One of the best ways to make money online now is to create a marketplace website like Amazon, Jiji.ng, eBay, and the rest. It is not all about creating the website, but what matters is your strategy to growing the website. (I’ll discuss that in another post).
Creating an online store with WordPress has gotten a lot easier over the years. Before we proceed, let’s look at the difference between a market place website and an online store.
Difference Between Online Store And Marketplace
Online Store: An online store is a single-vendor website, meaning only you are able to add products to your website and sell them to your customers. You set the price for every product and you receive the full revenue from every sale.
Marketplace: This is a multi-vendor store, a marketplace, in its turn, provides your visitors with the possibility to become your vendors by creating their accounts on your website and adding their own products to sell them from your store and get their profit. You, as the owner, get the commission from every sale made by your vendors.
Also, you are able to control the work of your marketplace and set your rules of selling. You can define the certain product types that are allowed to be sold from your website, set the currency and payment methods, select your custom business model, and more.
Benefits of Creating a Marketplace Website
Creating a marketplace website can have several advantages. Here are some of the biggest benefits:
- Sell all kinds of products: A marketplace website lets you sell all types of goods and services. This includes both physical and digital goods.
- Offer various product options for customers: You can offer a wide range of products to your visitors without having to manage inventory.
- Save money: Unlike other business models, a marketplace website doesn’t require you to invest a huge amount of money all at once. Each vendor will manage their own products, so it’s easy to get started with a small investment.
- Manage your site with ease: You can automate tasks for your vendors without having to do much manually. This decreases the workload for you, and you can use this time to concentrate on other aspects of your business.
- Earn commissions: You can earn a good commission from your website by allowing multiple vendors to sell their products and services on your website.
Tools Needed To Create A Marketplace Website
You will need the following items to build an online marketplace website like Etsy or eBay.
- A domain name (For example, benjaminstore.com)
- Web hosting account (This is where your website’s files are stored)
- SSL Certificate (To securely accept online payments)
- WooCommerce (best WordPress eCommerce addon)
- Online marketplace addon
The entire setup can take up to 40 minutes and I will walk you through every step one by one.
Ready? Let’s get started.
Selecting Hosting Platform
Your domain name is basically your website’s unique address. It’s the part after the ‘www.’ in your URL. Mine is ‘benjaminolaw.com’, for example.
You can buy a domain name from sites like HarmonWeb. I recommend you purchase your hosting and domain from HarmonWeb due to the higher server specifications which will be cooler to handle your website. The server has gotten 64 up to 128 cores CPU with 256Gb Ram and dedicated resources for each account which no hosting provide will ever allow for shared hosters. HarmonWeb also provides an SSL certificate for your website for FREE.
HarmonWeb has 3 hosting plans which are affordable for you to get started;
Starter Plan = N390/mon – N4,050/year
Business Plan = N850/mon – 9,250/year
VIP Plan = 3,500/mon – 42,100/year
How To Purchase Hosting
Follow the simple steps to see how to purchase hosting and get the domain name for FREE.
You need to visit www.harmonweb.com
When you visit the website, click on “Hosting” on the menu bar and select shared hosting when it drops down or visit the shared hosting link direct from here>> https://harmonweb.com/hosting/shared-hosting
When you get to the shared hosting page, you will see the 3 hosting plans, I will recommend you go for the business for your online store. For the starter and business plan, you get a FREE .COM.NG domain name while for the VIP Plan, you get a FREE .COM domain. Note that you only get these domains for free when you purchase a yearly plan which also gives you 2 months free discount. Now click on “Purchase Now” on any of the plans you will love to use. Any of those plans can create your marketplace, select the starter plan if you don’t have much to spend.
When you click on Purchase Now, it directs you to the next page where you are to register your domain name. There are 3 options for that, it is either you register your domain name which is the first option we are using now, or you transfer your domain that is already registered with another company to us and if you don’t want to transfer it to us but still use the domain, then you can select the 3rd option which is for you to update your name servers to the ones that will be sent to your mail after purchasing the hosting.
On the registration, we can see the domain extension is on .ac.ke but we need to change it to .COM.NG which will be FREE for us, you can also use another one such as .COM but you will have to pay for any other extension aside .COM.NG. To change your extension, simply click on the extension box and it will show the list of available extensions, click on .COM.NG and input your domain name to continue.
