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- Why Multi-Vendors?
- Getting Started
- Create a new MicroStore(Vendor)
- Active Catalog
- Navigate Between Vendors
- Conditional Merges for Product Display
- Tips, Do's and Won'ts
Our MicroStores grant store owners the ability to create a multi-vendor marketplace for many types of products or just your niche category. They will also enable companies or people to sell their products, services, and rental items in a single website with individual profiles and storefronts. In this article, we will take you step by step to provide you with the knowledge you will need to confidently and efficiently set up your Multi-Vendor website.
This article contains microstore related settings, but not all of them are recommended for multi-vendor use and are notated accordingly.
A Multi-Vendor marketplace allows the Site/Store owner to consolidate various sellers in one location. Each vendor you add to your storefront will have its own unique place to sell their products.
- MicroStores are an included feature. There are no additional costs, no matter the quantity.
- Do not need your own products
- Increase Sales
- Reports can be customized to show orders, sales, and much more per vendor store.
- Advertising codes and affiliate codes are also segmented so your vendors can get a clear picture of which marketing methods are working more than others.
- Each vendor is considered its own online store so the admin can apply specific discount rules for only that vendor's catalog.
- Unique shipping methods and rates as each vendor may have their own ship from address or warehouse.
- Navigate to Settings > MicroStores
- MicroStore Required: When this option is enabled, it will require a customer to select a MicroStore before shopping.
- Selection Required Message: The input here will be displayed to a customer if they attempt to view a catalog page without first selecting a MicroStore.
- Only Display MicroStores of Child Customers After Login: ......
Create a New MicroStore (Vendor)
- Select MicroStore List > New to create a new MicroStore.
- A new overlay will appear with the following settings:
- Store name: This is the full name of the micro store.
- Short name: This is a shorter descriptive name of the micro store
- Logo: This is a URL to the Logo of this Micro Store.
- Require Password: Upon arriving at the MicroStore the customer is prompted for a password. Once they have entered the password that you have assigned they will be able to view the MicroStore as normal. This is a "one password" authentication scheme, there are not multiple passwords if you use this mechanism. You can still have customer accounts and such with their own passwords though. This feature simply lets them into the site.
- Path: Allows you to create a URL rewrite for the specific MicroStore. Please note that this must start with a forward slash. Example: /MyNewMicroStore
- Address: Enter the mailing address of your MicroStore
- Default Shipping Country: Select the default shipping country for your MicroStore. This is required. If a selection is not made, an error will occur.
- Set Cookie: Allows the site owner to force a customer to always return to a specific MicroStore by dropping a cookie on their machine, which contains information that identifies the current MicroStore. Upon returning to the site the system will check the users computer to see if the cookie exists, if so, their session will be updated with the appropriate store information. (not recommended for multi-vendor use)
- Require Login to View Store: When enabled the visiting customer must first login before being allowed to view any page available through the site.
- Cookie Expiration: Set, in days, how long the cookie should remain on the visiting user's computer. (not recommended for multi-vendor use)
- Activation date: The date and time at which the Micro Store will become accessible. Incoming visitors will no longer be redirected to the MicroStore Inactive URL if they had been before this point.
- Expiration date: The date and time at which the Micro Store will no longer be accessible and start redirecting any incoming visitors to the Micro Store Inactive URL if one is supplied
- Inactive URL: This is the URL the visitor will be redirected to if they navigate to this Micro Store before the activation date or after the expiration date.
- Enable Customer Address Book: This setting allows you to turn on / off the address book functionality for customer checkout. With this disabled, the customers will be prompted for an address in the multi-step checkout each time they check out, rather than displaying a list of previously used addresses to choose from.
- Saved Payment Methods: This setting allows the customer to be able to select any previously saved/used credit card method during checkout.If disabled, no previously used credit card information will be displayed to the customer.
- Load Previous Cart: If enabled, the customer's previous cart will be loaded when they log in.
- Login with username: Enabling this setting will allow your customers to login by supplying a username, rather than the default email address sign-in.
- Primary Colors: This is the primary color of the micro stores’ theme. Can be used with the merge code: ##MSCOLOR1##
- Secondary Colors: This is the secondary color of the micro stores’ theme. Can be used with the merge code ##MSCOLOR2##
- MicroStore Custom Field: Each Micro Store Custom field can be displayed on a Micro Store using its corresponding merge code.
The active catalog is used to restrict which categories/products show up inside your vendors. It can be extremely helpful when setting up a Multi-vendor store to help keep your products displaying under the correct vendor. The active catalog can also be used to restrict test products and categories from displaying.
