Marketplace features are something you should be planning from day one. In this post, we will outline why fewer features are better. In the last 5 years supporting our users, we have learned a lot. The number one mistake we see is too many features.
Too many marketplace features usually occur when you start comparing your marketplace to the big players in the market. You shouldn’t ever start your marketplace plan by comparing yourself to the big plays in the market. Amazon or eBay might have that feature, but you should ask yourself. Do we really need that feature?
A great marketplace business plan can have the site panned and launched in a matter of weeks. Too often we see marketplaces that keep adding more and more features and pushing their launch timelines out to months or in some cases years. The idea and power of online businesses is that fact that they are ever-evolving. As you test and learn your business, features, users and vendors will change. This is a natural part of running an online business. Nothing is set in stone and you shouldn’t launch expecting this.
The features you have on your site could be vendor features, customer features or admin features. It really depends on which feature you’re looking to add. Each of those features needs to be developed or supplied. Simply, more plugins equal more features.
During your business plan, you should be looking at what are the least amount of features you need to launch the site. You should aim to get your marketplace online as soon as possible. Fewer features are how you launch quickly. It’s best to pick the features that’ll get you ‘over the line’ and iterate your functionality based on feedback from your customers and vendors.
Automating your marketplace backend management is key. This is usually where we do recommend you take time to determine what features will save you time so you can focus on running the business. Remember that you should look at if this feature is going to give you time or take it away.
What do too many marketplace features look like?
The easiest way for us to detect too many features is a lot of active plugins. When we see a support ticket that has 80 or 90 plugins activated this is a tell-tale sign of too many features. Sure you can run a multi-vendor marketplace with this many plugins and it can function. That doesn’t mean you should.
Having a lot of plugins is just more work, plain and simple. We regularly recommend to our users that they perform plugin audits and remove any features that aren’t being used. Always ask yourself, who is this feature for and will they actually use it?
Consequences of too many features
There are a few obvious consequences of too many features/plugins on your site. These are various aspects you need to consider when you’re adding more and more features. It adds to your workload for maintenance, site performance and more.
Updates take time
If you’ve worked in the WordPress ecosystem for a while you’ll know that keeping your site updated is a must. You need to test each update before you roll this out to your site. You need to have a staging environment so you can test everything. Plugin updates become overwhelming. Every plugin is on a different release schedule, written by a different developer with different ideas. This can result in unexplained issues with your site. If you have 80 or 90 different plugins that you need to track and test this will become an overwhelming amount of work.
Performance is always affected by the number of plugins you are running. All it takes is one poorly written plugin to reduce your sites speed dramatically. Now if you have multiple poorly written plugins, this just adds to your poor site performance issues. Great hosting can only do so much. If a site is badly constructed with too many plugins and a theme that isn’t optimised you will lose sales. Reduce your features to increase your sanity.
Conflicts cost money
Every feature is implemented by a different developer. We all have our ways to code and that can result in plugin conflicts. This could happen from day one, or be introduced during one of the many plugin updates you will be doing. If you don’t run a staging site and run updates on your live site. This can result in rendering your site unusable. This costs money for you and your vendors. It’ll impact your social proof and ability to onboard more vendors.
Fewer is better
Whether you’re just starting your multi-vendor marketplace or you’ve been running for a while. You need to consider the number of marketplace features you really need. Perform an audit and see what features are actually being used. Use your page analytics to determine what is or isn’t being used. If you’re not sure, disable the plugin and see if anyone notices. We will often do this when working on our own sites so it’s a nice easy method to check.
The fewer plugins you have, the easier your site is to update and maintain. It’s best to only introduce plugins and features as you need them. What marketplace features are a must for you? Let us know below and leave a link to the plugins/developer sites as we’re always looking for more systems we can suggest to our users.