Managing a multi-vendor online WordPress store that pays commission is a dynamic and complex task. In this role, you oversee the operations of an e-commerce platform that brings together multiple vendors, each offering their unique products or services. As the facilitator, your responsibility lies in ensuring seamless coordination between vendors and customers, optimizing sales, and providing a fair commission structure.
By effectively managing vendor registrations, order processing, payment transactions, and ongoing support, you create an environment where vendors can thrive while customers enjoy a diverse selection of offerings. Through strategic marketing, analytics, and continuous improvement, you foster growth and success for both the online store and its network of vendors.
Objectives of a Sophisticated Commission Scheme
Using a system that allows for flexible and advanced commission management for vendors offers several advantages:
Customized Commission Structures: A flexible system enables you to create customized commission structures for different vendors based on their specific needs, sales volume, or product categories. This allows you to incentivize and reward vendors based on their performance and contribution, promoting healthy competition and motivation.
Tiered Commission Rates: With an advanced commission management system, you can implement tiered commission rates based on predefined sales thresholds or performance milestones. This allows you to offer higher commission rates to vendors who consistently achieve higher sales targets, encouraging them to strive for better results.
Promotions and Incentives: A flexible system enables you to easily introduce special promotions or time-limited incentives for vendors. You can set up temporary commission boosts, bonuses, or rewards to drive specific behaviors or sales objectives. This flexibility helps in motivating vendors and aligning their efforts with your business goals.
Commission Adjustments: Sometimes, specific circumstances may require adjustments to commissions, such as returns, refunds, or order cancellations. A flexible commission management system allows you to make these adjustments easily and accurately, ensuring fair and accurate commission calculations for vendors.
Therefore, a system that allows for flexible and advanced commission management for vendors empowers you to tailor commission structures, introduce incentives, track performance, and make adjustments as needed. It enhances vendor satisfaction, drives motivation, and helps you optimize your commission program for better results and overall business success.
Implementing Advanced Commission Rules for Easy Digital Download WordPress Stores
To systematically and effectively motivate vendors, implementing a flexible and advanced commission management system is crucial. Such a system enables you to tailor commission structures and incentives to the specific needs and performance of individual vendors.
With a flexible and advanced commission management system, you can introduce tiered commission rates, customize structures based on sales volume or product categories, and provide performance-based incentives. Below examples were taken from the Advanced Commission Manager Pro Plugin.
(A) Rewarding High-Value Orders with Higher Commission Payouts
A tiered commission structure motivates sales professionals to strive for higher sales volumes. By offering higher commission rates for reaching higher order values, you create a strong incentive for them to push for larger deals and increase their overall productivity.
(B)Offering Better Commission Rates for Services compared to Product Sales
You can prioritize specific products, services, or target markets by assigning higher commission rates to them. This ensures that your sales force focuses on promoting the offerings that are most important to your company’s growth and profitability.
(C)Rewarding Repeat Orders
A tiered commission structure based on lifetime sales value encourages sales professionals to prioritize building strong, lasting relationships with customers. By incentivizing them to focus on customer retention and upselling, you create a sales culture that values long-term customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Ultimately, implementing a flexible and advanced commission management system empowers you to create a vibrant and motivated vendor community, leading to increased sales, customer satisfaction, and overall business success.
Using an EDD WordPress Commission Plugin to implement Advanced Commission Rules
Commission Manager Pro Plugin is a plugin integrated with Easy Digital Downloads and requires the EDD Commissions plugin to be installed. Basically, this plugin allows for implementing more sophisticated and tiered commission schemes to provide better vendor incentives, therefore encouraging vendors to sell their product better.
In conclusion, implementing an advanced commission system on your online webstore is a strategic decision that yields numerous benefits. The flexibility and customization options of such a system allow you to tailor commission structures, introduce incentives, and recognize the varying contributions of individual vendors. This fosters motivation, engagement, and loyalty among vendors, driving their performance and ultimately boosting sales.
Vendors are at the core of the procurement process of every organization. Many companies, however, continue to ignore the value of maintaining a good relationship with their vendors. Such acts of incompetence may have made little difference as procurement played an administrative role in an organization’s purchasing of goods/services.
Management of suppliers is also a key competency of effective organizations. In a global marketplace that is ultra-competitive, companies need to look for innovative ways to gain more value from suppliers while at the same time reducing risk and retaining efficiency. Management of vendors enables you to establish a partnership with your suppliers and service providers which will improve both companies.
With efficient vendor management processes in place, you can better-set targets for performance, efficiency, expense, and satisfaction, and identify and manage third-party vendors that will help you achieve those business objectives.
What is Vendor Management?
Vendor management is the internal framework of an organization to negotiate with outside vendors and suppliers. It enables third-party vendors to continue to evolve through regular cooperation and continuous monitoring. The partnership between the company and vendors is one of the main factors and creating an efficient framework for dealing with them would lead to revenue-boosting.
Vendor management system is also a form of risk management- a key vendor’s activities are capable of either a financial decline or a profit boost. Daily vendor audits and checks will avoid the entry into financially unsound vendor relationships. It includes working as a team with your vendors to draw up mutually beneficial contracts which will eventually benefit both companies. It prioritizes developing a long-term partnership with the vendor over short-term profits.
