Sharetribe vs. the CS-Cart Multi-Vendor script

Review & Comparison 2018
Hello!

Probably, I salute a person who is eager to open a marketplace on Sharetribe software, or a person who's already decided to go with Multi-Vendor software.

However, after browsing the Internet for finding some relevant information, you have reached the CS-Cart Multi-Vendor site. You might ask yourself: Why am I here?
Don't jump to conclusions
I promise you, it will be the most relevant information you need for launching your online business right now. Your obedient servant has made a rigorous research concerning both ecommerce software - Multi-Vendor and Sharetribe - to save your time when choosing the suitable marketplace software for your project studying advertising copies with no references to functionalities.

So enjoy the ride!
Please find the main categories of my review below, so that the structure of my comparison will be clear for you:
Multi-Vendor vs Sharetribe
As official websites of two platforms say, Multi-Vendor and Sharetribe are eCommerce platforms for creating a virtual marketplace where vendors can sell their products from one common storefront.

It would be narrow-minded to suggest using the only one e-commerce solution for any type of a business. In one case, SaaS solutions perfectly suit a business model, in another one licensed shopping carts are the only way out. Nevertheless, every type of these eCommerce shopping carts is happened to be. I suggest taking a closer look at each of them.
1. Core Difference
The core difference between Multi-Vendor and Sharetribe is in the type of solutions.

Multi-Vendor is a licensed online marketplace platform (with one-time payment), while Sharetribe is a hosted solution (with monthly or semiannually payment), however, it also has the open source version. Differences between the hosted and open source versions of Sharetribe you can find in the article:

https://help.sharetribe.com/subscriptions/answers/differences-between-the-hosted-and-open-source-versions-of-sharetribe

Both types of solutions have their own pros and cons.

For instance, hosted solutions have no installation and upgrade issues, your web marketplace will be hosted by the software developer (in our case, by a Sharetribe team). However, it is a benefit and consideration at the same time, because you can forget about any source code modifications. Besides, monthly or semiannually based payment for your platform might be expensive for long-term projects.

For example, a Pro Plan for Sharetribe solution (the simplest plan) suggests fees as $119 per month. So just 1 year of using Pro Plan Sharetribe costs $1,428 almost like the lifetime Multi-Vendor license that costs $1,450. At the end of the article, I will talk in more details about the costs of launching, maintaining and expanding business on both e-commerce platforms.

At this rate, I can conclude, that hosted solutions are more suitable for temporary projects or web-stores with a minimal standard set of features. In other words, if you stop paying, you will lose your Internet shop. Simple as that.

Speaking about licensed shopping carts, there are plenty of advantages. Any licensed multi vendor ecommerce systems are very customizable due to the open access the source code. The last one pushes back the limits of possibilities of your online marketplace. You or any third-party developer can make any modifications in your project.

Moreover, as a rule, the code is clearer than in free open source solutions and web store plugins meaning the high-security level of software. But for all that, launching expenses are higher than for hosted solutions.

It is important to note that with a licensed solution you will be the owner of your business as against the hosted one where you just 'rent' your site.
2. Geographic Reach
The most important part of any eCommerce company is its history and a global reach. A foundation year of both marketplace software allows me to call Multi-Vendor and Sharetribe siblings if you please because they both were founded around the same time.

Multi-Vendor
was released in 2005 with more than 1,300 live marketplaces at this time, while Sharetribe - in 2008 with closer to 2,000* as claims technical support team of Sharetribe. Global reach covers the entire world in both solutions.

*more details can be found in Success Stories section of my review.
3. Programing Language
To please all audience reading this review, there will be a small insertion for programmers concerning the programming language of software. A programming language is a special language that programmers use to develop software programs, scripts, or other sets of instructions for computers to execute.

If you finished the Department of Humanities and do not understand anything in programming, go down 4 lines and continue reading the review.

Multi-Vendor scripting is PHP + JS + Smarty/Twig. The database is MySQL, soon it will be PostgreSQL.

Sharetribe has mainly been built on Ruby. However, for the custom script, the languages that can be used are HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Ruby and PHP are two of today's main and widely used languages for web-development. So, using one of them depends on clients' priorities and features that they need. Ruby is a powerful language with an excellent web framework in Rails. But it is difficult to learn and needs a higher level of technical skill, so good Ruby on Rails developers are harder to find and will, therefore, ask for higher compensation.

PHP is easier to learn and in much more widely used, though it is not as powerful as Ruby. And PHP is also custom-built for web development.

