At Divante, we've been building eCommerce solutions for over 12 years now. With full confidence, we can say that the times for marketplaces have never been better.
A modern headless marketplace will help you to:
- seize the opportunities in the market.
- easily scale your business.
- reach new customers.
We're here to prepare your marketplace for the future of eCommerce
Get a tailored marketplace composed of the best-of-breed platforms,
integrations, and custom solutions.
Learn more about headless marketplaces
Want to learn more about marketplaces and headless eCommerce? You're in the right place.
We've been sharing our expertise through eBooks, articles, and podcasts for years now. We also created a couple of successful products and open-source solutions, such as Vue Storefront, Open Loyalty, and Meetsales.
This website is just a short introduction to the marketplaces. If you want to learn more, download our ultimate guide to online marketplaces.
An online store is generally an internet shop where one retailer offers its products and services to clients. Marketplaces are wider ecosystems where clients can find a range of different or competing products from a number of third-party vendors. These are sold at different prices with different delivery times, different customer ratings, and so on. Marketplaces are all about giving customers more choice.
Most people know the marketplace model from eBay and Amazon. It's basically a framework where any company or individual can display products, like the classified ads in a newspaper, and pay a commission to the site owner from each sale. It’s an effective sales method for vendors because the sites have massive reach. It's also a great business model for the creators of the marketplace because they're not physically involved in most transactions.
Online marketplaces account for more than half of all online retail sales. Still, they're less understood and easily embraced by businesses than traditional online stores. It’s perhaps because marketplaces seem more complex from the outset and because there are so many different types: global or local, goods or services, B2B or B2C, own-brand or third-party goods, and everything in between.
Each type of eCommerce platform has its own audience, focus, advantages, and disadvantages. However, multiple and significant benefits are available in all the different types of e-marketplaces. More customers and sales channels, scalability, and the ability to quickly start selling are a game-changer for those selling products or services.
Read more about different types of marketplaces.
■ Smaller retailers that are experiencing massive drops in in-store sales are using marketplaces to shift inventory and stay afloat.
■ Amazon doubled workforces in many European countries and added 100,000 jobs during the first peak of the pandemic in the U.S. to cope with demand.
■ More local marketplaces are thriving. Allegro was Poland’s biggest ever IPO in its stock market debut.
■ B2B marketplaces are on the rise. Sales reps can’t visit customers, so a marketplace brings together producers, distributors, and end clients.
How a marketplace can benefit your business
Reach new customers
Grow your customer base to reach new target groups.
Expand your offer
Get a wide range of new products that fit into new customers' needs.
Avoid stocking up inventory
Earn money by selling the products of your partners.
Scale your business and sell more products.
Grow your business
Expand your presence on the market with minimal investment.
Get better search rankings
Give your SEO a boost with an unlimited supply of new product pages.
An example of headless marketplace architecture
Elements to compose your marketplace
The merchant panel is a dashboard for marketplace sellers like distributors and manufacturers.Read more
It allows merchants to:
■ Manage their profile, name, description, and policies.
■ Manage products manually, by import, or by API. The greatest advantage here is the possibility to map attribute data between the merchant’s system and the marketplace.
■ Manage offers, add prices, promotions, and adjust stock levels.
■ Manage shipping details.
■ Fulfill orders, add tracking numbers and invoices, and so on.
■ Manage returns and refunds.
■ Manage communication with end clients, answer questions about products and orders, and handle complaints.
The key to a good merchant’s panel is a balance of simplicity and rich features. If you're missing any of the above elements, then at least one critical part of the marketplace will fail. It needs to be feature-rich but intuitive. We cannot assume that marketplace administrators are technical experts, so the interface shouldn't require coding skills.
eCommerce features present the products and services to the end customers.Read more
■ It should clearly present which products are sold by which merchant to give customers transparent information before they make a purchase.
■ End customers should be able to find and compare all similar products by price, ranking, shipping methods, additions to the product, and other filters.
■ It should present the information on all merchants. It should present ratings, customer opinions, shipping methods, and cost.
■ End customers should be able to communicate with merchants directly to ask questions, place orders, and make complaints.
■ Shopping carts should be able to handle products from multiple merchants.
■ Customers must be able to make only one payment even if the goods they choose come from many merchants.
■ Product returns should be possible to both the marketplace and to a specific merchant.
It’s a real advantage if the eCommerce has a ready-to-use connector that will allow it to be linked to the merchant panel. You'll save yourself a lot of time and resources and end up with less ongoing maintenance. For example, Magento has a module to integrate with Mirakl which makes them a good pairing.
Most importantly, we recommend dividing the eCommerce part of your marketplace into distributed architecture to separate the front end from the back end. This will allow for more technological flexibility and scalability.
