How to build an online marketplace?
Online Marketplace is one of the major trends in Russian eCommerce market. In US and Europe Marketplaces became popular even in 2000-2004 after Amazon has grown to huge online retailer and has established relations with a lot of suppliers.
As you may already know, an online marketplace (or online e-commerce marketplace) is a type of e-commerce site where product and inventory information is provided by multiple third parties, whereas transactions are processed by the marketplace operator. Online marketplaces are the primary type of multichannel ecommerce. eBay and Amazon are the most famous marketplaces of them all.
Is building an online marketplace really that hard? Nowadays building an online marketplaces are become easy with the readymade software and it is one of the best way to grow business in an easiest way. Here I’d like to share a history of the company providing an online marketplace platform that enables retailers and publishers to launch their own online marketplaces.
In 2004, a special engine has been created with API for sending products from different suppliers to Amazon. Strange as it may seem that the project has been realized by Ixtens Inc., a company founded in Russia. Eight years they successfully grow in the sphere of support and maintenance a supplier onboarding process for several online marketplaces.
In 2011 they have launched the first Marketplace for media in the world. At this moment Ixtens has research and development office in Novosibirsk and sales offices in New York and London. The company staff numbers more than 70 employees.
The platform has been developed on Java. It’s enabled every ecommerce storefront solution becomes an online marketplace powered by marketplace backend. The marketplace backend provides a portal for suppliers, delivery services and marketplace owner to aggregate product and inventory information into a single, unified catalog and route the orders to the appropriate supplier(s) for fulfilment. The portal works as a web-service and supports popular protocols and data formats like
- Flat files
- EDI (Electronic data interchange)
- Data formats of popular ERP systems
The marketplace platform helps to automate the Marketplace as much as possible. Some of its functions are enumerated below:
- automated product import/export from suppliers’ ERP systems/websites to Marketplace
- automated verification of imported products to meet Marketplace criteria
- automated aggregation of inventory of the same products came from different suppliers
- automated analysis of product descriptions to provide customers with comprehensive information about products
- large document exchange system with order routing and invoice management business logic
- easy interface for supplier profile management and configuration of the portal
Among the company customers there were Amazon.com, MTV, Tesco, Benefit, Lifetime brands.
In 2013 New York company Ixtens Inc. was rebranded to Merchantry Inc. and raised $7m in Series B financing. The round was led by Kite Ventures, with participation from Greycroft Partners and e.ventures. The company intends to use the funds to continue to expand its sales team (read here) and its client base throughout the U.S. and Europe.