After you input the domain name, click on the “Check” button to see if your domain is available for registration, if it is available, scroll down and click on the “Continue” button. NOTE: Ignore the message that stated “Continue to register this domain for ₦1,000.00NGN”, you will get the domain name for free.
You will be directed the the next page to select hosting billing cycle, ake sure to select 12 months for the billing cycle so as to get discount and also get the domain for free, now click the “Continue” buton to proceed to the next page.
You will be redirected to the next page where you will need to configure and also confirm your domain, just leave that and click on “Continue“.
After this, the next page is the Cart Review page to confirm all your orders, you will find out some addons there such as Weebly site builder and Sitelock for security. Leave them as you may need them in the future. Click on “Checkout” after reviewing and confirming they are all correct.
Now the system will direct you to create an account where you can log in and manage your services. In my case, I already have an account so I will click the button that states “Already Registered?” when I click on it, I will then input my login details such as email and password. Since you don’t have an account yet, fill the form and scroll down to select your payment method.
You can make payment either with your debit card, PayPal, or a direct bank transfer to us. After selecting your payment method which in my case I selected the Debit card payment method, read and accept the terms and conditions and then click on the “Complete Order” button.
When you click that, you will be redirected to the payment gateway depending on your selected payment payment method.
Input you card details here and complete the payment, this payment gateway is fully secured by Flutterwave.
After you have made the payment, you will be redireted to the invoice and the status will show paid.
At this moment, you would have received some messages to your mail which one of them is “Hosting Account Information” open the mail and you will see your cPanel login details as highlighted below;
Now you are ready to start designing your online store.
How To Install WordPress
Installing WordPress is very easy and I have talked about this in several posts, so I will share links below on how to install WordPress from your cPanel.
Now that you have installed your WordPress, les’t see.
Setting Up WordPress
Now after installing the WordPress software, the next step is to log in to your WordPress admin dashboard and start to set-up your store. To login to your WordPress dashboard, visit https://yourdomain.com/wp-admin and then use the username and password you input while installing WordPress to login to the admin panel.
Below is a screenshot of how your WordPress admin dashboard looks like:
Installing WooCommerce Plugin
There are severeal plugins which can be used to create online store, however I personally recommend WwooCommerce not because it is the most popular plugin for such feature but it is simple and has gotten lots of features and addons to help grow yoyr online store.
Oops! Sorry I forgot to mention what plugin is or plugins are; A WordPress plugin is essentially a bit of code that “plugs in” to your self-hosted WordPress site. In human terms, that means a WordPress plugin is something that adds new functionality to your WordPress site or extends existing functionality on your site.
Now back to installing WooCommerce, simply navigate to the left-bar and click on plugin
After clicking on that, you will see some plugins that were installed by default on WordPress but not activated, leave those ones and click on the “Add New” button ontop.
Now you will be directe to the Plugins installation page, easily search “woo”using the search box, it will load and you will see Woocmmercer, click “Install Now” in the WooCommercer bar afater that, it will load whuch means it it installing, and the button will turn to “Activate” click on the activate button to start setting up WooCommercer.
Now, you need to visit Settings » General page to setup your WordPress site title and description.
Setting up HTTPS to Use SSL
Since HarmonWeb gives free SLL, Your WordPress hosting package came with a free SSL Certificate. This certificate is pre-installed for your domain name. However, your WordPress site needs to be configured, so it loads as HTTPS vs HTTP.
On the Settings » General page, you need to change your WordPress Address and Site Address to use HTTPS instead of HTTP.
Don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the save changes button to store your settings.
Your basic WordPress setup is complete. Now it is time to set up your marketplace.
Turning Your Website Into An Online Marketplace
First, you need to install and activate the WC Vendors plugin. For more details, you should use the same method you have used to install Woocommerce to also install WC Vendors.
WC Vendors is a marketplace solution for WooCommerce. It simplifies building a marketplace website by turning WooCommerce into a multi-vendor website like eBay, Etsy, or Amazon.
Each vendor can sell their products while you keep full control of the website as the marketplace owner. You can choose your own business model, payment methods, product types, and more.
