In 2020 – during the initial days of the pandemic, we witnessed a boom in e-commerce as sales soared by nearly 44% – the highest annual growth rate in two decades. Multi-vendor ecommerce marketplaces saw substantial growth as the gross merchandise volume (GMV) grew by 81% year-over-year in Q4 2020, according to Deloitte Digital.
The success of multi-vendor marketplaces can be attributed to:
The rapid expansion of a network of online retailers (46% on average) in response to the increasing demand/needs amid pandemic closures.
Faster growth of online business listings like toilet papers and bread flour from retailers that previously relied on local foot traffic.
Dynamic seller base offering in-demand products/services (even beyond their own inventory) to customers with little risk or overhead cost. For instance, sensing the unprecedented demand for face masks at the start of the pandemic, Etsy called out to its sellers to ramp up its catalog of face masks.
COVID-19 has fueled the digital revolution, where every other retailer is looking to sell their products/services online. The surge in demand for e-commerce has prompted aspiring business owners to start their online multi-vendor marketplaces. For instance, since the start of 2020, we have witnessed over 1,150 new online marketplaces emerge across the globe, according to the data by Dealroom. Amid the intense competition and higher commission fees charged on eCommerce marketplaces like Amazon or eBay, the emergence of these new marketplaces has helped local sellers sustain their business and survive during the pandemic.
If you are looking to build a sustainable multi-vendor marketplace like Amazon or Etsy, you need to choose a reliable multi-vendor eCommerce platform or software that fulfills your business requirements. In this blog, we have done an in-depth review of the top 6 multi-vendor eCommerce platforms that a business can trust to start an online marketplace.
A multi-vendor e-commerce platform is a turnkey solution inherently designed to build online marketplaces where multiple sellers can list/sell their products. The multi-vendor ecommerce platform includes all the basic e-commerce functionalities and essential integrations to streamline/manage marketplace operations. Turnkey multi-vendor ecommerce platforms save business owners considerable development time that can be utilized effectively in branding and marketing.
6 Best Multi-vendor eCommerce Platforms or Software to Start an Online Marketplace
To help you build a future-proof multi-vendor marketplace, we have listed the 6 best standalone multi-vendor eCommerce platforms. These multi-vendor platforms are inherently designed to create an online marketplace and are also scalable and easy to customize. We have reviewed these standalone multi-vendor platforms based on their in-built feature list, trusted clientele, pricing, and their rating on popular review sites (like G2 and Capterra).
1. Yo!Kart: Self-Hosted Multi-vendor Platform
Yo!Kart is a powerful self-hosted multi-vendor eCommerce platform to build online marketplaces in the B2B, B2C and P2P industry. Launched in 2015, the multi-vendor eCommerce platform has been used by 2000+ businesses to start multi-vendor marketplaces. Yo!Kart has all essential in-built features and powerful third-party integrations like ShipStation API, TaxJar/Avalara API, MailChimp API, and more.
Yo!Kart allows vendors to set up their individual storefronts and has separate dashboards for admin/seller to streamline e-commerce operations. Also, the multi-vendor platform is fully responsive and comes with native buyer apps for iOS and Android platforms.
Key Features of Yo!Kart multi-vendor eCommerce platform:
Global Product catalog System
Order inventory management
Progressive Web Apps (PWA) Compliance
Multilingual and Multi-currency Feature
Stripe Connect for real-time split payment
20+ Payment methods
Abandoned Cart Management
PCI-DSS and GDPR compliant
12-months free technical support
Yo!Kart has more than 2000 clients in 70+ countries in just 6 years since its inception. Yo!Kart has quickly grown into a proven & best multi-vendor software trusted by several small-scale, billion-dollar enterprises and some Fortune 500 companies.
Yo!Kart has an overall rating of 4.1 on Capterra, 4.9 on Good firms, and 4.7 on G2 with reviews from clients worldwide. While most clients have applauded Yo!Kart software for its extensive customizability, UI/UX, outstanding technical support, and affordable packages; the only real complaints are limited themes and time required to learn the system.
