Launching a multi vendor marketplace is a bit more complex than your old regular online store.
That's because you'll be dealing not only with customers, but also with multiple sellers doing business on your platform.
So, choosing the right multi vendor software is extremely important – it will make or break your business!
In this guide, we've assembled the list of online marketplace software you can choose from when starting a multi vendor marketplace.
Let's see what software is available to you, the marketplace owner, in 2018.
This article is part of our series on starting an online marketplace business.
Browse marketplace solutions by category – click the links below to jump to individual sections:
- 1. Cloud Platforms and Hosted Marketplace Solutions
- 2. Standalone Multi Vendor Software
- 3. WordPress Multi Vendor Plugins (+WooCommerce)
- 4. Magento Multi Vendor Extensions
- 5. OpenCart Multi Vendor Extensions
- 6. PrestaShop Marketplace Addons
- 7. Joomla Multi Vendor Extensions
First, you'll want to consider these three things when deciding what marketplace software to go with for your platform:
- Ease of use. Do you have a technical team to build and manage your marketplace? If not, you'll want to go with the simplest possible solution.
- Features, scalability and reliability. You're building the next Amazon killer, right? Gotta make sure your software can handle it as you grow.
- Customization opportunities. If you want to be in control of your marketplace and make it truly yours, you want to be able to customize it.
Ideally, you want something that's:
- powerful enough to handle everything you throw at it
- flexible enough to adapt to your branding and marketing needs and support your business model
- simple, straight forward and reliable – spend time running your business, not dealing with issues and customer support
So, where do you start?
Well, most multi vendor marketplace solutions fall into one of these categories:
- Cloud or hosted marketplace platforms. These will get your marketplace up and running in no time with little to no technical knowledge required from your part, but will usually be limited in customization and offer just the essential marketplace features.
- Standalone marketplace software. These give you way more customization and control, but you or your technical team will also have a lot of work to deal with.
- Multi vendor extensions for shopping cart software. These will get you all of the benefits of free and open source shopping cart systems or CMS's and the multi vendor features of third party marketplace extensions
Now, let's see the full list!
1. Cloud Platforms and Hosted Marketplace Solutions
Going with a popular multi vendor SaaS is the first thing you'll usually consider as a marketplace owner.
Hosted marketplace platforms are great for beginners and non-technical marketplace owners as they take the technical burden away and let you get started quickly and easily.
This usually means less options for customization and less control over your marketplace, but this is often an acceptable trade-off.
There are a few popular hosted online marketplace solutions that you'll want to check out.
Sharetribe was built in Finland in 2011 and is currently one of the most popular online marketplace solutions – Shopify for marketplaces, if you wish.
The platform offers features suitable for regular marketplaces, as well as rentals and bookings.
Sharetribe offers payment processing via Stripe and PayPal, as well as a number of translations.
- Extremely intuitive and easy to set up - it's very hard to make a mistake using Sharetribe, whether you're an admin or a user
- Market leading customer support
- Lacks customization capability in marketplace design (especially with branding, implementing your logo, customizing outgoing emails, etc.)
- Limited functionality on the seller's side (can't set different commission rates for separate customer segments, limited shipping options, limited product feature options - especially important for clothing brands)
- Pricing based on number of users rather than number of transactions, creating a steep barrier to smaller marketplaces
- Due to functional shortcomings, it's somewhat difficult to scale your marketplace on Sharetribe
- Ranges from $79/mo to $239/mo
- Free 30-day trial available
Marketplacer Online Marketplace Platform
Born from a first-hand experience building a global marketplace with millions of users worldwide, Marketplacer seeks to ‘transform the global e-commerce market with its plug-and-play solution.
The idea behind Marketplacer was to create a platform where managing thousands of sellers and buyers would be as easy as building your own one-man online store.
Did the founders succeed? Let's find out.
- Ease of use and intuitiveness
- Extremely responsive and helpful staff
- Highly customizable for your business needs
- Setting up back-end aspects of your marketplace can get tedious
- Lacks micro design-related customization (e.g. setting the length of your search bar)
- No standard rates - each new marketplace is quoted individually
Near Me Multivendor
NearMe was founded as a marketplace solution for sharing economy businesses.
As a result, the platform supports a number of sharing-related transactions, like swaps, rents, resells and direct trades.
