Do you know e-commerce sales hit $791.70 billion in 2020, a huge 32.4% increase from $598.02 billion in the previous year, according to Commerce Department figures? It’s the highest annual online sales growth of any year on record. The rise of e-commerce was obvious but the pandemic has given it a boost.
The year 2020, which has changed people’s lives, the world, and everything. Covid-19 pandemic has locked the entire world inside the home but people need everything as per their daily lifestyle so product’s demand doesn’t go from market. Rather people have adapted to the unexpected situation and started shopping online more than in the previous time. And for that reason, the e-commerce sector has boomed around the world. Because we can’t say goodbye to the COVID-19 global pandemic very soon, and its impact will last into the decade. Though online business was growing fast before COVID-19, the pandemic pushed more the online sector.
“Ecommerce isn’t the cherry on the cake, it’s the new cake”- Jean-Paul Ago (CEO L’Oreal)
If you have already planned this is the best time to start your e-commerce business.
"The longer you’re not taking action the more money you’re losing." – Carrie Wilkerson, author, speaker, and encourager
It can be a single seller site if you have a real store and want to move online or a multi-seller marketplace like amazon, eBay. To start an eCommerce store or a marketplace you will need a software solution to build the platform. Choosing the best suitable software solution for your business is as important as you choose the location of your physical store.
The marketplace-type business models are getting common nowadays. Because it gives you more opportunities to grow. There is no limit to expanding the selling of goods because in a marketplace all kinds of different vendors will join with different kinds of products. That’s why Cushla Sherlock said-
“The e-commerce industry is a force that no investor can afford to ignore.”
In this article, I will compare and analyze the 9 best multi-vendor platform software solutions available right now in the market in different aspects, so that you can choose the right one for you. To compare these solutions all the major facts will be considered that a modern multi-vendor platform should have. I’ll discuss the most important features of e-commerce marketplace software and give a brief review of the most advanced and feature-packed multi-vendor eCommerce software.
A traditional e-commerce solution is where the shop owner sells his product or services and manages everything by himself. Here two parties are involved, the owner and customers. The owner of the shop is responsible for managing all the technologies, payment, marketing, and customers.
On the other hand, a multi-vendor platform is a software solution designed to build online marketplaces where multiple sellers/vendors can register and sell their products or services. All the offers from different sellers will be showcased together on a single storefront. Here three parties are involved, the admin, vendors, and customers. The software provides all the necessary tools to manage the marketplace. Some of the options are for only admin and some of them for the vendors. The platform owner manages the infrastructure of the marketplace and allows its vendors to sell their products based on a monthly subscription fee or a sales commission or both. Mostly the marketplace owner doesn’t have their own inventory or products but some marketplace may have their own products and brands like Amazon do.
Before starting, you should think about the following facts when selecting a platform for your online marketplace. The first thing you may consider as the business owner is the cost involved to start and run the business. To build your e-commerce marketplace the first expenditure will be the cost of getting the software solution you choose to power your platform. The pricing of the software solution has to fit your budget and at the same time must have the features you need to run the business smoothly. There are lots of other costs that will be added like maintaining the server infrastructure and marketing costs to get sellers and customers on board. So the costs of the solution shouldn’t be a burden for your business. The second fact you have to consider is the technical difficulties to set up and run the software. Choose a provider who offers after-sale support at least for a few months. Even if you’re an expert or have a tech team on your own still you will need some kind of support from the provider team.
You’ve already spent a lot, now talk about how you can make some money from the business.
"You only have so many hours in a day, let others make the money for you!" - Nick Haase, founder of Loot
Money is definitely the most important fact of business but it gets on 3rd priority because you won't make a single penny if you fail to make the right decision on the above points. It will be a wise decision to choose a software solution that offers multiple ways of earning from the marketplace. There can be different types of revenue plans like monthly subscriptions from vendors, a commission on each sale, and fixed fees for each transaction can be different ways of earning from a marketplace. There are other revenue options like paid promotions from sellers and advertisements as well.
The number of available multi-vendor software solutions may overwhelm you because there are thousands to choose from. But only a few of them are good solutions to be considered. Still, there are so many good solutions that offer tons of features. You should focus on features that can be a game-changer to your marketplace business.
