If you own an online shop, you can generate significantly more income from your store by allowing other companies to sell to your customers. It may seem counterintuitive to allow potential competitors to sell through your shop, yet that is exactly what Amazon and other large retailers do and it generates them billions of dollars of additional revenue every single year.
What may surprise you is how simple it is to set up a multi-vendor store. All WooCommerce shop owners have to do to add multi-vendor functionality is install the WC Vendors WordPress plugin. The plugin is free to download and only takes a few minutes to customise. You can then profit from allowing others to sell products on your website.
Before we look at how WC Vendor works, let’s look closer at what multi-vendor stores are and why shop owners should consider adding support for multiple vendors.
What Are Multi-Vendor Stores?
As the name suggests, a Multi-Vendor Store is a type of website that allows multiple sellers to sell products to customers. If you look at the top eCommerce websites online, nearly all of them fall into this category.
- eBay – Millions of sellers selling products using an auction or “Buy it Now” system
- Amazon – The largest eCommerce website in the world does sell many products themselves, however a large percentage of products are sold by third-party companies
- Alibaba & AliExpress – Alibaba is a huge Chinese B2B marketplace and AliExpress is its marketplace for consumers
- Rakuten – Japan’s largest eCommerce marketplace is now branching out to countries around the world
- Etsy – A popular marketplace that focuses on arts and crafts
These large eCommerce marketplaces are highly attractive to sellers as it allows them to instantly sell their products to millions of customers without even owning a website. Multi-vendor stores normally handle payment processing and common administrative tasks too.
Leaving Money on the Table
Behind the scenes, shop owners have many responsibilities. On a daily basis, they need to speak with distributors, manage orders, handle customer requests and spend time marketing their store using social media, competitions, email marketing and more.
Ultimately, the goal of every online shop is to increase profits. Ecommerce is a trillion dollar industry that continues to grow every year so there is always room to do that, however the industry is incredibly competitive so you should always be looking at other ways to increase revenues.
One way to increase profits is to allow third-party sellers to sell products through your store. Sellers can use your store to sell directly to customers, but what’s in it for you?
Money, of course.
A multi-vendor store can generate additional revenue in a number of ways.
- Commissions – You will generate a percentage of every sale that third-party sellers generate through your website
- Advertising – Sellers can purchase advertising spots on your store to promote their products
- Memberships – You can charge sellers a monthly fee for selling on your platform and generate a steady flow of income
In addition to generating additional revenue, allowing others to sell on your store can greatly expand your reach too. For example, a niche online shop may only offer customers 10 to 100 products, however you can easily list thousands of products on your store if you enable multi-vendor functionality on your website. This can greatly increase incoming traffic, boost sales of your own products, improve your search engine presence and attract new customers to your store.
You’re potentially leaving a lot of money on the table if you’re the only one selling products on your store.
How to Add Multiple Vendor Support
WooCommerce continues to hold the title of being the most popular online eCommerce platform. The popular WordPress plugin is free to download and can be easily customised and expanded using thousands of WordPress themes and plugins.
To add multi-vendor support to a WooCommerce-powered shop, all you have to do is install the free version of WC Vendors. The plugin compliments WooCommerce perfectly by building on top of your existing shop’s functionality.
Once activated, you will be see a setup wizard that asks for basic information about your store, your commission settings and what permissions vendors have. The plugin can automatically create pages for vendor related pages and orders too, however you can integrate these pages manually using shortcodes if you prefer.
Many online shops continue to use the free version of WC Vendors, however if you want to unlock the full potential of the plugin, I recommend upgrading to WC Vendors Pro.
The pro version retails at $199 per year or a one-off fee of $599. Upgrading lets you offer vendors a front-end vendor dashboard, adds order and coupon management and unlocks flat rate and table shipping options. It also adds an advanced commission system that gives you more control over what vendors are charged per sale.
A number of premium plugin extensions are also available for WC Vendors. There are plugins to add support for Stripe payments and membership options. Integration plugins for WooCommerce Simple Auctions, WooCommerce Subscriptions and WooCommerce Bookings, are available too.
Check out the WC Vendors FREE vs PRO Comparison page for a complete overview of what each version offers.
I hope you have all enjoyed this look at adding support for multiple vendors on WooCommerce websites. If you own a WooCommerce-powered store, WC Vendors can help you generate additional revenue and increase the number of products that are sold in your shop.
You may not reach the dizzy heights of Amazon and eBay, however if you can manage to attract just a few key companies to sell through your store, you can greatly increase your yearly profits.
If you would like to know more about all the steps involved in launching an multi-vendor online shop, please check out my “Beginner’s Guide To Creating An Online Marketplace In 2021” article.