- A number of transaction types available, enabling sharing economy marketplaces
- Built-in SEO functionality will help your marketplace pages appear higher on search engines' results listings
- A strong emphasis on analytics, a built-in administrator dashboard available
- The marketplace software seems unfinished, as if it's still in the beta stages
- No easy-to-watch demo; you have to enter your contact details before you're shown the demo
- No standard rates - each new marketplace is quoted individually
Much like its competitors, Arcadier position themselves as the easy-to-setup, ready to go, off-the-shelf marketplace solution.
Without clearly stating the industries they're focusing on, Arcadier communicate the message of a universal marketplace that can support trade, service and rent-based transactions.
- With UX being its cornerstone value offer, Arcadier truly does a great job at making the platform easy to use and intuitive - both for the marketplace admins (you) and its users (buyers and sellers)
- Supports online booking transactions
- Tons of ready-to-go templates to kickstart your marketplace
- While Arcadier's template solutions are highly universal, they're difficult to customize once you try to make the marketplace truly yours
- No auto updates
- No drag & drop marketplace builder feature
- Very competitive: standard packages start at $34/mo (and offer lots of good stuff, relative to their competitors), and go as high as $340/mo
- Individual enterprise quotes available
- Has a 30-day free trial
2. Self Hosted Standalone Multi Vendor Software
If you're looking for something a bit more customized than what hosted platforms offer, you might want to consider going with self hosted standalone marketplace software.
These give you more control over your online marketplace, but also require at least some technical knowledge or a developer on your team before you can start processing orders.
In this section, we're looking at some of the popular standalone multi vendor solutions – this does not include third party multi vendor extensions for open source shopping carts, which we'll look into separately in the next chapter.
CS-Cart Multi-Vendor Software
When it comes to standalone multi vendor software, Cs-Cart Multivendor Module is one of the first ones to look into.
Designed Simtech in Russia, Cs-Cart was initially built as a regular shopping cart solution in 2005, with Cs-Cart Multivendor having been added later.
As of 2018, Cs-Cart offers two different types of shopping cart software – Cs-Cart for regular stores and Cs-Cart Multivendor for marketplaces.
- 200+ unique store-front design templates and tons of marketplace layouts to choose from
- Real-time store editor
- More than 50 payment systems available on the platform, together with a real-time shipping rate feature
- Page load times tend to be slow-ish
- Three options available: $385, $865 and $1450 one-time fees
Not unlike Cs-Cart, X-Cart was initially built in Russia in 2001 as a regular shopping cart system.
As of today, X-Cart is also offered in two different editions – X-Cart and X-Cart Multivendor specifically for marketplaces.
- X-cart have made layout editing so easy even a child could do it, thanks to their new built-in tool
- More than 200 store-front templates to choose from for your sellers
- Powerful built-in SEO capabilities and lots of customization options
- Much like other X-Cart products, the software can get a bit technical and require development expertise on your team
- Steep price point
- $1450 one-time payment
Yo!Kart Multivendor System
YoKart was built in 2015 as a multi vendor marketplace solution by FATbit Technologies in India.
Today, YoKart is offered both as a self hosted standalone solution as well as a hosted platform. Their solution and pricing plans are particularly aimed at startups.
- Extremely easy to use - most of the available features work flawlessly
- The lack of customization option makes using open-source multivendor platforms like Magento an attractive alternative
- Customization prices are unreasonably high
- Each upgraded version of the software needs to be purchased separately, the software doesn't update automatically
- Ranges from $999 to $5,999 one-time payments
3. WordPress Multi Vendor Plugins
March 2019 update: we've just released an in-depth blog post covering 7 different WordPress/WooCommerce multi vendor plugins specifically for WordPress users.
This combines the popularity of free and open source e-commerce software with the power of multi vendor through third party extensions.
While still being one of the most popular platforms to power online stores, WordPress isn't tailored to e-commerce by default.
Therefore, to build a marketplace with WordPress, you need to additional things – an e-commerce plugin for WordPress and a multi vendor extension on top (or both at once).
There are two commonly used e-commerce plugins for WordPress – WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads.
Dokan Multivendor for WooCommerce
Dokan by weDevs is one of the more popular WordPress + WooCommerce multi vendor plugins, having been released in 2015.
It's also really well designed!
Like most other WordPress vendor plugins, Dokan comes with both Free and Premium versions available.
As of 2018, Dokan Lite (the Free version) has over 10,000 active WordPress installs and 167 reviews, most of them positive.
The Free version of Dokan comes with a decent set of multi vendor features, such as:
- storefront seller dashboards and stores
- simple product publishing
- order management and notifications
However, it lacks some of the crucial features like publishing products into multiple categories, vendor management interfaces and reports.