Firstly you should check which solution offers:
By considering the above-mentioned factors you can easily find out the best solution. In this article I’ll provide a detailed description of a few multi-vendor eCommerce marketplace platforms I found promising right now:
Now let’s dig deeper into the comparison.
The zCart multi-vendor e-commerce marketplace software is comparatively new but already created a buzz in the market, it was developed with the primary focus on providing a fast web browsing experience with trendy design at a reasonable price. Excellent customer support, user forum for helping each other, easy to install, multiple ways of earnings make it popular & trusted by over 1000 customers in 100+ countries in just 3 years since its inception.
The company behind the zCart multi-vendor solution provides 360-degree support with everything you need as a marketplace owner. It has an expert team to provide all kinds of technical support to set up your marketplace on your server, configure it with all third-party APIs, and help to build the catalog and inventories. Designing logos, banners & other graphical work for your marketplace, creating professional product images add mesmerizing value to this marketplace platform. You also can make a contract to maintain your server on a monthly basis to get your job done easily.
zCart is a self-hosted solution that’ll be hosted on your own server. This gives the owner full control over the entire system. The open-source code gives opportunities to do any modification and expansion when needed. The provider doesn’t keep any footprint on your system, meaning the admin has complete branding control in hand which is very important to grow your marketplace as a brand. Admin can earn multiple ways like-
This software solution has a catalog system similar to amazon marketplace where admin/vendor add a new product into the catalog and all the vendors can create their listings/inventories using that catalog item. This allows customers to find all the offers for a single product from different sellers in a single place. They call it ‘single product multiple sellers’ this is truly an excellent way to give a better shopping experience to the customers.
Another buzzing feature of zCart is its dynamic shipping zones, which means sellers can create as many shipping zones that include different shipping areas. A shipping zone can create multiple shipping costs based on order price or weight. When a customer shops on the marketplace the system will automatically detect the location of the customer and show only the shipping cost for that particular shipping area. There is an option to create a global shipping area that will cover all the areas that are not included in any shipping zones.Pros:
Cost: $299 Lifetime
Shopify is a very renowned SaaS based e-commerce service provider. It’s mainly focused on single-vendor solutions but has an extension to build a multi-vendor platform. Shopify costs monthly subscription fees for the software solution & for plugins as well. That makes it costly to the marketplace owners.
Shopify has a very simple to use seller dashboard with many features packed in it. You’ll find everything you need in the right place without getting lost in the options. It has one of the cleanest admin dashboards I’ve seen so far. Another good thing is it's a SaaS platform that means no hassle to manage the infrastructures and technologies.
But under the basic subscription plan, an owner can’t do much that you may require to operate your business properly. To run a marketplace platform on Shopify you must have to buy their advance subscription plans that are expensive for any new business. Also, there are very limited options for the extension of features and modules.Pros:
Cost: $29 - $299 Monthly + Multi Vendor extension cost: $10 - $45 Monthly
Magento is an open-source e-commerce platform written in PHP that allows people to create their online marketplace with a flexible shopping cart, marketing tools, SEO tools, and catalog management tools. Magento is not developed as a multi-vendor marketplace primarily. However, now it has an extension that is called Magento Marketplace to build a multi-vendor eCommerce marketplace platform.
Magento marketplace extension allows the sellers to sign-up, create a vendor storefront, view a detailed dashboard, list different types of products, manage orders and run a fully functioning multi-vendor e-commerce platform. It’s not a standalone platform, rather it’s a plugin so operating a business through a Magento marketplace solution is expensive for operational expense & costly custom development. The slowness of website loading is one of the main drawbacks of the Magento platform.Pros:
Cost: Freemium + Extension cost: $349.00 - $698.00 one time
WCFM Marketplace is a multi-vendor marketplace plugin based on the popular WooCommerce powered by WordPress. It has a free version of the plugin with basic options and also an upgraded version with premium features. It helps you to convert your WordPress site into a multi-vendor e-commerce marketplace with minimal effort. But it requires many paid plugins to create a professional setup.
