How to Get Vendors to Join Your Multi-Vendor Marketplace

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Head of Marketing

As a marketplace operator, one of your key objectives is to attract vendors to sell on your platform. After all, the job of a multi-vendor marketplace is ultimately to aggregate demand of buyers and sellers on your platform. Without a strong pool of sellers, you won't be able to offer a wide selection of products and services to your customers. 

In fact, retailers with marketplaces see a 34% increase in organic web traffic due to increased product choice. To get more products, though, you need to get sellers to join you on your marketplace journey.


Marketplace Traffic Growth|E-Commerce Germany
Marketplace Traffic Growth|E-Commerce Germany


In a previous article, we talked about how to find vendors. This article will discuss ways to get vendors to join your multi-vendor marketplace. 


Step 1: Develop Your Brand and Value Proposition 

The first thing you need to have squared away to get vendors to join is an understanding of your marketplace. Vendors want to know what makes your marketplace different and why they should do business with you.

You can lay out reasons for a vendor to sell on your marketplace by defining your value proposition. Your value proposition is what sets you apart from your competitors. It should be clear, concise, and persuasive. It's your compelling argument about why choosing your marketplace matters.

Note: in a marketplace, you might have a different value proposition for buyers verses sellers.

Think through these questions:

  • Who are you selling to?
  • What are their pains?
  • How are you adding value?
  • How is what you're doing better?

Your vendors will also need to understand your brand. At the beginning, you may not have a strong brand reputation to lean on, but this will change as you grow.

Some elements of brand identity:

  • Marketplace Name
  • Marketplace Logo
  • Marketplace One-Line Description
  • Marketplace Brand Colors

A strong brand is instantly recognizable, carrying a host of ideas, impressions, and values. Think Amazon, Google, Tesla, Netflix, HBO, Apple, etc. You know what these companies are, what they stand for, and what they do, almost implicitly. They've become a part of your world to the extent that even if you don't use their products or services, you still know who and what they are.

Since marketplaces are all about aggregating demand, vendors need to see that you are able to market yourself to their buyers and brand development is a major piece of that.


Step 2: Craft Your Marketplace Pitch

Now that you have your value proposition down, it's time to build your marketplace story around it.

In your pitch, make sure you clearly state your value proposition and include information about the following:

Marketplace Terms 

First and foremost, your vendor will want to know how much you are going to charge to participate in your marketplace. But wait to share price until after you have clearly articulated the value they could receive from your marketplace.

Have answers to questions like these on hand:

  • What percentage do vendors earn on each sale? What's the marketplace's cut?
  • What does success look like?
  • How much projected revenue can a particular vendor expect to make on your marketplace?

Additionally, outline what might be expected from the seller and what the seller should expect from you in a service-level agreement (SLA). This document should be clear and concise, and it should spell out what happens if obligations aren't met.

Features and Functionality

Highlight the features or functionality of your marketplace that make the vendor's experience simpler.

One example is product management. It should be simple to add, edit, or delete products. Consider offering a bulk product management tool or offer direct integrations into ecommerce platforms to help large vendors upload and manage a high volume of products.

Ease of Use

Vendors have lots of channels to choose from to sell. They want to know that your marketplace will be easy to manage. They don't want to waste time trying to figure out how to use your system—they want to be able to get up and running quickly so they can start selling. 

You can demonstrate ease of use in the following ways:

  • Onboarding Process: Offer self-service vendor onboarding and online contract handling
  • Knowledge Base: Interactive platform to help answer any questions your vendors might have about your marketplace
  • Vendor Support: Communications tools directly within your platform to easily connect with vendors
  • Ecommerce integrations: Offer integrations directly into the tools they're already using like Klaviyo, SendGrid, Stripe, and Shopify


Step 3: Present Your Sales Deck or Landing Page

It pays to create a sales pitch deck or website landing page as you reach out to your target vendor. Consider what they're looking for in a marketplace and how your platform can provide it. 

Here are some example marketplace vendor sales landing pages:

Operational Questions 

There are lots of operational questions you need to be prepared to answer, which might include:

  • How will the vendors be trained and onboarded?
  • How will they upload their products to the marketplace?
  • Who handles customer service?
  • What thru-put can your marketplace handle?
  • Do you offer fulfillment?

It may also be useful to share an interactive demo to provide an opportunity for vendors to see how your system works. They can get a feel for how easy it is to use and see how their products will be displayed.


Step 4: Reevaluate Your Process

You might not get it right on the first try, but the most important part is getting started. Don't wait for perfection to begin speaking with potential marketplace vendors.

If you are just starting your marketplace, you will likely need to convince smaller vendors to join before moving to the larger players. Treat the vendors who believe in you at the beginning like trusted partners and get their feedback as you grow.


Ways to Make It a No-Brainer to Join

As you build your marketplace, there are things you can do to enhance your seller experience. The more you remove the friction to sell, the easier it will be to get vendors to say yes to your marketplace.

Some things you can do to make your marketplace a no-brainer for sellers:

  • Offer self-service vendor onboarding
  • Integrate with their existing ecommerce platform (like Shopify, WooCommerce, or BigCommerce) or other marketplaces (ie Amazon) to automate product listing
  • Offer quick payment in the way they want to receive funds
  • Show marketplace growth, sellers want to be where their customers are
  • Make marketplace fees contingent upon a sale
  • Automate as much as possible with a multi-vendor marketplace platform


Attracting Vendors is a Multifaceted Challenge

From content marketing to tailored sales decks, establishing your brand to reducing onboarding friction, or demonstrating your value proposition to vendor-focused offers, you can engage in various strategies to get vendors to join your marketplace.

For your first few vendors, make it a white-glove process. Listen and learn from their experiences. Which vendors you choose to engage in and how much bandwidth you give to each is an iterative process that takes time and requires feedback systems to measure how effective your chosen approaches are.

And hold on to your hats. Soon you'll be feeling the marketplace flywheel effects!

Learn More →

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