Overall, the management of the Vendor partnership deepens buyer-supplier relationships in order to achieve a mutually beneficial objective and create trust.
How to manage vendors effectively?
Bad communication is the root of the majority of company failures. The failure of your suppliers to communicate or obtain essential information will end up shaking the very foundations of your vendor management operation.
This is especially important in terms of timelines. Corporate buyers need to meet regularly with their vendors in order to efficiently relay their requirements and get a better understanding of the capabilities of their suppliers
In any partnership, the best way to create an ill will is a lack of contact. Take the time to connect with your vendors, and in return request the same form of outreach.
Build Relationships with Vendors
Getting out of a transactional partnership and into a strategic supplier-buyer relationship model is the secret to productive vendor management. The first step of the cycle is to consider the suppliers as worthy partners.
You need to take a systematic approach to develop and sustain relationships with your best vendors to get the most value out of your vendor management process. Good suppliers are difficult to get through, so it’s important to maintain your relationship with the suppliers that you don’t want to lose.
Instead of merely sharing the predefined KPIs with your suppliers, include them in crucial strategic decisions such as setting specific goals for the partnership. Vendor management makes long-term partnerships a priority over short-term benefits and marginal cost savings. Changing vendors constantly to save a penny here or there will, in the long run, cost more money and will affect consistency.
Focus on win-win agreements
Negotiations should be based on good faith and honesty and not on strong-arm tactics. You’re not going to be able to establish ties with methods of strong-arm negotiation. Instead, you’re going to generate frustration that can lead to more down the road issues.
Focus on reaching agreements in good faith which will help all parties to walk away feeling good about the agreement. Partnership goals should be organized in such a way as to provide fair incentives for growth and support both businesses.
Third-party risk assessment is an important element in dealing with vendors, especially as a result of recent federal rules and guidelines on a company’s liability when hiring a third-party vendor. Due to rising public concern about cybersecurity and data breaches, this form of risk management is particularly relevant these days.
Whenever you enter into a contract with an outside vendor, you need to minimize risk. Require your vendors to explain what data they are going to need to access and how exactly they are going to secure the data from disclosure, and make sure they live up to a fair standard of protection before you contract.
It is mandatory to regularly scrutinize the inner workings of vendors, especially those with strong-level access to confidential information. Audits and assessments shall be performed to assess their long-term suitability for a relationship.
Measure Vendor Performance
As your marketplace operator, you don’t just source vendors, and let them be on your website selling digital goods on their own. Monitoring how the vendors are doing is really important, too. Therefore, from time to time you can run various reports to benchmark and compare the vendors and find out what works, what doesn’t, and what are the best practices that might make all the vendors sell more.
If you consider vendors who are underperforming, first review vendor profiles if all the required information is present so that they have a well-established reputation that can be seen and noticed by your clients. The next move is to search the listings of its products. Are the explanations of the goods correct and the items well presented? Does the question lie with the seller or the systems in the event of problems? Is Brand Listing Easy? Are there enough fields of knowledge to present the goods to the full? You could also boost and refine the navigation and interface of your website which will certainly enable your vendors to get a sale.
Promote your Vendors
Advertising and supporting your vendors along with their goods can be a good way to get tourists and help your vendors sell their products in various social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. Note, if your vendors earn, then you earn, so helping them sell their goods is in your best interest.
Writing blog posts about vendor products will help you generate additional content for your web page as part of your digital marketplace marketing campaign, and give your vendors another forum to promote their goods. Make sure, however, that the articles to be published following the appropriate quality standards that you need to maintain for your blog.
Provide Vendor Resources
It will become an ongoing activity to work with vendors and to help them market their goods. You will need a mechanism to help your vendors as well. Initially, vendors will have a lot of questions because they will have to understand how to work with your digital product marketplace and what to do to earn money.
It is, therefore, best to follow a constructive strategy, in order to foresee their questions. One way to do so is to send out a series of informative emails upon the sign-up of new vendors. The goal is to help suppliers complete their product listings and then inspire them to list more quality items on your digital product marketplace in a second phase.
Benefits of Vendor Management System
The benefits of establishing successful and sustainable partnerships with vendors are untold. Vendors or suppliers of the products and services of your business are some of your essential business partners and as such, a concerted effort must be made to build an effective vendor management system, capable of optimizing the current company and vendor relationship.
Boost the level of services you have
Boost operating and/or financial performance
Expand your product usability
Concentrate on the main market functions
Vendor management is essential to the company’s economic well-being. In order to streamline operations, an efficient vendor management system must be developed at the company.
Conclusion: Good Vendor Management is vital for your success
In today’s world economy, where regional and economic boundaries are increasingly decreasing, companies will collaborate with different types of vendors from around the world. Even if you deal with a single vendor, successful vendor management is important, because their success ultimately affects the success of your company.
It is important to understand vendor management’s advantages and challenges, so you can develop an efficient process that will drive your interaction with your vendors. Do not forget to add vendor management best practices to your method to ensure that your vendors provide optimum value to your organization.
