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How to Create an Online Marketplace using WordPress

Do you want to create an online marketplace using WordPress? WordPress makes it easy to create an online marketplace like Etsy, eBay, or Amazon. An online marketplace website, also called a multi-vendor website, allows users to buy and sell items by setting up their own mini-stores within your eCommerce platform.

Due to low overhead costs, multi-vendor websites have become a popular online business idea.

In this article, we will show you how to easily create an online marketplace using WordPress without spending thousands of dollars.

Building an online marketplace using WordPress

What Do You Need to Start an Online Marketplace using WordPress?

First, you need to make sure that you are using the right website platform, and since you’re reading this article, you’re in the right place.

There are two types of WordPress available: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org. One is a limited blog hosting service while the other is known as the self-hosted WordPress which you’ve likely heard tons about. See the full comparison between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.

We recommend using WordPress.org because it gives you the freedom and access to all WordPress features out of the box.

You will need the following items to build an online marketplace website like Etsy or eBay.

  • A domain name (For example, wpbeginner.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 we will walk you through every step one by one.

Ready? Let’s get started.

Step 1. Setting up Your Ecommerce Platform

The first step is to buy a domain name and a web hosting account. You don’t just need a web hosting, but you will need a service that specializes in WooCommerce hosting because this is the software that we will be using as our eCommerce platform.

Typically a domain name costs $14.99/year, web hosting 7.99/month, and SSL certificate 69.99/year.

Now, this seems like a lot of money if you are just starting out.

Fortunately, Bluehost an officially recommended WordPress and WooCommerce hosting provider has agreed to offer our users free domain + SSL and discount on their cloud WordPress hosting.

Basically, you can get started for $6.95 / month.

→ Click Here to Claim This Exclusive Bluehost Offer ←

Once you have purchased hosting, then follow our step by step tutorial on how to start an online store for complete setup instructions.

You would now have a WordPress website with WooCommerce installed on it.

However, by default WooCommerce assumes that your website is not a multi-vendor website, so it is not possible for other users to add their own products and services to your website like you can on eBay or Etsy.

Let’s change this.

Step 2. Turn Your WooCommerce Site into an Online Marketplace

First, you need to install and activate the WC Vendors plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

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.

Note: There is a free version of WC Vendors available, but we will be showing the features of the Pro version since it has all the functionality you need.

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.

WC Vendors 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.

WC Vendors commission settings

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.

Set capabilities for Vendors

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.

Set product rules

Lastly, switch to the ‘Orders’ section under ‘Capabilities’ to select what information vendors can see about the orders.

Set vendor permissions for 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.

Set up marketplace pages

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.

Store settings for vendors

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.

WC Vendors payments

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, 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.

Step 3. 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.

Allow customers to create an account in WooCommerce

Don’t forget to save your changes.

Step 4. 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.

Add to menu

Don’t forget to click on the ‘Save Menu’ button to store your changes. For more detailed instructions, see our guide on how to add navigation menus in WordPress.

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
.
[woocommerce_my_account]

Step 5. 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.

Testing your marketplace website

From here, both customers and vendors can log in to their accounts as well as create a new account.

Register as vendor

Once users create a new account, you will receive an email notification. If you are unable to receive email notifications, then take a look at our guide on how to fix WordPress not sending email issue.

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.

Approve vending vendors

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.

Vendor dashboard

The first thing your vendors need to do is to set up their shop settings by clicking on the ‘Store Settings’ link.

Vendor shop settings

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.

Pending products

Your shop page will clearly show the products sold by vendor’s shop name.

Sold by vendor

Step 6. Growing your Online Marketplace Website

First, you may want to choose a design for your marketplace website. WordPress comes with thousands of free and paid themes but not all of them are eCommerce ready.

See our pick of the best WooCommerce themes to find a suitable theme for your marketplace platform.

After that, you would want to add new features to your website. For example, making it a multi-vendor auction site or a membership community.

You would want to track which products are getting more traffic and which vendors are bringing more users. For that you will need to enable customer tracking in WooCommerce on your website.

The biggest hurdle in growing any eCommerce website is abandoned cart sales. Learn how to recover abandoned cart sales like a pro to increase your profits.

We hope this article helped you learn how to create an online marketplace using WordPress. You may also want to see our ultimate WooCommerce SEO guide to get search traffic to your website, and our comparison of the best business phone services for eCommerce websites.

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Reader Interactions

79 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. I’m not seeing anything in these instructions that can’t be done on the WordPress.com Business plan. Is there a particular reason why this article suggests that it can’t be done within WordPress.com?