As claims Web Technology Surveys official site, PHP is used by 83.2% of all the websites whose server-side programming language we know. More's the pity, Ruby is used only 0.5% of all the websites.
php multi vendor script
Please refer to the link for more details:
https://w3techs.com/technologies/overview/programming_language/all

What does it mean? It means, that any modifications you are eager to have at your web project with the Ruby programing language are fraught with a large budget from your side. Plus, it will be more difficult for you to find a programmer with specific technical skills at Ruby area.

4. Success Stories
As I have mentioned before, Multi-Vendor and Sharetribe have a wide range of live marketplaces at this time (let me note them again, Multi-Vendor - 1,300; Sharetribe - 2,000). Thus, it is logical to assume that having a large marketplaces base means having a dedicated Success Stories webpage on the official site.

Studying of all cases of both online marketplace platforms will take a very long time, so I decided to turn to the success stories pages of two websites to look at some of them.

Sharetribe presents 3 successful cases of marketplaces based on their software. Actually, these are the only examples of marketplaces on the official Sharetribe site, for that matter. The logic chain is quite clear. There are 3 types of marketplaces that you can create with Sharetribe software:

- product marketplace
- rental marketplace
- service marketplace

and each type has one example of success stories. However, it is a little bit weird that a company that claims having near to 2,000 live marketplaces have only 3 examples of multi vendor marketplaces on the official site of software.
global online marketplace platform
I would like to point out the Studiotime marketplace. This is the largest online community to rent music studio. You can search for genre and filter by location and other features:
best multi store ecommerce platform
Please refer to the link to see all Success Stories of Sharetribe:

https://www.sharetribe.com/stories.html

Also, I would like to point out that none of Success Stories marketplaces of Sharetribe aren't recognized in the official web technology information profiler tool BuiltWith:

https://builtwith.com/?https%3a%2f%2fwww.thequiver.com%2f

Speaking about Multi-Vendor, recently CS-Cart team has started to gather examples of their marketplaces and currently there are 36 successful examples at Success Stories webpage on the official site.

Besides, there are video-reviews from their customers which are dedicated another web page of the official site of Multi-Vendor. The owners of stores based on CS-Cart & Multi-Vendor talk about the pros and cons of using the e commerce marketplace platform:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwNSdQKT4bWe0_bFG3I0DEVahVs2RqRlt

The most famous is the Indian marketplace ShopClues that has more than 53 000 000 products and thousands of vendors.
multi vendor marketplace
On top of all of this, you can get the personal list of Internet marketplaces based on Multi-Vendor filling out the following form.
top marketplace websites
Please refer to the link to see all Success Stories of Multi-Vendor:
https://www.cs-cart.com/multi-vendor-success-stories.html
5. Expansion Capacity
When launching an online business, it is always a 50% chance of a success. However, once you have reached the point when it's time to add uniqueness to your project, you definitely need customization. What does each multi vendor ecommerce system offer in this case?

Multi-Vendor has an access to the open source code, it means that you or any third company can make any modifications that your project requires. It is quite convenient, especially if you have a technical person on your team.

As Sharetribe is a hosted solution, you can not access to the open source code. However, developers of software offer customization services for your marketplace for the additional charge, $99 per month. By signing up, you will commit to at least a 6-month term, paid up front, totaling $594.

Speaking about open source version, there is no technical support and you need to maintain all settings by yourself.

It means that for your monthly fees for leading your web marketplace you need to pay the extra charge for unique design or features.

Also, I would like to point out the scalability of both software solutions. Nowadays, opening an online store or a marketplace has become a sort of mainstream. A regular merchant or a long-way company with a high popularity launch their business for getting profit. So the question is in scalability of both software.

Multi-Vendor claims that its feature set fits into businesses of any size, from a small single-category marketplace with a few vendors to a full-featured online shopping mall with thousands of vendor. The platform suits every size.

Sharetribe has different plans for a particular size of business:

- Hobby (up to 100 users)
- Pro (up to 1,000 users)
- Growth (up to 10,000 users)
- Scale (up to 100,000 users)

Who counts as a user? Each active user in your online shopping mall is counted as a user. They can be sellers or buyers. An active user is a person that has registered to your marketplace, accepted the terms of use and confirmed their email address.

If you ban a user they stop counting as an active user. If you get to the point where you reach more than 100,000 users, you would need to subscribe to a plan that would allow you additional users.

To sum it up, If you want to launch a small business, probably you do not need a wide range of functionality that costs a lot in Multi-Vendor, so you are likely to go with a hobby plan Sharetribe.

However, if you plan to have a large worldwide business, you will definitely need to go with Multi-Vendor because this ecommerce application does not have a limit of users like Sharetribe does.
6. High-Speed Response

Having a large online business with thousands of products requires a good speed response. As an example, I have taken 3 marketplaces from both software and check them on Google Page Speed.

