A few weeks ago, we've published our feedback portal and asked you to share your thoughts on what features MultiMerch needs the most!
Displaying seller's information on product cards was one of the most commonly requested features.
I'm now happy to share the news – MultiMerch will now display seller names on product cards throughout the marketplace.
Here's how we came to this.
Receiving your invaluable feedback
The idea of displaying seller's information on product cards isn't something new.
We've been asked for a way to do this in MultiMerch for quite a while.
However, since there's no universal way of modifying product cards across different OpenCart versions and themes, we let the idea rest... until recently.
A while ago, one of our clients running a third party OpenCart theme with custom product cards sent me the following feedback:
Hey, we just switched from our custom theme to MoneyMaker for better compatibility and it's been great – except for one thing.
Seller information on product cards is absolutely a must!
We had this before and the response from visitors was overwhelming – more than 60% of new seller signups came after questions like "Can anyone sell products on your marketplace?" and "Will my name be displayed on my products in the same way?". Amazing free marketing!
Without this feature, our marketplace looks like a plain old regular online store, not a marketplace.
Obviously, it was time to get this implemented.
The challenge of improving product cards
There were three things we had to keep in mind when displaying seller information on product cards:
- theme compatibility
First, performance is a crucial factor in the success of an online marketplace.
There are two ways of fetching seller data for a product in MultiMerch – either as a separate database request, or by modifying the original OpenCart request that fetches the product.
The former way is much easier, but can lead to a massive performance hit when you have lots of products. The latter one doesn't affect performance as much, but is more difficult to implement.
Theme compatibility was another question.
There are hundreds of OpenCart themes out there and each of them implements product cards in its own way.
In addition to this, there are different types and locations of product cards throughout a regular OpenCart store – category listings, search results, featured and related products, various sliders, banners and whatnot. Modifying each of these requires work.
Finally, it comes to design.
There's not much sense in displaying seller information in such a manner that will drive customers away – for one reason or another.
So, we first had to do a quick research on how it's usually done.
We did a research of the popular online marketplaces
To make sure we really understand what we're doing, I spent some time exploring the popular online marketplaces to see what we can learn from them.
I chose a few popular online marketplaces you all know of:
Here's what the results look like.
eBay doesn't display any seller information on product cards
Amazon doesn't display individual sellers, but does link to used products from third party sellers
AliExpress displays seller's name and store link on product cards when you hover over them
Etsy always displays seller names and store links on product cards
What does this leave us?
For Amazon, it makes sense not to feature seller details as Amazon doesn't position itself as seller-centric with multiple sellers selling the same products. You buy from Amazon, even if you technically don't.
AliExpress is a "one seller one product" type marketplace so you're primarily purchasing products from sellers – and they do let you know that, although only on hover.
Etsy is a truly seller-focused marketplace with individuals offering their own handmade (even if that's not always true) products for sale.
eBay for some reason chose not to display seller data on product cards, although it's there in the same boat with Ali with each product belonging to a specific seller.
The overall idea is clear, though. If you decide to show seller details to your customers on product cards, go for it – but do it unobtrusively.
Note how when seller names are displayed on product cards, they're displayed in a minimalist way – nothing more than seller's name and a store link.
Getting the idea from concept to reality
Solving the first two issues (performance and theme integration) was pretty straight forward.
Although we had to resort to using quite a bit of vQmod xmls, I'm pleased with the results.
The new seller info calls are incorporated into the main OpenCart product requests and won't affect performance while we'll deal with theme integrations as part of our theme compatibility packages.
However, before proceeding with the release, we wanted to test a few different designs first.
So, we created these few neat concepts that I sent to some of you beta testers:
The feedback we got confirmed the findings of our online marketplace research – here are some of the things we uncovered:
- the main idea is great and we're on the right track!
- the amount of seller information on product cards should be kept to a minimum (although images are neat)
- displaying seller information near the cart button might lead to misclicks (I'll publish a separate study of cart buttons later)
Armed with this encouraging data, we got to work – and here's the result.
Most importantly – we styled the new seller parts in such a way that you could customize them via CSS if needed, in case you decided to hide the avatars.
Since the new seller block is inserted into product cards via a separate vQmod xml file, you can turn it off if needed (but why would you do that?)
In any case, enough for today – the new MultiMerch version with the new product cards and a set of bugfixes is now available in your accounts!