With the success of eBay and Etsy among many others, multi-vendor marketplaces have become a popular place for people to sell goods to consumers.
A customer of your multi-vendor site would be able to purchase items from several sellers and pay for all of it using one and the same shopping cart. Thanks to these platforms, customers are happy because they get to find all the products they want in one place and smaller vendors don't need to establish personal eCommerce businesses.
It's a win-win.
But running this kind of a website is not an easy task.
However, these types of multi-vendor online stores have unique functionalities, therefore you need specialized multi-vendor eCommerce platform to create and run one effectively.
Luckily, I’ve put together a list of what I believe to be the top 5 multi-vendor marketplace software available today:
- WordPress with Marketify (Best marketplace option for WordPress users)
- Magento with Marketplace (Best solution for customization)
- ShareTribe (Best hosted marketplace software)
- CS-Cart Multi-Vendor (Best cohesive and standalone solution)
- Arcadier (Best marketplace platform for individuals and small businesses)
I’ve based my findings on the ease of which vendors can register for each platform, the ability to charge commission plans, and the price of each.
Price: $69.00 - for Marketify. WordPress is free.
WordPress allows you to create a simple website in a matter of minutes, but combine it with Marketify and you can open up this website to vendors from across the world to create the ultimate marketplace.
Better yet, by using WordPress with the Marketify theme, vendors can register to become featured on your website by filling in an online form. From there, all you have to do is check their application and approve them.
Furthermore, Marketify is fully customizable and comes with a drag-and-drop interface so that you can visually edit your pages.
When it comes to your commissions, Marketify is a great option for those of you who are new to this type of business model.
With this theme, you can set commissions for individual vendors. You can also set one commission for your whole store.
And as for the price - Marketify costs $69 if you buy it from Astoundify.
The package includes 6 months of technical support, a 1-click demo importer, and automatic updates.
- Visual drag-and-drop interface
- A simple vendor registration process
- Long technical support period
- Fully customizable
- Must have WordPress knowledge to get started
- Must cover the hosting costs
Price: $349.00 - for the Marketplace extension. Community Edition of Magento is free.
Similar to WordPress, Magento is an open source platform that is particularly popular for eCommerce purposes. Aside from being a great tool for building an online store, it comes with various extensions - one of which is Multi-Vendor Marketplace, allowing you to open up your platform for multiple retailers.
With Magento Marketplace, vendors can sign up for a spot on your marketplace by filling in a simple online form. Once you approve their request, they’ll gain access to their own detailed profile page.
This dashboard allows them to edit their logo, images, product catalog, and more. They’ll also be able to see all their customer reviews.
As for commissions, Magento Marketplace allows you to set a global commission rate. But, if you'd prefer to set individual commissions for each vendor, you can do that too.
Magento Marketplace is considerably more expensive than others of its kind. That said, it also gives you full control of your marketplace thanks to its comprehensive dashboard which gives you an overview of your entire store.
Furthermore, Magento Marketplace offers a host of other extensions for you to choose from, all of which come individually priced.
- Individual customizable vendor profile pages
- Customizable commission plan
- More than 4,400 extensions specific to Magento users
- More expensive than other eCommerce marketplace platforms
Price: Starts at $79.00/month.
What makes ShareTribe unique from other solutions mentioned above is that aside from listing products, you can also make a marketplace for rentals and services. It also focuses less on multi-vendor marketplaces with organized storefronts and more on peer-to-peer ones.
While these are great unique selling points, it also means that ShareTribe isn’t for everyone. That said, the platform does offer 4 plans to choose from depending on your individual goals. Each one of these plans comes with no setup or transaction fees and you can cancel whenever you want.
The solution also comes with a comprehensive dashboard that allows you to manage your marketplace from one place. And better yet, each seller has their own unique profile showcasing their bio, listings, and buyer reviews.
While not as customizable as self-hosted platforms and website extensions, ShareTribe allows you to add your own custom branding. ShareTribe plans start at $79 a month and go up to $239 a month. The platform comes with a 30-day free trial.
- Admin dashboard that gives you a full overview of your marketplace
- Each seller gets a unique profile page
- Opportunity to add custom branding
- Monthly plans are more expensive in the long run
- Strict user limits
Price: The license costs $1,450
Unlike others on this list, CS-Cart’s Multi-Vendor edition is more of a standalone, cohesive solution that doesn’t rely on extensions or monthly subscriptions. Instead, you make a one-off payment and the license and software are yours. But, here’s the catch. This one-off payment is of $1,450 - a sum not available to many small businesses just starting out.
This solution gives you multiple layers of administrative access meaning that as you grow, you can also scale your team, thus sharing some of the daily responsibilities of running your marketplace.
Additionally, the platform comes with an advanced vendor payout system as well as configurable vendor plans so you can determine whether you want to charge the same commission across the board, a flat rate, or a percentage.
Let's have a look at the benefits for vendors...
CS-Cart’s Multi-Vendor edition comes with its own separate vendor panel that offers each seller their own mini-store where they can create a bio, add products, images, videos, and more. The vendor panel also offers retailers real-time and manual shipping calculations as well as account balances, sales reports, and statistics so they can track their progress.
The license is valid for a lifetime and includes 1-year access to upgrades for free and 3 months of free technical support while you create your marketplace. It also comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.
- Separate vendor and admin panels
- Fully customizable commissions plan
- 3-month technical support
- 30-day money back guarantee
- Large up-front payment
Price: starts at $39/month.
Arcadia is a powerful eCommerce marketplace platform that offers a plan for startups, small businesses, and enterprises. The provider has a choice of 4 plans, all of which come with unlimited listings and users as well as no transactions fees. These also integrate with Google Analytics so that you can keep track of your progress.
Additionally, you’ll get email and digital support as well as a choice of custom domain names to choose from.
What I like most about Arcadier is that it has a community of developers on hand to help you customize your marketplace as it grows. These developers can enhance current features as well as integrate your store with other programs to make it more efficient.
Arcadier is for enterprises, too!
If you’re looking for something beyond Arcadier’s DIY marketing place offerings, the solution also has a multi-tenanted, cloud-based, fully-hosted enterprise-grade marketplace with unlimited transactions.
Furthermore, Arcadier takes corporate social responsibility seriously which is why it offers its services for free for 4 months if you’re creating a marketplace for charitable purposes. Arcadier also comes with a 30-day free trial period.
- Fully hosted solution
- 30-day free trial
- Opportunity to work with a community of developers
- Unlimited users and listings
- Monthly fee adds up to more in the long run
- Less opportunity for customization compared to other solutions
So, What Is The Best Marketplace Software?
Whether this is your first multi-vendor store or not, choosing the right marketplace software is important if you want to scale your business. So, when it comes to making a final decision, here is my verdict:
- WordPress with the Marketify extension is the best value for money and the most customizable solution.
- Magento and Marketplace is the best solution if you have coding knowledge.
- ShareTribe is the best option for scaling your marketplace.
- CS-Cart Multi-Vendor Edition is the best option if you want a comprehensive solution.
- Arcadier is the best option if you want to test your idea without making a big financial investment.
As you can see, each of these solutions has a unique selling point. The one you choose will depend on the size of your business, your budget, and your technical knowledge.
If you feel I haven’t listed a solution that you believe should be on this list, please leave me a comment below. I’d love to get everyone’s opinion on the matter.