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10+ Ultimate Checklist for Creating a Marketplace on Shopify

Shopify holds the top spot for e-commerce platforms due to its ease of use, robust features, scalability, and vast marketplace app ecosystem. It empowers anyone, tech-savvy or not, to confidently build and manage an online store or multi-vendor marketplace.

Consider your marketplace on Shopify as a bridge connecting buyers and sellers. 

But how do you ensure your Shopify marketplace stands out in this virtual real estate where countless bridges exist? 

The answer lies in three crucial pillars:

  1. defining your niche, 
  2. simplifying vendor management and 
  3. enhancing customer experience. 
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Image: Three crucial pillars to building a marketplace on Shopify 

More often than not, manufacturers and traders limit their e-commerce websites by only fulfilling the first pillar – defining their business niche and creating a unique value proposition. It could be because Shopify’s in-built apps cannot fulfill the technical requirements under the other two pillars. 

Without third-party plugins, Shopify cannot register vendors, grant access rights to vendors for managing their products and orders, or calculate commissions. 

Additionally, there is a shortfall in order processing functionalities, with the absence of automated labeling, shipping, tracking, and invoicing features. Furthermore, Shopify misses essential marketing and sales features, including built-in email marketing, abandoned cart recovery, and upselling tools. 

As your store expands, the manual management of various aspects becomes increasingly challenging, highlighting a potential scalability issue. 

Fortunately, Shopify multivendor plugins like Shipturtle are democratizing your Shopify store. It can significantly expand your strategy functionality, automate tasks, and improve the overall customer experience. 

Let’s explore a detailed step-by-step action plan on building your marketplace empire on Shopify or otherwise a business that runs itself!  

Scale Your Business with Shopify Marketplaces: The Proven 14-Point Checklist

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Image: 14-point checklist to build a multi-vendor marketplace on Shopify

Building a thriving marketplace on Shopify requires careful planning and execution. This checklist will guide you through the essential steps to ensure a smooth launch and sustained growth.

Table of Contents

Platform Setup1. Integrate Shopify marketplace creator
2. Theme customization & mobile optimization
3. Legal compliance 
Vendor Acquisition and Onboarding4. Vendor onboarding
5. Automate the onboarding process
Product Management and Curation6. Product quality control
7. Category management
8. Implement search and filtering
Payment and Commission Structure9. Payment gateways
10. Commission settings
11. Automatic payment disbursement
Setting Up Shipping Options12. Shipper Integrations
Analytics and Performance Tracking13. Define key performance indicators
14. Responsive support

I. Platform Setup

Once you’ve defined your niche and value proposition, it’s time to lay the groundwork for your Shopify marketplace.

  1. Choose the Right Marketplace Apps: Shopify’s app store hosts a range of plugins designed to enhance your marketplace’s functionalities. Popular options include:
  • Multi-Vendor Marketplace Apps: Onport, Puppet Vendors, or Flxpoint offer features like vendor onboarding, product listing management, and commission tracking.
  • Inventory Management Apps: Shopify plugins like Syncio, Ampiflow, or SyncLogic sync your products and inventory in real time between multiple stores.    
  • Shipping and Fulfillment Apps: Apps like Shipway, Pluginhive, or Indian Logistics Services streamline order fulfillment by automating tasks like shipping label generation and tracking.
  • Brand Partnerships: Tools like Carro, Disconetwork, or Shopcanal enable you to connect with similar brands in your niche to create a marketplace.   
  • Independent marketplace builder: Tools like Sharetribe or CS Kart can help you attract new customers, boost engagement, and optimize your platform for search engines.

ShipTurtle is a popular choice plugin on Shopify to build a multi-vendor marketplace. It offers a one-stop solution for discussed functionalities and extends Shopify’s features to streamline & automate the existing marketplace. 

  1. Theme Selection & Mobile Optimization: Your theme sets the visual tone for your marketplace. 

Choose a theme on the Shopify website builder that is responsive, visually appealing, and functionally rich. 

Your chosen theme should support features like vendor storefronts, product search filters, and a clear checkout process and at the same time, ensure a seamless experience across all devices that reflects your brand identity. 

Explore top Shopify themes for your e-commerce here

  1. Legal Considerations: Consult legal professionals to ensure your marketplace complies with relevant e-commerce and data privacy regulations. It includes terms of service, privacy policies, and dispute resolution procedures.

II. Vendor Acquisition and Onboarding

Your Shopify marketplace is only as vibrant as the vendors who call it home. 

Attracting the right vendors and ensuring their smooth onboarding are crucial steps in building an active community and delivering on your value proposition. 