Multi-Vendor

1) Home of Artisans - 79 / 100
https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fhomeofartisans.com%2F&tab=desktop

2) Eterniti - 74 / 100
https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/?hl=ru&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.eterniti.co.za%2F&tab=desktop

3) For the Man I Love - 74 / 100
https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.forthemanilove.com%2F&tab=desktop

Sharetribe
1) The Quiver - 61 / 100
https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.thequiver.com%2F&tab=desktop

2) Studiotime - 19 / 100
https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.studiotime.io%2F&tab=desktop

3) Haatori - 45 / 100
https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.haatori.fi%2F&tab=desktop

There is no particular tool that Sharetribe provides to measure or optimize the speed of a marketplace. The servers are currently based in the US, but Sharetribe uses global CDN for all static assets (images, styles, scripts, etc.), so global response times stay as low as possible. Requests that go directly to servers, naturally, have a bit higher latency, but those should be within reasonable range. Sharetribe has customers from all over the globe and actively monitor the performance of a site.

Multi-Vendor uses a lot of tools to optimize page speed. In particular:

1) Gzip for HTML, CSS, JS
2) Lazy Image Loading
3) Deferred Script Loading
4) Built-In Cache
5) xCache, Redis, APCu
6) OpCache

7. Installation Process

Before we move on to the most important part of our review, I suggest starting with the online marketplace platform installation process. Installation is the very first step to launch your marketplace because it means the practical use of a system that would bring you much profit. If you could manage to install software, the sky is the limit.

Sharetribe

As I have described in the first part of my review, hosted solutions are free of any installation issues. All you need to do is fill in the form and enjoy marketplace that developers will place for you.

To start a Sharetribe marketplace you need to follow step-by-step guide that can be found below:

Step#1 - You need to enter your email
multi shop software download
Step#2 - You need to set your country and a language
multi shop software download
Step#3 - You need to enter your First and Last names
how to start a marketplace website
Step#4 - You need to set up the password for your multi vendor marketplace
how to make a multi vendor website
Step#5 - You need to choose a type of your web marketplace and write down the name for it
how to start an online marketplace website
Presto! It takes approximately 3 minutes to get your own marketplace.
shopping mall management software
After all steps are done, you just need to confirm your personality through the email you use at the first step of the installation process.

What is more, please take note of informational letters, advice, and articles that comes right after installation.
Multi-Vendor
As Multi-Vendor is a standalone licensed shopping cart, it is needed to be installed on a hosting that meets CS-Cart Multi-Vendor system requirements:
https://docs.cs-cart.com/4.7.x/install/system_requirements.html

There are a lot of useful documentation and video-tutorials that help to install Multi-Vendor:
https://docs.cs-cart.com/4.7.x/install/index.html
https://www.cs-cart.com/cs-cart-video-tutorials.html#14

So let's start then. Let us hypothesize, that we have already registered a hosting and we are ready to start installing Multi-Vendor.

To put it in crude terms, there are only 3 steps of installing Multi-Vendor. All you need is:

- File manager area
- MySQL Database area
- Domain name
manage web store
Step#1 - You need to upload the Multi-Vendor installation package at the File Manager area and extract it
how to create a marketplace site
how to build a multi vendor ecommerce website
Step#2 - You need to create MySQL Database and MySQL User
how to start multi vendor ecommerce website
create multi vendor mall
Do not forget to Add User To Database
create an online shopping mall
Step#3 - You need to go to your domain and press Install button to install Multi-Vendor
licensed marketplace software
how to build an online marketplace
To sum it up, it should come as no surprise that hosted solutions are easier to install when in turn to standalone licensed software requires more time and patience to get it done.

However, kindly note that CS-Cart team offer Multi-Vendor installations services for free of charge, so it will be even easier for you to have Multi-Vendor on your hosting than to fill in the form.

8. Core Functionalities

Here we are. The most eagerly awaited part of the "Multi-Vendor vs Sharetribe review". All jokes aside, this is the most valuable part that every entrepreneur needs to study up on before making any decision for running one or another software. We are going to discuss core functionalities of both online marketplace platforms.

We are not going to consider all the functionalities of both multi vendor ecommerce systems, because it will take a very long time, and my review will be similar to the third volume of the novel, The Count of Monte Cristo. Therefore, we will review the key features of the platform for creating a marketplace.
Vendor Plans
Multi-Vendor
In Multi-Vendor, Vendor Plans is subscription plans for online vendors with different conditions and limitations to get transaction commissions and fees for the membership.
Apart from commissions, Multi-Vendor allows you to take a monthly fee from vendors for selling in your virtual marketplace.With vendor plans, you can set for each vendor different plan. Commissions are pre-set for each plan, and a new vendor just picks the most suitable option.
Sharetribe
In Sharetribe it is possible to set transaction fees from sales only.
It is not possible to take a monthly or yearly fees for membership. Also, it is not possible to set different plans for different vendors.


