Case Study
Dec 9, 2023

Autotrader multi-vendor marketplace case study and how to start your own

Written by

Autotrader is a big online marketplace where you can buy and sell all kinds of cars - new ones, certified pre-owned, and used ones too. If you’re planning to start a similar business, Vendo makes it way easier and affordable to start your own marketplace with products from lots of different sellers. 

With Vendo, you can get your marketplace up and running super fast, sometimes in just a couple of days. Plus, it takes care of the tricky stuff like keeping track of all the products and dealing with shipping, so getting into the marketplace game is a breeze.


Vendo is also a one-stop-shop for all your marketplace needs, providing you with a marketplace platform automating day-to-day operation, a catalog of brands to pick from or an ability to invite your own brands, merchandising and promotional tools, ability to sell through multiple channels (your existing website, emails & SMS, mobile app, social media), and ongoing daily support scaling your marketplace business.   

Autotrader's Marketplace and Affiliate Program Success Story

1. The Early Days and Digital Transformation

Autotrader started out in 1997, which is like ancient history in the internet years! It was one of the first big online marketplaces for buying and selling cars. Initially, it was a place where you could just find listings for cars, but over time, it became much more than that. By offering tools and information, it became a one-stop-shop for car buyers and sellers.

2. Huge Selection and User Growth

One of the big reasons Autotrader became so popular is its massive selection of vehicles. We're talking about millions of listings for new, used, and certified pre-owned cars. This vast selection drew in a ton of users. By the early 2000s, the site was already getting millions of unique visitors each month.

3. User-Friendly Features and Mobile Adoption

Autotrader really nailed it with user-friendly features. They made it super easy to search for cars, compare prices, and find dealers. When smartphones became a thing, they were quick to jump on that too, making their website and app really easy to use on mobile devices. This adaptability kept them relevant and user-friendly.

4. Building Trust and Reliability

Trust is a big deal when you're buying or selling a car. Autotrader worked hard to build trust with its users by providing detailed car histories, reviews, and buying guides. They also offered tools like price calculators and comparison features to help users make informed decisions.

5. Expanding Services and Partnerships

Autotrader didn't just stick to buying and selling cars. They expanded their services to include financing options, insurance quotes, and even trade-in valuations. By partnering with various automotive service providers, they made it even easier for users to handle everything car-related in one place.

Autotrader Affiliate Program

Autotrader has an affiliate program where websites can earn money by directing traffic to the Autotrader site. If someone clicks on a link from your site and ends up using Autotrader's services, you get a cut. It's a cool way for car blogs, review sites, or automotive forums to make some extra cash.

Replicating Autotrader's Success

1. Offer a Wide Range and Be a One-Stop-Shop

Just like Autotrader, they offer a wide range of products. Make your marketplace the go-to place for whatever you're selling. If you cover more ground, you'll attract more users.

2. Make It Super Easy to Use

Your platform has to be user-friendly. Make searching, buying, and selling as easy as possible. Don't forget about mobile users – a lot of people shop from their phones now.

3. Build Trust with Your Users

Provide as much information and as many tools as possible to help users make decisions. Trust is key, especially when they're making big purchases.

4. Keep Innovating and Adapting

Stay on top of trends and tech. If something new comes up, like a new kind of technology or a change in what customers want, be ready to adapt.

5. Expand Your Services

Think about what else your users might need and try to offer it. Partnering with other services can turn your marketplace into a more comprehensive platform.

In a nutshell, have a wide range of products, make your site easy and trustworthy to use, stay updated with tech and trends, and consider expanding your services. That's a basic blueprint of what worked for Autotrader, and it could help you with your own marketplace too!

Get started with a marketplace like Autotrader on Vendo!


  • Book a demo call: We’ll set up your demo marketplace and populate it with products
  • Customize your Storefront: We’ll help you craft a storefront that aligns with your brand identity, ensuring a cohesive and on-brand shopping experience for your customers.
  • Onboard Brands: Invite your favorite brands or choose brands from the Vendo brand catalog. We can also start reaching out to brands you’d like to sell on your behalf.
  • Select Products: Curate product collections manually or automate the process to efficiently manage your catalog and meet customer demand.
  • Embed products: Make your editorial content shoppable with products embedded right where your customers expect them to find. Simplify and streamline product discovery.
  • Start Selling Programmatically: Push products through multiple touch points: on your website, share it on social media, and include products in your newsletters.
  • Get Paid: Get paid as soon as products are shipped by the brands. No need to wait 30-60 days or worry about orders not attributable to your affiliate links.
  • Get Repeat Sales: Since you’re not linking out, your customers will keep coming back. We’ll help them with abandoned cart emails and promotional email blasts.


Start a multi-vendor marketplace
Written by
Start a Marketplace
Get started
Get started
Get more marketplace case studies & insights
Check Icon
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Related blog posts

Start a free trial

Start your own marketplacE

Vendo lets you start a multi-brand marketplace, in 14 days or less, with products from amazing domestic brands fulfilling your customers' orders. Let them shop on your website, from a newsletter, social, mobile app.

Join vendo. It's free.