Why Your Multi Vendor Marketplace Needs Onport



Apr 11th, 2023

Nowadays, we continue to find ourselves surrounded by an ever-growing amount of different online marketplaces. Whether it be through food delivery with the likes of Ubereats to giftshops like Etsy to well-established auction sites like eBay - the multi vendor marketplace ecosystem continues to grow and it is easy to see why.

They are a severals way to host third-party vendors, who might be smaller vendors or independents and make great profits from a commission on sales while adding great value to the end consumer. If you’re looking to get in on the action and set up your own thriving marketplace, but you don’t want to waste hours of your time manually sorting orders, shipping and inventory data, you’ll require solid and scalable marketplace infrastructure - like Onport.

The two types of multi vendor marketplaces

Firstly, there are two main types of multivendor marketplaces. The first is a curated site, where you maintain control of the vendors featured on your site and the products you want to sell. This gives you greater overall control to choose only the vendors that fit with your brand. You’ll also be in control of imagery, descriptions, special offers and promotions. Curated sites like these offer a great customer experience and give you the opportunity to build a strong, recognizable brand that your customers come back to time and time again.

Another example of multivendor marketplaces is a self-serve site, such as eBay. These sites are a lot less time-consuming to manage, but this does mean you relinquish a lot of editorial control. This can lead to a slightly disjointed customer experience; you’ll lose consistency and may sacrifice a strong brand image as your vendors publish and maintain their own products and content. It can be difficult to keep both your own end goals and those of your vendors on the same page.

Which is better: curated or self-serve multi vendor marketplaces?

We here at Onport, have worked with a wide selection of multi-vendor marketplaces. So, we strongly recommend maintaining control of your site and selecting your vendors with care. Remember, it’s about quality, not quantity. Invest your time in word-perfect product descriptions and strong imagery that captures customers’ imaginations and cut through. Think about creating collections that might feature products from a selection of different vendors, such as an outfit with a hat from one vendor, a dress from another and the perfect accessories to set it all off from a third vendor.

Normally, this may require a lot of time and effort, however, with Onport's marketplace software, it’s actually very straightforward. With Onport, you can automatically sync all product details - straight from your vendors’ stores to yours. Then it’s just a case of editing the content so it fits with your brand image. Onport fully automates the operational side of your business, so you’ll have plenty more time to focus on creating the perfect customer experience and to tell your story.

What if I want to try both approaches?

If you’d prefer to offer your vendors the opportunity to create their own listings, but still want the control of a curated site, you can blend the two ideas together. Onport’s marketplace technology provides vendors with the ability to try self-serve signups, product publishing and much more.

We can also offer an approval workflow for publishing - so you’ll always be in control. If you’re looking for a more hands-off solution that still gives you total visibility on what vendors are selling on your site, this is a great option.

So at this stage, you may ask yourself - what challenges might I face when setting up a multi vendor marketplace?

Problem 1: Onboarding Vendors

One of the biggest problems people face when establishing a new multi vendor marketplace is onboarding vendors. In order for your marketplace to operate cohesively, it’s vital that you ensure a sound onboarding process for them, making sure that you are both on the same page. Vendors might be reluctant to start using a separate system for their own e-commerce platform. They might worry about the extra time involved in setting up their products on your marketplace. And that’s why you need Onport.

With Onport, everything is automated. Vendors can connect their existing e-commerce store to your marketplace platform and you’ll be able to publish products directly from their catalogue. Shipping and payments are also fully automated, and your inventory updates in sync with theirs.

One excellent feature of Onport is the ability to view metrics such as the sales volume, profitability and commission rates of your vendors, at a glance. It’s all right there, meaning no more diving through mounds upon mounds of databases for important information. With our system, any issues regarding your vendors can be quickly spotted and resolved, saving you time and good standing.

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There’s absolutely no extra work to be done, so both you and your vendors can focus on building your relationship and of course, your sales. Of course, smaller, independent vendors are particularly risk-averse, and with good reason, however, we can walk you through that process too. Check out our post on onboarding independent vendors with Onport.

