10 Best Things To Do Before Your Online Marketplace Launch

10 Best Things To Do Before Your Online Marketplace Launch

You’ve already done a bunch of the leg work. You came up with a great business idea. You did some market research. You’ve narrowed down your target audience, identified your key product, and worked out a simple business strategy. Now, you’re ready for the next phase: your online marketplace launch.

Following such serious efforts, launching your online multi-vendor platform can be extremely rewarding. After all, your dream of running an e-commerce platform is finally a reality. Not to mention you now have the potential to earn really, really big.

Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of launching too quickly without much thought, to disastrous results. Therefore, it’s to your best benefit to ensure you have everything you need for a successful marketplace launch.

We want to make sure you’re well-equipped for all that lies ahead. For this reason, we’ve put together this quick reference guide that will teach you how to drastically boost your marketplace’s chances of success.

So let’s get right to it!

What Does It Mean To Launch An Online Marketplace?

To launch an online marketplace is to introduce your multi-vendor platform to the public so that multiple vendors can use it to sell their products or services to customers.

The launch is the initial start of your own marketplace business. Typically, it happens after you’ve done all the research and planning necessary to help you succeed.

Think of your marketplace launch as building a house. The ideation and strategy stages give you a blueprint to follow, but the launch is when you start to lay the foundation and put the walls up.

But like building a house, the marketplace launch can lead to some unexpected complexities that often get missed in the planning phase. Unforeseen roadblocks show up to slow you down. Therefore, you have to make sure to take the steps necessary to guarantee solid and effective planning.

marketplace launch

10 Best Things To Do For A Successful Marketplace Launch

Now, it’s time to learn what measures you can take to guarantee the best marketplace launch possible!

1. Acquire the right tools

You won’t have any problems finding tools and features you can add to your online marketplace. You can scan internet review sites and online forums for hours and see the many different options out there.

The real challenge is acquiring the right ones for your business model.

Remember that you don’t have to compete with the biggest online marketplaces. You just have to find your niche and saturate it.

Because of this, you don’t need all the features and tools that other marketplaces use. Consider your unique value proposition and target market. Then, find the tools that will help you deliver on what you promised in the most efficient way possible. Getting this done ahead of time can save you headaches later on.

Opening a legitimate business requires brands to jump through various legal hoops before they can get off the ground. The specific legal requirements will vary depending on the location of the business, but there are a few general things to consider:

These are just a few examples to get you started thinking about the legal necessities around your marketplace launch. You should consult with a lawyer to make sure everything is covered for your area.

you need to understand legal necessities before your marketplace launch

3. Develop a marketing plan

Any successful online marketplace requires a strong customer base, but getting customers to show up can be a challenge. The “if you build it, they will come” mentality may work for cornfield baseball parks, but it isn’t exactly a smart strategy for building online marketplaces at this stage of the internet game.

A thoughtful marketing plan will help you figure out how to attract potential buyers, and a great one consists of some of the following characteristics:

  • A clear target audience
  • Customer personas
  • An appealing brand identity
  • Style guide
  • Content calendar
  • Specific campaigns and promotions

Additionally, you can think about how different marketing strategies can play into your growth. Content marketing continues to prove itself a top choice for many marketplace businesses. Utilizing social media channels can be another great place to start.

Both strategies allow you to add value to customers without them having to make a purchase. This builds trust so that they’ll turn to your online marketplace when it comes time to go shopping.

4. Know exactly how to attract sellers

One of the unique challenges with starting a marketplace compared to a standard e-commerce store is that you have to bring in both buyers and sellers. Online marketplaces only work if there are enough vendors.

But vendors don’t necessarily just show up out of nowhere. There’s the classic chicken and egg problem with marketplaces. You need vendors to establish your marketplace, but vendors only want to sell on established marketplaces.

Having an established foundation to build from and knowing how you’ll attract sellers before your marketplace launch will help you avoid roadblocks as your platform grows. You’d hate to have customers showing up with no one to buy from.

knowing how to attract sellers can guarantee a successful marketplace launch

5. Think through your customer experience strategy

Customer experience has become one of the most important aspects of running an online marketplace website.

Recent research shows that improving customer experience can lead to additional benefits to your brand, including:

Great customer experience doesn’t just happen, though. It takes planning and development. Ask yourself, “How can we make our customers love their time on the platform?” Usually, it comes down to making things efficient, easy to use, and engaging.

If you can nail those things, you’ll be ahead of the game, especially if it’s part of your initial marketplace launch.

Customer support is another big part of creating an excellent customer experience. Thankfully, many different applications exist that can improve this facet of the marketplace business, such as:

  • Helpscout
  • Zendesk
  • Freshdesk
  • Awesome Support

6. Establish a vendor support plan

Your customers won’t be the only ones who want a pleasant experience. Sellers will, too.

