We’ve all seen the success of marketplaces like Etsy, Amazon and eBay. It’s amazing that sites like Etsy are generating product sales of up to $65 million in a single month. However, these physical product marketplaces must take thousands, if not millions, of dollars to setup and maintain, right? Well, that’s not necessarily the case, since using a few tools like WordPress, a hosting plan and Marketify can allow you to create a physical marketplace website on the cheap. And I’m going to show you exactly how to do it, step by step.
Ecommerce is big business, and it’s time for you to join in on the profit. The first step is to choose a niche in which people can come onto your site and sell their own products in that niche. Marketplaces generally offer profile creation platforms for both merchants and buyers, so keep reading to learn more about how you can build a physical product marketplace with a modest amount of money.
Get Your Domain and Hosting First
The first step to building any website, regardless of whether or not it’s a marketplace or not, is to find hosting and a domain name. Hundreds of hosting companies exist, but we recommend using Bluehost because of its security and reliability. Not to mention, the Bluehost customer support is top-notch, and the backend is rather user friendly. You might want to skim through my full Bluehost review first.
Go to the main Bluehost homepage to get started. Click on the big Get Started Now Button to proceed.
Select which plan you want to opt for, and move onto the next page. The Standard plan is usually good to get started, since it’s affordable and gives you all the storage and support you need. On the next page you can choose a new domain name or transfer one you have purchased before.
Punch in the domain name you have selected and click on the Next button. This will tell you if the domain name is available, and how much it is going for right now. If you already have a domain name you can paste that into the field on the right and walk through the process to have it transferred over to Bluehost. This generally takes just a few minutes.
Punch in your account information such as your name, address and email address. Scroll down to the Package Information module to select which one you want to pay for. Keep in mind that all of these payment plans are billed per year, but they get cheaper if you decide on committing to more years.
Feel free to uncheck all of the add-ons, since you can usually find things like backup tools and search engine plugins for free. Fill out your billing information, then click on the Submit button at the bottom of the page.
Installing WordPress through Bluehost
After you create your Bluehost login details and finish paying for your hosting account, you will be logged into your CPanel. This is the backend hosting area where you can manage items like domains and site files. Now it’s time to install WordPress, a free and open source content management system.
Luckily, Bluehost provides a one-click installation solution for WordPress. Find the Website Builders header on the main page of your CPanel and click on the WordPress icon.
This is an extremely simple process, since it walks you through step by step. Follow the directions, and it should only take you around five minutes to have WordPress on your Bluehost hosted website. At the end of the process, create login details for WordPress and navigate to the backend URL to login.
Creating Your Physical Product Marketplace with Marketify
Start by going to the Marketify sales page on Themeforest. If you already have a Themeforest account, login and click on the Buy Now button. If not, create an account and follow the same procedure to purchase the theme. This is by far the least expensive option to make a physical product marketplace, since the hosting is only around $4 per month, WordPress is free and the Marketify theme runs at $63.
Feel free to test the theme demo and read through the features before you commit to any payments.
After you purchase the theme, Themeforest will ask you to download the Marketify file. Go ahead and do so, which then downloads a zip file to your computer. Don’t unzip this file, but save it somewhere you can find it for the next few steps.
Keep the backend of your WordPress website open. On your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes.
Click on the Add New button to proceed.
Click on the Upload Theme button.
This brings you to an area to upload the zip file that we downloaded to your computer earlier. Click on the Choose File button and search for the Marketify zip file on your computer. Select it and walk through the rest of the uploading and activation process. After that you should see the Marketify theme activated and visible on the frontend of your website.
The Marketify theme is a complete solution for other people to create profiles and post products for sale on your site. It actually provides three views: One for you (the admin,) one for authors trying to sell their products, and another for buyers looking to come in and put stuff in their shopping carts and checkout.
If you take a look at your purchase files, you will find extensive documentation to guide you in building your physical product marketplace. It doesn’t require any additional installations like WooCommerce, but you do have the option to use the Marketplace Bundle from Easy Digital Downloads for selling digital items a little easier.
