What is the best multi-vendor e-commerce software? Originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Before your pour many hours, money and resources into building anything yourself, I would recommend you to take two other steps first (if you haven’t already):
- Validate your business idea
- Build a Minimum Viable Product using a platform approach
Let me explain:
Have you validated your business idea?
I really recommend doing this first. It would be a shame to find out after launch that there’s something wrong with your idea. There’s a few ways to do this; this comprehensive article goes through them in detail. To summarize the main points:
List all your core assumptions
Who is your target audience? How do you find these people? Etc.
- Find potential users and interview them
is this a big enough problem for them that they would be willing to pay for someone to solve it?
- Study search data
Quite often a key assumption to validate is about the market size and the distribution channels.
Build an MVP, by using a platform
Now that you got your basic idea checked, it’s time to test it out into practice. Using a platform approach will allow you to really focus on testing the business and idea, rather than spending too much time on the operational and technical setup. A platform will be pretty much ready for you to go, some tweaking aside. Some things you should consider when deciding on the platform:
Does the provider of the software platform offer hosting, server monitoring, automatic software updates, backups, payment bureaucracy, and technical support?
It comes often as a surprise especially to non-technical people how big hurdle this actually is. Many people think you simply install a chunk of code to your server as a one-time thing, and that’s it. That’s not the way it works. If you want to run things on your own server, you really need to have a technical person in your team, since there’s always something to do.
Is the software you’re planning to use open source?
This is quite important. If you’re using proprietary (non-open-source) software, you’re locked in to the services of the marketplace provider. If you later wish to hire a developer team and build new features, that might not be possible. With open source, you can just always move to your own server and continue development there.
What’s best obviously depends on your budget. In general, I think that a big payment upfront is a bad sign. You want a software provider who has invested in your success, which means that it should be relatively affordable to get started, but you will pay more if you are successful.
Since you wish to build a B2C marketplace in the spirit of Amazon or Flipkart, there are three platforms I would recommend you to take a look at: Marketplacer, Mirakl or Izberg. They all focus on this type of marketplaces and offer you a hosted experience. However, their solutions are not for the smallest budgets, and they’re also not open source if I’m correct. For something simpler, you could take a look at this Shopify extension or the various WordPress & Magento marketplace plugins out there.
For those who want to build a multi-vendor store but more in the spirit of eBay or Etsy (lots of small providers), I also encourage to take a look at our marketplace platform Sharetribe. We offer quite an affordable SaaS solution you can use to set up your site in a single day without tech skills, but our platform is also open source, which provides additional flexibility. If you wish to take a look at Sharetribe, you can sign up for a free trial here. There’s no commitment required, so it’s really quick to try it out.