  2. Amazing article great job!
    I’m hoping you can help with this issue?

    I just want to receive a small amount of commission on each sale a vendor makes – I don’t want to pay a vendor. Can I do this with these plugins?

  3. I am looking to create Customer to Customer (p2P) marketplace. Is the plugin you are recommending for commercial vendor?

    • You can use this for businesses. If you have a specific use case you’re wondering about, we would recommend reaching out to the plugin’s support and they can let you know what is available.

      Admin

  4. Hello thanks for this nice info . But i missed some thing about the creating of My account page then adding the short code ‘woocommerce_my_account’ in the post editor .. Where is the post editor ? i m sorry , i m so new in WordPress

  5. Hey WPbeginner Team!

    I would like to know if the free version of WC Vendors is enough to accomplish these steps?
    Or will I need the paid option?

    • It would depend on the specifics you’re setting up, the plugin states on its page the features that require pro or not.

      Admin

  6. Hi

    is it possible to assign a store page to each seller, where only one seller’s products appear, that is, each seller with their own virtual store within the site?

    • Yes, you can do this, you would want to reach out to the plugin’s support for the current methods for setting that up.

      Admin

  7. What about Split Payments? In some countries, like the US, you have to use Split Payments for legal compliance.

    • The plugin does have tools for split payments. If you reach out to their support they should let you know the current options available.

      Admin

  8. Hello! I’m looking to build a marketplace where I only receive money from a vendor when they make a sale. Will WC Vendors and/or WC allow me to do that? I understood from your article that WC Vendors is not set up in this way.

    • From what it sounds like you’re wanting WC Vendors should be what you are looking for

      Admin

  9. This is great. We need a review on all the multi-vendor plugins to known which is better. Thanks

    • Thank you for your recommendation, we will certainly look into the options available.

      Admin

  10. Hi

    Many thanks for this Amazing article. It is very heloful and inspiring.

    I would like to crate a multi-vendor marketplace but without the payment option. On the buy / add to basket button in the product page in my site, the vendors add the link to the product page on their own websiite and then buying and payment happens in the vendor’s site.

    Is it the right wordpress template for my site or would you recommend a different one?

    Many thanks
    Hassan

  11. Hello,
    Thank you so much for this amazing article.
    I feel that I am ready to start creating my marketplace website. However, I would like to create it to serve people that do not speak English. Do I have to create it and have a plugin to translate it? I would have to translate it by myself once the language I want to translate is my first language? Or, is this info only possible for English users/speakers?

    Thank you in advance,
    Solange

    • You can change the language to the language you want your site to be and shouldn’t have any issues :)

      Admin

  12. Hello. I am wanting to set up an online marketplace. I read this article which is really helpful but as far as payments go, I don’t want to take or charge a commission. Is there any WordPress plugin or theme I could use that would allow me to take an annual fee from the sellers and add give them the ability to link PayPal to their own pages so customers can pay them directly? A bit like Amazon etc. Thanks.

  13. Please I will like to know how much in dollars currency it will approximately cost me to build a good market place from scratch to finish. I want to do it myself without hiring and developer. Thank you very much

  14. HI,

    Great article, thank you !

    I want to create a market place without payment ( put service users and providers in contact with each other for free) and i want to know if this platform is suitable for my needs.

    Please help me, I am beginner !

    Thanfs

  15. Hi There,

    Thanks for the great writeup of our plugin. We are continually adding new features and pride ourselves on timely support for all our users free and pro. We are in the planning stages of some major changes to our product to make it even better! If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us through our website or on the WordPress.org forums.

    cheers,

    Jamie
    Founder, Lead Developer
    WC Vendors Marketplace

  16. Hi, Thank you for this post. I am having issues with setting up my marketplace. The vendor registration seems to be missing on the account page. Is there a way to fix this?
    Thanks

    • If you’ve enabled it in the options then you may want to reach out to the WC Vendors support to ensure there isn’t an error with the plugin and they should be able to assist.

      Admin

  17. Is there a way for a visitor/customer to post a request on my marketplace? Example: looking for a used Gibson Les Paul. And then the vendors could get notified when there’s a request posted in their chosen category?

    • It would depend on the type of fee you’re attempting to add. If you reach out to WooCommerce’s support with the specific setup you’re wanting they should be able to let you know

      Admin

  18. Hi,
    I am after a professionally designed marketplace and want to invest big money on it. I want a marketplace just like branded ecommerce marketplaces.
    Will the outcome be like them or I will need to hire someone to code it down?
    thanks,

    • It would depend on how much customization you’re wanting for your site for if you’d need help from a developer.

