We’ve all seen a multi-vendor marketplace, right? Sites like Etsy or Envato are great examples of what a multi-vendor or multi-seller site is all about. What they do is allow a single website to let many people sell their products in one place. It’s like a mini-mall on the internet, but way cooler. The power of a community is a great marketing tool, so it really can be profitable for both the website and the individual sellers to use a multi vendor environment to sell products, services and subscriptions. In the past, there have been a lot of very expensive ways to get a multi vendor website set up, and they’ve been popular over the years, each one offering a slightly different take on what makes a great multi-vendor website. There’s CS Cart Multi-Vendor, which is very nice and has a lot of features, but it prices out at over $1400 for a license. Yikes! That’s simply too much for some small businesses and if you’re just getting started with creating a multi vendor marketplace, it can stop you even before you get started. Magento Marketplace is another good piece of software and it’s more reasonably priced that CS-Cart, but the Multi Vendor extension is still $350, plus all the basic Magento license fees, which can certainly add up and add up pretty quickly. That’s a lot of money and if you already know WordPress and would prefer to stick to a CMS you know, then there are only a few options. So, if you want to stick with WP, there’s IXXO, which offers a multi-vendor extension for WordPress but again, it’s $1500 for a license. Then along came Dokan, a WordPress multi-vendor theme solution that’s very reasonably priced.
Dokan costs $199 for one site. Of course, if you need to use Dokan on multiple sites, that’s possible too. For $299, you can install on up to five domains an for $499, it’s unlimited.
So how does all of this work, anyway?
Well, just like a normal multi vendor website, the process is the same.
- A seller registers on your website.
- The seller creates products.
- They start selling.
- You and the seller both make money.
It’s pretty simple. It’s like Ebay or Amazon, your sellers can create their own store and begin selling products immediately. Your marketplace will grow as your number of sellers increases too, since they’ll be doing their own promotion of their own personal store and you can really see an increase in traffic with all the fresh content they’ll be adding.
Dokan is based on WooCommerce, so it’s stable and has been adopted by a wide variety of businesses. WooCommerce allows you to add on a multitude of extensions that will really come in handy for a multi-vendor business. If you’re selling digital downloads like WordPress themes, music, eBooks or other products, an affiliate program may be a great way to boost business and earn more money for your sellers and for yourself. WooCommerce has a powerful affiliate program available to help make that happen. What if your sellers need multiple payment gateways? WooCommerce has a wide range of payment types that can be easily implemented with a couple of extensions or add-ons.
WooCommerce is extensively documented and if you have experience with WordPress, then you’ve probably had some experience with WooCommerce as well, so you may already know how solid and stable it is and how simple it is to get started. Other features available include:
- Dynamic pricing, discounts for bulk orders.
- United States Postal Service shipping rates for both domestic and world-wide shipping. (FedEx and UPS too!)
- Subscription sales for products with recurring payments.
- Amazon payments
- Product add-ons
- Shipment tracking
And a whole bunch more great stuff. There’s a lot of flexibility in how much you can offer with WooCommerce, but even the vanilla version is powerful.
Okay, back to Dokan.
So what is Dokan anyway, a theme? Well, it’s actually a plugin, which is even better. With Dokan, you can turn any existing WooCommerce theme into a full featured multi vendor website. That means if you have a nice theme that you’ve already gotten familiar with, you can get started even quicker than you might have imagined. Say you want to build a community to help with marketing and keeping your sellers informed of important information, training or something else…use a BuddyPress ready theme to grow a community of buyers and sellers who all share a common interest. The point is, Dokan doesn’t limit you to one style or one set of features, there’s a massive variety of themes out there. If one of those themes is perfect for your site, assuming it also supports WooCommerce, then it can utilize the power of Dokan to help create an online multi vendor marketplace.
You do have the ability to use the Dokan theme that is included with the license and it’s a full featured WooCommerce theme, but I’m not going to get into that too much, because I think most people will enjoy the flexibility of being able to choose a theme that is exactly what they have in mind. For some, it may be the Dokan theme, but there are so many options to choose from, why limit yourself?
As I said, each seller creates their own store that they manage themselves. The seller has a dashboard that’s straightforward and easy to understand, allowing each vendor to manage inventory, pricing, discounts and promotions of their products. They’ll be able to track traffic stats, sales and they have a simple way to see the status of every order, from the time the buyer makes their purchase to the time it’s delivered. Reviews can be tracked too, a great way for sellers to see what they’re doing right, or wrong. Sellers can create coupons for sales and much more, so you won’t have to decide what to promote and what goes on sale, each seller can make their own discount choices and even special event sales for the holidays! This really is a feature filled admin panel for sellers.
How else can a seller customize the look of their individual storefront? Well, each seller has access to a special SEO panel, allowing them to set their own personalized SEO title, meta description, keywords, Facebook description and title, for when people share their content. Same goes for Twitter. Each product and page gets the same treatment, making it really easy for a seller to create a package of SEO goodness that will help drive business. And when a seller is able to drive traffic with such ease, everybody makes money.
So how do you make money?
Every time a seller sells a product, you take a small commission. That’s a huge benefit for sellers who may be just starting out, as they won’t have to pay a large fee per month to run their own store. For example, Shopify takes up to 3.5% per sale (plus 30 cents) and they charge $79 a month for the privilege of having a store in the first place. That’s pretty expensive and for a business just starting out and trying to grow sales, it can be a burden. With Dokan though, your site will charge a small percentage fee per transaction, one that you choose for yourself, and every sale will deduct that amount from the seller’s income and give it to you. It’s pretty slick and everybody will be happy in the end. (I should note, with the Subscriptions addon, you can choose to charge people a flat fee per month to use your platform to sell their products. The choice is yours.)