As a WordPress powered platform, it has some limitations that come with the CMS. WordPress it's not a proper CMS for the marketplace. You may end up with lots of plugins that will slow down the site’s performance and also it’s complex to manage from the admin panel. So many dependencies can break out easily. Not good for scalability and growth.Pros:
Cost: Premium version $168.00 - $1044.00 Yearly
Dokan is another WordPress based multi-vendor solution powered by WooCommerce. The installation process, the technical matter of this plugin is easy, takes a very short time, and doesn’t require any special technical skills as it is on popular WordPress CMS. Dokan multi-vendor offers a basic plan for free and has to pay yearly subscription fees to get advanced features. This solution is not recommended to build a large marketplace platform.Pros:
Cost:Premium version $149.00 - $999.00 Yearly
Arcadier is the SaaS based marketplace platform software that allows clients to start an e-commerce marketplace quickly & without so much hassle. Arcadier is an easy-to-start multi-vendor marketplace platform with lots of ready-made themes & templates, rich functionalities, and easy customization with monthly subscription fees.
Since it’s a SaaS based marketplace platform, the owner/admin doesn't own it fully and has very limited control over the platform. Arcadier provides a 30 day free trial to its customers, however, you have to pay a handsome amount on a monthly basis after purchasing. And if you need any custom work from the provider it’s also too expensive to bear in the long run.Pros:
Cost: $403 - $1015++ per 6 months
Yo! Kart is a promising multi-vendor eCommerce software that allows its customers to launch their multi-vendor marketplace quickly & effectively. This software is young in the technology sector Since its launch in 2015. Nevertheless, it's getting significant attention because of its great design, easy installation process & powerful SEO tools.
However, the technical factors are inflexible & even any little change requires a code modification that isn’t possible for a non-technical person. Although it costs one time, the price is extremely high.Pros:
Cost: $999.00 - $7500++ lifetime
IXXO Cart is a web-based multi vendor eCommerce software that helps to manage a high-volume marketplace and allows its customers to upload unlimited products. This software is popular for its seller oriented features, different themes, and ready-made templates that are optimized for all types of devices.
IXXO Cart is an enterprise class multi-vendor marketplace where individual sellers can sell their products and services through a single storefront. It features a big collection of SEO tools and features that helps a business to first page rankings in search engines.Pros:
Cost: $845 - $2795++ lifetime
CS-Cart is a standalone multi vendor e-commerce platform that was designed with the main focus on providing maximum flexibility & huge compatibility to its administrators. It provides a full featured-packed solution that offers almost everything needed to accommodate the new web vendors on the website.
CS-Cart provides built-in designing tools with responsive storefront design with regular feature updates. But the price isn’t only expensive but also unbearable for the new startup business. It also costs a huge amount of money for any kind of customization work. So it is difficult to start an e-commerce business & maintain it in long run.Pros:
Cost: $1450 to $7500++ one time
Selecting the marketplace software is one of the most crucial decisions you make for your business. While there are lots of multi vendor e-commerce platforms available in the market, choosing the best solution for your business requires wise analysis. For this, you have to consider and analyze the must-have features very carefully. Although there are so many options and multiples are good in many ways, which provider allows you the best options at a reasonable cost is the most important part of choosing the best marketplace platform for your business. and at the same time consideration and analysis of the available options. You need to consider carefully the available options, evaluate the performance of the software, and other above-mentioned features as well.
Pricing is a very important factor in any business decision, but it shouldn’t be the only factor. Only price factors may not ensure your business is getting the most value. Because the price of software does not always correlate with its value.
Purchasing more expensive software with a long list of extra features may not always be the correct move, as many of those features might not even apply to your business. Make a list of "must-have", “conditionals”, “nice to have” and “don’t need” features based on your business type and priorities. It will help you get a better understanding to measure the value of software that brings to your business.
During the time of evaluating software, the most important thing is to focus on your business’s particular needs. The main purpose of any software is to make our jobs easier and more efficient and not be difficult to adopt and utilize.
In this article, we have evaluated the 9 best multi-vendor e-commerce marketplace platforms in detail with basic features, pricing, pros, and cons. However, before taking the final decision try the software demo, contact customer support & make the right choice for your business. So that you can think like this-
“I’m going to sleep well tonight knowing that I made the right decision.”- George Ryan