      Admin

  19. Thanks a lot for this helpful post! I followed these steps. One question, in the “My Account” page on the right side under “Register” I can tick two checkboxes both of which say “undefined”. Where do I define these?

    Thank you in advance!

    • That should be defined by the plugin, if you reach out to the plugin’s support they should be able to help fix the issue.

      Admin

  20. Hi WPbeginner, how do the vendors get all the product and shipping information of the products bought? afterall, it isup to them to do the fullfilment including shipping. Is that via the paypal checkout where this information is being sent?

    kind regards
    Dennis

    • The plugin has a few shipping options that you can allow for the vendors, if you reach out to the plugin’s support they will let you know what options are available.

      Admin

  21. I installed wc vendors, I followed the steps for its configuration, but it is not shown as a submenu item in the woocommerce menu. How can i fix this?

  22. I tried to plug in WC Vendors
    But then I get a page that says “The plugin does not have a valid header.”

  23. Also theres nothing that says just WC Vendors,
    The plugins say WC Vendors Marketplace and WooCommerce Multi Vendor Marketplace

  24. Great post. I would like to build a marketplace using this set up. But due to my location and for business reasons, I have a particular payment gateway I intend to use. They already have a plugin for woocommerce. Is it possible to build a marketplace using this set up with my preferred payment gateway? I’m asking because I don’t understand your response to Fatima where you said “WooCommerce supports many payment gateways. However, WC Vendors uses PayPal Adaptive Payments and Stripe”.

  25. After reading am very interested with Online Marketplace.
    I want to set up a Online Marketplace for Pharmacy Retailers and Medical Supplies Wholesalers in my country Papua New Guinea.

    I want you HELP me set this up.

    How will I pay you for that service if you willing to help me in detail set up my Online Marketplace.

    • Hi Daniellah,

      We do not offer consultancy services. If you want to hire someone to help you out, then you can look for a freelance developer on one of the popular freelancing websites like UpWork or Freelancer.

      Admin

  26. Hi,

    Thanks for the article,

    Is it posible to charge the vendor per product listing and a percentage of the sale value? i.e. like ebay

    Many thanks
    Sam

  27. Hello,

    I would like to build marketplace in loan industry to connect lender and borrower ( some kind of peer to peer lending but I don’t call money from lender, just want to connect both of them) and I will collect the fee from lender for each borrower successfully connected (fee will be collected via local bank account not paypal). What is the theme or plugin I should use for this case? Of course I will use bluehost registered through your link for domain and hosting as their price is reasonable ;)

  28. I have an question . I have a marketplace If i use this plugin and vendor start to upload products then those product will be go product page or i should make some others page for it ?

  29. Please guide me. Can we use other payment methods other than PayPal, coz we don’t have PayPal services here in Pakistan.

  30. Is it reliable to use WordPress for building multi vendor website? I have heard that WordPress is very heavy specially when it comes to building multi vendor marketplace, it takes very much time to load. Is that the case ? What should we do if that’s the case

  31. Hello ,
    Thanks a ton for the info.
    I have a question . I want to start a online market , and I don’t want to sell my products I want to sell others like amazon in my page . So while setting up do I need to put my products list or is their any way that the page can redirect to amazon. Because I saw in setting up their is a page which showed to uplaload a photo of the product which I don’t have .

  32. This post was quite helpful. I was wondering which Indian payment gateway supports multi-vendor payments. Do you recommend any? None of their website’s mention this feature.

  33. I have a question about the hosting provider. You recommend Blue Host, but in the last couple of weeks I have several times read that Siteground should be at better hosting company, and that WordPress.org recommend using Siteground.

    Could you explain if there are any different features for those two hosting providers.

    • They are recommending “Blue Host” only because WPBeginner is a partner of Blue Host and in the article they are using a referral link. Siteground is one of the best shared WP hosting out in the web and on the other hand they are a little expensive too comparing to other shared WP hosting. Blue Host is also a good choice if you are tight on budget as well as need performance.

      • Hey Mikael and dmsumon,

        We recommend Bluehost because we have used them and we believe they are the best hosting company for WordPress beginners. We do get a small cut when users sign up at no extra cost to the user. Please see our disclosure page for more details.

        We also recommend SiteGround for growing websites. See our list of WordPress hosting providers that we trust and recommend.

        Admin

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