Marketplace eCommerce

Intro to eMarketplace Platforms

Updated November 28, 2023  |  10 min read
Key Takeaways
  • EMarketplace platforms are online hubs where multiple sellers and buyers converge to conduct transactions.
  • These digital marketplaces facilitate the exchange of goods and services, providing a centralized space for businesses and consumers to connect. Examples include Amazon Marketplace, Alibaba, and eBay.
  • These platforms typically offer a range of products, fostering competition and enabling users to compare options easily. They often provide secure payment gateways, reviews, and customer support.
  • EMarketplaces streamline the buying and selling process, promoting efficiency and accessibility in the global marketplace. Sellers showcase their offerings, and buyers can explore diverse products, creating a dynamic and interconnected online

The eCommerce marketplace (eMarketplace) industry covers a lot of different scenarios. We'll start by going over some of those scenarios and the different businesses that are involved.

Within each of those, we’ll discuss how our eCommerce platform works, and how any eCommerce marketplace platform needs to work to deliver optimal value. Some of the features we’ll be discussing are self-service, governance, workflows, and off-the-shelf capabilities with precise, business-specific customizability.

e-marketplace insights

Overview of eMarketplace Platforms

Multivendor eMarketplace

A multivendor marketplace eCommerce platform involves the ability to have products from different vendors. These vendors are searchable, findable, and filterable in a way that customers can look up different vendor’s products, services, or auctions. There is also part of self-service because it means customers can find what they need without the help of customer service.

The marketplace could be a store within a store where the vendors offer their items within the marketplace. Or there could be branding, such as white-label marketplace software that are for a specific company, where you have company purchasing-portals.

products from multiple vendors in emarketplace

International & Multilingual Marketplace eCommerce

There are also international and multilingual marketplaces. With these, each marketplace platform or portal is region-specific and catered to that region’s SEO, advertising, and standard branding practices. There might also be specific business rules and workflows.

eMarketplace Platforms for Franchises

B2B marketplace software is also used for franchises. A franchise will have a standard offering, and there might be hundreds or thousands of franchise locations all over the world. They’d want a common functionality with the ability to extend and override that default content.

Building the eMarketplace Foundation

Sourcing & Managing Data

The core concept behind a marketplace eCommerce platform is this powerful capability to search and find items and be able to narrow things down. That ability to find things starts with getting at the data and being able to source the data properly.

website data content management

Depending on the clients, the specific business model, etc., this data may come from a standard or headless ERP system, cXML, EDI, CRM, or a punchout catalog. You need to be able to take these disparate data sources, standardize them, and allow the marketing team to modify and manage the content on the site.

There can also be manual uploads, bulk uploads of items, API access for specific vendors who are selling, and the ability to allow vendors to manually enter bulk upload—often via a vendor dashboard—or even use the APIs for the marketplace to bring their products into their store.

This concept of sourcing is really important for an eMarketplace because without products, of course, there is no marketplace. Therefore, it’s critical that you find a marketplace eCommerce platform solution that can handle all the data that's coming in and is able to search and filter all that data.

Managing Data for eMarketplace Stores

It’s especially important that data is well-managed for eMarketplace stores. Stores often sell items of a certain type that are branded a specific way. This can refer to medical supplies, vehicle restoration supplies, products made in a certain country, or products that are only available with qualifications, such as a veteran status. Or they might be international products that are coming from abroad, or used or classified items.

eMarketplace Sourcing Governance

In a classic marketplace eCommerce scenario, there’s a governance model built in to allow the sourcing of products into the system. There needs to be approvals and workflows for managing content, processing orders, and making sure customers are happy with the results.

On that note, you can check customer satisfaction by checking the reviews and ratings they give to vendors and products.

Additionally, product content, categorization, and images need to be standardized and given quality checks before they get published to the site. Otherwise, it may be difficult and confusing for customers because they won’t be able to find all the products in a category or properly compare different items to make a purchasing decision.

Read More About Marketplace Governance

Business-Specific Features & Content Management

It’s important to get the right features and content management system for your marketplace software, whether you need a B2B, C2C, or B2C marketplace platform. That way, you can cater your offerings to your customers to improve their satisfaction and boost sales, as well as increase workflow efficiency so you always stay one step ahead.