There are also 4 paid tiers for Dokan:
- Starter at $149/year
- Professional at $249/year
- Business at $499/year
- Enterprise at $999/year
The main difference is in the number of unlocked features and premium modules, support level and domain restrictions.
- Free version available
- Really nicely designed interfaces!
- Gets expensive with extra features
- Free plan available
- Paid plans starting at $149/year
The WC Vendors marketplace plugin for WordPress is another one designed to be used with WooCommerce.
It was released in 2014 and is available as a free WordPress plugin in addition to the paid Pro version.
As of 2018, the free WC Vendors version has accumulated over 20,000 installs according to WordPress Plugins and has mixed reviews.
The main difference between the Free and the Pro seems to be in how vendors manage their stores and what features are available to them.
WC Vendors Pro lets vendors access their own management dashboards while the Free version uses WordPress' default admin dashboard.
The Free version is also missing most of the non-basic features, such as shipping management, order management, store configuration and others.
- Free version availabl
- Mixed reviews
- Free plan available
- Paid plans starting at $199 year
YITH Multi Vendor Plugin for WooCommerce
YITH Multi Vendor is a marketplace plugin for WordPress and WooCommerce by the Italian team YITHemes.
Just like WC Vendors, the plugin by YITH offers both Free and Premium versions.
The free version of YITH Multi Vendor was released back in 2015 and has over 2000 active installations with mixed feedback on WordPress Plugins.
Most of the reviews on WordPress Plugins are more than one year old and the support section isn't too active, so it's hard to tell how good or bad the free version is:
In contrast, reviews of YITH Multi Vendor Premium on their official website are mostly positive.
What about the features?
According to plugin's WordPress listing, the Free version offers most of the basic features while the Premium version adds advanced features on top.
It's not clear whether vendors have their own dashboards with YITH Multi Vendor Free, which would be a crucial free feature missing.
Apart from that, the Premium version allows for much more customization, more notifications and advanced payment, shipping and commission setup features.
- Free version available
- Mixed reviews
- Free plan available
- Paid plans starting at $199 year
4. Magento Multi Vendor Extensions
Magento is an obvious choice to consider, being one of the top open source e-commerce solutions, especially for larger online stores.
The main reason why entrepreneurs choose Magento to run their e-commerce multivendor platforms on is scalability. While non-techies will enjoy the template-based Magento management interface, it's the strong source code, high customizability and developer access that sets the platform apart from others.
Webkul Marketplace Extension for Magento
Webkul is a large and well known team of 200+ people based in India.
In addition to many other platforms, they offer two Magento marketplace extensions – for Magento and Magento 2.
Since Webkul reviews are only offered through their own website, it's not possible to verify if they're real:
Both Webkul extensions for Magento 1 and Magento 2 come at $349 (+ renewals) and provide the core feature set:
- front end vendor dashboards
- product and order management for vendors
- seller profiles and store fronts
These can be further extended with addons.
While the initial price of $349 isn't too bad, the final cost can get quite steep.
Addons to Webkul Marketplace range in price anywhere between $35 and $700:
You won't need all of them, but some of the basic features come as addons, such as:
- Seller List addon to list sellers: $59.00 + renewals
- Seller Product Search addon to allow search in seller products: $99.00 + renewals
- Price Comparison: $99.00 + renewals
You can see how this can get expensive pretty fast.
- Lots of extensions available
- Great customer support
- Strong development team
- No free version available
- Costly extensions
- Starting at $349 + renewals
NextBits Multi Vendor Marketplace for Magento
There's not much information available about the NextBits company itself – the Team page returns a 404 errors and there are no new blogs posts since 2014.
The extension comes as a single paid package at $399 ($99 at a discount) per domain with an extra $49 installation fee.
According to the public demo, NextBits Multi Vendor offers a standard marketplace core feature set:
- vendor registration and product publishing
- order and product management for vendors
- sales commissions and admin payouts
No online documentation seems to be available and there are no public reviews or links to client marketplaces.
- Affordable at a discount
- Public demo available
- No online documentation
- No reviews or case studies
- $399 per domain ($99 at a discount)
CreativeMinds Marketplace Extension for Magento
CreativeMinds is an Israeli-Polish team of WordPress and Magento developers specializing in WordPress plugins and Magento extensions.
The company offers over 100 WordPress plugins and 40+ Magento extensions, many of which are well-reviewed on their website.