The multi-vendor marketplace platform is priced at $999 (for the GoQuick package) and $6999 (for the GoCustom package) with no recurring charges or transaction fees of any kind. The Go Quick package ($999) has all the features/Integrations available in Yo!Kart. The real difference in both packages is the custom design. In the package of $6999, you will get the custom design as per your business niche or requirements.
Both packages come with a lifetime license, complete source code ownership, 12-months of free technical support, and 1 month of free digital marketing consultation.
Who should buy Yo!Kart – A Custom-Engineered Multi-vendor Marketplace Solution
Yo!Kart is a white-label multi-vendor platform ideal for businesses who want:
An intuitive user interface with a satisfying user experience
Complete control over e-commerce marketplace operations
Flexibility to easily modify or accommodate new changes in the marketplace
An extensive feature-rich multivendor ecommerce solution just under their budget
To hire a team that offers full support from the design development to the marketing stage
Need a complete overview of all essential e-commerce features in Yo!Kart?
CS-Cart is one of the best multi-vendor eCommerce platforms for businesses to start an online marketplace. The platform is self-hosted and comes with many essential e-commerce features right out of the box, such as a vendor payout system, advanced order management system, multiple storefronts, and more. Plus, there is an app store where you can find and integrate several add-ons like Facebook Conversion API, Live currency converter, advanced Mailchimp, and others.
Key Features of CS-Cart multi-vendor software:
Real-time shipping rate estimates
Regular updates and enhancements
Secure self-hosted solution with GDPR compliance
Customizable vendor storefronts
Advanced admin and seller panel
Configurable vendor monthly subscription plans
45 days free technical support
More than 1,300 online marketplaces globally, run on CS-Cart multi-vendor solution. ShopClues is one of the renowned clients they have.
It has received an overall rating of 4.7 on Capterra and 4.8 on G2, with clients praising CS-Cart for its third-party tools and regular updates. But, there have been regular complaints about the limited & paid tech support, poor user-experience, addons quality, and more.
The platform comes with a 15-day free trial, and the pricing starts at $1,450 for the basic package. There are extensive mobile apps for iOS and Android platforms, although these apps are only available for multi-vendor plus (at $3,500) and multi-vendor ultimate edition (at $7,500) albeit at a much higher price than what you’ll get at Yo!Kart.
3. Shuup: Open Source Multi-vendor Platform
Shuup is a fully customizable open-source multi-vendor solution to start an online marketplace. It is an innovative multi-vendor e-commerce platform designed to build both horizontal marketplaces like Amazon as well as vertical marketplaces such as Airbnb. The multi-vendor eCommerce platform comes with features like data migration, cross-selling, tax management, inventory tracking system, order management, and more. It has a centralized dashboard for the admin to manage product listings, shipping methods, check sales reports, and more.
Key Features of Shuup Multi-vendor Platform:
Built-in layout editor to customize the feel and look of the marketplace
Fully responsive design for consistent user experience (UX) across all devices
Complete content management system (CMS)
Freedom to personalize individual vendor storefronts
Easy to Customize as per business requirements
Built-in Paypal and Stripe payment gateways
Open-source API to integrate third-party payment processors freely
Since its inception in 2014, Shuup has delivered niche-specific marketplaces like pharmacy retailer network, B2B workwear marketplace, Gaming hardware marketplace, and more for clients around the world. However, the company has not mentioned how many clients are using the software.
Shuup marketplace software has a rating of 4.3 on Capterra and 4.8 on G2 where clients appreciate the platform for its extreme flexibility, custom integrations, and support. But, there are often complaints as well regarding the difficulty to operate the platform, issues with generating coupons, frequent bugs, and more.
Unlike Yo!Kart or Cs-Cart, Shuup has higher pricing & works on a monthly billing model. It comes in two distinct pricing packages – $299/month for the SaaS license and $1499/month for a self-hosted license. Although native mobile apps can be developed with Shuup’s open source license, there are no ready-to-use mobile apps available.