Detailed Look Into Different Types of Marketplaces

Auctions and classifieds e-marketplaces.

Auctions & Classifieds Marketplaces

Beyond the classic marketplace platform examples above, there are also auction eCommerce marketplaces, classified marketplaces, and used-item marketplaces.

These can be hybrids with “buy now” or “offer your best price” sales models, or you can have all the different auction types within your marketplace. This can be intermixed with traditional sales. The idea would be that there’s a classified where people can list items to sell.

It’s important when you have these types of marketplaces that people are interacting with each other, and the governance and guidelines of this process are being enforced and automated as much as possible.

Manage the Review Process

One type of governance process is a review and rating workflow. For example, if reviews are two-way, such that both parties review each other and can see the review the other gave them, it can help make them more honest; not biased towards all negative reviews such that people have trouble discerning what reviews are legitimate. It’s critical in marketplace eCommerce that reviews are accurate because people need to be able to trust what they are purchasing.

Customer reviewing a product.

Therefore, when you create a marketplace website, it's vital to have tools that enable and enforce the governance and guidelines that allow for this interaction between the buyer and seller. That can happen more naturally when both parties review each other, and when those reviews aren’t available to each other until they’ve both posted. Or if one party doesn’t post a review, there’s a waiting period before they can see the other’s review.

There could also be an opportunity for the seller and/or buyer to resolve any issues before the reviews are posted, or a way to update reviews if issues are resolved afterwards.

Have a Reconciliation Process

Similarly, for marketplace eCommerce with auctions or classifieds that focuses on users posting and selling content, it’s necessary to have an escrow model or some type of reconciliation model. Without a way to resolve issues, it’s likely the situation will turn negative if there are any problems, which may result in losing customers.

Issues can be related to shipping, taxes, customs, and duties, product quality, fulfillment, the return process, and any other part of the marketplace operations. These all affect the satisfaction of the buyer and seller in the process.

Training & Auditing for Platform Users

With auction and classified marketplaces, it’s helpful to have robust training that’s built into the workflow. As people list their items and interact with the site, they have to complete certain training. The training can be brief, but make sure to emphasize what to avoid doing to not cause problems. This helps make people aware of common issues and how to avoid them.

It’s also vital to point out that it’s better to be honest and not misrepresentative about the items they’re listing; it’s better to be slightly conservative with the explanation for a product or service than it is to be aggressive and overly salesy. This soft of training can also be done if you white-label marketplace software.

Marketplace platform user training and auditing.

To ensure everything is up to your marketplace’s standards, you can run audits on each of these ads and product listings, including items that are going to be auctioned or in the classified system. Let sellers know you’ll be running these audits and that their ads and listings need to be approved before they’ll be posted in the B2B marketplace platform, and that if a seller lists something overly salesy and spammy, they can be suspended or expelled from the marketplace.

Trust is a fundamental cornerstone of a successful marketplace. It needs to be part of the base process of everything going into the marketplace, in addition to making everything self-service and automatically set up in a concise, but complete way, that manages people’s experiences (for sellers and buyers) as they go through the process, guiding them in a realistic, healthy, and positive direction.

Review & Reconciliation

Allowing buyers and sellers to post reviews and ratings on the platform is good for building trust and letting you know where to improve. And, if there are any problems, a reconciliation process allows that to be resolved, rather than a customer or seller getting frustrated with the lack of capability to do anything.

Auding & Managing Content

Auding content, such as product listings and descriptions, is part of managing and sourcing content, the foundation of the marketplace. It’s best to have a marketplace platform that can run automated audits and integrate your back-office systems seamlessly.

eMarketplace Buying Groups

Another scenario that’s quite common for marketplace eCommerce is a subset called buying groups. By nature, buying groups are set up to purchase items in bulk on behalf of their members. From a tactical perspective, in order to execute on these large purchases, buying groups need to do things that are technically challenging to do manually at scale.

Buying group.

Bulk Purchases and Shipments

For example, oftentimes, the vendors that are selling items to a buying group need there to be a certain quantity or size of purchased items within a certain time period in order to fill the physical shipping modality. This could be a container that’s going to be shipped from overseas, a train, truck, container, freight, LTL, etc.