Unlike the rest of extensions, the Multi Vendor Marketplace extension has no ratings, reviews or links to live stores available – so, we'll have to trust the "656 sales" badge on their Magento 2 listing:
The pricing of CreativeMinds Marketplace extension is a bit of a mess:
- the marketplace extension comes with a price tag of $349/$399 for Magento CE and $499/$599 for Magento EE
- the same extension costs $699 with 6/12 addons included for M1/M2 respectively
- additional features are available as addons, such as front end product management for vendors at $149/$299 for CE/EE
All prices are per live host, including the prices of addons.
So, you might need to think twice before deciding which package to go with.
As to features – CreativeMinds Marketplace offers most of the core marketplace features:
- seller stores and profiles
- product and order management
- commissions and reporting
The paid addons include subscriptions, payouts via PayPal, questions and answers and RMA.
CreativeMinds Marketplace has online documentation available for both Magento 1 and Magento 2.
- Online documentation
- Company with a track record
- Interfaces could look cleaner
- No reviews or live stores available
- Complex pricing structure
- starting at $349/$399 per domain
Apptha Magento Multi Vendor
Apptha is a Magento multi vendor script that allows you to setup your marketplace in your favorite CMS (Content Management System) within hours.
Apptha was created and developed by Contus, a 130-man India-based company with over 500 e-commerce and CMS projects under its belt. We're highly excited to see Apptha succeed, given the expertise and experience of its founders.
The script also has versions for Joomla and WordPress.
As far as pricing is concerned, currently both Apptha's scripts for Magento - the 1.0 and the updated 2.0 - are priced at $999. They do offer three marketplace demos to see the script in action.
- High compatibility with digital products
- Great technical customer support for non-developers
- Provides a ready-made marketplace solution, with customizability options
- The sales team is known to misguide new users into buying outdated solutions, only to give you a completely opposite recommendation after a month
- Some scripts are full of coding errors (e.g. the Airhotels)
- Shady confidentiality standards - your project might be used as a case study without your consent
- For both Magento scripts, the price is a $999 one-time fee.
5. OpenCart Multi Vendor Extensions
OpenCart is the cheaper, friendlier, more lightweight alternative to Magento.
And let me tell you – we love OpenCart!
In fact, we've been working exclusively with OpenCart for years now.
If you're into OpenCart, you'll want to check out my other blog post – The 2018 List of 9 OpenCart Multi Vendor Extensions for Online Marketplaces:
However, here are the top 3 multi vendor extensions for OpenCart briefly revisited (MultiMerch included):
PurpleTree Software Multivendor for OpenCart
Being one of the most high-quality multi vendor addons for OpenCart available today, Purpletree really does seem to do it all - from easy-to-setup interface to an intuitive, but in-depth analytics dashboard.
While the website seems to be a bit unfinished, the reviews say that the customer support and the coding of the website are top-of-the-line.
The multivendor OpenCart addon costs a $79 one-time fee (normal price shown: $199)
- Supports many OpenCart versions (all 3.x and 2.x versions supported)
- High attention to detail, pristine source code
- Responsive and patient support team
- Can be difficult to set up without developer expertise
- Theme customization options unknown
Waabay Multivendor/Dropshipper for OpenCart
Originally published in 2011, the Waabay OpenCart Multi-vendor extension has made a name for itself as one of the go-to multi vendor solutions for the platform.
Currently, Waabay supports OpenCart versions from 1.5.0 to 126.96.36.199 and from 2.0 to 188.8.131.52.
Waabay was specifically designed to accommodate dropshipping-focused e-commerce marketplaces.
While this provides a whole bunch of additional functionality for dropshippers, it does mean that if you're looking for a traditional e-commerce, you'll probably be better off going with one of the alternatives, as there are several fundamental in how your marketing will be structured. One of them is that vendors will have highly individualized pages, and there won't be an option for your vendors to create store front pages that match the platforms design.
- Lots of dropshipping-oriented functionality
- Vendors can see their shipping status real time - from the moment the products leave the supplier
- In-depth shipping options and presentation settings
- Storefront accounts have no standardized style/design
- Currently priced at $55
- Demo version available (you have to create an account, though)
MultiMerch Multivendor for OpenCart
In addition to our standalone Marketplace Platform, we offer a version of MultiMerch for the OpenCart ecommerce system that's focused on usability and reliability.
The MultiMerch extension for OpenCart is aimed at OpenCart teams that can handle the technical side of things.