Highlights: Vendor plans is a tool that helps you increase your revenue. In Multi-Vendor it is a quite flexible tool that allows you to set different conditions and commissions for your web vendors. In Sharetribe, there are no vendor plans at all, it is not possible to set different transaction fees for different sellers categories or order types, unfortunately.
Vendor Payout System
Multi-Vendor

In Multi-Vendor, you can use automatic or manual vendor payouts.
Automatic payouts are carried out via a built-in "PayPal Adaptive payments" functionality or "Stripe Connect" one.
PayPal Adaptive and Stripe Connect distribute the payment between vendors and send commissions to your account automatically.
And if you need to make a manual payment, you can use the vendor accounting feature to record each payout.

All payment go to the admin of a marketplace first.

Multi-Vendor is integrated with more than 50 payment gateways including PayPal, Amazon Payments, Atos, WorldPay, Pay4Later, HSBC and 45 more:
https://www.cs-cart.com/features-payments-and-shipments.html

So you choose payment methods for your customers and they pay. You can also set a bank wire payment method or cash on delivery. It depends on you, actually.

Sharetribe

In Sharetribe there are 2 options for payment at your marketplace - PayPal or Stripe. Enabling one or both of these lets you have online transactions on your marketplace. There are no manual vendor payouts. Commissions are distributed among vendors automatically only.
After a payment with PayPal, money is transferred immediately to providers.
The seller receives the payment for their good or service as soon as they accept the purchase or booking request.
With Stripe as the payment provider, the payout to sellers can be held for up to 90 days or until buyers marks transactions as completed. Stripe will hold the money and take care of the payout. You, as the marketplace administrator, don't hold the money. This means you are not legally liable for it.

Highlights: Payments arrangement is the most important part of every online marketplace business because automate payouts to vendors can save 90% of your time. You as an admin of your virtual shopping mall will have to deal with commissions of payments between vendors every day.

In Sharetribe there are only automatic vendor payouts where all money are distributed between vendors. In Multi-Vendor all payment is collected by the admin first, after that there is a distribution commission between vendors using either manual payout system or the automatic one.
Multiple Levels of Administrative Access
Multi-Vendor

The Multi-Vendor platform allows registering employees and sets different levels of access to the admin panel.

For instance, your web designer can work on the look-and-feel of the marketplace while sales guys add products and process orders.

Sharetribe

There are no multiple levels of administrative access in Sharetribe.
Highlights: Managing a large-scale marketplace is much easier when you can delegate certain duties to your staff members. It is very convenient for you as an admin of an online shopping center to take care of fundamental things while your employees take up the duties. In Multi-Vendor you can delegate the access between your team. Sharetribe does not have this very feature.
Advanced Order Management System
Multi-Vendor

What does Multi-Vendor offer you in terms of statistics? Multi-Vendor is integrated with Google Analytics. This service generates detailed statistics about your website visitors. It gives you rich insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness.
Another built-in analysis tool is called "Sales reports". It gives you detailed statistics on the sales in your marketplace. Statistics may be represented in a form of graphical or tabular charts. For convenience, charts are grouped into separate reports.

Sharetribe

For statistics, Sharetribe also offers Google Analytics.

You'll be able to browse and analyze lots of data: number of visitors, pages viewed, time spent on your marketplace, traffic sources, etc.

Using Google Analytics, you can track what keywords people search for in your marketplace. This can be useful to learn more about the behavior of your users and to see if there is demand for something that your virtual shopping center doesn't offer.

Highlights: Gathering traffic information on who visits your web marketplace and how they browse it is key to grow your project. Google analytics is used in both software for analysis. It's absolutely free.
However, in Multi-Vendor, Sales reports are offered either.
Detailed Statistics and Reports
Multi-Vendor

In Multi-Vendor, customers don't need to place multiple orders to buy goods from several vendors. They place only one order and make a single payment in this case.

From the admin panel side, 2 separate orders are created, and each vendor can see an order that contains only his or her products.