Once there’s a certain quantity met, the manufacturer and vendor have economies of scale, so that they can provide the same items at a lower cost. That's great as a buying group, but then the actual recipients of these items need to have this concept of split shipping and split payment so that they can pay for and receive the items that they need at their location.

Pricing Nuances

There’s a lot of tactical detail that goes into allowing people within the buying group to see the appropriate pricing based on the quantity and see for a collective purchase whether or not they’ve met the quantity discounts.

In addition, there is dealing with split shipping and split payment in these quantity breaks, and the pricing rules around these are really important. Sometimes it's also necessary to have different pricing levels within the buying groups. And all of this needs to revolve around a data set that’s coming from different vendors, who may have completely different formats for providing their data. This can be EDI formats, cXML, punchout catalog, ERP data feeds with SOAP or REST or any format of CSV files, flat files, etc.

Seamless Integration

Depending on the value of incorporating that data into the marketplace, it might be really important to the buying group that these products, regardless of the data source, have seamless eCommerce marketplace integration into the system. Clarity certainly integrates with all of those data formats, protocols, systems, line of business applications like product information management (PIM) and warehouse information management software, ERP, CRM, other systems.

Specific Functions for Buying Groups

Buying group platforms often need specific workflows and capabilities built in. A customizable platform that adjusts to your needs and the needs of your customers is ideal. Integration ability is an important aspect you want to look for in buying group software.

International, Multilingual, & Multicurrency eMarketplace Platforms

International marketplace eCommerce analytics

Region-Specific Platforms

Another commonality with marketplaces is international, multilingual, multicurrency marketplace platforms. Typically, with international, multilingual, and multicurrency scenarios, it's critical that not only the functionality be there for multilingual and multicurrency capabilities, but also that the content itself reflect the regions, dialects, the culture of the purchasers and sellers, and what they've determined works in a particular region or country.

This is essential because it impacts all aspects of the operations for the platform. These operations include low-level things, like SEO and advertising results, and high-level concepts about whether people who are looking at the site in that particular region feel comfortable purchasing in this marketplace. If they don't, then they're not going to use the system.

Location-Based Workflows & Business Logic

There are also specific workflows and business rules for particular regions based on the laws, taxes, customs, and duties that are necessary based on the traditional ways of purchasing that may apply in that particular area.

For example, in some African countries, the most common browsing device is a very small track phone device that doesn’t have a high-definition display but is instead a simple display that can’t really show a robust website. Therefore, when you create a multi-vendor website, the site needs to have a specific presentation to get at all the potential purchasers in those countries.

It depends on which region you’re targeting, but if you're targeting a particular region and in Asia, for example, some Asian countries have very specific restrictions on what products can be shown and what products could cause the entire site to be banned.

These are all fundamental considerations that your international marketplace eCommerce platform needs to be able to handle.

Furthermore, there are lot of nuances around making sure that the user has a great experience, including being able to look up the Geo IP and effortlessly deal with currency conversion to make sure that people can complete purchases.

It’s also important to be able to automatically handle shipping, customs, and duties, and manage the back-office with regards to generating the right tax forms and logistical integrations for international shipping, etc.

Tailor Your International Offerings

With marketplace eCommerce, catering to your customers is a key step to achieving your business goals. With international eMarketplace, it’s more complex, making it even more imperative that you can customize the platform to your needs. That can include having different portals or automatic filtering, etc., but it’s important to ask these questions when starting an international marketplace: How can I customize this platform for different locations and customers?

Franchises & Multilocation eMarketplaces

Location-Dependent Content

The final area that we recommend considering for your marketplace eCommerce platform is the ability for franchises or other multilocation eCommerce to customize and override their content depending on the location.

For example, one of our clients had a computer training platform where they provided computer training courses that were pretty standard. Many of them were online courses that were self-service. All of the different locations offered these online self-service courses. They were basically all the same, but some of them were translated and the corporate translation that came out to all the franchises wasn't his high fidelity as some of the local franchises would prefer.

Multilocation e-marketplace web architecture.

The local franchises would inherit the corporate content and the corporate course information and pricing, but then they would override parts of the marketing description and parts of the content of the actual course. Maybe change the pictures, the content, SEO characteristics, meta-information. And then they would use that overridden content. However, if the corporate office updated the pricing, that would not be overridden. That would continue to come in from the corporate headquarters.