4. Sharetribe: SaaS Multi-vendor Software
Sharetribe is a cloud-based e-commerce platform designed to build custom multi-vendor marketplaces with ease. It is a hosted marketplace solution with a subscription-based model for businesses to start their multi-vendor store. Sharetribe has two products – Sharetribe Go and Sharetribe Flex. While the latter allows businesses to build a customized online marketplace using powerful APIs, the former – Sharetribe Go is a marketplace platform that delivers a scalable online multi-vendor marketplace without coding.
Key Features of Sharetribe Multi-vendor Platform:
In-built product catalog management system
Advanced payment system with support for over 25 currencies and 200+ countries
Fully responsive to all devices and screen size
A hosted solution to maintain and scale your e-commerce business
Individual profiles for users (buyers and sellers)
Social sign up for users
SEO tool to optimize your marketplace
Powerful customization tools to scale your business
Sharetribe is powering around 1,100 marketplaces in 70+ countries since 2011. It is an excellent solution for small to medium-sized businesses.
It has a rating of 4.4 on Capterra and 3.9 on G2. Sharetribe is an easy-to-use platform, customizable using front-end development, and offers excellent customer support according to client reviews. There are a few complaints as well, like lack of ready-to-use APIs, limited marketing features, only two payment gateways (Stripe and PayPal), and limited customization features.
Sharetribe Go comes with 4 recurring packages: Hobby at $99/month, Pro at $149/month, Growth at $199/month, and Scale at $299/month. Plus, there’s a 30-day free trial available. All packages include unlimited traffic, marketplace listings, and transactions. Currently, Sharetribe does not offer iOS, Android, or any other mobile apps. However, the $99/month plan comes with Sharetribe Branding.
Sharetribe Flex plan pricing starts from $299/mo (subscription fees). Also, transaction fees are applicable if the monthly transaction volume is above 30K.
5. Growcer: Self Hosted Multi-vendor Platform
Growcer is a robust on-demand multi-vendor platform to start a hyperlocal marketplace. It is a readymade multi-vendor eCommerce solution that comes with all essential e-commerce features, such as a product catalog system, commission management, tax management, order tracking, click-and-collect, PWA, and more. Growcer is a highly customizable and scalable solution to start e-pharmacy, liquor, dairy products, pet food, board games, and a variety of other hyperlocal online marketplaces.
Key Features of Growcer Multi-vendor Platform:
Readymade buyer & delivery apps
Fully customizable platform to build a personalized grocery marketplace
Growcer is trusted by 200+ clients worldwide in such a short duration. It is ideal for entrepreneurs as well as enterprises to start online grocery & other hyperlocal marketplaces.
Growcer marketplace software has a rating of 4.4 on G2, with clients praising the solution for its intuitive admin panel, frictionless user experience, amazing customer support, and all essential features/integrations like Mailchimp, Stripe Connect, Google Analytics, and other third-party software right out of the box. The only real complaint is that first-time users need to invest time to learn the system.
The pricing of the Growcer multi-vendor solution starts at $8000 (including both buyer and delivery mobile apps). It is a one-time license fee with no transaction charges or recurring fees of any kind. Also, you get complete source code ownership, free installation, and 12-months of free technical support. Growcer has readymade buyer and delivery staff apps for iOS and Android platforms.
6.Kreezalid – SaaS Multi-vendor Platform
Kreezalid is a SaaS-based multi-vendor platform to build a customized e-commerce marketplace. The solution is integrated with powerful e-commerce features to enable business owners to quickly scale their online marketplace. Kreezalid is intuitively designed, mobile-friendly, and has a plugins library to integrate new functionalities streamlining the entire marketplace operations.
Key Features of Kreezalid multi-vendor platform:
An official partner of Stripe Connect and Mangopay – two in-built payment gateway integrations.
Streamlined tax management and shipping module management.
An app store to find and add new features, services, and plugins to the marketplace.
