Multi-Vendor Print Store: A Guide On Building Your POD Website
Anna Navolokova, Marketing Manager in Multi-Programming Solutions • 8 min read
Despite the level of experience in online sales, all the enterprises that keep in mind a scaling strategy should think of a multi-vendor store sooner or later. Better sooner to conquer fresh markets, reach new target audiences, and develop a recognizable brand faster than your competitors.
Keep reading our article to learn how to build a POD website from scratch and invite merchants to join you.
Table of Contents
Multi-vendor store defined
One of the brightest examples of a successful multi-vendor marketplace platform is Amazon. This huge e-commerce hub is well-known worldwide and has proven itself as a productive environment for developing brands of different industries. With 9.7 million registered sellers, it allows customers to order any item right to their front door.
In the same way, entrepreneurs can build marketplace to sell print on demand products via multiple vendors within a local or international market. The platform will work as a mediator between sellers who want to merch online and customers searching for a unique selling proposition among thousands of available.
Such an e-commerce scheme has three parties involved, including the store owner, merchants, and buyers. And for each side, a multi-vendor e-commerce marketplace solution is beneficial. Customers can browse through a wide range of listings to find one that caters to their needs. Sellers may start their dropshipping business by registering and customizing a personal account using ready-made website templates. And print shop owners receive an opportunity to widen the list of partners, generate more traffic, and earn additional income from charging fees for every purchase or placed product. And all these operations are realized within a single platform.
Your (as a POD business owner) responsibility lies in managing orders, providing financial operations via integrated payment systems, like Paypal, printing, and shipping to the buyer’s location. Dropshipping vendors' task is to run their online stores and ensure excellent customer support.
Marketplace rules of selling
To create a multi-vendor marketplace website that will work like a clock, satisfying all the involved participants, you can follow several rules from the best practices of similar platforms.
You may charge a fixed fee for each listing, item sold or apply more flexible calculations depending on the product category or its price. Marketplaces like Amazon set various subscription plans with a limited number of features. So every vendor can pick an option that will better suit their goals.
For example, with an individual plan, sellers should pay $0.99 per unit sold. The subscription comes without advertisements and is preferable for startupers with less than a 40-item turnover per month. More experienced vendors can choose a professional plan with a $39.99 commission and premium service. The platform also charges referral fees of 8%-15% per every item sold.
Another payment concerns fulfillment. Within a POD business model, you’ll pick, pack, ship, and handle returns. Amazon charges a minimum of $3.22 for such FBA service. The commission amount depends on the package weight and dimensions.
EBay additionally has dispute, insertion, international, final value charges, and other commissions, which you can also apply to your website.
Holding funds and payment delays
When buyers make an order, payments don’t go directly to the seller but are kept in the multi-vendor marketplace. As soon as the shipment is finished, you may transfer money to the vendor’s account. Choose the frequency of financial operations. You can do it the next day, once or twice a week, or monthly. Discuss this option with your vendor.
Product export and customization
Show that you appreciate your partners and their time by automating the process of product uploading, listing creation, and customization with their own designs. If sellers don’t have to add every item manually, they’ll get more free time to market their stores and generate traffic for your marketplace.
Within your multi-vendor e-commerce website development, you may provide criteria for accepting new partners. For instance, you can decline requests from specific locations, untrusted individuals, or those with bad reviews.
Provide a smooth warehouse and fulfillment service (W&F) with the Podza app, allowing to automate inventory management and parcel tracking. Vendors won’t have to do it on their own. Thus you’ll gain more trust from partners.
Add a feature where sellers could compare prices for similar products at their rivals’ online stores. Thus, your B2B multi-vendor marketplace can spur competition between sellers and make them improve the level of services.
Multi-vendor benefits for business owners
Creating a print on demand platform with several vendors is advantageous for printing providers in different ways. With a solid partnership, your business can explore new demographics, conquer markets you haven’t reached on your own, and build a solid foundation for further long-term scaling. Other benefits of multi-vendor e-commerce development are listed below.
Additional profit from fees
Apart from the primary source of profit, marketplace owners will receive passive income from every sale partners provide using their e-commerce solution. Although the revenue may be a little small, it can cover costs for website maintenance.
How to run a multi-vendor store using every opportunity to increase sales? Establish a good practice of smooth interactions between your sellers. One connected store can promote stuff from the other one. For example, a t-shirt brand can offer its customers to look through the product range of another vendor, who dropship your printed beach towels (if you provide such service, of course).