Then you’d have a marketplace where the corporate office is distributing a parent record, and then each of the locations has the ability to override, update, and extend that content. Many of these locations add specific content that is unique to their particular region. There might be a certain training in the UK, for example, around GDPR or The National Health rules that are specific to the United Kingdom. Whereas in the US it would be HIPAA that would apply. In different regions, there might be different courses and information that apply.

Franchises Purchasing from Different Vendors

There also needs to be consideration for when these franchises need to purchase from different vendors and have these vendors list products for sale to the franchises themselves. Then, the franchises can purchase items and list their products from region-specific suppliers that are approved.

These are really important aspects of a marketplace eCommerce platform whenever you're applying it to a franchise and multilocation scenario, and that make sense to incorporate into the platform.

It needs to be rather robust whenever you get into some of the nuances of making this happen, though, so we recommend working with a partner who has experience working with franchises, multiple locations, incorporating different vendors into this workflow, and the marketplace business model in gereral. You want the whole process can be as self-service and automated as possible.

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An eMarketplace Platform that Delivers Value

There are many more things to consider when it comes to an eMarketplace platform that will deliver value to your organization for years to come. If you’d like further information about what marketplace solution is best for your particular business, you can—just request a pressure-free, no-obligation demo with our experts.

FAQ

 

A marketplace platform allows buyers and sellers to connect and trade with each other. The platform lists the products or services of the sellers, facilitates transactions between buyers and sellers, and earns a commission on each sale. The platform also provides support services such as payment processing and dispute resolution. It acts as a middleman to ensure secure and convenient transactions.

 

The most important features of a good marketplace platform are:

  • Secure payment system
  • Robust customer support, including dispute resolution
  • User-friendly interface
  • Customizable product listings
  • Option for buyers to leave reviews and ratings.

These features are critical to ensure a smooth and secure transaction process, and to build trust between buyers and sellers on the platform. They also play a significant role in attracting and retaining users on the platform.

 

A marketplace platform ensures the safety of transactions by implementing several security measures, including:

  • Secure payment processing systems to protect sensitive information such as credit card numbers and other financial data.
  • Transaction fraud detection and prevention, which can be done using machine learning algorithms to identify unusual patterns of behavior.
  • User verification, where users must verify their identity, to reduce the risk of fraud.
  • Escrow services, where funds are held in a secure account until the buyer has received and confirmed the goods or services were delivered.
  • Encryption technologies to protect data transmitted between buyers, sellers, and the platform itself.
  • Data backup and recovery systems to protect against data loss or corruption.

By implementing these security measures, a marketplace platform can help ensure the safety and security of transactions on its platform.

 

A supplier service center is a centralized facility or entity that provides essential services and support to suppliers within a supply chain. Its primary purpose is to enhance efficiency, communication, and collaboration between a company and its suppliers. The key functions of a supplier service center include:

  • Order Processing: A supplier service center helps with managing and processing incoming orders from suppliers.
  • Communication Hub: The supplier service center facilitates effective communication between the company and its suppliers.
  • Issue Resolution: It can also aid in addressing and resolving any problems or concerns that may arise in the supply chain.
  • Data Management: supplier service centers help handle and organize data related to orders, inventory, and supplier performance.
  • Performance Monitoring: Tracking and evaluating the performance of suppliers to ensure adherence to quality and delivery standards is a big part of a supplier service center.
  • Training and Support: A supplier service center is great at providing guidance and support to suppliers, including training on processes and systems.
  • Logistics Coordination: They also help with coordinating logistics and transportation activities to optimize the supply chain.
  • Inventory Management: A primary task of a supplier service center is monitoring and managing inventory levels to prevent shortages or excess stock.
  • Quality Assurance: Supplier service centers help by ensuring that suppliers meet the company's quality standards and compliance requirements.
  • Cost Management: Supplier service centers are great for collaborating with suppliers to identify cost-saving opportunities and optimize overall supply chain costs.
 

Some popular e-marketplace platforms are Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Newegg, Wish, AliExpress, and Alibaba.

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Author
 
Autumn Spriggle is a Content Writer at Clarity Ventures who stays up to date on the latest trends in eCommerce, software development, and related topics to provide readers with the latest and greatest. She strives to help people like you realize the full potential for their business.