Only make sure to always invest in a robust and comprehensive vendor management system and you will be ready to create efficient, strategic relationships with your suppliers while streamlining your workflows and keeping costs down. With automation, total accountability, increased collaboration, and integrated cloud-based data management, the team will be able to break free from low-value activities, gain more strategic sourcing through better insights, and ensure the company is agile and fleet-friendly enough to succeed in today’s dynamic economy.
Digital Product Marketplace’s store owner and operators havea very long list of tasks to do in order to manage his/her digital productmarketplace well. This encompasses tons of administrative andnon-administrative works just to get their webstore all up and running. Digitalproduct marketplace owners have vendors to manage, customers to handle,marketing strategies and tactics to implement, developers/programmers to relatewith and many other stuffs that would definitely consume there day.
This is now why it is essential to free some of your time and therefore concentrate on many important tasks for your online marketplace. But how? We need to learn and adopt an automated process that will lessen the burden of manually doing administrative works for your digital product marketplace.
Common Problems of Manually Paying Vendor Commissions
Here are some of the problems that a Digital Product Marketplace webstore owner most likely to experience when doing the manual payment to vendors.
Spend a lot of time paying vendors manually – Having only a few vendors and sales per week or month could still go through manual payments. But, if you are now getting more vendors and earning more sales, you may notice that you’ve been starting to spend a lot of time paying them manually than before, and it is not healthy especially if you also have other administrative tasks to pay attention to.
Vendors do not want to wait long to get paid – It is important as a marketplace owner to always keep your vendors happy. One way is not to delay or give payments for too long. This may happen if you have tons of vendors and sales needed to split and give payments manually, and maybe a few of them are already overdue. We shouldn’t let this happen or your vendors will feel unsatisfied with your service.
Adopt automated payments to easily scale up – As we have said earlier, business owners/staff should be doing something important for the betterment and growth of the marketplace instead of spending an awful amount of time in paying vendor commissions. This could actually prevent business upscale and growth.
Possible problems with ManualPayments – Making tons of vendor payments each day or week can cause you a lot of confusion and headache. From different calculations, percentages, splitting of payments, tracking amounts and others can quickly get above our heads. Thus, the manual process are very vulnerable to different mistakes and errors. This is one main reason as to why we should adopt an automated payment service.
PayPal is still the best and commonly used payment service – PayPal is still today the benchmark for most developers, vendors, freelancers, and customers on the web. Almost everyone has their PayPal accounts and you won’t get any trouble explaining things to you with regard to it. In conclusion, PayPal is the best practice for online payment solutions.
Benefits of Automating your Payment Processes
Business process automation is the use of technology to execute recurring tasks or processes in a business where manual effort can be replaced. It is done to achieve cost minimization, greater efficiency, and streamlined processes. Any business that wants to gain an edge over their competition should consider automation, which can simplify a company’s operations, not to mention speed them up by a great deal.
Automating your Payment Processes is essential when you areoperating a Digital Product Marketplace. Enumerated below are some benefits ofautomating your business processes.
Quality and Consistency
Automation ensures that every action is performed identically – resulting in high quality, reliable results. Also, they will experience the same level of service from your business, thus providing a high-quality, consistent work output.
Automation reduces the number of tasks you and your employees wouldotherwise need to do manually. This frees up your time to work on items thatadd genuine value to the business, allowing you to be more innovative andincreasing your employees’ levels of motivation.
Improved Operational Efficiency andProductivity
Process automation reduces the time it takes to achieve a task, the effort required to undertake it and the cost of completing it successfully. Automation not only ensures systems run smoothly and efficiently but that errors are eliminated and that your best practices are constantly leveraged.
Simplify Repetitive Tasks
Many employees spend most of their working day performing repetitive tasks, which can be both boring and when all of the alternatives are considered, unproductive. Automation software can, therefore, automate many of these repetitive processes, so your members of staff can focus on other areas of the business. This will allow you to use your staff more effectively, and it could even speed up the processes involved.
Automation can open doors to countless opportunities for your business. Instead of wasting your time doing repetitive administrative works, business owners might be doing something that would greatly scale and increase business growth. This is how important automating your business processes is.
Automate Payment Commissions on your Digital Product Marketplaces
Your Digital Product Marketplace might have several vendors who needed to get paid off their commissions. Whenever a digital product has been purchased on your marketplace, your vendors needed to get paid manually, and this consumes and wastes a lot of your time. This could cause your marketplace growth a huge setback just by doing this repetitive administrative work manually, especially when you needed to pay many people of their commissions, every single day.
This is now why automating your vendor payment commission is very important if you are operating a Digital Product Marketplace. The Admin user may find it very difficult to track each and every sales and afterward payout vendors manually. So here comes a solution – the PayPal Adaptive Payments Plugin.
Introducing PayPal Adaptive Payments
This plugin works by automating your vendor commissions byinstantly and automatically splitting third-party commission up to 6 receivers.This way, it will save you a lot of time in manually paying vendor commissions.
The payment of third-party revenue can be doneinstantly and it saves significant time instead of manually paying your vendorcommissions every time a sale has been made.