Sharetribe

In Sharetribe there are 2 options for payment at your marketplace - PayPal or Stripe. Enabling one or both of these lets you have online transactions on your marketplace. There are no manual vendor payouts. Commissions are distributed among vendors automatically only.
After a payment with PayPal, money is transferred immediately to providers.
The seller receives the payment for their good or service as soon as they accept the purchase or booking request.
With Stripe as the payment provider, the payout to sellers can be held for up to 90 days or until buyers marks transactions as completed. Stripe will hold the money and take care of the payout. You, as the marketplace administrator, don't hold the money. This means you are not legally liable for it.

Highlights: Payments arrangement is the most important part of every online marketplace business because automate payouts to vendors can save 90% of your time. You as an admin of your virtual shopping mall will have to deal with commissions of payments between vendors every day.

In Sharetribe there are only automatic vendor payouts where all money are distributed between vendors. In Multi-Vendor all payment is collected by the admin first, after that there is a distribution commission between vendors using either manual payout system or the automatic one.
Separate Vendor Panel and Mini Store for Every Vendor
Multi-Vendor

Multi-Vendor has 2 panels of administration - Admin panel (for the store owner) and Vendor panel (for your online vendors).
The Admin Panel is your primary tool to work with your online store. Here you can manage products and orders, offer discounts, interact with your customers, change the look of your store and do much more.
In a Vendor panel, your vendors can upload their goods, set shipping methods, view orders and etc. However, they will have limited rights.
In Multi-Vendor eCommerce software, vendors can have a micro-store right inside your marketplace. The micro store URL contains the vendor company name. Vendors can share it to attract customers to your shopping mall. It can be promoted as a separate store per se.

Sharetribe

In Sharetribe, your vendors will have a user profile the same as the admin does. There they can add a description (company history) an image and also a display name from their settings. Any listings they have and reviews will also show there.
Highlights: Multi-Vendor offers separate panels of administration for each vendor, meanwhile in Sharetribe all vendors will have the same panel as you do.
Built-In Translations
Multi-Vendor

Multi-Vendor includes 26 translations out of the box.
It is not a machine-based but a community-driven translation made by native speakers. Language variables are translated for all sections: storefront, admin, and vendor panels.

Sharetribe

You can use as many as you wish but for every language, you need to put a translation for all the different settings and fields you create.
Highlights: The international trade brings you more money for your business. Attract vendors from different countries. In both online marketplace platforms, you are not bound by language limitations. The difference is in translations. Multi-Vendor has 26 translations. Sharetribe also allows you to add as many languages as you need, however, the translation is needed to be completed by yourself.
Real-time and Manual Shipping Calculations
Multi-Vendor

Multi-Vendor uses 8 world-famous shipping methods for real-time shipping calculations. No need to search for add-ons or make an integration.

Apart from real-time shipping calculations, vendors can set their own manual shipping methods. The e-commerce system is quite flexible: shipping charges can depend on customer's location, total order cost, weight, and even the number of items in the order.

Sharetribe

In Sharetribe, two kinds of shipping can be applied to listings: delivery and pickup. The seller can choose the allowed delivery options: shipping, pickup, or both.

The shipping address is collected automatically from the buyer when he makes the payment.
Highlights: Delivering products to your customers quickly and safely is on you and your vendors. Multi-Vendor provides the most world-famous shipping methods that guarantee the security of the order shipping of your customers. In its turn, Sharetribe is not integrated with any shipping real-time method by default.
Comments and Reviews
Multi-Vendor

Multi-Vendor offers the feedback and review system with an interactive star rating. Customers can comment and rate vendors, products, categories, and orders.

Comments and reviews in Multi-Vendor are moderated by the store administrator, not vendors.

Sharetribe

Sharetribe offers user reviews and ratings.
Reviews are enabled for all marketplaces. Users are prompted to rate and review the other party automatically after each paid transaction. It is currently not possible to disable reviews and ratings.
After a transaction is completed, both buyer and seller can review each other.

Highlights: Reviews are crucial for any business that cares about its reputation. Customer reviews help vendors get fair credit and earn good image in customers' opinion. Reviews influence vendors' and thus your income directly. So both multi vendor ecommerce systems have this very feature in its marketplace.
Bulk Import/Export
Multi-Vendor

Multi-Vendor has an Import/Export feature that allows your vendors make bulk import/export products in CSV file.

Using it they can upload thousands of products, customers, orders, suppliers, and so on within 5 minutes.

Sharetribe

Sharetribe does not offer a bulk import and export at the marketplace.
Highlights: When you have more than thousand vendors who, in their turns, have more than thousands of products, it will be difficult for them to upload all products one by one. So, in this case, Multi-Vendor offers you a bulk import/export.
Loyalty program for customers
Multi-Vendor

For increasing a loyalty of customers, Multi-Vendor has a lot of marketing tools to create various discounts, promotions, provide your customers with reward points, gift certificates and other bonuses that vendors can offer to your customers.
It encourages your customers to buy and buy again in your marketplace.

