An online marketplace is a website that connects sellers with buyers. It allows organizations of all types and industries to extend their business offerings & grow sales, and buyers to compare prices, product quality, etc. when making purchases.
Many confuse online marketplaces with eCommerce sites. However, the two are different. The major difference between an online marketplace and an eCommerce website is that the former supports multiple sellers while the latter is focused on just one seller.
If you are planning for online marketplace development, here’s the complete guide to help you get started.
Building an Online Marketplace – The Complete Guide
Here’s the step-by-step process on how to build an online marketplace-
Do in-Depth Research About Your Online Marketplace
To turn your idea of developing an online marketplace into reality, you need to research around all its verticals and check out all the possible outcomes. The more you research, the easier it will be for you to implement the next steps in custom marketplace development.
When it comes to online marketplace development, you have two options-
- Horizontal marketplace – covering a wide variety of categories; example – Amazon.com
- Vertical marketplace – focusing on a specific niche or category; example – eBay
Additionally, define the users you are going to serve through your marketplace. Do a comprehensive target audience analysis; this will help you develop a custom marketplace of your choice and also build more targeted marketing strategy later on.
Define Functionality of Your Online Marketplace
Try to get answers of the following questions-
- What are the key features you want in your online marketplace?
- What are the functions your visitors will be able to perform?
- What actions vendors will be able to perform in their admin panels?
If you are unable to find the exact answers, explore some of the popular online marketplaces. Check out the key features they are offering to their audience and vendors interested in selling their products through them.
Additionally, you need to research more about shopping carts, product pages, payment methods, website security, etc.
Remember, the goal is to make your online marketplace easily accessible for both the parties; vendors and audience. So, you need to think from their perspective and add the unique features and functionality they will love.
Choose Online Marketplace Platform
This is the main part of the online marketplace development journey. There are plenty of online marketplace builders available; each has their own advantages and disadvantages.
Shopify is the perfect online marketplace builder for small and medium-sized businesses. It provides features such as a centralized admin panel, seller time slot management, 24/7 customer support.
WooCommerce, a WordPress plugin, allows users to build multi-vendor eCommerce marketplaces by integrating their platforms with plugins such as WC Vendors. It offers lots of feature-rich plugins to help you create a scalable, fully-functional marketplace.
BigCommerce offers a lot more flexibility when it comes to creating subscription/membership plans for vendors. Some of the important BigCommerce features include drag & drop functionality, advanced SEO tools, product image optimization, zero transactional fees, and inventory management.
CS-Cart multi-vendor marketplace development platform supports an unlimited number of sellers and multiple currencies. It offers flexible tax and region settings and 70+ payment and shipping options, making it a perfect platform for building a regional marketplace.
Here are some key considerations when choosing an online marketplace website builder-
- Always ensure that the custom marketplace development platform is scalable. It should be able to accommodate increased visitor loads and requirements as your business grows over time.
- Make sure the platform is following all the web security standards, thus helping you protect confidential information of users and vendors
- Flexible technology stack that allows you to provide an exceptional user experience while adding new functionality as needed.
If you want to add custom functionality or features, contact a trusted online marketplace development company.
Develop Your Marketplace Website
Till now, you have researched the target audience, functionality, etc. related to your custom marketplace development project. It’s time to develop your site.
Find out a reputable online marketplace development services company to build your custom marketplace. Visit rating and research platforms such as Clutch to get detailed information about different companies, and choose the best one among them.
Many online marketplace development services companies utilize agile methodologies for developing websites. This allows you to collaborate with developers every step of the way, get changes at any development phase, thus getting the exact web development solutions you want. So, when choosing a marketplace development agency, make sure you have in-depth discussion related to their development approach, process, tech stack, etc.
Create a Business Plan For Launching Your Online Marketplace
After you have developed your online marketplace, the next step is to make it live for the audience and vendors.
Before launching your online marketplace, create a proper business plan. Make a document outlining all your goals for the marketplace; this will help you track progress of each during the process.
Another major reason for creating the business plan is that you can avoid big mistakes by foreseeing potential issues before they arise.
Having a business plan is also important if you need third-party investors to launch your online marketplace. To attract people to invest funds in your project, you need to show the growth of your marketplace over the years.
Grow Your Online Marketplace
Online marketplace growth comes with a series of challenges. It usually takes longer to see your marketplace take off than online stores.
Before creating your online marketplace marketing strategy, dig deeper into your offerings, USPs, business model, and target audience.
One of the best ways to grow your online marketplace is to offer loyalty programs. Work on creating loyalty programs for your customers to encourage them to buy more from your online marketplace. Some of the best loyalty programs you can consider are-
- Point-based programs entail earning points and redeeming them when making future purchases.
- Paid programs offer customers additional benefits in exchange for paying to subscribe to specific programs.
When developing a custom online marketplace, you should do in-depth research about functionality and business model. Check out some of the popular marketplaces, explore their pricing plans, features, etc. and choose the best one. Hire a reputed online marketplace development services company, and design & develop your website tailored to your needs. Utilize the best marketing strategies to promote your marketplace post development to reach more potential customers and vendors.