With the PayPal Adaptive Payments gatewayintegration, you can easily split payments with up to 6 different receivers atthe same time. This plugin handles payments between the sender of a payment andone or more receivers of the payment. It’s possible to split the order totalwith secondary receivers, so you can pay commissions or partners immediatelyafterward.
You can set each receiver up with a specificpercentage of the payment within the settings for this gateway. Not only thatbut it provides configurations that can help you set this up as you prefer.
Lastly, you can determine whether you would like to use a Chained or Parallel payment type. Chained Payments: Your Store accepts the entire payment and secretly pays commissions to Vendors after the sale. Parallel Payments: The customer knows everyone who will receive payment upon checkout – as the payments are split visually at checkout.
Conclusion: Automate payments on your Digital Product Marketplace
Sticking with a Manual Business Workflow simply creates opportunities for delays and errors. Adopting business process automation, especially on paying vendor commissions, can improve organizational efficiency by automating redundant administrative and repetitive tasks. Remove those processes that are putting a strain on employee time and free them up with workflow automation, with this approach you will be able to accomplish more by using fewer resources and in a more efficient way.
In conclusion, vendor payment automation, if implementedcorrectly, can help you in increasing the efficiency and accuracy of your paymentprocesses. This can make your vendors very happy and will surely affect thegrowth and scale of your business.
WordPress today powers 30% of the world’s websites and leading eCommerce software such as WooCommerce are actually WordPress plugins which have proven that WordPress is much more than just a blogging solution.
When you are considering setting up a multi-vendor digital product marketplace you might want to consider using Easy Digital Downloads (EDD). EDD is the leading WordPress solution which is specialized in selling digital products and offers a marketplace extension as well. Unlike WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads does not come with any in-built legacy made for shipping physical products, instead, it is truly optimized in selling digital products. In this article, we will outline how to set up a multi-vendor marketplace platform in WordPress with Easy Digital Downloads.
Why create a Digital Product Multi-Vendor Marketplace Platform?
Sales for online marketplaces are expected to greatly double from $18.7 billion in 2017 to $40.1 billion in 2022 (MCFADYEN based on eMarketers). During the May 2018 survey made by Statista, 50 percent of global shoppers stated that they preferred to make first-time purchases at a retailer, whereas 47 percent of repeat buyers preferred online marketplaces. As per Statista, two of the top three reasons for purchasing at a marketplace instead of a retailer were more competitive prices and a broader selection of products available. Also 38% of all online shoppers in 2017 ordered from abroad.
Number ofDigital Buyers Worldwide, Source: Smartinsights 2017 based on eMarketer
First of all, why should your first choice be is to sell a digital product and not a physical product in your marketplace? The three main reasons are:
(1) No inventory required
(2) No shipping and handling problems
(3) Easier to sell worldwide
When selling digital products, a creator willhave the choice to either sell his digital products on his own website or usinga digital product marketplace. Below are the arguments why it can be a goodidea to start a multi-vendormarketplace platformrather than a single vendor store:
Selling a digital product is easier than selling a physical product
Buyers prefer choice and larger product inventories
Same launch costs as single-vendor websites
Low fixed costs enhancing chances of achieving break-even early on
Scalable business models with benefits in obtaining traffic (e.g. SEO and Social Media)
Best is to start a digital product marketplaceonly in a niche you are very familiar with as this will save you time and itallows you to find solutions to problems quicker than when you know nothingabout an industry. Some people also say you need a large amount of passion. Wethink it cannot hurt and will only help you if you actually care about theproducts you will sell in your digital product marketplace.
Before starting a WordPress Marketplace – Market Research
Conducting market research is the very firststep we must work on and do before even building and starting our DigitalProduct WordPressmarketplace. It is important to first conduct thorough market researchand study the essential factors which can affect and contribute to the successof the business plan when starting a digital product marketplace.
An effective wayto conduct a market study is by starting with the closest competitors of your digital productmarketplace idea. Try to especially focus on the top 5 or 10 competitorsand thoroughly research their profiles to understand what and how they aredoing and where the market gap for a new digital product WordPressmarketplace might be. When analyzing competitors, try to analyze thefollowing:
What do they sell?
Number of Vendors / Products
Price ranges of their products
Followers on social media
Sources of traffic
Strengths and weaknesses
Reviewing the strengths and weaknesses ofcompetitors should not only be in terms of how good their website appears butmore in terms of how good their business model is. Is this a marketplaceplatform you believe can attract the interest of customers and vendors? If yes,why? What do they do well? Which points they seem to neglect or where do theyshow weaknesses? There might be an untapped opportunity where the market is notserved?
Doing this analysis properly will give youmore information about the marketing strategies and tactics of each of thecompetitors and you will quickly figure out where there might be an untappedopportunity in the market that deserves to be serviced by your new digitalproduct WordPressmarketplace.
SEO can offer a cost-effective long-termmarketing strategy for marketplaces since there is a lot of content placedthere. Therefore you will need to do keyword research which is the process offinding and analyzing actual keywords entered in search engines. The objectiveof the keyword research will be to figure out which keywords would be easy torank within our market niche, have decent traffic search volumes and show onlya low level of competition.
