Shopify Marketplace Kit overview

Commerce doesn't apply just to websites. You can add commerce features to any platform with Shopify Marketplace Kit. Marketplace Kit enables you to leverage Shopify's commerce features and connects your platform to millions of merchants and their products.

This guide describes what marketplaces are, how they fit into Shopify using Marketplace Kit, and how to get started.

A GIF of a marketplace

What's a marketplace?

A marketplace is a purchasing surface on a platform, featuring products from different shops and directing buyers towards a sale. For example, a streaming app where users can buy merchandise from different artists constitutes a marketplace.

Marketplace overview diagram

What's Shopify Marketplace Kit?

Shopify Marketplace Kit uses Shopify's foundational tech stack and commerce expertise to provide a set of APIs, webhooks, and UI components to accelerate your marketplace development process. Marketplace Kit connects your platform and its users to Shopify merchants and their products.

Storefront data

Marketplace Kit uses the Shopify Storefront API for efficient data-fetching. The Storefront API powers the set of actions that buyer can perform in a marketplace such as viewing products and collections, adding products to a cart, and checking out.

Marketplace Kit is built and optimized to use data coming from the Storefront API. The shape of the data passed to components and webhooks corresponds and conforms to structures based on the Storefront API's GraphQL types.

How does Marketplace Kit work?

Marketplace Kit connects Shopify merchants to a platform using a channel app. Partners create a channel app, and merchants install the channel app in the Shopify admin. In the Shopify admin, merchants publish products from their store to the channel app. The channel app surfaces products on the platform.

When your platform has multiple merchants publishing products to the channel app, with multiple buyers purchasing those products on the platform, you've got a basic marketplace.

The following diagram illustrates the marketplace workflow:

A diagram of the marketplace workflow

  1. Shopify approves your channel app.

  2. Merchants install your channel app using OAuth and are granted data access.

  3. Your channel app creates and saves access tokens, and registers required webhooks.

  4. Your channel app includes an onboarding flow, which checks a shop against marketplace requirements to approve merchants to publish their products to the app.

  5. Merchants onboard to the marketplace, which includes accepting terms and conditions, and publish products on the channel app.

  6. The marketplace displays and manages published products.

  7. Buyers purchase products by completing their checkout on the merchant's store.

  8. Shopify listens for orders/create webhook events and attributes orders to marketplaces.

  9. Merchants fulfill orders.

  10. Your channel app bills merchants for sales made on the marketplace.

Build requirements

All Shopify channel apps need to be submitted for approval to the Shopify app review team. For more information, refer to the sales channel app requirements.

Channel apps should also adhere to the following criteria:

  • Apps are kept up to date with the latest API and component changes.

  • Apps communicate important information to merchants early, such as changes to the requirements for publishing products to the app.

UX guidelines

Each channel exists as an iframe in the Shopify admin. The pages and components that make up channel apps need to feel consistent with the overall user experience that the Shopify admin provides.

The Channels UI provides a set of React components for designing a merchant-facing channel app that's consistent with the design principles in Shopify Polaris.

Next steps

  • Learn how to get started with Shopify Marketplace Kit.