Create a Shopify Multi Vendor Marketplace with Onport



Mar 17th, 2021

When it comes to dropshipping, one name that sticks out above all others, as the most well known is Shopify. Even if you aren’t involved in the dropshipping industry or have an ecommerce store, chances are that you still recognise the Shopify logo. The power of branding at work. However, while Shopify does many things well, it doesn’t excel in one area. One key issue, of course, is that Shopify does not offer direct multi vendor marketplace capabilities. This means that if you really wish to create a multi vendor marketplace and have it running at peak performance, you’ll need more an additional platform.

To Shopify or Not To Shopify…

Shopify is the market leader when it comes to setting up an ecommerce store. Why? Well because it is designed to be used, straight-out-of-the-box. You don’t need a degree in computer science to set up your store, in fact, you don’t need to be particularly tech-savvy at all to be able to use it as a platform for your business. One of the main strengths of Shopify is its design focus - it features many different customisable themes which can help to make your marketplace stand out from the competition and help to create a unique brand experience.

Shopify is designed to be easy to navigate and use, with a pretty intuitive drag-and-drop interface. For a business that is just starting off, it can be a very cost-effective solution as it’s basic package is very affordable. Shopify works but there is definitely room for improvement as far as marketplace scalability goes. Shopify isn’t designed to facilitate a multivendor marketplace so you will need additional support and trying to take a manual approach is simply not viable.

Why a Manual Approach is a Non-Starter

Taking a manual approach when attempting to create a Shopify multivendor marketplace creates much unnecessary stress to running a business, especially when it just doesn’t have to be that way. A manual approach is simply too slow to facilitate the constant demands of a busy online marketplace and in the end, will likely lead to delays, arguments with both vendors and customers and ultimately, failure. Using 3rd party technology to supplement your expansion is clearly the way to go.

There are plenty of apps you can install to supplement your Shopify store, however many of these apps only focus on one area. So your shipping is taken care of but it’s still up to you to manually onboard your vendors and sort out your payments? Not exactly ideal, is it? Why bother with one app which only provides a single solution when you get one which fully automates all your operations and lets you focus on what matters, growing your business? Let me show you the problems involved in expanding your Shopify store and how Onport can help.

Problem One - Integrating Your Vendors Catalogue

In order to ensure cohesive marketplace operations, you have to integrate the product, stock and inventory data from each of your vendors into your Shopify store in a way that reduces friction and encourages an amicable relationship. Taking a manual approach to doing all of this will quickly become unpractical as your business grows.

Product Catalogue

First, you must consider the issue of having an up-to-date product catalogue. Your vendors may regularly update the number of products they have on their site and it is crucial that you are able to keep track of these updates. For instance, you may only have one item from a product line in your Shopify store, while your vendor has recently included the entire line in their inventory.

This will put your store at a disadvantage, if your vendor sells on another site and has products there that are not present on your site, guess where the customer who wants those products will go? What if a product’s specifications change? Product A is no longer XZYcm long but XZY-2c long.. These can be important changes to note and ones which, under a manual importation system, you will have to regularly keep an eye on.

Stock levels and Pricing

Without a 3rd party integration, you must keep correct sync of pricing on your store, having to constantly monitor your vendors pricing manually can be an incredibly time-consuming affair. If the price of an item from your vendor has decreased or increased, you will need to take this into account, to maintain marketplace competitiveness as well as factoring in the effect on your profit margin.

Vendor Payment

Another key aspect is, of course, payment. If you make your vendors jump through a series of hoops, just to get paid, chances are they won’t want to deal with you. Things can get even more complicated when commission rates have been introduced, making sure that the right rate is paid to the right vendor can be tricky and quickly absorb much of your valuable attention and time. Automating this process is vital and when done manually, delays of payment can occur which can damage your relationship with your vendors.

Order Management

So when you choose to expand your product offering, the fact of having to manually keep on top of the numbers of orders can be a daunting task, not to mention incredibly time-consuming. Keeping an up-to-date inventory feed and product catalogue can also become more difficult as your business grows.