Another topic to research and check arecommission rates charged to vendors by similar digital product marketplaces. Standard commission fees for digital product marketplaces are somewhere between 10% and 30%. Sobefore deciding what it will be, please check first how many potentialcompetitors are charging to their vendors and see that your fees are in linewith the market terms for your market segment.
Setting up a Digital Product Marketplace
Just like in starting a simple DigitalDownloads eCommerce WordPress Website, the very first thing to do is to chooseyour Domain Name URL and a Web Hosting Provider.
The Domain Name URL is the internet addresswhere Internet users can access your website. Registering domains will costfrom $10 per year upward, depending on the registrar and top-level domain(TLD).
The next task will then be to select asuitable web hosting provider that will host your website. You can choosebetween a shared and a private server. If you have plans to make your websitelarge, you might be better off starting with a private server as otherwise, youwill have to move your website away from a shared account as soon as you getmore traffic.
As mentioned initially, you will need to install Easy Digital Downloads which is the leading solution in WordPress and fully specialized to sell digital products online.
Installing a Multi-Vendor Marketplace WordPress Theme
The next step will be to install a WordPress Theme for your new marketplace platform. There are numerous free and paid themes available which are covered in a previous article and summarized here:
What you need to watch out for is to install a theme that supports the Frontend Submissions (FES) plugin in EDD. In case your chosen theme would not support FES, you can still install the theme but then you will have to manually develop designs for frontend vendor pages which is costly and time-consuming to do. Therefore, better use a standard theme which already supports FES, to begin with.
Please note, the theme just needs to serve thepurpose to get you off the ground. You will have to rework your website manytimes during the operations of your digital product WordPress marketplace.We just need a theme to start with, makes your marketplace presentable andhelps us to attract first customers and vendors.
Frontend Submissions provides a full-featured front-end package to turn your Easy Digital Downloads powered website into a complete multi-vendor marketplace. It allows you to accept download submissions from third-party authors or vendors and allows them to list their products in your Easy Digital Downloads marketplace website.
By using the FES plugin on top of your EDDplugin, you can build a store where vendors and creators can sign up, listtheir products for sale, and manage their own accounts, all from within your WordPress marketplace platform.For a multi-vendor digital product store, FES is the key marketplaceplugin for WordPress to use.
Commissions– An Essential Marketplace Plugin for WordPress
The Commissions extension is what you need to administer the revenue split between your platform and third-party vendors automatically. The way it works is that you need to define the percentage of sales (the commission) your third-party vendors get on every product sale. For digital product marketplaces, commission rates should lie between 10% – 30% which will form your fee income.
The Commissions add-on is often paired with FrontendSubmissions, but it can also work perfectly on its own. Commissions can be paidto any WordPress user at either a flat rate or a percentage of sales. It’s akey component for any Marketplace plugin in WordPress and EasyDigital Downloads.
Our PayPal Adaptive Payments, same as FES, the main marketplace plugin for WordPress, is a key WordPress plugin to use, as it automatically splits payments received between you and third-party vendors. This way, it avoids a lot of administrative work as the payment of third-party revenue can be done instantly and it saves significant time. This marketplace plugin for WordPress is a tested and true time-saver for all multi-vendor Easy Digital Downloads stores.
The plugin connects Easy Digital Downloads to the versatile Adaptive Payments gateway. With this gateway integration, you can easily split payments with up to 6 different receivers at the same time. You can set each receiver up with a specific percentage of the payment within the settings for this gateway. Also, you can determine whether you would like to use chained or parallel payments.
We do really like to recommend you to use this plugin and benefit from its very helpful and straightforward features. We have customers who spent a lot of time executing payments to vendors manually every month and is simply a lot of work which you do not need to do if you have an automated solution. PayPal Adaptive Payment Gateway is not actively promoted anymore by PayPal and you will need approval from PayPal before you can implement it. Nevertheless, we recommend using it as it saves a lot of time and as far as we are aware PayPal still accepts new users into its program.
After you have successfully set up your digital productmarketplace and installed the specific EDD WordPress plugins, the nextessential step to take is to be able to fill up your catalog with products, buthow? The answer is, we first need vendors to get on board with us. It wouldn’tbe a marketplace if there were no vendors. This means we will have to source ourfirst vendors who will contribute the digital products for sale on ourmarketplace.
From where can you obtain first vendorswilling to sell their products with you? Based on our experience, vendors arenormally sourced from the following sources when starting a new digital product marketplace:
Creating your own products
Partner with vendors you know personally
Reaching out to potential new interested vendors.
Read our eBook for more insights on each sourceof vendors.
Marketing Strategies for Digital Product Marketplaces
Once your WordPress marketplace has beenlaunched, promoting your digital product marketplace is important forgaining the attention of future customers and prospective vendors. The processof selling and promoting digital products is quite similar compared to how youwould sell and promote physical products on any eCommerce website.
Now, if you are looking for ways to effectivelymarket your digitalproduct marketplace, here are the strategies that should be tested.