For example, if you wanted to have a full frontend submission area for vendors, where they could manage products, orders, profiles and more, the Frontend Submission extension is required for $83. But as mentioned above, Easy Digital Downloads provides a Marketplace Bundle with the Frontend Submission extension (and many other solutions) for $199.
Important Note: The package also has the Simple Shipping add-on, which isn't necessarily required for selling physical products, but it's the easiest and best way to provide shipping for your physical marketplace.
Check out my full Easy Digital Downloads review as well.
All the design elements are completely up to you, and honestly, it would take a full book to show an in-depth look at how to completely design your own marketplace, but the main thing to think about is how your authors are going to posts their own products and start selling (to make you money).
An author can go to the frontend of your website and click on the Profile menu item. This brings up various options for them to build their own profiles. I would recommend that you create an author profile and try to post a product to see if everything is working properly. Click on the Author Dashboard option to move on.
Select the Add Product tab to create your first product.
This is a fairly intuitive page where the authors can type in a product name, description, preview image and category.
Tags are a great way to help buyers find the product, and the pricing and file fields are handy for displaying what you’re selling the item for and where people can go to download a file. Obviously, this tutorial is for physical products, but it’s still a nice feature to have around.
Scroll down on the product creation page to fill in other details like licence, file type, size, documentation, video URL and demo URL. All of these help build author product pages, pushing people to buy the products with media and in-depth details.
Save the product when finished.
Once you have a few products on your author page navigate to the Products tab to view the entire list of products in your author profile. This is a wonderful way to see which products are active and which of them you need to review or modify for the future.
Click on the Earnings tab to view a list of all the sales you have made as an author. Paid commissions are included on this page, and it also accumulates any revoked commissions. Feel free to export the list to a CSV file. You can filter your list based on month.
The Orders tab is one of the most important areas for authors, since it explains all of the completed and in-progress orders. This is essentially the business hub, ensuring that the authors know when they should ship their physical products and if they have been paid for transactions. View a single order to examine detailed information like payment methods, purchase dates and products purchased.
Many people forget to instruct authors how important the Profile area is to making sales. There’s a small chance that anyone will purchase from an author with limited profile details. To complete these fields, go to the Profile tab, where you can type in information like the display name, biography, website and avatar.
Marketify requires you to install a few plugins, otherwise the theme won’t work properly. This includes plugins like Easy Digital Downloads, JetPack and more. Follow the guidelines from Marketify and install plugins manually or in bulk.
When adding a payment gateway, this is all done through the Easy Digital Downloads plugin that you installed in the previous step. By default, each product a vendor places on your marketplace uses PayPal Standard to make the transaction.
Go to Downloads > Settings > Payment Gateways in the WordPress dashboard. This page lets you punch in your payment gateway preferences, including your PayPal address and accepted payment methods.
If PayPal Standard is not your style, purchase one of the other options here. These extensions work just like any other WordPress plugin, where you go to Plugins > Add New in the dashboard and upload the zip file once purchased.
Purchase receipts and email confirmation are pretty much the same thing through the Easy Digital Downloads plugin, but since your marketplace is focusing on physical products I would recommend changing the template, since the default option tells people to click on a link to download the file.
Go to Downloads > Settings > Emails. Here you can change items like the From Name, Logo and Purchase Receipt Email Text. They also have a sales notification email that goes to vendors.
The shortcodes for bringing up things like dates, prices and links are listed underneath the descriptions boxes.
In order to add separate registration pages for both vendors and users, create two new pages. Complete this by going to Pages > Add New. Add the [fes_registration_form] shortcode to one of the pages, and the [edd_register] shortcode to another one of the pages. The fes one is for vendors and the edd one is for users.
That’s it for building a physical product marketplace with WordPress and Marketify. With this tutorial you’re well on your way to making a site similar to Amazon or Etsy, and hopefully you start bringing in buyers and sellers from all over the world! That said, drop a line in the comments section if you have any questions.