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Key considerations when choosing your online marketplace software platform

Written by Arcadier, 09 Jul 2020

Creating an online marketplace usually comes with the usual “build or buy” decision on the technology. Most people have come to grips that it's better to leave the technology to experts who know best leaving them to concentrate on the online marketplace business instead, thus beginning their search for the best marketplace software platform in the market.  Amongst the dozens (and increasing) solutions, discovering the online marketplace software suited for one’s specific needs is like finding a needle in a haystack. The right investment enables a company to get its brand out there, securing exponential Return on Investment (ROI) thereafter. If not, businesses may struggle to fit their business model to rigid technology with significant frustration. 

While there is no perfect framework for determining an online marketplace software, there are definitely several key considerations when finding the closest software relevant to you. We have analyzed and summarized three factors that not only allow you to quickly launch your online marketplace but most importantly, gain traction and scale in the long run.

To find the best online marketplace software suited for your needs, consider the following important factors:

  1. Understand your Challenge

  2. Marketplace Management Characteristics

  3. Business Development Tools

Understand your Challenge

Business Model

Before building your online marketplace, understand the market or idea that you are venturing into. Gather information on what problems you are solving with your products or services, and who your audience is. This will help you realize essential features and functionalities needed for your business niche, discovering the online marketplace type that is a better fit for you.

Team

What are your company’s technical prowess and available resources? What is your team prioritizing? While one can create a platform with little technical knowledge or resources, some lean towards more towards customization or flexibility. 

There are various types of marketplaces: Cloud-Based Fully Hosted Marketplace Solution, Standalone Self-Hosted Multi-Vendor Solution and Multi-Vendor Plug-In Extensions.

Arcadier belongs to the first category, providing cloud marketplace SaaS self-service and enterprise solutions. This addresses the technological needs of businesses of all sizes with varying customer profiles as they are the easiest to get started with, requiring the least amount of technical knowledge.  

For businesses looking for customization and complete control over their platform, the standalone self-hosted multi-vendor solution might be more appropriate for them. Some technical experience is needed to get the marketplace up and running.

On the other hand, those looking for flexibility might find solutions with multi-vendor plug-in extensions more useful. However, to reap the benefits of this platform, a company should have experienced developers in their team to work around with the underlying system.

Price Range

To some, the above licensed or on-premises eCommerce platforms are considered better solutions in given flexibility and control. Yet, businesses should also figure out the hidden costs that impact pricing. These can be in the form of customization needs or associated costs like hosting and security. If a basic pre-packaged functionality contains all the necessary features for an online marketplace by default, future extensions will cost much less. SaaS eCommerce platforms like Arcadier whose basic plan only starts at US$79/month is an ideal alternative for those who have a limited budget.

Marketplace Management Characteristics

After documenting the focus of your software, it is important to understand if the marketplace software facilitates your needs at every step of the way - from implementation, technical help and the management of sellers.

Implementation

Besides a smooth onboarding process, the availability of a free trial version or demo is essential. If it enables access to full functionality, you can attain hands-on experience, check the online marketplace platform in action and evaluate if it fits your needs.

Technical Help

The process of launching and using your online marketplace platform should be hassle-free. A multi-vendor eCommerce script should be supported by an active community of users and technical specialists which you can rely on. Do note that most free third-party plugins on platforms like Shopify usually do not provide further technical support, hence you should be mindful of the tools that you first equip yourself with when building a marketplace. Besides the support quality, other important markers are the frequency of marketplace updates and improvements.

Even if an online marketplace software is unable to support payment methods or flows that are specific to your business model, you can research if they provide other forms of support. In Arcadier’s case, our clients have access to our Expert Partners who specializes in front-end development and UI/UX that carefully amalgamates design and technology together to create a better-customized marketplace platform for you.

Management of Sellers

Once your online marketplace has been launched, it is crucial to manage sellers thereafter. An online vendor which has a marketplace providing a wide range of functionalities enables them to acquire and retain sellers, in turn, helping to expand their user base and outreach.

At Arcadier, we have three distinct default user types with intuitive interfaces  - Marketplace Operator (site admin), Third-party Seller and Buyer/Guests. Besides being able to support businesses with unlimited merchants, listings and transactions for our respective parties, we offer marketplace business support services like customer service and vendor management. Sellers are thus not only able to navigate through the website easily and manage orders effectively, with functions like email notifications, product reviews and a buyer-seller chat, they are also able to establish strong relations with their buyers and boost their own earnings. 

Payment Gateways

Payment security and convenience are one of the most crucial features an online marketplace platform should provide. Different payment methods include the most popular and safest options are usually pre-embedded in a multi-vendor script, reducing worries about integrating a third-party payment gateway.

Currently, Arcadier has pre-integrations with Stripe, PayPal and Omise. We also have a generic payment connector that allows marketplace implementations to integrate payment gateways of their choice. Aside from allowing you to meet all online payment security requirements and ensuring customer financial data protection, we also allow vendors to have the flexibility in marketplace transactions. Payments can be customized and can be split between the admin and seller, or if one prefers, transactions in the marketplace can all go to the admin directly, depending on which payment gateway is most relevant to our clients.

Business Development Tools

When it comes to your online marketplace, it is not just about the initial launch and getting it to work. To ensure that a marketplace is able to scale, an in-depth analysis based on statistics and reports is needed. An online marketplace platform system that provides or allows you to integrate with popular tools like Google Analytics to track traffic and detailed sales statistics. 

Analytics, tracking, and reporting are possible with Arcadier and can be displayed and visualized the way clients would like with our APIs. This is coupled with a report revealing total sales, top viewed items, top-selling items for both the marketplace operator and for third party vendors. We also equip clients with a marketplace report generator plug-in and an integration with Google Analytics to analyze site footfall. This allows you to change strategies if needed and stay on top of the game.

Summary

Before proceeding with a particular online marketplace software, it is essential to partake in a business and technical analysis of your company and the provider you are planning to engage with. These range from developing and fine-tuning your business requirements to looking out for features and functionalities, which include customization and security. Think beyond establishing your presence and consider how you would scale your business with your platform in the long run. Additionally, it does not hurt to do further research on the providers you are considering. Explore their portfolio. You would want to find a credible vendor who has your interests at heart at all times.

With these guiding your thought processes, you will be able to choose the right online marketplace confidently.

Ranise Teo is with the Business Development and Marketing team at Arcadier, a SaaS company that powers next generation marketplace ideas. You can follow Arcadier on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn for more news and updates. 

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