Social Media Marketing
Social media refers to websites andapplications that allow users to create and share content as well asparticipate in social networking with other users. Different Social MediaPlatforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and many other remainsa very great way to establish your brand and build an audience.
Keep in mind, depending on your target market,there will be different social networks of relevance. E.g. managementprofessionals you most likely find on LinkedIn, developers there are many onTwitter and Youtube, etc. Try to figure out which social media networks yourtarget audience is most active and these should be the social media channels tofocus on.
Social media marketing is an art by itself andthere are many techniques and tricks to be mastered. Most important we find isto post regularly. For this, you can use a service such as Buffer which allowsyou to put your posts in a queue so that you won’t forget to post at least onceper day.
Normally, the tasks are to review your posts,compared to your competitors, research and learn what can be improved andimplement it. The key performance indicators (KPIs) normally are engagementreceived, number of followers, retweets/reposts, shares, clicks which drive trafficto your website. This all needs to be monitored on a regular basis. So beprepared for a steep learning curve and lots of trial and error until you knowhow to master social media marketing for your digital product WordPressmarketplace.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to theprocess of optimizing your website to be found by search engines. The objectiveis to rank on the first page such as Google, Bing or Yahoo when somebody entersa keyword in the search bar. The result will be that you will be getting freetraffic from organic search results via the search engines as you will improveyour website position in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
There are two sides to any successful SEOapproach SEO has two techniques to improve website position, On-Page SEO andOff-Page SEO.
This refers to all the optimization tasks thatwe do on our websites such as optimization of text titles, meta descriptions,page titles, contents, image optimization by adding alt tags and descriptions,checking keyword density in text, internal linking, creating sitemaps, easenavigation, reducing page load times and many more tasks.
Overall, the on-page technique aims tostructure and present your website in a search engine friendly manner. This isa very important task and to be done before even thinking about working onOff-page SEO link building.
Off-Page SEO (Backlink Building)
This refers to all the activity that happens away from your website to raise your site’s rankings by building quality back-links. Building quality backlinks is at the heart of off-page SEO. Search engines use backlinks as an indication of the linked-to content quality, so a site with many high-value backlinks will usually rank better than an otherwise equal site with fewer backlinks. Below find some strategies you can use to obtain backlinks for your digital product WordPress marketplace:
Participating in Forum Discussions
These are just some of the techniques whichcan be used to build backlinks. Feel free to talk with an SEO agency, theynormally can provide you with additional options where to place backlinks andcan also help you work on that.
An email marketing list can become a veryeffective tool for communicating with your audience on a regular basis.
The first step in setting up your email marketing program is to install an onboarding process. Mostly this can be done by adding a subscription form at the checkout page to stay updated on news and product updates (e.g. install the Mailchimp extension). Another way is to add a widget or a popup window with subscription suggestions on your website.
Email newsletters should be sent on a regularbasis (e.g. monthly) but also not overdoing it as otherwise unsubscribe rateswill become high. For digital product marketplaces here, some ideas whatto put in your newsletters:
Present new products
Summarize new blog posts or research articles you have written
Present select vendor achievements or story
Present customer showcases and how your marketplace could help them
Introduce new features of your marketplace
Ask for user opinions on topics of interest
Only by tracking and comparing your newsletterresults you can figure out how to make your email marketing campaign moreeffective and which changes lead to best results among your audience.
Now that we have successfully set up our multi-vendor marketplace platform and, have startedwith marketing and vendor onboarding, we need to focus now our attention on theoperations of our digital product marketplace.
There are actually a lot of different elementsthat we need to keep on our radar, constantly observe and work on in order toenhance and improve our WordPress marketplace.
Normally the main goal of your digitalproduct’s marketplace will be to maximize sales and profits over the long-run.In eCommerce we have 4 factors which determine your revenues as shown in thefollowing graphic:
This means you can maximize revenues of your digital productmarketplace when you seek to maximize each of the 4 revenue drivers:
Number of Visitors – See previously mentioned marketing strategies which will be needed to attract and grow the number of visitors
Conversion Rates – You will need to work on your website to best convert visitors into paying customers
Number of Orders per Customers – The more times your customers return and purchase from you, the higher your sales will be
Average Order Value(AOV) – Mostly depends on the price point of your products, how your products are packaged and how easy/difficult it is to sell them.
As for any eCommerce website you will need towork on improving each of these four factors in order to max out your full salespotential.
Running a successful digital product multi-vendor marketplace platform meanskeeping an eye on multiple vendors. Vendors come to your store with their ownideas, expectations, and ways of doing things. You have to gather thesedifferent vendors under one umbrella.
Your job as a store manager is to help vendorssell as much as possible as easily as possible, while still retaining theability to make important decisions about your store. This means making vendorshappy while making yourself happy as the store manager.
Most digital product marketplaces will opt for curating all products theyreceive from vendors for the following reasons:
Avoiding harm: Digital products are subject toharmful code additions that might not be detectable by normal users. The worstthat could happen is that any form of digital code or program harms customer’scomputers. Therefore, it is important to review each product and know thevendors you work with as otherwise, the risk may get too high.
