Multi Vendor Shopping Cart Software A Small Business Model

Published: 09th August 2009
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A new wave in ecommerce is multi vendor shopping cart for small businesses. If your online store is struggling to get customers, this is worth a serious look. It lets you build a mini plaza - instead of just a store - to display products from different vendors. By focussing the strengths of complementing vendors into one store, the buyers get a larger selection to choose from and all vendors stand to gain.

For example, if you have a flower shop, you may consider joining with other merchants in the local area selling chocolates, wines or cards. Your bookstore may consider partnering with a video store.

The significance of mini plazas for individual businesses had largely been overlooked until recently. Most businesses thought of putting only their own products online and wait for traffic. This worked fine during the early years of ecommerce, when the few with online stores had an advantage over their counterparts. The exponential growth in the number of online stores wiped off that advantage.

How can the advantage be regained ?

The answer is "Team Play" and the multi vendor shopping cart is the playing field !

But, how do stores that once stood separately - like the boutique shops in a shopping mall - suddenly join together? It will be like shopping in a mall with a cart taken to different stores and then going to a central checkout. While it is nearly impossible in the physical world, even the virtual world has some hurdles to overcome, especially in correctly matching the products with vendors. A single-vendor shopping cart software is unable to do this matching.

The multi-vendor shopping cart, on the other hand, can distinguish between the items belonging to different vendors and dispatch the orders and shipping details separately to the respective vendors. The customers will not even know that they have been to three separate stores.

Another advantage is better cross promotion. Unlike a physical store - and rarely a single online store - it can suggest to the customer that "many of those who purchased this item also purchased this!". It can be a product belonging to another vendor.

Taking the flower shop as example, a customer who just added a bunch of flowers into the cart may be persuaded to buy a box of chocolate or a bottle of wine to go with the flowers. Suddenly, the vendors who once competed with each other are now recommending each other.

Unlike in a single store situation, you do not have to complement your inventory with companion products you are not the expert in. For example, a wine shop knows how to offer the best wines just as a flower shop knows flowers. By using them as a co-vendor, the flower shop can leverage on the wine shop's extensive inventory.

Mini plaza is an entrepreneur's opportunity

If you are an entrepreneur looking for ways to create a profitable business, this offers an excellent opportunity. Even if you do not have your own merchandize to sell, setting up a multi store and signing up merchants will help create a "mini plaza". The participating merchants benefit in the low cost of setting up the store while the store administrator gets a commission or rent from each vendor.

The future of multi vendor stores

If the current trend continues, within a couple of years you will see that most successful online businesses are part of one or more stores. Many more mini virtual malls will emerge to cater for local businesses that work together.

These multi-stores will become places to sell for individuals and small businesses across all categories. This will especially be so for local artists who can deliver only locally.

Author: Arapaut V. Sivaprasad, Ph.D. is the founder of WebGenie Software and has been at the forefront of many innovative technologies in the IT sector.

Single or Multi-vendor Shopping Cart Software with optional Joomla component is feature-rich and easy to set up. Get more details and your free evaluation.

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