If you’re looking to invest in an ecommerce venture, you might consider a multi vendor marketplace. This guide walks you through what these marketplaces are, how they work, and how you can set up your own.
What is a multi vendor marketplace?
A multi vendor marketplace is a single platform which hosts multiple third party sellers. It serves as a digital mall of sorts for individual vendors. The marketplace typically has some form of traction that makes it attractive to both sellers and buyers. Etsy is a good example of this. Based on the niche, site authority and type of products/services available, a multi vendor platform can accrue a good ROI.
Why you should consider the multi vendor system
As opposed to trying to sell your own products, this marketplace system opens up potential opportunities to earn more. More sellers offer a more diverse range of products which could increase the potential market. Additionally, the more sellers you onboard on your platform, the more you could earn from charging sellers’ fees. Another upside of this type of venture is reduced effort on your part, as sellers would be responsible for managing inventory and fulfilling client orders.
Before setting up your marketplace
For starters, choose a website builder. WordPress is a good choice. It’s easy to find your way around if you’re new to web development, while still offering experienced users the desired level of control. It’s also free, open source, and endowed with lots of themes, features and plugins.
To set up your WooCommerce multi vendor marketplace on WordPress, you’ll first need:
- A domain name: come up with a name for your platform and check whether it’s available to use for your website.
- Web hosting: for your ecommerce website to be accessible online, choose a reliable web hosting service provider. 5wire offers quality hosting from as little as £3 a month with an uptime guarantee. Our hosting is powered by 100% renewable energy which is a boost for your sustainability track record.
- SSL certificate: this digital certificate authenticates the identity of your website. It allows for secure, encrypted connection to your site making it possible to handle payments securely.
How to add multi vendor WooCommerce functionality
WooCommerce is a popular ecommerce platform available as a plugin for WordPress. Natively, WooCommerce doesn’t support multi vendor ecommerce. However, there’s an easy way to enable this functionality.
Simply install a plugin such as WC Vendors or WC Marketplace. Keep in mind, though, that some features may not be available on free/trial versions. It’s best to compare the functionality of each based on how it matches your needs and preferences.
Once you choose a multi vendor plugin, activate it and you should be good to go. It’s time to set limits on what new users who register on your site can do once it’s up and running.
WordPress allows you to enable user registration and set limits to what new users can do:
- Click Settings then General
- Check the Membership box to enable the ‘Anyone can register’ option
- Choose the default user role ‘Subscriber’
Once that’s done, create a new page and name it ‘Account’. In the WordPress editor, add a shortcode as follows: [woocommerce_my_account]
Save and publish the page.
In the WooCommerce settings:
- Click on Accounts & Privacy
- Under My Account, check the option ‘Allow customer to create an account’
- Click on the Advanced tab
- Choose the account page you created and save changes
The next step is to enable vendors to sign up on your marketplace.
- Navigate to Appearance then Menus
- Add the account page you created to the main navigation menu
- Rename the navigation menu to inform vendors they can register to sell on your marketplace
You can choose whether or not newly registered sellers will be manually or automatically approved in the setup wizard.
Once approved, third parties have access to vendor dashboards where they can manage their inventory, orders, payments and their seller accounts. As new products get added, you will receive notifications. You can then approve or remove them from your marketplace.
You should now be in a position to onboard new vendors onto your WooCommerce multi vendor marketplace on WordPress.