Problem 2: Shipping Rates

Items ditched at checkout due to problematic shipping costs are all too common an occurrence online. Often, complex shipping rules can force marketplaces to take a loss, just to get sales. The fact is, a good shipping policy can truly make or break a marketplace. That is why it is imperative that you configure your shipping rates correctly.

When a customer makes a purchase from your multi-vendor marketplace, they’re likely to have selected items from a range of different vendors. Each vendor will need to be paid to ship those items directly to the customer. And to further complicate things, it’s likely that each vendor’s shipping rates are different - they might even be shipped from different countries. So, how can you make sure that you break even on shipping costs and pass back accurate shipping costs at checkout?

With Onport's marketplace software, all your vendors’ shipping rates can be merged together, with the customer being charged a single, blended amount for their shipping at checkout. At the same time, Onport raises an invoice and automatically pays shipping costs directly to your vendors. Alternatively, you might want to provide your vendors with shipping labels to ship orders. With Onport, you can do that too. You can even configure custom shipping rates for more complex shipping requests.

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Of course, getting the product to the customer is only half the story, there are times when it must be sent back to the vendor. The shoes that didn’t fit or the simple reality of a changed mind - your marketplace should account for these situations and a good returns policy will win you a lot of favour with your customers.

Onport's software enables you to offer your customers a simple, speedy and reliable returns process, allowing you to issue returns authorizations automatically, as soon as your customers request them. Onport even provides returns shipping labels to make the process totally pain-free for every customer. Once the customer sends their return, you can track it via Onport’s automated system. It’s as easy as that. When it comes to shipping, Onport has you covered!

Problem 3: Payments

Keeping on top of your vendor payments can easily become a headache when you’re running a successful multivendor marketplace. Late or delayed payments can damage your relationships with your vendors. The solution? Automate your payments.

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To help you stay up-to-date with your upcoming payments, Onport provides you with key stats regarding your current due payments, for example, your shipping invoices and what is owed to which vendor. In the event of payment ever being delayed or rejected, you will be alerted immediately so you can swiftly address the issue.

When you use Onport, you’ll be able to automatically pay vendors for items purchased from your marketplace. The payments go straight to vendors’ Stripe, Paypal or Wise bank accounts, all without you having to lift a finger. You can even manage complex commission or fee structures with ease. Check out our payment integrations for more details.

Frictionless transactions aren’t just good for your vendors - they are good news for your accounts too. Onport supports a number of accounting integrations, such as Taxjar and Xero, ensuring a seamless flow of data between systems and helping to keep your accounts in proper order.

Problem 4: Scaling Your Business

Normally, as a multi vendor marketplace platform grows, managing all the different elements involved becomes increasingly time-consuming and difficult. However, choosing to automate the key aspects of your operations, will allow you to focus on more important areas and make scaling your business far easier.

Forget about piles of emails, stacks of order forms and mind-boggling CSV files you might expect from a thriving marketplace platform. Onport’s automation can scale to hundreds of vendors, managing everything for you. So, your business can grow while you sleep.

Onport is directly integrated with whichever e-commerce platform your vendor chooses to use, whether it be a Shopify marketplace, WooCommerce or any of the other well-known platforms. In fact, we currently have over 20 integrations - and that number is growing all the time. We also have a streamlined vendor portal, perfect for those not currently using an online marketplace platform.

Onport - The All-In-One Solution for Your Multivendor Marketplace

Onport is an ecommerce marketplace and dropshipping platform enabling companies to centralize the core areas of backend marketplace dropshipping operations using next-generation composable technology - inventory syncing, order routing, shipping workflows, payment automation, and returns management.

The Onport Platform can accommodate both those seeking an out-of-the-box solution and, through an API with +3.000 endpoints, those who require a more flexible implementation.

With Onport, we were able to launch in less than three months, which we just couldn’t have done, had we built the system ourselves.”

Frank A. Ricciardi | Founder & CEO at Maavee

From growing SMBs to well-established enterprise-level companies, its composable and adaptive infrastructure was designed to be a reliable partner for the growth of any company operating in the e-commerce marketplace and dropshipping space.

Over 200+ companies in the e-commerce space are future-proofing their business with a solution trusted by brands such as Stadium Goods, Cupra, Ivalo, and Naduvi.

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

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