According to Statista, the number of online shoppers is expected to reach over 2.14 billion globally, by 2021.
Amazon, Etsy, Flipkart, eBay, Alibaba, and many other marketplaces are redefining e-commerce across the world.
Now, while becoming the next Etsy is hardly a piece of cake, remember they started as a micro team too. Then gradually the customers, vendors, products increased, the team expanded and the rest, as they say, is history.
So, don’t worry. In this article, we will show you exactly how to create a fully functional WordPress marketplace, in a jiffy!
Step 0: Get a Domain Name and Hosting + Setup WordPress
To build any website on the internet, you’d need basic elements like a Domain name, Web hosting, and a WordPress installation.
A domain name (costs ~$12/year) is essentially the address of your website on the internet – like epitrove.com is our domain name – and web hosting (costs $13/month) is where all your website files are stored.
There are plenty of options available when it comes to selecting a hosting provider. Since we’re creating a WordPress marketplace, it is a good idea to choose one that has great WordPress support, like Bluehost, LiquidWeb, or SiteGround.
Once you’ve procured these, you will need WordPress.
Before we move ahead, it’s important to factor in the significance of WordPress Themes for your store.
Whether it’s a single vendor or a multi-vendor store, you’ll need to attract customers and vendors and that’s where using quality WordPress Themes comes in.
Managing a marketplace is not easy since multiple vendors would need to add products, hover through their dashboard smoothly and customers will need to navigate easily through the page, search and browse for items and perform a lot of other functions.
Choosing the right theme for your marketplace is crucial since factors like design, responsiveness, and professionalism ensure conversion rate and ultimately, the profits.
Step 1: Set up your online store with WooCommerce
Now, it’s important to create a base for your WordPress marketplace with an eCommerce plugin that will help you add all the basic functionalities.
We recommend using WooCommerce as it lets you set up your store easily.
WooCommerce is one of the most popular eCommerce plugins for WordPress; it is free, supports physical and digital products, provides you with a large repository of themes for website design and most importantly, has a ton of other knick-knacks that you will need for your marketplace.
To install WooCommerce, follow:
WordPress>Plugins>Add new>Install WooCommerce.
Now, remember that WooCommerce is a single vendor store which means that after you’ve activated the plugin, you will be able to add and sell your own products only.
This means, to add multiple sellers, you will need…
Step 2: Choose a multi-vendor plugin
In order to add other vendors and their products, you’d need a multi-vendor plugin to convert your WooCommerce store into a WordPress marketplace.
Although there are a dozen different multi-vendor plugins for building a marketplace, we will be using the Dokan multi-vendor plugin here.
The reason we’re recommending Dokan is that we ourselves have used it for building Epitrove, and we had a really great experience with it. Not only does it have all the features (some free, some premium) you need to create a WordPress marketplace, their support team is also really helpful.
Step 3: Installing the Dokan Multivendor Plugin
You can install the Free version of Dokan directly from the WordPress backend as follows:
Add new plugin>Search Dokan>Install
Some of the basic marketplace features mentioned below can be accessed for free using Dokan.
- Add an unlimited number of vendors to your marketplace giving your customers multiple options to choose from.
- Friendly frontend dashboard for vendors to help them manage products, inventory, sales and more.
- Set minimum withdrawal limit and payment methods for vendors as per your needs.
- Approve/reject the vendor selling rights, which keeps you in control of your store.
- Automatic email notifications are sent to the vendors on the purchase of their product.
If you want to add more functionalities like social login to market the platform, enable customers to post reviews about vendors or create special discount coupons, you will have to download the Premium version from their website.
Step 4: Dashboard Overview
After installing Dokan, you can access the dashboard that will give you meaningful marketplace data and insights at a glance.
Follow this step:
On the left side of the Dashboard, you can view the total number of vendors you have onboard and the ones that are waiting for your approval to be added to your marketplace.
There’s a ‘Withdrawals’ option which shows the number of vendors who wish to withdraw their commissions from their account and are awaiting your approval.