In-built SEO and digital marketing tools to increase search engine visibility.
Integrated analytics system and quick access to Google Analytics.
Kreezalid is available in English, Spanish, French, and Danish languages.
In-built modules for user management and listing management.
Kreezalid is a reliable multi-vendor e-commerce platform with clients across the globe. The solution is ideal for startups as well as enterprises.
It has a rating of 4.2 on Capterra and 2.3 on G2. Kreezalid offers an intuitive user interface, excellent admin panel, and allows selling digital products – as shared in the client reviews. But, the multi-vendor eCommerce software lacks in UI/UX, essential features/integrations, offers limited personalization options, has only two payment gateways, and does not provide the best customer support.
Kreezalid comes with a 14-day free trial and a single pricing plan at $299/month. Both monthly and annual billing options are available. Also, there is premium support from the Kreezalid team at an additional $95/month. There are no ready-made mobile apps by Kreezalid.
Launch a Scalable, Affordable, and Feature-rich Online Marketplace Today.
Other Multi-vendor Options To Start an Online Marketplace
Use of Multi-vendor Plugins
Multi-vendor plugins are add-ons built by third-party developers for Shopify, WordPress, Magento, and other e-commerce platforms. As the name suggests, these plugins can be quickly configured to either start an online marketplace or transform an existing e-commerce store into a multi-vendor business. Dokan, WCFM Marketplace, Webkul – for instance, are some of the most popular multi-vendor plugins available.
While these plugins save hours of development time for business owners, there are several challenges associated as well, like – limited scalability, upgrade costs, persistent performance issues, vulnerability to malware/external threats, and more as shared in clients’ reviews. Moreover, these plugins aren’t fully fledged multi-vendor solutions like Yo!Kart, CS-Cart, or Sharetribe, which limits a business owner to build an enterprise level multi-vendor marketplace.
Pricing: Dokan comes with a free version, but you need to upgrade to premium versions when scaling your business. Dokan’s pricing starts at $119/year for the starter package and goes up to $649/year for the enterprise package – for the first year. Similarly, Webkul’s multi-vendor plugin comes at $99 for a lifetime license. Dokan has an overall 4.2 rating on Capterra.
Marketplace Development from Scratch
Another option is to build a completely personalized multi-vendor marketplace from scratch. This option is suitable for those who have envisioned a unique marketplace idea that cannot be fulfilled with standalone multi-vendor eCommerce solutions or plugins. This is because any development from scratch requires a dedicated team of experts, hundreds of thousands of development hours, and is highly expensive (anywhere between $100K to millions of dollars) depending on individual business requirements.
Still, business owners who wish for a multi-vendor store development right from scratch may hire a development team specializing in crafting custom marketplace solutions. Reputed companies like Scnsoft, Rubygarage, and FATbit Technologies follow agile development methodologies to build a custom online marketplace from scratch. These firms have a rating of 4.8, 4.9, and 4.9 on Clutch respectively.
Existing Business and Revenue Models in Online Marketplaces
Integral Business Models: Horizontal and Vertical Marketplaces
Standalone multi-vendor eCommerce platforms can easily be aligned to create both horizontal and vertical marketplaces – two integral e-commerce business models. Some of the world’s leading online marketplaces or disruptive startups are based on either of the two business models. Alibaba, for instance, a retail giant that dominates the e-commerce space, follows a horizontal marketplace model. Similarly, the likes of Airbnb and Uber are vertical marketplaces that focus on a specific niche, i.e. vertical marketplace model.
A horizontal marketplace is more extensive and cooperative, catering to more than one industry in a larger market. Such marketplaces have a huge customer base, implement broader policies to cover several product categories, and are highly competitive for a new retailer/business. Vertical marketplaces, on the other hand, are niche-specific businesses with a well-defined audience. These multi-vendor marketplaces deliver specialized products/services, implement a centralized policy across the marketplace, and have less-intensive competition.
While these business models are unique, for a healthy eCommerce ecosystem, both horizontal and vertical marketplaces must co-exist.
