Multi seller drupal hosting

Posted by smoothify on December 11, 2007 at 1:49am

I posted a job advert earlier today and got some good responses from people willing to do the actual work, but also from people who are looking for something similar for their own projects.

Since my project isn't for a client it doesn't have an urgent turnaround, and so i'd prefer to get the system right rather than rush things. I'd also like the final result to be a useful module for others to use too, rather than something limited to my use case.


So since there seems to be interest for this kind of thing here, i thought it might be useful to post here and see what kind of things people are looking for and whether there are others interested in contributing to or co-sponsoring such a module.

Also since there have been several attempts at this before on previous versions of eCommerce it would be cool to collate what has been learnt about the different approaches and how the way forward should be.

For my project i will need the following:

Each client has their own login which allows them to create and maintain their own store front. So they need to be able to manage their products as well as view their own orders.

All their own products are shown in their own mini-store, ideally using a subdomain e.g. The main portal itself lists products from all the different stores. The subdomain part will be handled outside of ecommerce - most likely by something like the domain access module

For the checkout process it should probably be a single combined checkout, where payment is taken by the portal and then distributed to the individual store owners. I believe the ec_commissions module may help with this part.

However a single checkout does have complications for tangible products since they may be located in different places and we need to be clear on how to calculate shipping and taxes. I've been looking at the commercial X-Cart Pro shopping cart system which handles multi-vendors and i believe they break the order down into the different stores and create separate invoices with the appropriate shipping and tax charges.

For downloadable products this would be easier since there is no such shipping issues with these. If the store was only downloads then it might be possible to use user_points instead of real currency.

Once the order is complete, then there needs to be a way to pay the seller's of the products minus a configurable commission. This needs to have good reporting so both the portal owner and the store owner can see the figures.

Multi seller drupal hosting thought it might

I'm sure there are things i've forgotten, or not thought of so i'll add to this if i remember - but i'd like to hear others thoughts on this.

I wrote ec_mvmg:
It's out there. it's a big hack, but it does much of what you're describing.

The idea for the client I was working with was to split up payment at the customer end.

We kept the shopping cart together. you could put as many products in it as you wanted.

When you go to pay, your transaction was split into multiple "sub-transactions" (1 per vendor).

The payment screen then required you to go through payment for each store you'd shopped from.

I didn't like that solution, but the client demanded our solution work with Paypal Website Payments Standard, which meant you had to go to to pay. that meant 1 visit to for every purchase. Our hands were a little tied on that.

At any rate, it works. it's been working, and they're selling plenty of product.

Another "gotcha" is that it relies on Paypal IPN to notify us of when payments happen. That seems to work about 90% of the time, but we occasionally get transactions that don't post back on the main site.

So that's how my module works. It's not pretty, but I certainly understand the concepts of what you're proposing. It's no small feat.

Posted by suydam on December 11, 2007 at 1:33pm

Esadot - I haven't even continued development on the ec_mvmg module. It was getting incredibly proprietary as we moved along. I wasn't able to stay with the standard payment gateways from the EC modules because of the requirement that we split transactions into multiple payments. The reason we had to split transactions into multiple payments was that Paypal issue I highlighted above.

Once we got to the point where we were running multiple payments per "transaction" the entire module became (for me at least) nothing more than a one-off job. I haven't touched it since we launched the site in May (June? I forget).

I will say this: The project was a good learning experience for me. ) I know the ins and outs of why this multi-vendor payment project is going to be pretty large and complex. I even have some great ideas for how to make it work correctly (instead of the hack that is ec_mvmg).

Things to think about:

  • Does every vendor set up their own paypal/ settings and Drupal splits transactions in the background?
  • . or, do you want to handle that manually from the site administrator's paypal/authorize/whatever account?

  • Do you want the user to know they're buying from multiple vendors or do you want the illusion of a single storefront?
  • Go shopping on and then later on or the difference is startling. Amazon's many vendors are all payed by Amazon after you checkout. Etsy and Gozabo both split your transaction and have you pay once for each vendor. This is obviously easier from a programmer's perspective, and more flexible from a vendor's perspective (C.O.D. payments are even an option!). but it's more annoying from a customer's perspective.
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