- Focused on usability and reliability
- Support for Journal and Basel themes
- Regular updates since 2012
- Only OpenCart v.184.108.40.206 supported
- More expensive compared to OpenCart alternatives
- Starting at $950
PrestaShop Multi Vendor Addons
Compared to Magento and OpenCart, PrestaShop is much closer to the latter platform than it is to the former. It is easy to set up, intuitive and lightweight. The maintenance costs are lower than Magento's - basically non-existent.
However, PrestaShop shares flaws with OpenCart - once your marketplace gets going, the platform provides limited functionality to scale, customize, and manage large operations.
Knowband Marketplace for PrestaShop
Knowband Marketplace is one of the most popular PrestaShop multi vendor marketplace addons. Simply by installing an addon, you can transform your simple one-vendor PrestaShop e-commerce store to a full-on multi vendor marketplace.
The addon offers a lot of features crucial to successfully running a marketplace, like seller registration account controls, global commision rates, product controls, voucher/discount coupon controls, analytics dashboards, and more.
Currently, there is only one pricing plan available at Knowband: a one-time $170 fee.
- Lots of control options available - monitor control your seller accounts, their products, discounts, and more
- Sophisticated product suggestion and rating systems, creating good UX for the buyers
- Extremely easy registration for sellers and convenient order management
- Some can find the design customization options lacking
- One-time $170 fee including taxes
- Demo available
Advanced Marketplace Addon for PrestaShop
If we had to put Advanced Marketplace's unique value proposition into one word, it would be customization. With Advanced Marketplace, you're in charge - there's an exhaustive list of seller controls and store front customization options available with the addon.
From terms and conditions for the sellers, to controlling whether your sellers can update their orders - Advanced Marketplace gives you a dashboard of instruments to control every aspect of your marketplace.
Advanced Marketplace is considerably more expensive than the Knowband Marketplace, standing at a tall $285. Is it worth it? Let's take a deeper look.
- Extremely in-depth control settings, allowing you to control every single buyer-seller interaction
- Extensive, highly customizable mailing notification options
- Technical and feature support available for 90 days for free
- Can get a little overwhelming once you're in
- One-time $285 fee (including taxes)
7. Joomla Multi Vendor Extensions
Established in 2005, Joomla is one of the oldest names in the game, and it still gives Magento a run for its money.
While Joomla isn't primarily an e-commerce platform, and is more frequently compared to universal CMS'es like WordPress, it's still frequently used for e-commerce purposed, and with a touch of an addon can turn into a powerful marketplace engine.
HikaShop Multi Vendor for Joomla
If you're using Joomla and are looking to build a fully functional, robust marketplace, HikaShop should be your number one consideration. Founded in 2014, this lightweight extension has already found a base of loyal users through its outstanding user experience and market-leading coding.
Rich with plugins and applications, HikaShop is one of the most customizable multi vendor extensions out there, let alone among selections available for Joomla.
- Customer support is proven to be reliable and responsive (e.g. when you need a snippet of code added quickly to your version of HikaShop, the technical team will help you out in no time)
- Great front dashboard makes adding and managing products a breeze for the vendors
- Clear and intuitive structure of the tool
- No up-to-date documentation
- Email template interface can be confusing to use
- One-time $175 fee
- Live demo and case studies available
Sellacious Marketplace for Joomla
Sellacious is one of the few multi vendor marketplace extensions that emphasize B2B purchases, instead of just B2C ones. Through a myriad of additional B2B-oriented functionality and customization options, Sellacious have made it clear that it can handle B2B e-commerce marketplaces.
Unlike many other multi vendor solutions out there, sellacious offers a fully capable version free of charge, and three additional paid plans to suit most different business needs. All of their plans, however, only support one website - a single marketplace.
Let's take a look at what makes Sellacious a great B2B marketplace choice.
- Vendors can upload their tax certificates and manage customer taxes on the platform
- You can receive purchase order receipts from all of your vendors' sales
- Allows vendors to connect third party logistics partners, e.g. suppliers and shipping companies
- Only supports one marketplace
- Free basic plan available
- Three paid plans available: $29 per month starter pack, $249/year business plan, and a one-time $749 enterprise-oriented fee
There are many ways you can go about creating a marketplace. In this article, we didn't talk about creating a marketplace from scratch, and only covered ways of building a marketplace using one of the existing multi vendor solutions out there.
Whatever your choice will be after this brief rundown, make sure you test as many different alternatives as possible before making a decision. Evaluate how well does a platform suit your particular needs, because switching to another solution after already establishing a marketplace can be a costly endeavor.