Avoiding chargebacks: In the case of productdescriptions that would not be accurate, they will have a good chance ofrequesting chargebacks as payment gateway providers will have the last say insuch cases. It is therefore in the best interest of the marketplace operator toensure product descriptions are accurate to avoid problems later on. Especiallyproducts listed from new vendors will require a careful review.
Establishing a personal relationship with your Vendors: A product curation process will also establish a more personal relationship with your vendors. As the operator of a multi-vendor marketplace platform, your vendors are not simply your sellers but rather they are your business partners. It is very important to establish a good personal relationship with them. Why not use product curation as one way to do this? Especially smaller niche marketplaces have an advantage here as they can afford to deal with their vendors on a 1:1 basis.
It is very rare to see a digital productmarketplace that would not use a curation process to ensure ahigh-quality of products are listed in its marketplace. However, we are stillchecking for best practices on how to do this. Let us know if you know any goodexample which should be listed here.
Monitoring How Vendors are Doing
As the operator of your marketplace, you don’tsimply source vendors and let them be on their own selling digital products onyour website. It is very important to also monitor how your vendors are doing.You should, therefore, run different reports from time to time to benchmark andcompare your vendors to find out what works, what doesn’t and what are the bestpractices that might help all the vendors to sell more.
If you find vendors who areunderperforming, first, check vendor profiles if all necessary information ispresent in so that they will have a well-established identity that yourcustomers may see and observe.
The next step is to check theirproduct listings. Are the product descriptions accurate and are the productswell presented? In case of problems, does the problem lie with the seller orwith your processes? Is it easy to list products? Are there enough informationfields to completely present the products?
You might as well enhance andoptimize your website’s navigation and experience which would definitely helpyour vendors get a sale.
Promote your Vendors on Social Media and your Blog
Advertising and promoting your vendors, alongwith their products, in different Social Media Channels such as Facebook andTwitter can be a good way to get visitors and help your vendors with marketingtheir products. Remember, if your vendors earn, you earn, so it’s in your bestinterest to help them market their products.
As part of your digital marketplace marketingcampaign, writing blog posts about vendor products can help you to createadditional content for your web page and offer your vendors another platform tomarket their products. However, make sure the articles to be published complywith the required quality standards you need to maintain for your blog.
Providing Vendor Resources
Working with vendors and helping them tomarket their products will become an ongoing task. As such you will need aprocess to help your vendors. In the beginning, vendors will have a lot ofquestions as they will need to understand how to work with your digital productWordPressmarket place and what they will have to do to earn money.
Therefore, in order to anticipate theirquestions, it is advisable to follow a pro-active approach. One way to do thisis to send out a series of education emails to new vendors upon sign-up. Theobjective is to help vendors to complete their product listings and then in asecond step motivate them to list more quality products on your digital productmarketplace.
Building a Team
We all know that running a digital product WordPressMarketplace is tough. When you’re starting out with your business, youwill have to do all the tasks required. From running and managing yourmarketplace like updating and creating products, managing vendors, payingcommissions, sourcing more vendors, managing promotions, customer support,handling social media accounts, SEO Management – the list of To-Dos is endless.
However, as a business owner, it’s better to spend your time doing what you do best – running and growing your company. But that’s not to say the routine tasks and administrative duties aren’t important because they absolutely are. Depending on your budget, you will have to consider hiring people. Normally you want to hire employees in a lean manner. So apart from hiring employees, you have the following alternatives to hire:
When your marketplace is very new you don’twant to incur big costs at the beginning and first test out if there are demandand interest in the products. Therefore, you should consider outsourcing tasksfirst to freelancers then to virtual assistants until your marketplace producesstable revenues and profits so that you can afford to hire employees.
Tasks you can Outsource
It is important to know what tasks you shouldoutsource before you start building your team – including freelancers andvirtual assistants who you can work with on a more permanent basis. Whenconsidering to outsource tasks, look for manual, time-consuming work or tasksthat are repetitive, can be thought to others and where you are better offusing help rather than when having to spend the time yourself.
Here are some daily tasks you should considerdelegating:
Customer service: Answering emailsand phone calls from customers.
Social Media Management: Creatingcontent, responding to comments, and other community management tasks.
Store management: Reviewing productdescriptions, managing vendors, tracking KPIs
SEO: Off-page link-building
Technical operations: Websitemaintenance, SEO management, and other administrative tasks.
Data-entry: Bookkeeping orinputting data from different sources into a spreadsheet.
Tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
If you want to know how your digital productmarketplace is doing, you need to keep track of your Key PerformanceIndicators (KPIs). This is an important step to take to ensure that you are notgoing off track.
A key performance indicator – also known as“KPI” is a performance measurement that impacts the result of your onlinestore. KPIs need to improve and achieving your objectives will provideimportant milestones on your road to online success. Monitoring important KPIsfor your online store tells you whether your business is moving towards meetingyour objectives or not.
Essential KPIs you should track
KPIs for digital product marketplaces are numerous to track but important is tofocus on those where any change will impact the financial result of yourbusiness. Tracking should be done at least on a monthly basis or even on aweekly basis. The advantage of doing a weekly tracking is that you will findout sooner in case of any problems and have more time to take action. If youwait until the month-end, you might find out that too late that were problemsand it leaves money on the table.
