Case Study - Building an Online Marketplace

Building a Multi Vendor Marketplace

Part of our ecommerce stable of companies includes Designed in Dorset, an online marketplace for artisan businesses based within our home county of Dorset. The website now has 85 small businesses signed up to sell their products, ranging from National brands like Black Cow Vodka through to artists who make beautiful home furnishings out of driftwood from the beach. It has become a community of Dorset lovers, who can source their next brithday present knowing that it will be unique and support a local business that could be right on their doorstep.

Designed in Dorset, was originally an offline Christmas Market held outside Sherborne in 2010. At that time it was very hard to build a complex ecommerce operation without a massive budget. Today the opportunity is available for anyone with a certain level of know how and website skill to build one for less than £200 and a lot of time of course. 

What is a Multi Vendor Marketplace?

A multi Vendor Marketplace is a platform from which you can sell products from different sellers. Think Amazon, Etsy and Not on the High Street. Vendors can register their profile and add their own products with images, Description and shipping options. The owner of the marketplace can charge commission on sales or a charge for adding products to the website. There are many different business models that rely on making money at both ends of the equation.  

What makes a Multi-Vendor marketplace so hard to build?

"A marketplace is one of the hardest businesses to build. We have to solve both sides of the equation."

In the words of Cas Paton, founder of Onbuy.com:

What does he mean by that? To build a marketplace you need both products to sell and customers to buy those products. You can't have one without the other. With no vendors, there are no products and vendors won't be interested in signing up until you have customers. As you can see it is a difficult proposition but one we are conquering fairly quickly. 

With Designed in Dorset, we managed to get up to 50 vendors in the first year and should cross the 100 mark in the next month or so. This means we now have a selection of over 1,000 products for our customers to chose from. Coupled with the increase of people wanting to shop locally, the website is doing well. Our use of social media is attracting new vendors all the time as well as customers. The trick has been to know who to spend the most time attracting. It has been a gradual shift from vendors to now getting more customers to the website. 

What do you Build a Multi Vendor Marketplace on?

We have built the website on Shopify, having trialled Wordpress and their Dokan Multi-Vendor Marketplace App to no avail. The Marketplace has been built using Webkul Multi Vendor App together with a number of other apps that lets us offer our vendors increased options with their products, such as personalisation and multi choice.  

 There are other options and some choose to build their own platform from scratch much like Onbuy.com who spent 2 years creating the platform before going live. They are now the fastest groing marketplace in the world. 

If you are looking to build an online marketplace then please get in touch and we can help you or give you pointers in the right direction.