Okay, back to the store.
Each seller gets their own storefront, each one can be branded to their own tastes, within the parameters set up by the theme you choose of course. Each seller creates their own store settings, which makes it a powerful way for the sellers to differentiate themselves from the competition. Shipping management, social networking, pending orders…it’s all there, customized for each seller. Sellers will love the way this theme allows them to have a professional, online presence without having to spend a lot of money up front on a theme of their own, plus hosting, plus site security and more. Those services are what you provide them and it should be well worth it for almost any seller.
What else can I do with Dokan?
There are a ton of awesome features available, in addition to the WooCommerce, WordPress and BuddyPress extensions that may be available.
- Dokan Extension Bundle – Nice awesome Dikan extension tools in one fun bundle. This is the best value for the money, giving you a bunch of the features below for a massive discount. If you want more than a couple of these extensions, it’s probably the best bargain.
- Dokan PayPal Adaptive Payment – If you’d prefer to pay your sellers on the fly, this is the addon for you. When the customer pays, both you and the seller are paid immediately. If there’s a refund requested, it’s up to the seller to handle it. That keeps you from having to deal with paying sellers manually or having to deal with refunds. Pretty cool.
- Dokan Seller Verification – This helps you verify the legitimacy of your prospective sellers, making sure they’ve got a social networking profile and checks their phone number. You can also require a photo-ID to verify sellers, which helps keep spam sellers to a minimum.
- Dokan Store Support – Allow your sellers to create a support system at their own storefront, that really helps deliver a great customer experience. It allows all the features of your front end with this add-on.
- Dokan Subscriptions – This is another great way to reduce spam, you can opt to simply charge your sellers a subscription fee per month (or a flat commission) to sell their products on your website. If you want to offer the best service possible with no spam, this is a wonderful option.
- Dokan Stripe Connect – Want to pay your sellers in real-time, as sales are made? Want to avoid handling the hassle of refund requests? Stripe connect makes it so you can do both. This low-fee payment gateway is legendary for their speed and reliability.
- Dokan Ajax Live Search – This is sort of like having your very own private label Google search feature on your site, allowing buyers to use your theme’s built in seach bar to quickly narrow down the products they’d like to buy via tags and categories.
- Seller Vacation – If your seller needs a break from raking in all that money, they can set their status to ‘On Vacation’ letting buyers know that they’re not available until the seller returns, which takes the products offline temporarily. Pretty handy.
- Dokan Product Enquiry – If you’d like to allow your customers to as about a product’s availability or feature set, the product enquiry tool is amazing, letting buyers connect to the seller right on the product page. Just install it and forget it, the extension does all the heavy lifting here.
- Dokan Simple Auctions – If you’d like you sellers to be able to create eBay style auctions, Dokan can freely integrate the WooCommerce Simple Auctions plugin to allow that, right in the seller dashboard.
And that’s not all, there are plenty more options Dokan offers buyers and sellers.
Oh, hey, before I forget, you can check out the documentation and support forums to get an idea of how comprehensive they are.
I’m not always that into product reviews, because the seller can really cherry pick the good ones, but I think this one sums it up.
Dokan is actually our 3rd plugin we invested in. We never had such good customer technical support in the past for any other plugins we bought. They usually answer questions very quickly. The solutions they offer are very precise.
Good Job Dokan Team
Okay, so let’s wrap this thing up, shall we?
In conclusion, if you want to create a multi-vendor eCommerce site, Dokan is well worth looking at. For a fraction of the price of some of the other dedicated WordPress solutions, Dokan can offer similar, if not greater, options and extensions. There’s a reason this thing is incredibly popular, the flexibility of the extensions is a huge part of it.
I love that WooCommerce is at the center of this theme,WooCommerce has such a large market share and it’s development is consistent and strong, new features are constantly being added and the code is sharp with every update. Sell electronic goods or set up a shop that acts like a brick and mortar mall with many products from a variety of sellers. There are no limits to what you can do with this theme. The integration with WooCommerce also means that your store or marketplace can sell digital or physical products without any problem. This makes Dokan a good choice for anyone who doesn’t want to be constrained by what type of products their store can handle.
Setup is very simple, since it’s a plugin for an existing theme, the templates are all there for you to use. You can create a design that looks precisely like you want it to, fitting in with your company’s branding. That means no matter what sort of products you and your sellers are showcasing, the website will act as a perfect frame, making them look their very best. And since Dokan is so intuitive to use, it’s even simple for a beginner to use. Overcoming that fear of starting out is huge, Dokan does it with style.
The reports and seller feedback section is incredibly robust, giving your sellers a very detailed view of how their hard work is paying off as they build their business. The private dashboard is incredibly detailed and all of the relevant statistics are easily at hand for your sellers to pore over to find new, better ways to make sales and grow their business.
All in all, Dokan is a great little plugin, whether you use the Dokan theme or if you use it on your own theme, I think this one is destined to become a really great solution for a lot of people who want a powerful, full featured way to create a multi-vendor marketplace.
If you’re interested in learning more about Dokan, check it out here.
So, there you go, all you need to know about Dokan. Hey, let us know if you’re thinking about using Dokan for your multi-vendor project or what direction you decide to go, we’d love to hear more about it.