Everything you wanted to know about marketplaces: part 1. What is a marketplace and how can you make money on it
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Everything you wanted to know about marketplaces: part 2. Why CS-Cart Multi-Vendor is the best solution for marketplaces


In the previous article, we talked about what a marketplace is, what types there are and, most importantly, how to make money on the marketplace. As a reminder, a marketplace is a store where anyone can register to sell or buy any goods or services. Examples of marketplaces are known all over the world: Amazon, Alibaba, Aliexpress, eBay, as well as Uber, Airbnb, TripAdvisor and others.

Today we will tell you about CS-Cart Multi-Vendor and why it is the best way for launching a marketplace.

CS-Cart has been known in the international e-commerce for 15 years. There are several versions of the platform: CS-Cart B2B & B2C, CS-Cart B2С and the special solution for marketplaces — CS-Cart Multi-Vendor. More than 35,000 companies worldwide have trusted the high level of technology and developers experience and have chosen CS-Cart for their online business.

How does CS-Cart Multi-Vendor work? 

The CS-Cart Multi-Vendor will allow you to create a trading platform where several vendors can work at once. A general marketplace catalog is formed from the products of all vendors: the customer can switch between categories, can sort products by filters or use a general search. 

This is how the Shopclues marketplace catalog looks like:


At the same time, each vendor inside the marketplace has a separate mini-store (vendors’ storefront) with its own logo, description, products, filters and internal search. The customer will be able to go the vendor’s storefront through the product card or through the main menu. 

Let’s see how it works using the example of Shopclues. We go to the vendors’ page through the product card:

Shopclue product page

This is how the selected vendors’ storefront looks like:

Shopclue Vendor page

Vendors will deal with order processing, delivery and communication with the customer themselves. On your part, it is required to develop a marketplace, engage in promotion and advertising to attract customers.

A simplified workflow for CS-Cart Multi-Vendor consists of six steps:

  1. Vendors fill out an application form to join the marketplace.
  2. The marketplace owner decides to approve or reject the application.
  3. Vendors upload their goods, indicate delivery terms.
  4. The marketplace administrator reviews products, publishes or rejects them.
  5. The customer chooses the product, places an order, pays for it.
  6. The money is distributed between the vendor and the marketplace depending on the chosen monetization model. You can do it manually or automatically. We will tell you more about this below. 

Why will you like CS-Cart Multi-Vendor?

1. Advanced vendor payout system.

Managing cash flow manually takes a lot of your time and attention. The more orders and vendors you have, the more difficult it is to remember to whom and how much money you have to transfer. In CS-Cart Multi-Vendor, you can automate payments to vendors. It will save 90% of your time. Automatic payouts are carried out via a built-in “PayPal for Marketplaces” payment method. It distributes the payment between vendors and sends commissions to your account.

2. Configurable vendor plans.

In the last article, we talked about different models of profit monetization. So, in CS-Cart Multi-Vendor you can set up a hybrid monetization model using different plans: for example, combine commissions from each order and a monthly fee for the right to place products on your marketplace.

There is also an option for setting plans depending on the size of the vendor’ business. For example, for small businesses, you can set a plan with a commission for each order, and offer large players a plan with a monthly fee for placing a catalog. In CS-Cart Multi-Vendor you can not only create and configure plans, but also offer each vendor the most convenient plan.

3. Separate mini store for every vendor.

In CS-Cart Multi-Vendor sellers can not only display their products in a common storefront, but also organize their own mini-store, making it different from others. It depends on the vendors’ plan. If the plan allows, the seller will have access to the theme and layout editor: he will be able to change the logo, colors, fonts, background and arrangement of the elements of his mini-store, even if its style differs from the general style of the marketplace. The opportunity to make the store design unique will attract more sellers.

4. Multiple levels of administrative access.

You can be sure that, for example, a content manager or accountant will not “break” the marketplace with incorrect actions. With the configured administrative access, each user will have access to only those elements that he can edit. You can configure different access rights levels even for vendor administrators.

5. Customer-to-vendor communication.

Customers will be able to contact the vendor directly through the product page. Customers trust such a marketplace where they can ask the vendor about a product directly and get an answer quickly. This is also an advantage for you: you do not have to study all the products features and spend time consulting customers.

6. Import / export of goods can be automated.

Vendors can not only create products manually, but also upload them in bulk using a CSV- or XML-catalog. This will make it as easy as possible for vendors to manage their items. The marketplace will be easy and pleasant to work with, which means it will become even more attractive for vendors to join.

7. Detailed reports and statistics are available.

It is impossible to manage the marketplace without a convenient tool for data analysis. CS-Cart Multi-Vendor is integrated with Google Analytics. This service generates detailed statistics about your website visitors. It gives you rich insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness.

8. Each vendor can create their own promotions.

Each vendor will independently manage their promotions which means they will get a powerful marketing tool to stimulate sales. The more sales, the more attractive the site for vendors and the greater the marketplace profit.

Promotions for vendors work in the CS-Cart Multi-Vendor Plus and CS-Cart Multi-Vendor Ultimate.

9. The customer can place orders separately for vendors.

This is good in two cases:

  1. Customers will see which of the selected products on the cart page belong to which vendors. They will be able to choose: place an order with one seller and postpone the purchase of the rest of the goods, or pay all at once. 
  2. If, for example, one of your vendors prefers to receive payments through PayPal, and the second through Google Wallet, then they will be able to create preferred payment methods. If a customer places an order separately, he will choose a payment method created by this seller, and if he order all at once, he will choose one of the marketplace payment methods.

In CS-Cart Multi-Vendor, this function can be enabled using the add-on Checkout by vendor. In the CS-Cart Multi-Vendor Plus and CS-Cart Multi-Vendor Ultimate separate checkout is included “in the box”, you don’t have to install the add-on. 