The success of your vendors depends on a variety of factors. However, one major factor is how comfortable they are operating your online marketplace platform.

Making your site easy to navigate will help, but you should also have a support plan in place for your vendors. This could include things like:

  • User guides
  • How to’s
  • Self-support systems

Many online marketplaces use the same applications for both customer support and vendor support. This makes it easy to track tickets and manage queries. Thus, before your marketplace launch, try out the best customer support apps and evaluate how effectively they help your sellers.

establishing a vendor support plan is crucial for your marketplace launch success

7. Figure out your payment processing ahead of time

A big part of any online marketplace business is collecting payment. There are plenty of good payment gateways on the market, but picking the right one for your marketplace requires research.

We see many marketplace operators commit huge mistakes around this issue. For example, some wait too long to figure the payment process out. It isn’t hard to figure out why. After all, payments are complicated processes that take time and effort to consider, often involving various factors, including…

  • Specific fees and charges
  • Payout schedules
  • Chargeback fees
  • Refund processes

Plus, there’s the reality that payment processors aren’t always a plug-and-play feature. They take a bit more time to get integrated and to get you onboarded or trained.

In short, payment processing is no mere afterthought. It’s a fundamental part of planning for an effective marketplace launch.

8. Determine how to pay your sellers

Sellers want the same thing you do: to make money. The cool thing about running an online marketplace is that you partner with these online stores to reach that common goal. When your vendors succeed, you succeed as well, and vice versa.

But when their success comes, you’ll want to make sure you have systems in place to get them their payments.

Marketplaces use different models for paying vendors. Typically, said models come down to the following three:

  • Automatic payments
  • Scheduled payments
  • Manual payments

In our experience, automatic payments are the least productive, as they make refunds difficult to handle. The other two are much more realistic and can be built into your payment gateway choice (another big reason to pick that ahead of time).

you must know how to pay your sellers to ensure a successful marketplace launch

9. Have a maintenance plan in place

Websites break. Even the most well-made ones have occasional bugs and malfunctions. Therefore, you should be ready to handle these issues so that you won’t be left panicking when problems crop up.

Preventative maintenance is one great way to handle this. Having a staging site in place can help, especially for testing new features or updates. You can continue running your marketplace while seeing how these work in a safe environment that won’t interfere with your business.

In addition, you can do preventative maintenance by carefully selecting your plugins. Ask for feedback from key vendors and sellers before you add a new extension. Remember that you don’t need every feature; the more you add, the more you risk damaging your site. After all, having too many plugins can bog down and even crash your platform.

10. Come up with a refund policy

Refunds are a natural part of e-commerce. However, creating a refund policy can easily get overlooked amidst the excitement of preparing for the marketplace launch.

Having a thoughtful refund policy from the get-go can make things run much more smoothly. Thus, ask yourself: “Who is going to cover the refunds, the vendors or the marketplace? How will customers request a refund?”

Answering such questions will help you set up a successful refund plan, and research shows that this can be extremely valuable for customers.

Keep these stats in mind when crafting your return policy:

  • 30% of online orders get returned
  • 67% of shoppers check the returns page before making a purchase
  • 58% of customers want simple, “no questions asked” return policies
  • 92% of customers will buy something again if the previous return process was simple
  • 79% of consumers want free return shipping
you must come up with a robust refund policy before your marketplace launch

Additional Tips

Some companies want to hit it big from the start. However, others prefer doing a soft launch first, as it gives them the ability to test the waters before going all out.

It’s the same idea that makes a prototype or minimum viable product successful. You can see how things function and get feedback from early adopters. This can help you smooth out various issues before the official marketplace launch.

If you’re thinking through how you can best build and launch a new online marketplace, WC Vendors can help you on your journey. Check out the free version of our user-friendly WordPress plugin and discover how great a marketplace can be for your company.

WC Vendors lets you easily create a WooCommerce multi-vendor marketplace
WC Vendors streamlines the creation and launch of your multi-vendor marketplace


The marketplace launch should be an exciting time for your business. Thankfully, having a clear plan in place can set you up for success, thus allowing you to enjoy rather than struggle through the launch.

To recap, the following strategies can help ensure a successful marketplace launch:

  1. Acquire the right tools
  2. Understand the legal necessities
  3. Develop a marketing plan
  4. Know exactly how to attract sellers
  5. Think through your customer experience strategy
  6. Establish a vendor support plan
  7. Figure out your payment processing ahead of time
  8. Determine how to pay your sellers
  9. Have a maintenance plan in place
  10. Come up with a refund policy

Do you have any questions about the marketplace launch? Let us know in the comments section below!

Posted in Setup / Launch