Look at online shopping with a fresh eye
The last decade has been marked by the exponential business growth of online marketplaces. The range of business models they utilize and support is constantly developing, intermingling with traditional industries. What if we told you that almost half of US adults are Amazon Prime members? If Prime subscribers joined to create a country, it would be the world's 12th largest by population. Online markets have a decidedly promising future.
Alongside well-known brands like Amazon, Airbnb, eBay, and Etsy, an array of new marketplaces have begun popping up - selling everything from cookies to used furniture. Those which identify a fertile niche can enjoy rapid growth, even if, at the start, they have little investment and technical expertise behind them - and this is thanks, in large part, to the emergence of ready-made solutions for marketplace platform creation like CS-Cart Multi-Vendor Marketplace.
Globalization continues to influence both our lifestyles and our shopping habits. For consumers looking to get what they need quickly, a single platform with an all-in-one shopping catalog is an irresistible proposition. And so traditional 'brick-and-mortar' stores continue to shut down, as customers make their purchases via online platforms like Amazon or Alibaba in just a few clicks.
Their versatility and great user experience make online marketplaces the future of e-commerce. And so in this article, we ask: why continue operating as a regular online store, when you could transform yourself into the owner of a marketplace like eBay or Etsy?
How being an online marketplace can increase sales at your online store
It's no secret that the majority of U.S. customers go straight to Amazon for online shopping, instead of searching for products on Google. And Amazon began as just a regular online store. But evolving into a marketplace didn't merely bring the company a few new customers - marketplace services became one of its largest sources of income.
Marketplace management isn't an easy task - but it can give you full control over product range, user interface, and income. Turning your online store into a CS-Cart online marketplace, you can expand both your offer and your market coverage. Airbnb is a good example: the company began as purely an accommodation platform, but now offers a wealth of 'experiences', from private tours of popular sights, to cooking workshops. In other words, this marketplace identified niches adjacent to the one it was in, and expanded to fill them.
So, let's take a more detailed look at the benefits to you of turning your online store into a marketplace using CS-Cart Multi-Vendor.
Expand your customer base
For prospective customers, convenience is often what swings it. If they can buy everything they need in one place, they will. The more diverse your product range is, the more customers you'll bring into your marketplace. And though goods purchased come from a range of sellers, they're naturally perceived by customers as products belonging to your marketplace - which increases customer loyalty, encouraging users to buy not only more third-party products, but yours as well. But you profit either way: from commissions in the first instance, or direct sales in the second.
What's more, satisfied customers will recommend your online marketplace to their friends, bringing ever more people to your website.
Your competitors become your partners
When you create a regular online store, your primary objective is increasing its visibility and so attracting new customers. But in a highly competitive and unforgiving e-commerce world, this is not easy. Even if you spend thousands on SEO and advertising to grow traffic, it'll still likely take six to nine months before results come through.
But there's an alternative: instead of going head-to-head with the competition, you can make competitors work for you by integrating a CS-Cart B2B, B2C or C2C marketplace into your online store.
When it comes to monetizing, you can choose from a range of tools depending on the type of marketplace you have - using one of them or combining several at your discretion. The most popular option is to collect fees from sellers working through your marketplace. These can be either flat or percentage-based. This is a win-win setup: marketplace owners get profit, and sellers only pay fees when they're making money.
Another monetization option is to offer extended functionality for additional fees. So, you might offer special promotion on your site's homepage - or, in the case that your marketplace provides only a limited number of listings to regular sellers, this could be lifted for 'premium' users. And of course, as traffic expands, selling advertising and web traffic becomes an option.
Marketing: consolidate everyone's efforts to develop your business
One of the biggest advantages of a marketplace is your reduced involvement in its running. Once you've brought enough sellers and customers to the platform, its growth will be steady and it won't take much effort to attract new users and expand your offering - because users will themselves be creating content and spreading the news.