10. Common products for vendors.

CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has a function called “Common Products for Vendors” which can help to unify the filling of product cards and simplify the work of vendors. It enables vendors to select products from a common catalog. The vendor will only need to specify the price, quantity and delivery parameters. “Common Products for Vendors” adds a comparison table to the item card. If the product is available from several vendors, the buyer can choose the most profitable offer without unnecessary clicks. 

“Common Products for Vendors” is also handy for standardized products. For example, you are a manufacturer and you have distributors in different cities. You create your own marketplace, upload a products catalog and distributors simply add items from the catalog to their storefront. Another example, when the marketplace contains many stores with a similar assortment and identical vendor codes. This is typical for electronics: goods are purchased from the same warehouses, vendors differ from each other only in prices and delivery terms. And since the vendors have the same products, it makes no sense for each of them to waste time and download their own catalog.

“Common Products for Vendors” works in the CS-Cart Multi-Vendor Plus and CS-Cart Multi-Vendor Ultimate.

11. You can set different commissions for different categories.

Popular product categories (household chemicals, cleaning products, food, toys) have low margins. You can attract vendors who sell these products by setting low commissions on orders. And on the categories with a high margin, you can set up a higher commission and get more profit from them. This feature works in the editions of CS-Cart Multi-Vendor Plus and CS-Cart Multi-Vendor Ultimate.

12. You can change the vendor control panel based on your needs.

Hide unnecessary interface elements from the vendor’s panel, leaving only those that the vendor often uses. For example, a digital vendor can turn off shipping settings to avoid cluttering the dashboard with unnecessary items.

We have listed only the main useful features of CS-Cart Multi-Vendor. Even the boxed version of the platform (without modifications) has much more interesting functions. You can learn more about them at a personal consultation with Cart-Power managers. 

Before moving on to the most interesting part — how to distribute profit — let’s outline the main idea: CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has everything you need to launch your own marketplace as quickly and easily as possible and make a profit.

Cash flow management

In CS-Cart Multi-Vendor you have various ways to manage your finances. 


By default, all money in CS-Cart Multi-Vendor first goes to the owner of the marketplace, after that he must transfer it to the vendors in any convenient way. The “Accounting” page helps to check the vendor balance and manage money. 

Accounting in CS-Cart

CS-Cart Multi-Vendor has standard add-ons with which you can more flexibly customize cash flow management. They are free and are already included in the boxed version of the platform: all that remains is to enable and configure the features you need. Let’s consider these add-ons in more detail. 

To set the size of the marketplace commission, you will need the “Vendor Plans” add-on.

“Vendor Plans” add-on

It allows you to set up a monetization scheme for the marketplace: for example, a subscription fee for vendors (a fixed payment once a month or a year), or a commission for each order (a flat rate in the marketplace currency or a percentage of the sale amount), or hybrid model. 

Each plan can be linked to certain categories (or storefronts in the CS-Cart Multi-Vendor Ultimate). This will allow the administrator to set different commissions for different categories of goods, depending on their marginality.

By itself, the “Vendor Plans” add-on does not automate the money distribution. It simplifies bookkeeping by automatically adding records of one-time and recurring payments, as well as commissions on orders. If you want to automate the distribution of money between vendors, then three more standard add-ons will help: “Marketplace Payment Methods”, “Vendor Debt Payout”, “Direct Customer-to-Vendor Payments”.

“Marketplace Payment Methods” add-on 

Payment methods designed for marketplaces allow to distribute money from orders automatically. These payment methods can also collect debts from vendors. The drawback is that all the vendors handling an order need to be able to receive money via the chosen payment method.

 “Vendor Debt Payout” add-on 

The Vendor Debt Payout add-on allows marketplace owners to automate the collecting of debts from vendors. If vendors don’t pay, they won’t be able to work in their administration panels. The payment process itself is just like placing an order on the storefront.

Vendor Debt Payout in CS-Cart

“Direct Customer-to-Vendor Payments” add-on

It changes the way your marketplace works: the money goes directly to vendors, and you don’t have to distribute it. Other add-ons ensure that vendors pay their fees to the marketplace in a timely manner. 

What else do you need to know about CS-Cart Multi-Vendor?

CS-Cart Multi-Vendor is a universal solution that will allow you to launch almost any online business. But there are a few limitations that are important to keep in mind. 

The platform universality leads to the need for improvements to implement non-standard ideas, and unnecessary functions will have to be disabled. The same is the case with external services. The boxed version of CS-Cart Multi-Vendor already includes integration with the most popular payment systems, delivery services, ERP and CRM systems. But if you use any external service that is not available in the standard CS-Cart, you will need to order custom development.

The next thing to keep in mind is hosting resources. At the start of the project, you may not feel the limitations. But with the marketplace growth (when the site will have thousands of vendors and goods), you will need to increase hosting resources and will have to optimize the site, so it does not hang up and not lose customers.

You should understand how the marketplace works, have a development plan and clear project requirements. The rules for monetization and interaction with vendors should be determined in advance. If necessary, we will help you formulate this at the stage of pre-project analytics.

Examples of CS-Cart Multi-Vendor marketplaces that we developed


Clothing, footwear and accessories from numerous New Zealand fashion businesses



Car rental service in Poland



Eco food, skin and home products



Donation service from Kuwait

Direct Aid

The CS-Cart Multi-Vendor is used by 1,300 marketplaces around the world. Do you want the same? Leave a request, we will call you back, clarify the details of the project and offer a suitable solution. We have been developing marketplaces and online stores on the CS-Cart platform for 9 years, so we know how to make the project bring you maximum profit.

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