Sharetribe

There is no any loyalty system for customers in Sharetribe.
There were just the key modules that are required for any successful launch of a virtual marketplace. As you can see, Sharetribe is a lack of functionalities and lose a great deal of 'money playing poker'.

Multi-Vendor boasts rich and powerful tools not only for setting up a marketplace, but also for maintaining a customer loyalty, making a design for each web page of your site, and promoting on Internet search engines (SEO-tools).

9. SEO-tools

SEO is a common acronym for Search Engine Optimization. It is obvious, that SEO aims at helping you optimize your online store for search engines and improve its ranking.

Multi-Vendor has powerful SEO tools (semantic and canonical URLs, 301 redirects, sitemap, built-in blog, Google-rich snippets, page meta information editing etc) that will raise indexation of an online store. As a result, you will raise your income twice or multiple times in a quiet short period of time.

The CS-Cart open source multi vendor script has a lot of video-tutorials and documentation regarding SEO:
https://www.cs-cart.com/cs-cart-video-tutorials.html#6
https://docs.cs-cart.com/4.7.x/user_guide/addons/seo/index.html

The developers of Sharetribe deal with SEO best practices in mind and everything is ready for search engines to index an online store content. However, it can take weeks for search engines to rank your website though and you should first get incoming links from other websites to help Google and others learn about your marketplace.

The official Sharetribe site offers you the article "How to optimize your marketplace for search engines (SEO)":
https://help.sharetribe.com/managing-your-marketplace/marketing-and-growth/how-to-optimize-your-marketplace-for-search-engines-seo

10. Responsive Theme & Mobile App for Customers

While we're on the subject of optimization site, let's look at another 'cover' of marketplace - responsive design and mobile app for customers.

Both Multi-Vendor and Sharetribe have a built-in responsive theme that adapts any template to a user's device. It means that your customers could use any device they want to buy from your marketplace.

As confirmation of my words, I enquired with the official Google Search site to test the site's adaptability for mobile devices. Please look at the results of the optimization check of both software on two examples of multi vendor marketplaces from both platforms:

Yumbles (Multi-Vendor):
https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly?hl=ru&id=5RC5kWjIrYgVvB9jZREflw

The Quiver (Sharetribe):

https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly?hl=ru&id=120rSfnlw2XUL6x2qufSdg
To make sure by myself, I have selected two marketplaces from both software to check a responsive design using my cell phone.

The Quiver (Sharetribe):
Yumbles (Multi-Vendor):
Speaking about the mobile app, right now Sharetribe doesn't offer Apps.

Some of Sharetribe customers were able to build Apps on top of their Sharetribe marketplace with third-party services such as PhoneGap or GoNative.io. This can be done by wrapping Sharetribe's responsive mobile web layout inside a native app. It requires a bit of technical knowledge though.

At the moment Multi-Vendor native mobile app is being actively developed and will soon be tested.
There is some sneak peek screenshots from a future app that will give you an idea of how it will look like.

A product detailed page:

how to build an online marketplace
A vendor microstore:
how to build an online marketplace
A Wishlist:
how to build an online marketplace
A write a review page:
how to build an online marketplace
A list of vendors on the homepage:
how to build an online marketplace
Besides, if you would like to have a downloadable app for customers, right now there is a ready-to-use solution for Multi-Vendor developed by partners that can be purchased from a Marketplace:
http://marketplace.cs-cart.com/add-ons/integrations/multivendor-mobikul-mobile-app.html?sl=en

11. Design & Themes
Certainly, the look and feel of your virtual shopping mall mean a lot for grabbing clients' attention to your site. They will never feel the powerful platform for buying stuff unless their eyes don't see "Splendid!"

Using default Multi-Vendor styles you can customize the look of your marketplace the way you need for your project. Multi-Vendor has a built-in theme and 9 styles, there is also a Template editor and a Layout editor. The Multi-Vendor layout manager is a unique feature that allows creating individual layouts of a page by simple block adding.

It is possible to edit the layout of every page, including a vendor's mini-store. You can easily drag and move blocks around, create new blocks, banners, menus, etc. A layout of each page can be changed, a new one can be created and used as a template for later usage. Using this tool you can add graphics blocks that link to the desirable pages.

It will take no more than 3 minutes to add a new banner at your homepage, and you don't even need to play with code or call for a programmer with screams of horror "What am I going to do?!"

Besides, partner-developers of Multi-Vendor offer various themes at the Marketplace. All you need to do is just install a theme to your marketplace and thank you for listening!

