Shopify as a Marketplace?

One of the questions I see and hear quite often, is, "can Shopify be a marketplace?  Like Etsy or Amazon?  I want my sellers to have their own controls".

Recently rumours are building that Shopify is actually putting together a marketplace, which adds to the confusion here.   I'm thinking that the Shopify marketplace will be a marketplace for select Shopify merchants, not be a platform that we can use to CREATE marketplaces, sadly.

So what exactly is the problem here?  Shopify is great for eCommerce.  Why can't we just hit an Easy button and make it be a marketplace, too, voila??

I'm not a system architecture wizard, but, the answer is related to structure.  An analogy: consider a house built for 1 family.  It likely has 1 kitchen, 1 laundry room, and just enough rooms and loos for the family members.  Now, say we wish that house was an apartment building instead, with self contained units for multiple families.  Would it be an easy modification?  Not likely.   The structure of a house does not (easily) convert to the structure of an apartment building.   Walls get knocked out, added in, plumbing needs to be added, and an electrician delivers bad news to a sobbing interior designer.  That sort of thing. 

Similarly, Shopify's structure is meant for 1 merchant selling his/her products.  There's 1 dashboard, 1 checkout, and so on.  It's possible to leverage Shopify for marketplace purposes, but, it's not the easiest of processes.  It's actually a bit hacky.

Without further adieu, the marketplace options:

1. Webkul app

I've implemented this for a few clients. It's very complex and the documentation (and support) are quite terrible. There are SO many options, it's very powerful, and very difficult to understand. But it's an option.  The app's pricing plans can be found on it's app pages but I find most clients also need some of the "add-ons" so keep that in mind.
Webkul Multi Vendor Marketplace App 

2. Jetti app

This is rather like the Webkul app, but, more slick. And much more expensive. Wherever people are already selling (etsy, amazon, whatever), they can just "plug in" to the marketplace as dropshippers, essentially. Pretty cool.  The app can handle payouts to vendors as well.
Jetti App

3. Separate stores with syncs

I haven't actually tried this yet, but, I feel it'd work. the marketplace would have a regular Shopify store. Each seller would set up their own Shopify account as well, but, I think the Lite plan would be sufficient ($8/month). Sellers set up their products as required in their individual shops. Marketplace and sellers each install the Syncio app to sync product data. I believe only the marketplace has to pay for the app, the sellers only pay 10 cents per order that comes from the marketplace. This route provides no ability for sellers to have their own individual shipping rates. It also does not to do anything to calculate vendor payouts. But, it'd work to keep inventory sorted out and allow sellers to manage their own inventory and receive orders. Sales reports can be run by vendor and payouts could be automated using Zapier or possibly Mesa.
Syncio App


4. Separate stores with CSVs:

Similar to the option above, but, rather than using the Syncio app, there would just be occasional manual update of product data by CSV file export/import. You could use an Order Notifier app that auto-emails sellers when an order for their product comes in. 
Order Notifier App
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