In the past, the marketing industry focused its advertising campaigns on television and radio - and though expensive, this strategy is still used by companies that have billions of dollars to spend on marketing. The new digital era has created many other ways to promote your business efficiently and at minimal cost - but word of mouth is still far and away the best resource, and today, it can be amplified by social networks. Current data shows that 81% of customers trust friends' and relatives' recommendations over advertising (Hubspot). The message for startups? Create something amazing, get people talking, and go viral.
Naturally, each transaction on a marketplace has two parties: a customer and a seller. For sellers in your marketplace, good feedback and customer recommendations are essential to their business, and so it's a given that sellers will engage new customers. In so doing they'll bring in further trade to the rest of your marketplace and to your pre-existing online store as well. The eventual effect is rather like getting a huge marketing team for free.
CS-Cart Multi-Vendor - a powerful tool for creating key-ready marketplaces of any scale
First, CS-Cart provides you with an e-commerce website - then, its Multi-Vendor module transforms this into a full-fledged marketplace. Sellers get the functionality to create stores, fill them with products, manage delivery - for all of which they'll pay fees to you.
So if you want to be the next Amazon, this is a way to scale your business without limits. A CS-Cart Multi-Vendor license allows business owners to focus on marketing strategy and other tasks essential for online marketplace development, secure in the knowledge that their business is based on a trouble-proof platform.
And if built-in tools and readymade solutions aren't enough for you, there are also professional assistants on offer to customize the default functionality to your specific needs. The result? A unique, fully-personalized product.
CS-Cart Multi-Vendor Features
Over 1300 CS-Cart Multi-Vendor websites are already up and running - and the variety of business owners choosing this solution to create their own online marketplace is really broad. But they all share a basic motivation: its comprehensive functionality lets you create highly competitive products with minimum effort.
- Quick launch and simple management. Simple marketplace settings let you create the interface you want with just a few clicks, adding more personality by selecting and customizing a theme. You can then export and import products, descriptions, and other information right from a .csv file - and save time by group editing products. Your marketplace will be ready for launch in a flash!
- Unlimited business geography. The platform supports 70 built-in trusted payment gateway solutions, various currencies and taxation rules, and 26 languages. Create a truly global product that's not hindered by language or financial boundaries.
- Easy scaling. Add any number of sellers, products, or stores to your marketplace to keep your business developing without limits.
- Detailed statistics. With tools like Google Analytics and Sales Reports, the platform supplies comprehensive data on website visitors, marketing activities' efficiency, and all sales and transactions across a specified period of time.
- CS-Cart Multi-Vendor Mobile App - adaptability in a changing market. E-commerce is going mobile, and your website will be as user-friendly as possible on any device. Your customers will be able to shop via the CS-Cart Multi-Vendor App available on iOS and Android.
- Focus on user experience. Convenient showcases, extended product search, feedback and comments, special offers - the Multi-Vendor plugin supports all the tools you need to make using your website seamless and comfortable for customers.
- SEO-tools. The Multi-Vendor platform from CS-Cart is optimized for search engines - your website will stand out in search results with no additional effort.
- Personal stores for sellers. All your sellers will have their own showcase. They can customize their store's design, add products, publish special offers, and communicate with customers.
- Smart order management system. Your e-commerce marketplace will likely contain thousands or millions of products. Customers will be able to add different products from different sellers to one cart and check out with a single payment, with the system automatically distributing product and financial data among transaction participants.
- Payment and payout automatization. Payment management is one of the most vital functions of any online marketplace. Here, smart automatization makes setup easy, and you'll receive your fees without the need for manual billing.
- A flexible system for communication with sellers. Create and update different subscription types for sellers, set fee levels, and define categories and requirements for product approval. This individualized approach will help both retain vendors and attract new ones.
- Security first. Built-in backup and recovery tools protect your data from loss and quickly get your marketplace back to work if anything goes wrong.