Here’s how to approach these key aspects:

  1. Vendor Recruitment: Develop recruitment materials like brochures, website landing pages, and email templates to effectively convey the unique advantages of joining your marketplace. Showcase success stories from existing vendors through testimonials and case studies to build trust and credibility among potential partners.  
  1. Onboarding & Vendor Vetting: Start by simplifying vendor registration, ensuring a seamless onboarding experience with clear instructions and user-friendly interfaces for setting up storefronts. 

Provide dedicated onboarding support by assigning a point of contact to address questions and concerns and guide vendors throughout the onboarding process. 

Learn more about how ShipTurtle can automate Vendor acquisition and onboarding to your Shopify marketplace here. Moreover, ShipTurtle allows you to set specific permissions to specific vendors concerning price modifications and more. 

III. Product Management and Curation

A successful marketplace thrives on a compelling selection of products that resonate with your target audience. Here’s how you can go about it: 

  1. Product Quality Control: Define comprehensive guidelines for product descriptions, images, pricing, and shipping practices, ensuring that vendors accurately portray their offerings and meet the quality expectations set by your platform. 

Additionally, provide vendors with valuable resources, such as training materials and best practices, to assist them in creating compelling product listings and adhering to the defined quality standards. ShipTurtle keeps a robust history of every change made by the users for troubleshooting purposes. 

  1. Category Management: Implementing advanced search filters, such as those for price range, product features, and brand names, can significantly assist customers in quickly locating the specific items they are seeking. 

Another effective strategy is highlighting curated collections or “staff picks” that showcase unique offerings, new arrivals, or products aligned with specific trends or customer interests.  

  1. Automated Search and Filtering: This involves ensuring that the search bar is easily accessible, provides auto-suggestions, and delivers accurate results based on relevant keywords and product attributes. 

By incorporating these features, you not only streamline the product discovery process for your customers but also add a personalized touch to their shopping experience, encouraging engagement and exploration within your platform. 

Additionally, ShipTurtle’s revolutionary Vendor Website Sync feature is a game-changer solution to keep your product, inventory, and order information in sync. Furthermore, you can implement a Branded Tracking Page after placing an order for potential upselling and cross-selling opportunities. 

IV. Payment and Commission Structure

Establishing a clear and transparent payment and commission structure is crucial for the long-term success of your Shopify marketplace. 

Here’s how you can ensure fair compensation for vendors, a predictable revenue stream for you, and a seamless experience for customers: 

  1. Payment Gateways: Choose third-party Shopify marketplace apps to integrate secure and reliable payment gateways to facilitate vendor and customer transactions. Be transparent about any transaction fees charged to buyers or vendors, ensuring no hidden costs surprise them at checkout.
  1.  Commission Settings: Begin by determining commission rates, taking into account factors such as product category, profit margin, or vendor performance. 
  1.  Automatic Payment Disbursements: Set up automated payment disbursements to vendors based on their sales and commission structure. 

To streamline operations and maintain accuracy, leverage third-party apps like ShipTurtle to automate commission calculations, set commissions at various levels, from Global to Vendor, Category, and Product specifics, and generate commission invoices.

V. Setting Up Shipping Options

Shopify may allow you to track the fulfillment status of an order and provide details of the AWB (Airway Bill) only. However, all other tasks, such as obtaining courier rates, creating labels, and tracking, must be handled manually. 

This process is notably labor-intensive and, based on our experience, demands at least 5-10 minutes for each order processed. 

  1.  Shipper Integrations: You can use the ShipTurtle plugin on your Shopify marketplace to seamlessly integrate with 200+ courier partners, including FedEx, Bluedart, DHL, Delhivery, and more.

VI. Analytics and Performance Tracking

Eventually, you need reliable and insightful analytics to steer your Shopify marketplace toward success. Here’s the best way to go about it: 

  1. Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): You may use in-built analytics on Shopify to measure site performance. However, you can explore third-party apps on Shopify to analyze vendor performance, customer acquisition, and retention better. 
  1.  Responsive Support: Offer multiple contact channels, including email, live chat, phone support, and social media messaging, to accommodate diverse customer preferences and ensure efficient communication. 

Using ShipTurtle on Shopify, you can establish clear expectations for response times, striving to address customer inquiries promptly and effectively. 

How to Get Started? 

Building a marketplace on Shopify is a low-risk option for start-ups to establish a sales channel before setting up a manufacturing unit. If you are that someone, you should consider scheduling a free call with our e-commerce experts. 

Even though you might not currently require our services, feel free to view our success stories. You can use our live chat option that appears at the bottom right of your screen to explore more. 

Let’s explore the possibilities of collaborating and creating something exceptional together!

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