You can see available themes on the Marketplace:
http://marketplace.cs-cart.com/themes.html

Please have a look at the unique design of marketplaces built with Multi-Vendor:
multi vendor website template
online marketplace template
shopping mall template
As for Sharetribe, you can also edit the look and feel of your multi vendor marketplace at your Admin Panel. However, it means uploading logo and cover photo only. Layout editor of customizing every web-page of your marketplace is out of the question. If you would like to have a unique design you need to place an order for customization. As I have already mentioned before at the Expansion capacity part of my review, it will cost you $594 ($99 per month, by signing up, you will commit to at least a 6-month term, paid up front).

Let's have a look at some examples of Sharetribe marketplaces (unfortunately, I have no choice but using mentioned marketplaces before, as there are only 3 examples a client can see at Sharetribe site):
online marketplace platform
open source multi vendor script
open source multi vendor script
To sum it up, I can conclude that Multi-Vendor has more options for reaching a unique design in your marketplace than Sharetribe does.
Multi-Vendor
Sharetribe
Simplest tools for design
Styles editor
Layout editor
Template editor
Additional themes on the Marketplace
12. Updates and Upgrades
Updates are a very important part of any technical product, especially the multi vendor ecommerce system for creating an online store. –°hange is all around us and only adapting to the latest market needs can bring you to the leading position.

A Sharetribe team updates their software regularly, but as the technical support team claims the top priority is to avoid any conflicts with existing features. You can see some of Sharetribe latest features here: https://www.sharetribe.com/updates.html

Speaking about Multi-Vendor, it is constantly developed and elaborated. CS-Cart team regularly releases software updates that offer a range of improvements addressing everything from security and performance through to search engine optimization enhancements. With updates, you get new features delivered to your store.

Developers team release minor changes approximately once in a month and major ones - 1 or 2 times in 3 months. Upgrade policy is available through the link: https://www.cs-cart.com/upgrade-policy.html

Besides, there is a version history at the Multi-Vendor documentation:
https://docs.cs-cart.com/4.7.x/history/index.html

and there is a branch of CS-Cart releases at the forum:
http://blog.cs-cart.com/category/cs-cart-releases/

13. Technical Support & Community
A community is a social unit who have something in common. Once you starting to launch an online business, you will definitely need some advice of more experienced entrepreneur or developers. It is always hard to start, but if you have like-minded persons at your team, you will handle it.

Multi-Vendor has Community Forums where developers and other users share their experience concerning their business. There is much useful information there
http://forum.cs-cart.com/

Besides once you purchase a Multi-Vendor license, you will get 90 free days of technical support. The technical support specialists will be glad to help you if you have any questions.

For more Technical Support Policy information please check the following page:
https://www.cs-cart.com/support-service.html

As for Sharetribe, a hosted solution is provided with a free technical support. The open source version does not suppose any technical support. To use the Open source version you will need strong knowledge in Ruby on rails. Furthermore, you'll need to find your own hosting service to install it. The community forum for the open source project might be helpful:
https://www.sharetribe.com/community/

14. Partners & Marketplace
Partners and the Marketplace also play a major role in the product development. Having partners around the world means that a multi vendor script becomes world-famous and international one. It covers more people, which means greater recognition. Besides, how can it be without development partners who upload their additional add-ons to the marketplace to make the customer experience more and more pleasant?

Multi-Vendor has more than 360 partners all over the world and the Marketplace where customers can find any feature they need for their projects.
marketplace website features
online marketplace development
https://marketplace.cs-cart.com/developers-catalog.html
Unfortunately, Sharetribe has neither a network of partners nor the Marketplace.
15. Tutorials
As you already know, the Multi-Vendor software has more than 500 features. All the features are logically arranged and easy to use, but it still can take your time to get to know them all by yourself.

That is why the CS-Cart team has collected the most important video tutorials related to the Multi-Vendor software solution. Developing Multi-Vendor, developers team made it so simple and user-friendly so you do not need any special skills to run your business. These short video tutorials will help you on every step from the very beginning:
marketplace support
16. Pricing

That is the whole story. Considering all the core differences in the functionality of both online marketplace platforms - Multi-Vendor and Sharetribe, the question arises in the pricing.

What is better? To save up the budget on start-up and constantly spend it to maintain a business or invest a large budget at the beginning of a business without future additional fees. Let's look at both platforms closer.

When buying a particular multi vendor ecommerce system, you should consider several points:

- cost of the platform
- startup costs
- maintenance costs

The pricing is more than clear. The cost for Multi-Vendor is 1,450 USD. It is a one-time payment. No monthly or yearly fees. The Multi-Vendor license is lifetime. It means that you purchase Multi-Vendor only once and can use it without any time limits.