Marketplace owners have total control over who can join their network and what they are allowed to sell. For example, if you print mugs, you probably won’t select a clothing vendor as a partner (unless the last one is going to widen the product assortment). Also, merchants create their listings by importing your products. And you can check its description and details before it goes live.
It is one of the vital features of the multi-vendor B2B marketplace. Your financial operations will run hassle-free with minimum stress and errors. With an integrated payment system, you’ll be able to hold funds until the purchase is completed and the return terms are expired. It will help to reduce manual work and keep the money safe.
A multi-vendor website builder will allow designating managers to control the site. Although business owners can do it themselves, delegating the responsibility to the team members will be more beneficial for your company. Administrators will accept or decline new sellers, update product collections, cope with marketplace features, and provide real-time task monitoring.
When it comes to the print on demand marketplace development, it’s crucial to share responsibilities for business owners and their sellers. It may be a challenging task for those entrepreneurs who have no relevant experience. That’s why we’ll list the main multi-store components to make your building process easier:
- Inventory. There’s no need for vendors to add products manually if you can use the PodZa tool to automate this process. Create collections and let your partners import everything, including descriptions, sizes, and colors. Later, vendors can download mockups with their design on your blank item, change the price and activate the listing.
- Orders Management. There’s nothing worse than an unprocessed or lost order within your multi-vendor e-commerce marketplace. But the website owner can solve such issues by streamlining the order distribution process. All the purchases made through affiliate shops will be redirected right to the fulfillment center, so there’ll be no delays caused by the human factor.
- Shipping. In the POD business model, suppliers are the ones who hold an inventory. To be precise, they keep blank products and wait for orders from their partners. Then they print a custom item and deliver it to the final destination. The owner's task is to give clear information on shipping costs, fulfillment fees, and parcel tracking to warn both vendors and customers on time.
- Pricing model. There are two payment options entrepreneurs can provide starting a multi-vendor marketplace. First, they can adjust scheduled payouts, where sellers receive money in a stipulated time (every week, month, etc.). The second one is to pay your partners after every successful sale.
Sellers’ experience from using your website is significant. So if you have an opportunity to make your service as convenient to all sides as possible, you may count on a long and productive partnership.
How to create a multi-vendor print store?
Building an online shop that can connect you with dozens of sellers willing to use your printers is easier than you can imagine. All due to the dozens of ready-to-made freely accessible software solutions, which helped many entrepreneurs around the world to succeed in sales. Learn a few short but vital steps you should take to launch the print on demand store.
Pick up the right development platform
You may start your multi-vendor marketplace by choosing a suitable e-commerce platform that supports appropriate functionality, POD services, and dropshippers. Luckily, there are dozens of SaaS and open-sourced solutions. For example, you can consider Shopify, WooCommerce, or eBay. Examine their main features and unique offerings to make the right choice.
Get an app and integrate it with an e-commerce platform
As an owner of the Shopify or Woocommerce multi-vendor print on demand marketplace, you’ll work with the admin panel, which combines all the connected online stores, received orders, and listed products in a convenient single dashboard.
Your affiliates will download the POD app from the app store, import your goods and add custom details.
Consider a product design tool
Whether you create a Shopify or WooCommerce multi-vendor POD marketplace, a design tool is a must if you want to provide an excellent customer experience for your vendors. To prevent partners from searching for ways to add a branded logo to your stuff, you can use the Podza solution for Shopify or WooCommerce. It already has a layer in the product listing where vendors can upload their designs.
Promote your service
With a ready-to-start multi-vendor POD platform, it’s time to think about how sellers can find you out. Use free and paid advertisements, social media, and e-mail notifications to promote your business. Make a short video introducing the benefits of partnering with you. And don’t forget to mention the automated selling process and the attached design tool.
To resume our guide on a multi-vendor store, we’d like to say that with a POD marketplace, you can open your company to new opportunities. Unexplored markets, wider product assortment, larger sales volumes, and innovative software solutions - this is a short list of benefits store owners can get.
If you already coped with a certain number of orders, just imagine how you can grow your profit if several vendors from different locations will work on you attracting new customers. “But it will require more employees to process all the orders,” - you may say. Not necessarily. With the right POD software, you’ll streamline dozens of business processes and save time and costs on hiring new workers.