Upon activation, head over to WC Vendors » Settings page to configure marketplace settings.
First, you will see the general items. You need to make sure that the ‘Vendor Registration’ box is checked to allow users to sign up as Vendor on your website.
You can review other items on the page and then click on the ‘Save Changes’ button to store your settings.
Next, you need to click on the ‘Commission’ tab to set a commission rate for vendors across your website. This is the amount you’ll pay to the vendor for each sale.
Note: The global commission rate can be overridden for individual vendors and products.
Next, you need to click on the ‘Capabilities’ tab to set sitewide rules for vendors. This part of settings comes with three sections.
The general capabilities include allowing vendors to view and edit products and orders. The default options would work for most sites.
Next, switch to the ‘Products’ section and from here you can select which type of products vendors can add. For example, you can limit vendors to only add digital downloads or a physical product.
You can also select which data Vendors can see and use on the ‘Add Products’ page.
Lastly, switch to the ‘Orders’ section under ‘Capabilities’ to select what information vendors can see about the orders.
After setting up the capabilities, it is time to set up marketplace related pages on your website.
Switch to the ‘Display’ tab under plugin settings to set up pages. You can simply go to Pages » Add New to create a new page for each item and add the shortcode displayed in the settings to the page’s content area.
After creating all the pages and adding shortcodes to them, you can select them here.
Below the pages, you will also find ‘Store settings’ option on the same page. This where you can select a prefix to use in Vendor shop URLs, allow them to set custom headers for their shop pages, and use HTML in shop description.
Next step is to set up payments for your vendors. Most marketplace websites set a minimum threshold for their vendors and pay them on a monthly or weekly basis.
We recommend using manual payments to vendors as this gives customers enough time to request refunds or give feedback about the products.
However, if you want to payment withdrawal system for vendors, then you can buy premium add-ons. WC Vendors has add-ons available for Stripe, MangoPay, Escrow, Paystack, and Manual Payouts.
Depending on the payment gateway you choose, you will need to set up a payment gateway by entering your API keys. Don’t forget to click on the ‘Save Changes’ button to store your settings.
Now that WC Vendors is ready, let’s set up WooCommerce for a multi-vendor environment.
Enable Account Management in WooCommerce
First you need to visit WooCommerce » Settings page and click on the ‘Accounts’ tab. From here you need to check the boxes next to customer registration option.
Don’t forget to save your changes.
Setting Up Navigation Menus
Now that your multi-vendor marketplace setup is finished. It is time to make it easy for your users to find their way around your website.
To do that, go to Appearance » Menus page. From here you need to add your user account and checkout pages to the navigation menu.
Don’t forget to click on the ‘Save Menu’ button to store your changes. For more detailed instructions.
If you don’t have a My Account page, then simply create a new page in WordPress and add the following shortcode in the post editor
Testing Your Marketplace Website
Your online marketplace website is now ready for testing. You can visit your website in a new browser window and create a new account by clicking on the My Account link at the top.
From here, both customers and vendors can log in to their accounts as well as create a new account.
Once users create a new account, you will receive an email notification.
You can also view new vendor applications by visiting Users » All Users page. You will see all new vendor requests as ‘pending vendor’, and you can approve or deny applications by clicking the link under their username.
Once approved, these vendors can log in to their accounts and add their products by visiting their vendor dashboard. They can also view their orders and sales reports.
The first thing your vendors need to do is to set up their shop settings by clicking on the ‘Store Settings’ link.
Depending on the payment methods you set up, they will need to provide their PayPal or Stripe email address to receive payments. They will also be able to provide bank account information for direct manual payments.
Once a vendor adds a new product, you will get a notification email and see an icon next to the products menu. You can then edit a product, approve it, or delete it.
Your shop page will clearly show the products sold by vendor’s shop name.
You’ll also get multiple email notifications on the actions taken by vendors. It includes notifications for product requests. You can approve, edit, or delete a product as you have full control of your online marketplace.
I hope this guide helped you learn how to build an online marketplace in WordPress.
If you like the article, then please like and share the article with your friends. If you also have any difficulty in creating your marketplace website after reading this, kindly use the comment section, I will be happy to help out.