Designing a Multi Vendor eCommerce Platform
With the recent launch of ShopMuse, your one-stop shop for museum merchandise, the team reflected on what it took to successfully design one of Local Wisdom’s latest ecommerce projects. The following were some key takeaways throughout discovery and implementation:
1. Understand the vendor and its audience. This may go without saying, but it was especially important in the success of ShopMuse, since the platform caters to multiple museums across the country that run differently from one another.
2. Focus and draw attention to the products. Using the mall analogy, all stores operate differently (like museums) and stores follow standard guidelines about how to display their products. Often times, consumers are shopping for the “product,” not necessarily the store. In either case, it is imperative that each product is held to the same standard from a presentation perspective.
3. Create a category system. An ecommerce site can be saturated with items, hence the importance of splitting products into categories, such as books, posters, media, artifacts, etc. In doing so, you are laying the groundwork for museums to organize their products more efficiently and ultimately providing a better experience for the user.
4. Consider the layers of management. Sometimes it feels like more questions than answers are popping up when going through the managing process of a new website. For ShopMuse, the following questions needed to be considered for a site of its kind: Who oversees shipping? Who is given administrative access to update museum information and add products? How do we unify each museum’s guidelines under one umbrella since they have varying guidelines regarding sales? The deeper you dig, the more prepared you will be when designing a multi-vendor platform.
5. Do multiple iterations. A lot of it came down to balancing the need of giving museums, equal visibility and simultaneously catering to shoppers. For example, the first iteration Local Wisdom did was filtered by museum, but this was a discouraging feature for the user because sometimes the user does not know which museum to pinpoint when browsing for a product. Thus, in the second iteration, each museum had its own landing page; however, as the user, the first thing you now filter through are the product types.
6. Hold fast to the ecommerce brand. Shopping through multiple museums simultaneously, you want to make sure the user feels like they are not shopping from an outlet of many places but rather just one married ShopMuse brand and platform.