You need a solution to allow users and merchants to make transactions through your marketplace.Read more
Payment service providers (PSP) are third-party companies that specialize in payment infrastructure. However, you should remember that you need a PSP that offers specific marketplace features. Some of these features are crucial when selling on particular markets while others are optional. Some PSPs, like HiPay, have some ready-to-use marketplace processes. Others contain a marketplace payment structure but expect you to take care of processes, such as calculating commission yourself, outside of the PSP.
Choose specially-designed PSP software that allows you to map marketplaces in the area of your business. Check if the fees are acceptable for your business because the cost of solutions can vary. Also, look for ready-to-use plug-ins for your selected architecture.
Elements for growth
A good marketplace thrives on consistency. Allowing individual sellers to create their own content in the merchant panel can lead to problems with the quality and consistency of content.Read more
PIM (product information management) systems allow marketplace owners to take more control of these issues and build a more unified marketplace.
PIM systems should cover specific marketplace issues:
■ Collecting product data from many sources, such as the merchant panel and the marketplace owners' own ERP. This is made easier if the PIM has a connector to the merchant panel, such as the link between Mirakl and Akeneo.
■ Merging several instances of the same product offered by different merchants into an offer that is displayed on the front end. This simplifies content creation for PIM users and the end user's experience.
■ Taking care of the product content consistency.
■ Checking product quality and correcting if necessary.
■ Offering distribution to multiple channels because the PIM has to have the opportunity to integrate with the marketplace front end. A ready-to-use module is an additional advantage.
It depends on how fast you want to get started and what you want to achieve, but for us, there are two clear leaders when looking at PIM systems for your marketplace:
The bigger the inventory gets, the more important it is to make products easy to find. The search bar is the sales assistant for shoppers that are browsing and should allow them to find anything in the product range within seconds.Read more
In a marketplace, the search solution should:
■ Give customers the ability to find products from multiple merchants.
■ Clearly highlight which products are sold by which merchant to provide the end customers with transparent information.
■ Show the best offers on similar products offered by multiple merchants.
■ Offer the ability to filter by merchants.
■ Allow for the filtering of products through advanced settings, such as merchant rating and delivery time.
Your search has only one core functionality, but it's one of the most critical user experience elements of your marketplace. Modern customers expect to find products lightning-fast, so choose carefully.
Our suggestions are:
■ A marketplace front-end search based on a native Elasticsearch engine where your eCommerce part allows for that and you would like to customize the search feature to your needs.
■ SaaS solutions for search, navigation, merchandising, and personalization, such as Algolia, Constructor, and FACT-finder. All of them are good when you're looking for proven, ready-to-use solutions.
End users rarely understand the marketplace model. Usually, they don’t even know that they're on a marketplace website.Read more
If they do know what a marketplace is, it can feel impersonal in comparison to a normal eCommerce site. Marketplaces need to find ways to create personalized experiences across touchpoints:
■ Finding products per specific seller, price, or promotion.
■ Making an order.
■ Updating an order, adding or removing products, changing shipping address, etc.
■ Informing about the status of the order.
■ Dealing with returns.
■ Acting as an intermediary in issues between sellers and clients.
Transparency and reachability are essential. Make sure that customers have easy ways to contact both the main marketplace owner and individual merchants through:
■ Meetsales. Especially in B2B marketplaces, the role of sales reps is still the key, but we need solutions that allow for remote sales straight from the catalog.
■ Live chat on the website using tools like LiveChat or Freshchat.
■ A dedicated call center.
A product feed generator gives you the opportunity to take the outreach of your marketplace even further. You can use it to share your products to external sites such as Amazon, Google Shop, and Facebook.Read more
It should let you share your own products, as the marketplace owner, and also those of third-party vendors. It should also be able to choose and display the best from a group of similar, competing products.
You can use a dedicated SaaS solution or a native module if the marketplace front end has that option available:
■ Separate SaaS solution: Channable.
■ If you use Magento, check out the native module for generating feeds.
A headless CMS is a non-essential feature but one that can improve the consistency of your marketplace and the customer experience. It allows you to dynamically generate CMS pages, FAQs, help pages, banners, product sliders, and so on.Read more
Headless CMS is very important for separated front-end architecture and for architecture where you want to maintain a consistent CMS across multiple sales channels, like for a separate mobile app.
Some of the more robust platforms, such as a Magento, have their own modules to handle CMS. However, we can also recommend some really powerful headless solutions:
You can use marketing features, like notifications, to improve conversion rates and promote special offers.Read more
Once you have customers on board, your task is to turn them into repeat customers who are loyal to your platform. You can do it, for example, through direct messaging via SMS or email.
Marketing software is a useful tool to increase the volume and frequency of purchases. Among some great SaaS solutions on the market, we recommend the following software:
This is just the tip of the iceberg
A modern headless marketplace is a dynamic, composable solution that you can easily develop in any direction you want. You can use this agility to quickly adjust to the market and outpace your competitors.
Let's discuss your idea and see what solutions we can use to make your marketplace thrive.