This cost includes many necessary services. Let me list them:

- 90 days of free technical support
- 1 year of free updates for your marketplace
- an access to the tons of Ecommerce Articles about launching online stores and marketplaces
- an access to a CS-Cart forum where our developers and other users share their experience concerning their business. There's a lot of useful information there

Once you purchase a Multi-Vendor license, you will get 1 year of free updates. After the free period is over, you as a site owner will decide whether update your marketplace or not. Upgrades fees are not mandatory. The cost of 1-year updates for Multi-Vendor is $385.

Also, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that if you miss a few years of updates, and then decide to purchase a 1-year subscription, you will update your marketplace for all missed years for the cost of the 1-year subscription.

So in Multi-Vendor, there are no any maintenance costs. You need a budget only for getting a platform because Multi-Vendor has everything you need to start selling once you install it on your server.

Sharetribe does not allow you to buy software, you just rent it for a period of existing of your business. Let's take the simplest and the most powerful plans as examples of pricing.

1. Hobby Plan (up to 100 users) - $99 per month

Your expenses will be as follows:

1 year of using this plan costs $1,188
5 years of using it cost $5,940
10 years of using it cost $11,880

2. Scale Plan (100,000 users) - $299 per month

Your expenses will be as follows:

1 year of using this plan costs $3,588
5 years of using it cost $17,940
10 years of using it cost $35,880

As you can see, even the simplest plan of Sharetribe for 1 year costs nearly close to a lifetime Multi-Vendor license.

To sum it all up, with Multi-Vendor and Sharetribe there is:
Multi-Vendor
Sharetribe
No obligatory payments
Monthly obligatory fees
No user limitations
User limitation (up to the chosen plan)
No custom development limitations
Custom development limitations
No dependencies on the developer
Dependencies on the developer
Multi-Vendor is like to have your own house
Sharetribe is like to rent a house
17. Conclusion
Both products are designed to create a virtual marketplace where vendors can sell their products from one common storefront. However, Multi-Vendor and Sharetribe have the different range of functionalities included in the box. Multi-Vendor compares favorably in this respect:

  • functionalities
Multi-Vendor is often chosen due to the intuitive and user-friendly Admin Panel, a powerful content management system (Template Editor and Layout Editor). Multi-Vendor has functionalities that are not available in Sharetribe by default: the ability to embed a store in another site (Widget Mode), Vendor Plans, the ability to sell digital products, a loyalty program for customers like coupons, bonuses or gift certificates, Wish list, buy in 1 click and call back, etc.

  • Marketplace
Even if you are looking for modules that are not included in Multi-Vendor by default, you can always refer to the Marketplace where developer-partners offer different additional add-ons. Unfortunately, Sharetribe does not offer such a place like a Marketplace and all customization are made by team developers of Sharetribe.

If you are intent on choosing a platform for your project, then please study a detailed comparative analysis of the functionalities of the basic modules of both platforms that I provided in my review. Also, I suppose testing both platforms. To test Multi-Vendor there are the following options:

- a 30-day trial period
https://www.cs-cart.com/download-multivendor.html

- a 15-day Personal Demo
https://www.cs-cart.com/multi-vendor-personal-demo.html

Speaking about Sharetribe, you can test it refer to the link:
https://www.sharetribe.com/#trial-lightbox

The "Installation process" part of my review will help you to install software.

  • speed optimization
The speed optimization of the Multi-Vendor platform is at a very high level. The development team works hard on optimization issues. Unfortunately, Sharetribe does not have any specific tools for the site optimization.

  • communities

Both one of the best multi vendor shopping cart tools Multi-Vendor and Sharetribe have communities that include a forum. However, only Multi-Vendor has the Marketplace and the Affiliate network around the world which means a lot for your business development.

Developers often note that the Multi-Vendor architecture contributes to a more competent approach to programing language, and, in Sharetribe turn, Ruby is initially a complex architectural programming language that is used only by 0.5% of all sites.

If you compare four main points of my very review (functionalities, Marketplace, speed optimization, communities), objectively Multi-Vendor is on the winning side.

I truly hope that my "Multi-Vendor vs Sharetribe" review was useful for you, and now choosing a CMS for your project will be much easier. The main thing I would like to point out is that you need to work every day on your marketplace.

Setting up a business, uploading products, making up a unique design, raising a loyalty of your customers. You just need to work in this direction, never give up your idea and you will undoubtedly have success!
marketplace support
by Ekaterina Buyankina CS-Cart Sales Specialist
More reviews
Show more