4 Factors to Consider Before Starting an Online Marketplace

Multivendor marketplace software makes it increasingly easy to start an online marketplace of your own. The real question is – is software all it takes?

In the last few years at MultiMerch, we’ve helped thousands of individuals and companies start their own online marketplaces. They range from little handmade shops to large everything stores in all parts of the world.

However, there are a few important things I personally think you should consider when deciding to start your own marketplace.

#1 Passion

So, you want to start a marketplace.

The first question to ask yourself is why you’re doing this in the first place?

Is it because you enjoy making handmade gifts and would like to start a handmade marketplace with your friends? Perhaps you know your town is missing a website where people can buy, sell and exchange stuff? Or maybe you think you can create the next eBay or Amazon.

Whatever the reason – make sure you believe in what you’re doing. It doesn’t make much sense to spend your time going through everything it takes to start a successful marketplace just for the sake of owning an online marketplace.

#2 People

It may seem as though the most difficult part of having your own multivendor marketplace is getting the designs, purchasing the software, and getting everything up and running. In reality, however, all of that stuff is important – but software isn’t the heart of a marketplace.

The people are.

What we often see are great ideas, beautiful designs, lots of functionality – and zero visitors.

Consider this.

To get vendors to sign up at your marketplace, you need to offer them a way to sell their products – not just publish them. On the other hand, you need products and vendors to attract customers – there’s no fun in browsing an empty store.

Vicious circle? Perhaps, but only if you don’t have a starting and growth strategy in the first place.

Before everything else, think about how you’re going to attract people. Some of the tips we can offer:

  • List your own products first and invite your friends.
  • Offer some benefits for early vendors.
  • Make it really easy to create vendor profiles and product listings. You can even do it for them.
  • Partner with local businesses.

#3 Your Team

Multivendor marketplaces are more difficult to manage than a simple online store.

You may think that once you have everything set up and running you won’t need much effort from there on.

Well, not really.

Even if you don’t have any IT-related issues (servers going down, unexpected updates, software bugs and such – and you will eventually), this is just one aspect of running a marketplace.

You’ll need more than that – you’ll need new orders coming in, vendors signing up and publishing products, marketing campaigns running, disputes getting sorted in a timely fashion and more.

Sure, you could try juggling all of these things yourself, but there are only 24 hours in a day; and try as you might you can spend all of them working to grow your online marketplace.

As such, having a team is essential – whether they’re a bunch of friends helping you with this and that, part time Upwork freelancers, or a local web development company – avoid the headache, don’t try doing everything yourself.

#4 Software

It’s not that software isn’t important; it’s just that even great software will only cover a single aspect of running a marketplace.

However, struggling with subpar marketplace software can negate all of your effort invested in everything else. You don’t want to spend all of your time fixing something that just keeps falling apart, right?

There’s lots of multivendor marketplace software out there – dirt cheap or costing a fortune, self-contained or built on top of something else, managed or self-hosted.

Whatever software you choose, make sure there are real customers and a real team behind it ready to help you when you need it.

Author Bio:

Martin Boze is the Founder & Lead Everything at MultiMerch Marketplace who loves new tech, motorcycles and the beauty behind the startup life.

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