Essential features of a multivendor marketplace software
An advanced multivendor e-commerce software comes with many essential features. Cutting-edge multivendor software solutions are developed to create both horizontal (Amazon) and vertical (Airbnb) marketplaces.
Among the many essential features, the marketplace software comes with a centralized dashboard. For the admin to manage product listings, inventory tracking system, advanced order management, shipping methods, data migration, cross-selling, tax management, check sales reports, and more. Here are the 35 Must-Have Features for you:
- Individual profiles for buyers and sellers
- Social signup for users
- B2B e-commerce features
- Multi-store management
- Customizable individual vendor storefronts
- Abandoned cart management
- Real-time shipping rate estimates
- Regular updates and enhancements
- Advanced admin and seller panel
- Configurable vendor monthly subscription plans
- PWA (progressive web apps) compliance
- In-built global product catalog management system
- Order inventory management
- Streamlined delivery management system
- Multiple revenue models for the admin
- Streamlined tax management and shipping module management.
- Advanced multilingual and multi-currency payment systems for a large number of countries.
- Multiple payment methods (gateways, wallets, etc) even support cross-border transactions
- PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliance with the security of personal data.
- Open-source API support for free functionality extension
- On delivery product inspection and order acceptance
- Product comparison for decision making and improving customer experience
- Custom cancellation policies for recovering order processing fees
- Rental add-ons for providing complementary goods and services
- Agreement management for authorizing vendor terms and conditions
- Chat module for customer-vendor communication
- Marketing features such as affiliate modules and discount coupons
- Fully responsive design for consistent user experience (UX) across all devices and screen sizes
- Full-fledged content management system (CMS)
- SEO and digital marketing tools to optimize the marketplace
- Integrated analytics system and quick access to Google Analytics.
- Rental security management for deducting reimbursements and late return charges
- Customization tools to scale your business
- Lifetime license and source code ownership
- Free technical support for a considerable period (1 year or so)
Investing to create an online multivendor marketplace promises to pay off. Especially, in today’s business and e-commerce scenario. First, you must understand its business model, potential, and even the limiting issues. So that your marketplace fulfills your desired business goals. And emerges a success story.
Being multifaceted, an online multi-store marketplace needs powerful, complex technology for its success. Also, its development consumes time and money. So, if you have a clear business idea and plans laid out. Create your online multivendor marketplace with readymade, cutting-edge multivendor software. That comes with time-tested, future-proof tools and features.