In the latest in our ‘Platform People’ series, we talk to Martin Boss of MultiMerch, which offers marketplace platform solutions for ecommerce businesses.
“We’ve built our own software solution called MultiMerch Marketplace that makes starting a multi-vendor platform easier and offers all the crucial features a marketplace needs, such as the vendor system, product and inventory management, marketplace payments and order processing… and a lot more. While marketplaces are still pretty complex, MultiMerch makes it easier to start one than building it completely from scratch.
In addition to offering software, we also partner with great companies in the industry to offer our clients all the services their new marketplace platform may require – from implementation and maintenance to marketing, advertising and other things.
We work with a few different types of clients here at MultiMerch. The most common ones are regular ecommerce companies pivoting or expanding into marketplaces and non-ecommerce entrepreneurs and businesses trying out new business development opportunities.
For regular ecommerce businesses, there are quite a few benefits of adopting a marketplace model. First, it allows you to expand your business without the downside of having to scale your own inventory and logistics operations. Getting new vendors on board won’t require nearly as much effort as expanding your own catalog as long as you offer them a convenient toolset to manage their own operations. Second, as a marketplace, you get the added benefit of the network effect – which is great not just for growth, but also for increasing user loyalty and creating a sense of community.
For non-ecommerce businesses, marketplace platforms provide a quick way to explore ecommerce without building out the regular in-house ecommerce operations from scratch. And you don’t have to be in a specific industry to give marketplaces a try. While we mostly focus on product marketplaces, we’ve seen many more opportunities in all kinds of industries – from products and services to software, entertainment, experiences and pretty much anything else you can imagine.
Most of my friends and family think I build websites and online stores. This is true to some extent, but two-sided marketplaces are also quite a bit different from – and more difficult than – your regular online store. Entrepreneurs often underestimate the effort it takes to run a successful marketplace platform and I’ve seen quite a few of them fail over the years here at MultiMerch. This has prompted me to start our marketplace blog, so I guess it also makes me a writer now. At least my grandma thinks so. (She also thinks I should get a regular job instead).
My typical day is a bit of a mess – I guess it’s more or less true for every entrepreneur out there. Back in my freelancing days, I had no schedule whatsoever, loved working at night. A random schedule isn’t really an option when you’re running a business, though.
As a founder, I’m wearing a dozen different hats and doing a lot of things at once – from managing our product development process and providing support to our clients (a really personal support is one of the things I’m especially proud of) to creating and promoting content, planning and executing marketing campaigns, managing the sales process, looking for new business opportunities and everything else it takes to run and grow the business. At least I’m not in charge of the actual development anymore – we have a kick-ass technical team doing a much better job.
What inspires me the most is seeing opportunities and tackling new challenges every day. Running a marketplace software company isn’t easy (no business is easy), but being a founder allows you to work on a lot of different things on a daily basis, and grow both as an entrepreneur and as a person. Not sure if I could go back to being a software engineer anymore.
And since we mostly work with small to medium businesses and individual entrepreneurs here at MultiMerch, I’m always surrounded by like-minded people who are going through something similar – trying out new ideas, launching new ventures and growing their businesses. I’ve seen people from so many different industries and ways of life – we work with digital and software businesses, music platforms, artisans and craftsmen, clothing and fashion entrepreneurs, you name it. From all over the world! That is just so cool.
Marketplaces and market networks have absolutely changed the way business works in so many industries over the past decade, but there’s still a lot ahead for marketplaces. For one, there are still industries out there that are ripe for disruption. And then, the execution matters too, not just the idea. The world needs not just more marketplace businesses, but better, more ethical, more human marketplace businesses.
I’m a big fan of great user experience and I think software should make peoples’ lives better all across the board, not just for the few select ones in charge. I recently published a LinkedIn post about how selling online was a challenge before the new platforms like Etsy, Shopify and others came along. Not only they disrupted the open source shopping cart ecosystem, but also proved to be a great boon for the individual ecommerce entrepreneurs and small businesses around the world by making it easier to do business online.
That’s what marketplace entrepreneurs should keep in mind when launching new marketplace platforms. Making more money for yourself is great, but making a difference for the world in the grand scheme of things. That’s what I’m excited about.”