Revenue Models for Online Multi-vendor Marketplaces
A sufficient supply of revenue is an accurate measurement of the e-commerce business’s success. While the majority of online marketplaces operate with one or two revenue methods, in reality, there are several revenue models that a business can adopt. For instance, Amazon has a diverse revenue model which includes commission fees on each transaction, affiliate program, paid advertising space, a subscription-based model with Amazon Prime, and more.
Accommodating multiple revenue channels into an online marketplace like Amazon requires expert assistance and access to the right e-commerce solution. So, before choosing a multi-vendor eCommerce platform to build your marketplace, explore how many revenue models the multi-vendor marketplace software supports.
Following is a list of multi-vendor marketplace revenue models:
Freemium model – When a multi-vendor marketplace has both free and premium (paid) features, it is said to be following a freemium revenue model. It is a preferred revenue model by businesses who wish to reach a substantial/sufficient user base. Freemium revenue method offers fast lead generation and unlimited access to the platform. Craigslist, for instance, is a prime example of a marketplace that utilizes the freemium revenue method.
One-time sign-up fees – Another popular revenue method is the one-time seller registration fee charged on the online marketplace. Here, the admin receives a sign-up fee when a new seller registers in the marketplace. It is a non-recurring charge that a vendor pays to get access to the marketplace.
Subscription fees – When a user (buyer or seller) is charged a recurring fee to access the platform, it is termed as a subscription fee. Many popular multi-vendor marketplaces have a subscription-based model. Amazon, with its Prime membership or Netflix, with its monthly subscription plans – are two examples of marketplaces with a subscription-based revenue model.
Commission Fees – It is the most popular online marketplace revenue model. Here, the admin charges a fixed percentage or commission fee on every transaction that occurs in the online marketplace. The admin may charge a commission to either buyer or seller or even both. Upwork, for instance, is an online marketplace that charges commission fees to both freelancers (service providers) and clients (consumers).
Per delivery fee – It is an additional fee associated with the delivery of a product. Amazon – the retail giant – charges delivery fees to non-prime customers and offers free shipping to prime customers for the majority of orders. While many multi-vendor marketplaces charge a delivery fee, the overwhelming success of Amazon Prime has prompted other marketplaces to rethink their strategy and adapt.
Selling own products – Selling your own products in your e-commerce marketplace makes it a hybrid business model where the third-party sellers are directly competing with your products. Amazon, for example, lists products of its own alongside third-party retailers and generates a major chunk of revenue on the marketplace.
Featured Ads, Affiliate and other advertisement options – Featured listings and banner advertisement is an important revenue generation model in an online marketplace. Marketplace sellers buy advertising privileges to have a featured listing at the top – increasing visibility on the multi-vendor marketplace.
Multi-vendor eCommerce Marketplace FAQs
Q: Why are multi-vendor eCommerce marketplaces more successful?
According to a recent analysis by DigitalCommerce360, top e-commerce marketplaces (like Alibaba, Amazon, eBay, and others) generated $2.67 trillion in revenue in 2020, accounting for nearly 62% of global internet sales. E-Commerce marketplaces have always been more successful with their excessive variety of products, instant access to a large audience (for sellers), and more revenue generation/growth opportunities for the business owner. It is a lucrative business model for entrepreneurs and enterprises looking for substantial growth.
Q: How do I create a multi-vendor website swiftly?
To build your multi-vendor website quickly, start by identifying a reliable multi-vendor marketplace platform that fulfills your business requirements. Turnkey Multi-vendor eCommerce solutions deliver a ready-to-launch online marketplace, saving both time and money.
Q: What features does a Multi-vendor eCommerce Website need to have?
A multivendor eCommerce store requires hundreds of essential features and integrations to streamline store operations. These features vary among marketplace users (admin, seller, and buyer). For instance, an admin or marketplace owner requires features like product catalog, inventory management, abandoned cart recovery, multiple payment gateways, and more. Similarly, for sellers, features like shop inventory, shipping profile management, discount & coupon generation, sales reports, import/export, and others are crucial. Lastly, the multi-vendor ecommerce platform must have these advanced features for buyers like Pay at Store, Multi-lingual, Invoices, Product comparison, etc.