Just consider this scenario - somebody orders something from your site, but it is unavailable when you go to the vendor to place the order. Having to inform a customer that they cannot receive their order or that you cannot give them accurate tracking information is a guaranteed way to ensure they never return to your store again. So these are all issues that can seriously dampen your expansions plans, thankfully, with Onport, these can all be automated

Automate Your Vendor Onboarding With Onport

Onport enables you to work seamlessly with as few or as many vendors as you’d like to, allowing your store to expand massively.

Onport ensures that automatic fulfilment updates are pushed directly to your Shopify store, alongside product updates that automatically notify you when your supplier adds new products. You can even publish new products and prices from your vendors directly to your store, meaning no awkward emails to customers, informing them that you’ve had to cancel their order because your store displayed a product that wasn’t actually available.

With Onport, order routing is stress-free. Once an order is placed, our system automatically sends it to the appropriate vendor and once it has been fulfilled, provides you with accurate tracking information.

Using a dedicated dashboard, you can easily view all your vendor’s information at a glance and analyse their order fulfilment charges as well as other important information, such as the number of returns. Onport even allows you to automate the returns process, helping your customer service efforts and ensuring customer satisfaction.

Problem Two - Shipping

One key aspect of building a multi-vendor marketplace is getting your shipping down right. Shopify always assumes a single origin for each shipment. Marketplace shipping costs are calculated on the basis that the order is being picked, packed and shipped from a single location (e.g. your warehouse or shipped via a vendor). However, this is a very idealised scenario and one which you cannot solely rely on to always be the case.

As a result, you will have to pay particular attention to the different shipping methods and rates that will occur due to the items in your store. You may even be faced with the possibility of making a loss due to high shipping costs, costs which your vendors may not want to incur themselves.

Shipping Labels

Another issue to consider is who will supply the shipping labels, you or your vendors? For many smaller vendors, the costs of sending the goods themselves may be too high and may deter them from wanting to feature on your marketplace. Having to manual calculate rates could lead to costly mistakes, leading to either you or your vendor having their margin reduced.

Tracking Information

When an order is placed in your store, you will need to supply the customer which some sort of tracking information, such as a delivery ETA. Nowadays, this has become an expected feature for many customers and if your store is to remain competitive, you must be able to provide tracking information. Again, under a manual system, having to check the status of each delivery could quickly devour your entire day.

Let Onport Simplify Your Shopify Multi Vendor Shipping

Onport understands that shipping can be stressful but we allow you and your vendors to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. You can choose two main options, from supplying your vendors with shipping labels to having them invoice you for shipping costs.

While both options may seem complicated, using Onport, the entire process is automated, regardless of which option you choose. With Onport, vendors can print shipping labels using our discounted USPS account or by using their own carrier. If you and your vendor decide they will the ones to ship the orders, that you can use Onport to create a flexible shipping rate, even if those vendors have different pricing structures or will be shipping from different regions.

You can set live carrier rates from USPS, FedEx or other carriers based on the weights, location of the customer and location of the vendor. You can then set parameters such as weight or value to further ensure your shipping policy is effective and efficient for both parties.

We’ll even help automate the payment process for your vendors, such as for the re-reimbursement of shipping costs or general payment. Thanks to Onport, you can do this instantly, using a Stripe, Paypal or bank account.

Onport - A Reliable Partner For Your Shopify Store.

Onport is a multi-vendor marketplace and dropshipping platform. Onport enables product marketplaces to streamline and automate their inventory, orders, payments, and shipping operations. Designed to be flexible, Onport can accommodate both those seeking an out-the-box solution and through our API, those who require a more bespoke implementation. From growing SMEs to well-established Enterprises, Onport’s infrastructure is designed to be a reliable partner for growth.

With Onport, our customers can scale with confidence, streamline their daily operations as well as create truly unique marketplaces. Onport is trusted by brands such as Project N95, Ad Hoc Atelier, and Naduvi as well as over a hundred other companies.

Import product catalogs, send orders, sync tracking information and manage payments - seamlessly.

Learn more

Navigate your business with Onport, a multi-vendor marketplace solution to scale your operations.

© 2023 Onport. All rights reserved