Multi-Store & Multi-Vendor Marketplace Management

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Best Practices and Features for Marketplace Management

Learning about multivendor and multistore marketplace management is the first step to enabling the best practices and tools for a successful eCommerce marketplace platform. Our goal at Clarity Ventures is to give you the tools you need to scale your business successfully. We are here to answer the question:

What are the best practices and features for managing a multi-store and multi-vendor eCommerce marketplace website?

This is an important concept for online multi-store and multi-vendor marketplace platforms. Proper management is key to success. Read on for more.

The Foundation of Marketplace Management

Platform Governance Guides Everyone In the Right Direction

Multi-store and multi-vendor marketplace websites tend to focus on several aspects. One is making sure that the overall architecture of the platform has governance. This is really important because with a multi-site, multi-store, and multi-vendor platform, there’s a lot of logistical interaction to deal with, or different parties interacting with each other.

These would be the different vendors, store owners, store managers, and buyers, and the different backgrounds they’re coming from and different sets of data within the different vendor databases.

There can be quite a wide array of products and quality of content, as well as physical locations, languages, time zone differences, significant differences between users and user types, etc.

The e-marketplace platform governance has to do with how the site is conducted, including the rules, guidelines, procedures, and policies of the site. A marketplace website with strong governance will drive vendor behavior towards delivering high quality and consistent usability for the site, thus delivering value to the end users.

On the other hand, a lack of governance can turn the platform into a free-for-all, where things are inconsistent and unreliable, which will decrease the popularity of the e-marketplace platform.

That drop in popularity will make the site even more unpopular, since people’s opinions are influenced by the socially perceived value. From there, it can become a downward spiral.

“Land and Expand” Marketplace Management Strategy

Focus on Your Niche to Expand the Marketplace

For a multi-store and multi-vendor marketplace, it is most beneficial to focus on a niche or a few niches where you and your team have a lot of expertise and depth of knowledge. This will give you the ability to execute well and therefore accumulate value that you can bring to the marketplace.

You can also enable the right type of searching, expose the right information (like showing the right type of data or images on a product detail page), and add value by making internal reviews and recommendations.

This is really important because users are going to be looking at different marketplace websites, and they are guaranteed to dramatically and exponentially accumulate towards whatever marketplace provides the most value. And it really is an exponential differentiation between the marketplaces that have the value and the focus on a particular niche, and the particular specialty area versus the ones that don't.

With the right strategies, you can compete with any large organization, be it Amazon or any other marketplace business that has a large online presence and online marketplace.

You can compete with them by becoming so specialized and having such strong governance and such strong community and overall, just such great value within particular niches that they can just absolutely never catch up.

This strategy is commonly referred to as “land and expand.” First you take over a single niche, and then other closely related niches, and then multiple niches as you grow your experience and reach. Then that turns into an industry that you focus on, and then into industries.

In fact, that’s exactly what Amazon did when they first launched their marketplace. And you can see how successfully that turned out for them—which means you can be that successful, too. This is a really powerful technique for a marketplace.

Achieve the Full Potential of E-Marketplace

Self-Service Is an Integral Part of a Full eMarketplace Offering

Within a multi-vendor and multi-store marketplace, certain features are vital to success. One is a self-service capability within the platform.

Self-service is fundamental to a complete offering, and it is necessary to have the most complete offering in the market to accumulate enough scale of products within your niche to become the dominant marketplace for that particular focus area.

Self-service is necessary for vendors so they can dynamically do bulk or manual uploads to product information and orders. It’s essential for vendors to be able to rapidly push and pull data for products, category information, inventory, pricing, images, and orders.

They need to be able to do this through their internal line of business applications like EDI, Punchout, cXML, or other APIs, and/or have a dashboard to easily manage orders and data. Vendors also need different roles and access within different divisions of the organization, such as by product line.

Similarly, customers need to be able to self-service whenever they're placing orders, especially when ordering a large item or a large number of items (so they’d need to do a bulk order, or the marketplace could have an automated ordering system).

Most of all, customers need to be able to do individual orders that may have complexities without having to contact a human or customer service during that process. This may involve setting up split shipping or split payments, having customer-specific pricing or custom configurations, or interacting with the seller.

This is really critical for marketplace, because fundamentally, that's the whole goal of the marketplace—to enable this self-service and rapid completion of ordering, while removing overhead and timeline delays from the process.

To execute on these things quickly and effectively, the users need to be able to interact with each other through systems that can be automated and through a bulk interaction.

Keep Everyone in the Know with an Omnichannel Model

Omnichannel Enables Flawless Multi-Vendor Marketplace Platform Interaction

In addition, it's also crucial to be able to provide notifications through an omnichannel model, so both through the web application and through email, text, mobile application, and other means of interaction between the vendors, store managers, and customers.

This interaction goes beyond a quote request—it also includes being able to notify a purchaser when an item becomes in stock for a certain price and in a certain lead time, for example.

It can also include very detailed quote requests and expedited processes. These things boost the marketplace as a niche leader and trusted resource within the niche or niches the marketplace is focusing in on.

Platform Governance – Niches – Self-Service – Omnichannel

Core Concepts of Multistore and Multi-Vendor Marketplace Platform Management

These are some of key concepts and best practices for managing a multi-store and multi-vendor eCommerce marketplace website, especially when a site is operating at scale.

The governance is essential to building the credibility of the marketplace, and without the focus on these guidelines and integrations, the marketplace will be missing key capabilities such as bulk uploads which will make it challenging for the users.

Lastly, focusing on a niche is fundamental to scaling a marketplace.

Each niche is very specialized, so even if you have a wide array of categories and industries that you can serve, it’s best to focus on one or a few niches and dominate those first. Then expand from there.

Scale Your Marketplace

Hopefully this information is helpful to you. We’d love to share and discuss more with you, if you have any questions or would like to know more. We are also happy to hear about your current projects, challenges, and goals to discover how we can create opportunities for success. Clarity has experts in marketplace management, and if you work with us, we’ll help get you to where you want to be. Click below to contact us today.

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