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What is a Virtual Marketplace?

by Sheri Levitt

You may have heard about  “virtual marketplace”.  As you can probably guess, this refers to sites that require two types of users to be successful: buyers and suppliers. Sites such as Etsy.com, eBay.com, Airbnb.com, and Sittercity.com are good examples.  These sites are big now, but everyone starts small. You may think that you don’t stand a chance of creating your own marketplace, but you actually do. There are just a few key things to know and keep in mind.

This is a harder business model to maintain because as the owner, you have to market to two different target audiences – the typical chicken and egg issue.  So how can you effectively market to these groups?  Here are a few suggestions:

Make your business different than everyone else.  Sure, you could offer products and sellers for everyone.  You could have a huge selection that includes typical categories ranging from garden and baby items to electronics. But in order to stand out, you should target a niche group, interest or location.

Start with sellers. In order for your site to gain traction, you need to make sure it appeals to buyers.  This will have a direct impact on your marketplace.  Line up quality and dependable sellers with products you think will do well on your site. Once you gain enough traffic and users, you can become a premier source of products for a specific niche.

Save time and cost on site development by taking advantage of premade virtual marketplace scripts available to you. iScripts MultiCart is an example of a quality and ready-made solution.  Built similar to eBay and Amazon Marketplace, your site will include the seller, buyer and admin logins with features such as feedback, gift cards, coupon codes, email marketing and newsletter capability, product options, payment and shipping options included.  All you need is a domain and hosting plan. After installing a multi-vendor shopping cart like this on your site, it will take just days to have your site up and running.  Test it out on the market to see how it performs and decide whether or not you need to change or add any features or layout to your site.

By taking advantage of this option, you can get your site up and running quickly so you can focus more on marketing and attracting a slew of buyers and run a successful virtual marketplace!

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