Managing shipping in a two-sided marketplace can be a challenge for you as a new marketplace owner.
With MultiMerch vendor shipping, we've tried to make the process as straightforward as possible.
The upcoming MultiMerch 8.22 release introduces 4 different vendor shipping modes you can use in your marketplace:
- flat rate vendor shipping
- shipping rates based on cart total
- shipping rates based on cart weight
- per-product shipping rates
In this blog post, I'll cover how vendor shipping works in MultiMerch and what the new modes look like:
How shipping works in MultiMerch
As an online marketplace owner using MultiMerch, you can use our multi vendor shipping system to manage your delivery operations.
MultiMerch allows your vendors to specify their own shipping rates to different locations and keep the customer updated on the status of their order.
This lets you run a two-sided online marketplace where your customers purchase products from multiple vendors at once and have them delivered by each vendor individually.
Understanding the MultiMerch shipping configuration
When building a marketplace with MultiMerch, you'll be able to select the primary marketplace shipping mode and the additional features you want to offer your vendors and customers.
By default, your vendors will be able to use the following shipping fields when setting up their delivery rules:
- Destination is the primary field used to match vendor's delivery rules to customer's address at checkout
- Carriers allow for different shipping rates to the same destination (e.g. via DHL and UPS)
- Delivery time indicates the vendor-estimated average delivery time that is displayed to customers after completing their order
- Shipping cost is the amount the customer pays for shipping when selecting a particular shipping option
You may also enable a few additional delivery features depending on mode you'll use:
- Shipping from lets vendors define their shipping origin that is displayed to the customer
- Processing time lets vendors specify the average time it takes them to process and dispatch the order after it's been received
- Total cart weight (range) is used with weight-based shipping and allows for different shipping rates based on customer's cart weight
- Total cart value (range) works in a similar manner, but uses the value of customer's cart instead
- Cost per weight unit can be used to define shipping costs per weight when using weight-based shipping (e.g. per kg)
- Cost per product allows vendors to specify different shipping rates for individual products
- Cost per additional product additionally lets vendors specify a different shipping cost per each next item of the same type
In most cases, we recommend starting with the flat rate vendor shipping mode for smaller marketplaces or per-product shipping for marketplaces dealing with unique items.
How customers select shipping options at checkout
At checkout, MultiMerch will use customer's cart and delivery address to automatically determine what shipping options are available for this cart.
When ordering products from multiple vendors, your customers will be able to select a different shipping option for each vendor or product:
If no matching delivery options are available, MultiMerch will ask the customer to change their delivery address or remove the products that can't be delivered from their cart before completing the order.
Different vendor shipping modes in MultiMerch
With vendor shipping enabled in MultiMerch, your sellers can configure their delivery rules through the Shipping section in their seller accounts.
Here's how the different vendor delivery modes work:
Flat rate vendor shipping
Flat rate vendor shipping is the simplest delivery mode you can use in your MultiMerch marketplace. This mode lets your sellers specify different flat delivery rates to different destinations:
For example, your vendors could set up a following set of delivery rules using flat rate shipping:
- Delivery to Europe: $15 via DHL, $20 via UPS
- Delivery within the US: $5
- Delivery to everywhere else: $35
You can also disable shipping carriers altogether to simplify the configuration for your vendors even further:
- Delivery to Europe: $15
- Delivery within the US: $5
- Delivery to everywhere else: $35
Depending on your marketplace type, this delivery mode might be your first choice due to its simplicity.
Shipping rates based on cart total
If you're looking to give your vendors a bit more control over their delivery rates, you can enable shipping based on cart total.
This allows your vendors to specify different shipping rates based on the total value of customer's cart with this vendor:
Price-based shipping would allow for a following set of delivery rules:
- Delivery to Europe for orders under $50: $15 via DHL, $20 via UPS
- Delivery to Europe for orders over $50: Free
- Delivery to everywhere else: $25
Again, you can disable shipping carriers for a simplified configuration.
Since price-based shipping uses the value of customer's cart, your vendors can use it to define the minimum value of the order they're willing to process or free shipping for orders over a certain amount.
Shipping rates based on cart weight
Alternatively, you can use weight-based delivery rates instead.
This mode is similar to price-based shipping, but vendors specify shipping rates based on the total weight (not the total cost) of customer's cart for this vendor:
Using weight-based shipping, your vendors can define a set of weight ranges and apply different rates to each range:
- Delivery to Europe for carts under 10kg: Free via DHL, $20 via UPS
- Delivery to Europe for carts over 10kg: $50 via DHL, $75 via UPS
Just like with price-based shipping, this mode lets your vendors specify the minimum (or the maximum) weight of carts they're willing to process.
Note that this mode requires your vendors to accurately specify the weight of the product when listing items in your marketplace.
Per-product shipping rates
With some online marketplace types, global combined shipping rules might be an overkill or unfeasible for various reasons.
For example, per-product shipping may work well in marketplaces that offer unique, exclusive or one-off products.
In this case, you can offer your vendors a way to define shipping on a per-product basis:
This mode lets vendors specify shipping options for a particular item as they're listing it, which makes a following configuration possible:
- Delivery of MacBook Pro to Europe: $75 via DHL, $95 via UPS
- Delivery of MacBook Pro within the US: Free
- Delivery of MagSafe Power Adapter to Europe: Free
Per-product shipping allows for a pretty granular configuration of delivery rates, but can overwhelm vendors with large product catalogs – make sure it's feasible for your marketplace type!
Alternatives to vendor shipping
MultiMerch offers a few shipping system alternatives for specific marketplace types, such as purely digital marketplace and platforms that process shipping themselves:
Alternative 1: run a digital marketplace with no shipping
Not many today know this, but MultiMerch was initially designed as a digital marketplace software solution aimed at marketplaces selling software, music and photography.
Today, you can still run a MultiMerch-powered digital marketplace like ThemeForest by disabling shipping altogether:
Disabling shipping will treat all products as digital downloads.
You can also use this mode to run a marketplace of intangible products that don't require delivery, such as services.
Alternative 2: use the OpenCart shipping fallback
If you're looking to charge for and process deliveries yourself, you can use the OC Fallback mode, which disables vendor shipping completely and uses OpenCart's shipping system instead.
Since this system only supports one shipping rate per cart, your vendors will have no access to any shipping features and shipping costs collected from the customer will be transferred to your platform.
The new shipping modes are introduced as part of MultiMerch 8.22 and are available to all MultiMerch marketplace owners.
In one of the next upcoming updates, we will also be adding support for shipping tracking numbers to make managing deliveries for customers and vendors even easier.