It also displays the total number of products and the net sales for the month along with the total commission you have earned.
On the right side, you get a graphical representation of the total sales, orders and the commission which will make it easier for you to assess the financial position of your website.
This is what makes Dokan stand apart from others when it comes to creating a WordPress marketplace.
Step 5: Configuring WordPress Marketplace Settings
You’d need to change a few settings before you can start adding vendors and products to your marketplace. Take a look.
First, you’d need permission from WooCommerce to convert your store into a marketplace. Go to:
WooCommerce>Settings>Accounts and Privacy>Allow customers to create an account on the “My Account” page
Through this setting, you can check the option to allow guests who are in a hurry to check out without creating an account or make it mandatory to create an account for purchasing a product which will help in getting their details that can be used during marketing strategies.
After securing permission from WooCommerce, you’d need to enable membership registration that will allow vendors and customers to register on your website through the main page.
To do that, go to:
Settings>Membership>Anyone can register
After you’ve checked the box, vendors will be allowed to register and sell. You can also choose to verify your vendors and customers first to make sure they are legit and not fraudulent.
Methods like SMS, Photo ID, and Social verification can be used to verify the vendors and customers. However, this is an advanced function and comes with the Premium version.
If you wish to continue without verification, you can do so since the user role by default is set to ‘Subscriber’ which means nobody else except you can access the backend store.
Finally, after enabling these options in the general settings you can now proceed towards adding vendors.
Step 6: Adding Vendors
This is one of the primary functions of a marketplace and to add vendors:
The vendor page displays basic information like the Vendor store name, email ID, registration date and the status which can be made active/inactive if the vendor is not functional. It gives you all the important vendor details on the page itself without really opening their profile.
You can add an unlimited number of vendors to your marketplace by clicking on the ‘Add new’ icon and a form will pop up.
Fill out all the necessary details like the Name, Address and Payment details of the vendor. You have the option to add the display and banner image for the vendor’s store as well.
Step 7: Add Products
Once the vendors are on board, you can start adding their products to your WordPress marketplace.
To add products, follow:
Products>Add new>Virtual or Downloadable
You can add your Product name as we’ve done in the above image, manage the publishing status by either publishing the product immediately or set a specific time and date as per your needs.
Writing a Product Description requires attention and is equally important as other aspects since you are giving key information regarding the product which also becomes a USP for that product eventually. This will play an integral part in driving sales of that product.
In case, you wish to sell virtual or downloadable product types, you can do so by checking the box. Depending on your product type, you can select the relevant options.
For e.g: To sell an ebook, you can check the downloadable box or if you’re selling membership of a resort, you can check the virtual box.
One needs to add a price tag on the product to actually sell it. You can set the price for your product as per your wish and earn accordingly. Interestingly, you can also offer a ‘Sale Price’ during special occasions to make extra profits.
It gives you the ability to manage and monitor the inventory by clicking on the inventory option and if a product is to be shipped, you can enter the product weight and other specifics for the record.
Similarly, you can add a product image and product tags that will help customers identify and search for your products easily.
Allow Vendors to add products
An important thing you need to do, as you create your WordPress marketplace, is to give your vendors a sense of control over their products and by letting them add and manage their own products.
This gives you time to focus on other aspects of your business like inventory management, production, marketing, etc.
To allow vendors to add products, go to:
Dokan>Settings>Selling options>Vendor capabilities
Step 8: Set up Payment gateways, Security Configuration, Manage seller Commissions and more.
You are almost done creating your WordPress marketplace!
Let’s take a look at a few other important elements and then you will be ready to go live.
Setup Payment gateway
After you’ve added products and put a price tag on them, it’s important to figure out different payment options your customers can use to purchase a product.
To configure payment options, you can go to:
Given Dokan’s compatibility with WooCommerce, you will be able to use the available payment gateways of WooCommerce to process any transaction.
