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“Follow the plan outlined here and you can create your own website from scratch without writing any code for less than $300.”
Etsy is one of the most successful and profitable websites ever made.
In case you’re not aware, Etsy IPO’ed back in 2015 and now has a market cap worth over $30 billion.
So what does this mean for you?
It means that their marketplace business model has been thoroughly vetted by the market, and is proven to be profitable. That means it can work for you too.
The question remains, how do you make a site like Etsy?
Do you have the resources for this?
You might be surprised to hear this, but…
You can create a site like Etsy by simply assembling the right tools. All the tech you need is already available and designed to be used by non-technical users. In other words, you can build a multi-vendor marketplace like Etsy without writing a single line of code.
You don’t need any developers, and you don’t need a big budget.
That’s not to say it’s not without its challenges. A multivendor marketplace is a very complex website, but it’s possible for you to create even by yourself without writing code, which is pretty incredible if you ask me.
Here’s how it all works.
How to create a site like Etsy
These are the steps and associated tools you’ll need to create the site:
- Choose a domain name
- Get hosting (Nexcess)
- Install WordPress
- Install WooCommerce
- Install HivePress
- Install ListingHive
I’ll take you step by step through this so you can get on your way to building your new marketplace website.
Get a basic site online
Forget about the marketplace for just a moment.
The first thing you need to do is get a basic website online. You can follow this guide here to learn how to do that.
You’re going to learn some tips for picking a domain name (and how to get it for free), how to set up your hosting, and how to install WordPress. It’s a fast process these days, and you should have a brand new WP site live in no time.
Why use WordPress?
WordPress has been around for nearly two decades, it’s 100% free, and most importantly, it has a huge community behind it.
The reason why you can create a multivendor marketplace website without hiring a developer or writing code is that there are pre-built solutions already available. This is only possible because there are so many people using WordPress that developers can make these products and find enough customers.
There’s really nothing else like it.
And if you signup with Nexcess for WordPress hosting, they auto-create the WP site for you, so there is no installation for you to complete at all.
Etsy is, first and foremost, an eCommerce website. The difference between Etsy and a standard eCommerce site is the fact that Etsy has multiple vendors. Instead of selling their own products, they invite others to sell their products on the site.
I’m clarifying this because eCommerce is the backbone of the website, and the most popular eCommerce solution in the world is WooCommerce.
WooCommerce is a free plugin that adds all the essential eCommerce features instantly to your site: shopping carts, checkout, payment processing, etc. There are a lot of paid extensions available to add more eCommerce features to your site, but the main plugin itself is free and works great.
With the base eCommerce functionality added, the next step is to allow vendors on the site.
What’s a plugin?
If you’ve never used WordPress, a plugin is simply a way to add new functionality to your site. You can search for plugins and install them straight from your admin dashboard.
While making this site, you’ll need to learn new interfaces, but there really isn’t any code or extremely technical work required.
You can configure the basics of WooCommerce now, but don’t worry about fully setting it up or adding products just yet.
The next step is to add the directory functionality.
Your site is going to be more like a directory than a straightforward eCommerce store, and that’s why the next step is to install the free HivePress plugin.
HivePress lets you create categories and listings for all the products you’ll offer. More importantly, it’s set the bedrock for the upcoming functionality.
Install & configure ListingHive
ListingHive is a free theme that pairs with the HivePress plugin, and it looks something like this:
With ListingHive and HivePress together, you’ll be able to create a directory site that lists products just the way Etsy does.
You can create as many product categories as you want, add a search bar, and more.
At this point, the site is starting to take shape, but the next step is where it all comes together.
Get the extensions bundle
The last piece of the puzzle is the Marketplace extension offered by HivePress.
This adds the ability for registered members to list their own products for sale. They get their own dashboard to add and manage their listings, and you can set a commission for them to earn on every sale.
The Marketplace extension is only $39. However, you will likely want to add Requests, like Etsy, along with Statistics, Tags, Favorites, and numerous other extensions too. All of these are included in the extension bundle.
The All Extensions bundle has the Marketplace functionality and everything else you need to complete the Etsy-style multivendor eCommerce store.
I just threw a lot at you, so let’s review how this all fits together.
Sellers will be able to register on your site and list their own products because of the HivePress plugin and its Marketplace extension. The eCommerce functionality itself is powered by the WooCommerce plugin. Lastly, the design of the site comes from the ListingHive theme.
Together, these products let you create a multivendor marketplace where sellers can list their items, and shoppers can browse and purchase whatever they want.
As I stated earlier, this is a complex website, which is why so many tools are required. That said, you don’t need to write any code, and it costs less than hiring a developer for 2-3 hours.
While I think HivePress is the best way to build this site, you could use the Dokan plugin instead.
Dokan is a plugin made specifically to transform normal WooCommerce stores into multivendor eCommerce stores where sellers can register and sell their own items.
Since Dokan is a pretty popular plugin, there are quite a few premium themes to choose from. You can find 48 Dokan-compatible themes here. The following themes stand out thanks to their design quality, customizability, and rave customer reviews.
Zass has a crafty and minimalist style that is similar to Etsy. It has beautiful product pages and a drag-and-drop page builder for creating entirely custom templates.
Multimarket has a gorgeous modern design that caters to digital marketplaces. You can, of course, use it to sell physical products. This aesthetic will work well for any type of cutting-edge products.
Martfury has a more Amazon-like design than these other themes. However, Amazon is a multivendor marketplace, too, they just don’t promote and highlight their vendors the way Etsy does with their creators.
Launch your Etsy-like site
If you’ve never made a site before, I understand if this is all a bit overwhelming.
Let’s walk through the steps one more time.
First, you need to create a WordPress site. To do that, you need to find an available domain name and get hosting. Most modern hosts will auto-install WordPress for you.
Next, you’ll install WooCommerce to add the eCommerce functionality. Then you can add HivePress and ListingHive along with the HivePress extension bundle to give your eCommerce store multivendor features.
Alternatively, you can install Dokan and pick out a Dokan-compatible WordPress theme. With these steps completed, you’ll have all of the technology sorted out. The final step is to begin advertising your site and getting vendors on board.
I hope this guide has helped clarify how to build a multivendor marketplace. While there is a lot to learn, you don’t need a lot of money or tech experience to build a site like Etsy, and well, that’s just plain awesome.