And this is only a fraction of the benefits that CS-Cart Multi-Vendor will bring to your online marketplace, as it makes its transition into being a multi-vendor trading platform.
The platform gives unlimited capabilities for building a successful business for a new commercial era.
Who should employ a marketplace business model
Markets today have become highly fragmented into many industries and niches. With so many offers, it can be complicated to find customers and attract sellers' desired target audiences. But importantly, our economy remains very dependent on offline transactions - meaning that in spite of the competition out there, there is still much potential for online marketplaces for goods and services to grow.
It doesn't matter what products and services your online marketplace offers, how you work with vendors, or whether or not you make your own products. Your online business can be transformed, and will moreover find its niche, among multi-vendor platforms.
The concept of a marketplace continues to evolve. Not every trading platform needs to be a vast global store with countless sellers and products - local online marketplaces are becoming increasingly popular. These might play host to the artisans of a particular locality, or craft beer pubs that sell their products within a single city or a state. You get to define your project's scale and geography - and if your idea is different from the majority of other existing offers, then you have the fundamentals of a successful project.
Multi-Vendor is a highly flexible solution, well-suited to marketplaces of any scale - and it doesn't require significant investment. We've already mentioned that today, global e-commerce isn't an option, but rather an imperative. Your company's development, and even its future existence, depends on it. But happily, upgrading your business to a marketplace carries little risk, because your existing store will continue to run as it always has.
From an online store to a marketplace in one day
How long does it take to launch your own marketplace? The answer depends, but with the help of Roobykon Software's professionals you can convert your online store into a CS-Cart Multi-Vendor marketplace in as little as a day. The precise duration will vary according to your objectives and required platform features, but it won't take much time to set up standard functionality, transfer all your products, and run performance tests.
Maybe you need additional functionality? CS-Cart is an open source platform, allowing our developers to customize the trading environment to your individual needs. The amount of time this takes naturally depends on the complexity of the requirements.
But whether you opt for a readymade solution or build your own, you won't need to interrupt your profit flow - because your online store will function as it did before its conversion into a marketplace.
On the topic of CS-Cart Multi-Vendor's price, a readymade platform for marketplace creation is of course much less costly than development from scratch. An out-of-the-box solution already has many of the basic features required for any online marketplace - and its flexibility allows unlimited addition of new features as your project grows in complexity and scale.
One good example is the ShopClues online marketplace. Created with the Multi-Vendor software, it has achieved market capitalization of $1.1 billion. Over 50,000 sellers use the platform, which offers over 53 million products. And of course, the company is continuing its development.
Remember, though, that a readymade solution is only a point of take-off for your flight. How far your business flies will depend on the decisions you make next.
Trading platforms are set to remain the core element of e-commerce. Online marketplaces like Amazon or eBay started out selling regular products, but then, like Airbnb and Uber, they moved on to selling services. Working in both market sectors might be more a complex task than sticking to one-way transactions, but the reward is the chance to catch the moment, embrace a new reality, and take a leap forward. In this game, hesitation is the enemy.
The greatest advantage of tools like CS-Cart Multi-Vendor is their ability to test your idea quickly and with minimal investment - and generate reliable data to both fuel the further development of your CS-Cart Multi-Vendor project, and power marketplace promotion. The American businessman Paul Graham once said that "One of the things that will surprise you if you build something popular, is that you won't know your users. Reddit now has almost half a million unique visitors a month. Who are all those people? They have no idea. No web startup does. And since you don't know your users, it's dangerous to guess what they'll like. Better to release something and let them tell you."
There are many market niches ready to become the new Amazon, Kickstarter or AirBnB. Exploiting these niches requires some expertise, but with over 8 years' experience in marketplace platform development of all levels of complexity, Roobykon Software's professionals can help bring your ideas to life, delivering top quality results quickly and affordably.
Get in touch today and see what new horizons CS-Cart Multi-Vend could open up!