You can use 2 types of payment systems for your marketplace using Dokan:
- Offline: Cash on Delivery(CoD) and Cheque payments
- Online: Direct bank transfer and PayPal account
Processing payments through CoD, Cheque payments, and Bank transfers are free and you do not have to pay for the gateways or transactions.
When you’re processing payments through PayPal, you do not have to pay for the gateway. However, you will need to have a valid PayPal account to accept payments and will be charged based on transactions.
Alternatively, you can use the Stripe payment method by installing the Stripe connect plugin.
Manage Seller Commissions
You need to pay commissions to vendors and some of the obvious doubts that may pop in your head are listed below.
- What types of Commissions can be set?
You can set different commissions in the form of a Percentage or at a Flat rate for vendors and the admin as per your agreements to ensure a smooth process.
- Can I set different commission rates for different sellers while creating a WordPress marektplace?
Yes. Depending upon your agreement with the seller, you can set different commission rates for different sellers.
- How will they be notified every time a sale is made?
Automated email notifications are sent to sellers when their products are purchased.
- What if a customer demands a refund?
The process is simple. As soon as the customer places a request for a refund through the page, the Vendor then has to check and accept the reasons for a refund. If accepted, then the vendor can raise and submit the refund request from the vendor dashboard and then the admin has to approve the request from his dashboard.
Shipping and Taxes
When you have to ship a product internationally, there will be different shipping rates and custom taxes that will be levied depending upon the countries you ship from and to.
As per your agreements, you have the option to set the admin or the vendor as a bearer of the shipping and tax fees.
Here’s how you can do that:
Dokan>Settings>Selling option>Commission>Vendor Capability
Since multiple vendors and customers will be accessing your marketplace, you need to make sure that the security of your site isn’t compromised.
To do this, follow:
Dokan>Settings>General>Admin area access
This will ensure that only you have access and full control of the backend dashboard of your website.
Well, I guess you must be wondering how the vendor would be able to check his commissions or add products to his store?
They can do so by accessing the Vendor Dashboard.
It provides an overall summary of the vendor store that includes information about their store, earnings, sales, and several other functions.
Vendors will be able to add products, request for refund, withdraw earnings, create discount coupons and perform many other functionalities.
Also, all announcements and information you wish to convey to the vendors will be displayed in the Announcement section on the dashboard.
Through the Vendor dashboard, they can control their store.
Your vendors are earning commissions which is accumulated in their store account and they can withdraw funds they’ve earned at any time.
As an admin, you can set either PayPal or Bank transfer as a withdrawal method of commissions and also set a withdrawal limit for the vendors which ensures they maintain a minimum level of funds in their store account at all times.
To access the setting, go to:
There are other settings like the ‘Appearance’ option that will let you enable google maps of the store location on the page or display a vendor contact form in the store sidebar making it easier for vendors to get in touch with you quickly.
You can explore other setting options too as per your convenience while setting up the marketplace.
The last thing to do before you make your WordPress marketplace live is to add a ‘My Account’ page to your navigation menu. This will allow vendors and users to access your store easily. You can add anything as per your needs to the menu of your marketplace.
You can do this by visiting the Appearance>Menu and add the pages you’d like on your navigation menu.
To avoid crowding, make sure you have sub-options and don’t add too many things on the main menu.
Step 10: Launch the Marketplace
This is it! Congratulations! Your marketplace is finally ready. You can now test if things are working as per your expectations and begin selling.
I hope this article has equipped you with enough knowledge to successfully create your own WordPress marketplace website.
Choose the right combination of a Platform, Theme, and a Multi-vendor plugin wisely and you’ll definitely succeed in what you set out to achieve!
Also, feel free to add any questions you might have in the comments below. I’ll do my best to answer all of them!
Disclosure: Some of the links in this blog post might be affiliate links. When you purchase through a link on our website, we receive a small commission, at no added cost to you, which helps us run Epitrove and keep producing great content. This does not influence our recommendations; we only recommend products we work with or love. Thank you for your support!