We present a selection of KPIs which will beuseful to consider tracking on a regular basis for a digital product marketplace.They are:
WebsiteTraffic (Number of Visitors)
Average Time on Site
Domain and Page Authority
Social Media Followers
Conversion from Visitor to User
Conversion from User to Paying Customer (Free to Paid product)
Cart Abandonment Rate
New Customer Signups
Email list subscribers
Number of orders
Number of products
Average Order Value
Measuring KPIs on a regular basis is animportant step towards professionally managing your digital products marketplaceand finding the areas where you can still improve in order to achieve yourbusiness goals. To really grow your multi-vendor marketplace, you need to monitoryour webstore’s performance on an ongoing basis and take actions every timeKPIs, move in the wrong direction. Once you’ve decided which KPIs you want totrack, make it a part of your weekly and/or monthly routine to follow themclosely.
Automating and Improving Processes
At the beginning of your website, tasks arefine to deal with as they come up. But as you grow, these tasks get more andmore frequent, and the demand on your time and your team’s time becomes evengreater. After a while, these small tasks can significantly eat intoproductivity; reducing output, creativity, and even profit margins.
You will be confronted with seeking new waysto automate and improve your processes as your digital product marketplaces scale up and become larger. The objectiveis to save time, money, and sell more. Ultimately, it provides gets yourbusiness ready to scale-up exponentially. Automations include mostly:
Automating tasks and improving processes is anongoing task and there will be many more ways to save time and benefit fromautomated solutions and improved processing. Obtaining a sufficient level ofautomation is key to fully scale-up your digital product marketplace toreach its full potential.
Another important element that most eCommercecompanies need to consider from the very beginning is the eCommerce websitesecurity. If you run an eCommerce website, you’ll know that they are a majortarget for hackers, fraudsters and yes, even for your own competitors. Justthink about the thousands of user IDs, personal information, product catalogand prices, financial information including credit card details a typicaleCommerce webstore has. That’s what makes eCommerce sites, big and small, soattractive to cybercriminals to exploit and competitors to leverage on.
As your multi-vendormarketplace platform becomes larger you will also find that youwill have to spend more time in making your infrastructure more solid andenhance the security of your marketplace. Here are some basic measures you willhave to implement to keep your digital product marketplace save (among manyothers):
HTTPS / SSL – today Google views it as anoutdated practice to use HTTP and punishes websites still using the old HTTPprotocol. Therefore, implementing a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate fromthe start is a must. You can purchase one from your hosting company or areputable SSL vendor at affordable costs.
Complex Passwords – Insist that every userhave to use passwords that comply with a minimum standard.
Payment Gateway Security – While it may makeprocessing payments more convenient, having credit card numbers stored on yourdatabase is a liability. In order to save your business from this terriblefate, you should never store credit card information on your servers and ensureyour payment gateways security is not at risk. Today you can easily usethird-party payment processing providers such as PayPal or Stripe who willmanage all sensitive Credit Card information in a professional manner.
Firewalls – using firewall plugins and alsoconfiguring your server firewall is a must to protect again malicious attacks.
Backup your data – Data loss due to hardware malfunction or cyber-attacks are not uncommon. And if you don’t back up your data regularly, you are at the risk of losing it for good. Employ automatic daily backup service so that even if you forget to do it manually, all your data will be backed up automatically minimum once a day.
These are just a few elements to mention andto work on. As your digital productmarketplace becomes bigger, paying close attention to security becomeseven more important.
Conclusion: Building a Digital Product Multi-Vendor Marketplace Platform is aJourney, not a Destination
Building a digital marketplace is a good ideaas today the trend goes towards creating specialized niche marketplaces thatcan offer better know-how and a much more focused approach than a generalistmarketplace. Many buyers prefer to buy from a marketplace rather than a singlevendor store.
Easy Digital Downloads offers an open-source solution to run a digital product marketplace on WordPress by installing select marketplace plugins for WordPress. These are either freely available or are very reasonably priced. Also, many useful plugins are available on the WordPress plugin directory.
The marketing tactics require a bit adifferent focus for a multi-vendormarketplace platformcompared to a single vendor store. SEO and Social Media Marketing are twoimportant strategies to focus on, especially as traffic there is cheap in thelong-run compared to other sources of traffic.
Vendor management and tracking your KeyPerformance Indicators are a must in establishing a successful digital product marketplace.Activities and tracking of KPIs should focus on factors which will influenceusers and revenues later on.
Ongoing work will be required and normallyonly by keep testing and optimizing your WordPress marketplace you can exactly understandhow your marketplace business works and how to make it a success. Creating a digital product marketplace is not adestination but one of the most interesting journeys in eCommerce. Feel free totake it.
This article provides an overview of how to build, set up and operate your digital product marketplace in WordPress. If you are interested in more details, please download our Free eBook on How to Build a Digital Product Marketplace on WordPress which contains even more comprehensive and detailed information on how to set up a multi-vendor marketplace platform for digital products.
For any feedback or comments feel free to reach out to us as we are also interested in your input digital product marketplaces can be made even better.