Q: Are mobile apps necessary for a multi-vendor store?
As per Statista, more than half of the total website traffic comes from mobile devices and smartphone apps play a significant role here. Also, according to a 2020 report by Poq commerce, shoppers have shown a higher intent to buy on mobile apps. This makes mobile apps a mandate for a multi-vendor business to maximize its full potential.
Q: Are Shopify or BigCommerce Multi-vendor Platforms?
Shopify or BigCommerce are not by-default multi-vendor eCommerce platforms. However, you can use any third-party plugin or app to convert your Shopify or Bigcommerce store to a multi-vendor marketplace.
Q: What factors do enterprises need to consider when choosing a multi-vendor platform?
Time to market – The time required from conceptualization to stable market release is termed as time to market. eCommerce Platforms that deliver ready-to-launch online marketplaces significantly reduce businesses’ time to market.
Scalability – It is the measure of a platform’s ability to handle system processing demands by adding new resources or modifying existing ones. For instance, how well a system performs when the traffic increases or how a database handles growing user queries. When choosing a marketplace solution, enterprises should pay close attention to the scalability aspect.
Customizability – The ability to tweak or customize the multi-vendor marketplace software to incorporate operational needs of the organization. Customizable eCommerce solutions enable enterprises to personalize the marketplace as per their business requirements.
Expert Technical Support – Bugs/errors in a system can hamper your business performance and impact growth. Hence, it is advisable to choose a reliable multi-vendor platform that offers timely support for any technical concerns at no additional cost.
Multiple revenue channels – Select a multi-vendor eCommerce solution that supports multiple revenue methods like an affiliate program, seller subscription, commission fee on each transaction, and more.
SEO Friendliness – An SEO-Friendly marketplace ranks on top of SERPs, enhancing sales and leading to an increased conversion rate. Choose a multi-vendor eCommerce software that offers business owners complete access to SEO tools to optimize the page loading speed, user experience, meta tags, and more in your online marketplace.
Q: How much does a multi-vendor eCommerce software cost?
The pricing of a standalone multi-vendor marketplace software varies depending upon your business requirements, customization requests, additional integrations required, and more. SaaS multi-vendor software pricing starts at $50-100 per month, whereas licensed multi-vendor ecommerce software pricing starts at $1000-$10000 (one-time fee).
Q: How to customize a multi-vendor website?
Customizing a multi-vendor website requires dedicated designing/development hours from a skilled team of experts. To customize an online marketplace, you can either hire the team behind the multi-vendor solution or have an in-house development team do the job for you. Also, you need access to the source code for any kind of customization.
While standalone or licensed based multi-vendor eCommerce platforms offer complete source code ownership that makes it easy to customize. Any customization to a SaaS-based multi-vendor software is limited to the list of add-ons available and anything beyond it is either not possible or is truly expensive to be built.
Q: How to attract sellers to a multi-vendor website?
Pre-planning your initial marketing strategy or assessing your options is a fundamental approach towards attracting sellers to a multi-vendor marketplace website. For instance, creating a “coming soon” landing page, using social media marketing, or advertising on online ad networks – there are several steps that can help with your seller onboarding.
Q: How to market a multi-vendor marketplace website?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can be the first step when your multi-vendor marketplace website is live. Create meta tags, schema code, alt tags, and make other on-page SEO changes to make the website search-friendly. You can start writing blogs on your website and third-party channels to build brand awareness and traffic. Plus, keeping your target audience in mind, you can start doing paid advertising on channels like Google Shopping Center, Facebook, or Instagram.
Other Multi-vendor eCommerce Related Articles
Lastly, if you still have questions or need relevant information regarding multi-vendor business models, marketplace platforms, or vendor onboarding, here are a few suggested articles that you can read: