Think of the best marketplaces that you’ve used – Etsy, Airbnb, Uber, even home-grown ones such as the iconic. When you use them as a customer or a merchant, do you have a sense of the technology or platform that drives them? Do you care about whether it was being run on a software-as-a-service, on individual servers, or a platform-as-a-service?
What makes these marketplaces great is the seamless feature suite and the ability for them to rapidly add features, create better integrations between themselves and other web technologies, and provide more ways through which merchants and customers can interact, engage and trade.
This is one of the most critical aspects of a good marketplace platform – its effects should be felt by all stakeholders involved – be it a customer, merchants or the marketplace owners themselves, but the platform in-and-of-itself should be a background object, silently and steadfastly powering millions of transactions and messages. What your marketplace platform should offer you, as a marketplace owner, is a rock-solid base on which you can let your business idea flourish with all of the bell’s whistles and tinsel that makes it special and a success.
And this brings me to a major issue with SaaS-based Marketplace Platforms, and yes, of course, full disclosure, I’m the CEO and founder of a marketplace platform business myself. But this goes beyond the “my product is better” aspect. It’s a fundamental, logical aspect when you’re looking to start a marketplace, whether you’re starting up or re-platforming an existing solution.
Don’t let your marketplace platform dictate your business model, functionality or look and feel
A Marketplace is not the same as an eCommerce store
The obvious argument to the contrary is “…look at Shopify, it’s SaaS eCommerce capability offers merchants the ability to run their store on a lightweight platform in minutes…” yes – absolutely, SaaS is great for eCommerce because almost all eCommerce sites are essentially the same and have a very common suite of requirements. However, Marketplaces ARE different…
To succeed in a marketplace, your very business model, engagement mechanism, user experience, workflow and payment model’s make up your product. The “How it works” is often more important than the product or service that you’re offering, as in most cases, these products and services are already being offered by the merchants through existing channels. This makes the core platform a critical part of the marketplace solution and the more flexible the solution, offering more ways in which to package and sell your merchants offerings, the better it is for you, the marketplace owner, as it gives you the greatest number of levers to pull to get the perfect mix that drives success.
A fixed suite of capabilities
And this is also where most SaaS platforms fall over, they fundamentally cannot be changed rapidly or are not flexible enough to handle the unique requirements of marketplaces. You’re bound to the roadmap of your platform provider and that’s the first nail in your marketplace coffin – you’re not in control of the technology.
Limited business models
Making your marketplace attractive to your merchants – it’s not all about “ease of onboarding” though this is what almost all new marketplace owners are worried about. Ever used Amazon? It’s a pain in the arse, but merchants wade through the complex catalogue management process to get their products on there so they can sell. No – what’s critical is customers and sales, and then it’s the merchant commissions and fees. A good marketplace platform should be limitless in its ability for you, the marketplace owner, to create new and attractive revenue streams for both your vendors and you. Again, every marketplace will approach this differently – a marketplace selling motorcycle gear could have a completely different model than a health and beauty marketplace with hair-dressers and beauticians. A robust marketplace will be able to handle both with ease, offering each marketplace owner their own revenue mechanisms, commissions, fees, subscriptions and surcharge options.
With most marketplace SaaS platforms, you’re likely to be stuck with a basic commission approach, and if you’re lucky, a couple of add-on fee components.
Comparing Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) marketplace solutions
…and here’s why a platform like Omnyfy is much better for a Marketplace than SaaS-based Marketplace solutions.
|Capability||Omnyfy (PaaS Marketplace Platform)||SaaS Marketplace Platforms|
|Customisation and Flexibility||Fully customisable and flexible – need functionality? Not a problem, browse the entire range of Magento 2 modules available and simply add whatever you need, or if you need something specific, we can develop it for you.||Limited to the feature set and configurations available by your SaaS provider, unless they’ve opened up their API suite to a marketplace, which is not the case in most of the SaaS marketplace providers.|
|User interface design||Completely customisable, themeable and can be designed to suit the needs of any brand or marketplace.Have your own design? Not a problem – we will implement your own bespoke marketplace look and feel on the Omnymart platform.||You are limited to the available themes or minor customisations that the SaaS provider offers.|
|Setup costs||Minimal – Omnyfy offers a rapid implementation of only 4 weeks which includes design, information architecture, and launch of your marketplace. We also help you manage your product information architecture, content architecture and more||Minimal – however you’re probably on your own in setting up your marketplace|
|On-going costs||With Omnyfy, your ongoing costs are between $1,150 – $1,600 per month fully managed.||From around $1,000 – over $2,000 per month but you have no control over your hosting, infrastructure or management of your marketplace servers|
|Infrastructure and availability||Omnyfy offers a guaranteed 99.9% uptime with our multi-server hosting infrastructure. We can go up to 99.9999% on our multi-zone, multi-server configurations with blazingly fast servers and PCI compliant security.||Some of the biggest providers of SaaS marketplace technology only offer 95% uptime! – that means your site can be down for up to 18 days a year and you have no recourse or refund.|
|Support||Fantastic support from our dedicated services team. We have been the provider of choice for business-critical marketplace solutions and have received high ratings for service delivery, technology and support.||You’re limited to email or call-centre support and support tickets at the best of times.DIY marketplace solutions simply don’t work for large-scale marketplace implementations.|
8 Questions you should be asking yourself before selecting your marketplace platform
- How customisable and flexible is the platform? – can it do what I want it to do?
- Can the look and feel of the platform be changed to suit my marketplace needs?
- Is it an open technology? Does it have API’s and can it be easily integrated with other web platforms?
- Are there ready-made modules that can be used to extend the platform? – are these modules cost-effective so they don’t break the bank
- How fast can I go to market with the platform and how scalable is it?
- Can my own developers work on the platform or is it “closed” off?
- What is the guaranteed uptime? If it is less than 99.9% walk away (don’t even bother with 95% or less
- How is the infrastructure managed?