Now that you have created a MicroStore(vendor), it is time to select which products will be available for that vendor. To do this, you will need to set your active catalog for that vendor. Simply put, an active catalog determines which categories are active for each specific store. The path for the active catalog is Settings > Catalog > Active Catalog.
Please note that, if you place multiple vendor's products into the same category, you cannot restrict these products by the active catalog to a particular vendor's MicroStore.
Also, for clarity and simplicity, you may want to name your categories after your particular vendors.
Navigate Between Vendors
- Select edit to locate these settings:
By default, your MicroStore navigation widget will say "Micro Store:" above the drop-down. If you wish to remove this, like the photo above, simply hit the space-bar in the "Header Text" area of the MicroStore Widget.
You also have the ability to modify/ change the MicroStore navigation colors:
Conditional Merges for Product Display
With Conditional Merge Codes you have the option of how and which products are displayed on your MicroStores Homepage.
Navigate to Themes > Edit Theme > Pages > MicroStore Home Page
You will first need to set up a Product Display widget for each of your differing vendors and make sure to "Enable Merge Code."
You will then Need to create a Custom HTML Widget and supply it with the Conditional Merge Codes and the Merge Codes of the Product Display Widgets you have created.
This will make the correct product display appear for a specific store.
Tips, Do's and Won'ts
- Default theme layouts do not support MicroStore specific information. If you want to modify the theme to display MicroStore specific information click here to read about MicroStore merge codes and conditional merge codes. ( Note: Theme modification / repair is not covered by free technical support, for detail on what is covered under technical support click here)
- When using MicroStores, it affects the browsers cookies. When a customer goes to a MicroStore, it attaches a cookie into their system that brings the customer back to the MicroStore whenever they visit the website again. (depending on "Set Cookie" setting mentioned above - not recommended for multi-vendor use)
- If you have a specific user that you only want to view a specific store, you will need to set it up so that this user will not be able to view all stores. You can make this change by navigating to Settings>Security>Users>Edit User>Scroll to the bottom and uncheck the "User can access all stores" box and save. (This is for Admin users)
- If "User can access all stores" is not checked, users will be restricted to only viewing Reports, and viewing/adding/editing Customers and Orders while in the admin console. All other admin menu options are removed. Also, only customers and orders belonging to the stores specified can be viewed, added, or edited.
- If you have a specific customer that you want to ONLY view a certain store or MicroStore, you will need to navigate to Customers>Edit>Sources and change the setting under the "Store" drop-down. You can also turn on "restrict login to assigned site" setting found in Settings > Security (not recommended for multi-vendor use)
- If you want to use a menu, you will need to set the links up via an external link with the microstore URL. You cannot link directly to the category if using active catalog restrictions.
What a MicroStore will do:
- One main domain, and the MicroStore has it's own extension. You can give your customers the option to choose which store they would like to see through a drop-down menu. Or you can redirect the customer on login. (Redirect not recommended for multi-vendor use)
- Uses the same theme and settings as the primary site. It uses the same checkout process and all the theme based settings.
- Can override some theme settings on the MicroStore level. Options such as link colors, background colors, specific MicroStore logos.
- The MicroStores show up in the store drop-down selection throughout the admin console. There are multiple settings available on a per store level that are available on a MicroStore.
- Allows for unique product catalogs and pricing levels between MicroStores. (If they're sharing products, not typical for multi-vendor use)
What a MicroStore won't do:
- Some store specific overrides for shipping and custom payment methods, etc. are currently lost.
- Are not typically as good for Search Engine optimization of the individual MicroStores.
- Have its own theme. Each MicroStore is limited to the level of customization you can have for it, as it is an extension of your store as a whole.
Multi-Store use for Multi-Vendor
AmeriCommerce also offers Multi-stores which have some additional flexibility and functionality. They are an additional $39 per store and can be used if you want to allow your vendors to have their own domain and theme.
The primary difference between a microstore and a multiple storefront is that a multiple storefront:
- Is its own complete website (i.e. www.yourname.com or subsite.yourname.com)
- It can have its own products.
- You can have multiple under one admin console (domain1.com, domain2.com, domain3.net, sub.domain4.com.au, etc)
- It has its own folder structure and FTP accounts if necessary. This is good for management and permissions.
- It has all the site specific settings in the administration panel. Store based overrides are still available, i.e. the Stores menu in the admin.
- It can have its own completely different theme
- It is the most powerful way to differentiate between sites. They are different sites that share the same backend database of customers, products and settings.