Want to create a WordPress vendor directory? We can show you the best way. Check out this post and build your vendor listings site easily.
Vendors are the sellers or suppliers of products and services. A vendor directory contains a list of these sellers and suppliers. If you are a business owner, you can maintain a vendor directory on your corporate website. This would give the visitors an idea of your supply chain.
Again, one can create a standalone vendor directory as well. This can be just a business directory featuring manufacturers, sellers, and suppliers.
Why would you create a vendor directory? Well, whether you’re managing a business or running a commercial directory website, a vendor directory can make sense. How? Let’s take a look at that.
For businesses: It will list and display the vendors of a particular business. This tells about their supply chain. Having some well-known vendors in the sourcing list also increases the credibility of a business. It also contributes to their transparency.
For commercial directories: Are you running a directory website? Is it like a local directory or a real estate directory? You can also be benefitted from a multi-vendor directory. It can be a different listings site or even a segment of your existing business directory.
You can monetize your vendor directory in several ways. Paid listings, featured listings, classified ads are a few of these. Also, variable pricing based on directory fields can be another monetization option.
What to include in a WordPress vendor directory
The visitors would expect some standard vendor details from such a listing site. So we need to include the following information in a vendor listing item:
- Vendor name
- Products and services
- Active geographies
- Contact information
These are the common vendor details your visitors would expect. You can include more if you want.
Best tools to create a vendor directory
An online vendor directory is a listings site where we’ll display sellers and suppliers. We’ll need 2 things to create this directory.
- A web platform
- A directory system
As the web platform, we’ll use WordPress. It’s a popular choice to create websites. You can get a WordPress site from any WordPress hosting company. Or, you can use your existing business site if it’s built on WordPress.
However, WordPress doesn’t have any built-in directory feature. So we’ll use a WordPress plugin (extension) as the directory system.
Business Directory Plugin is the best WordPress directory plugin. It has a freemium pricing model. That means you can use the free version to build a directory site. To utilize more powerful features like ratings, Google Maps, advanced monetization, advanced search, templates, and more, you can upgrade to a premium plan.
In this post, we’ll need the rating and styling features. So we’re going to use a premium plan.
How to create your WordPress vendor directory
Got the WordPress site and a suitable premium plan of Business Directory Plugin? If “yes”, then now we can start the step-by-step procedures to create our WordPress vendor directory. Here we go.
Step 1: Install and activate Business Directory Plugin
Log in to your WordPress back-end. Visit Plugins → Add New. First, install the free version of Business Directory Plugin. Then download the premium version from your BD account.
Install and activate the premium version as well. Moving on, we need to keep the free version and the premium version, both active on the site.
Also, activate the following modules from Directory → Modules:
The Ratings module will let your visitors rate the vendors. This is applicable if it is a standalone directory site. And, the Enhanced Categories module will let you add category images.
If you’re new to WordPress or have any queries about the installation step, please see our getting started guide.
Step 2: Create the WordPress vendor directory pages
Are you building a vendor directory on your existing site? Or on a new one? Either way, you need some directory pages. Two of them are most important.
We'll be using some Business Directory Plugin shortcodes to create these pages.
Main directory archive: This page will be used as the front page of your vendor directory. If your entire site is all about the vendor directory, then you can set this page as the site’s home page. Otherwise, you can use it just as the main directory page.
To create the main directory archive, go to WordPress Dashboard → Pages. Click the Add New option. It will open a new page maker interface. Insert the [businessdirectory] shortcode into the page.
Publish it. This page will show the directory categories, a search tool, and a few buttons.
Submit listing form: Business Directory Plugin lets you add listing items from both front-end and back-end. The front-end method is more user-friendly. To use this system, we'll create a front-end form page.
It will be just another WordPress page with the [businessdirectory-submit-listing] shortcode.
On this page, you can include other content as well. Not only a form, huh!
Note: If it's a company directory site, you may not want to make this page public. But, if it's a commercial directory, link to the Add Listing page from your site’s menu bar or anywhere you want. People will use it to submit items.
Step 3: Get custom form fields
We'll use form fields to collect listing item details. These fields will be displayed on the listing submission page. And the data we'll get via these fields will build the listing items.
Luckily, Business Directory Plugin provides 10 pre-built form fields to get started. You can edit or delete them per your needs. For this tutorial, we’ll tweak these form fields to get our desired ones. We can do it from WordPress Dashboard → Directory → Form Fields.
Some of our desired fields are:
- Vendor Name
- Products & Services
- Active Geographies
- Contact Information
You can mark a field as required and show/hide a field from the archive or detail view. Find more about form fields in our documentation.
Step 4: Create vendor directory categories
Categorizing the vendors will help keep them organized. These categories can be based on their industries, products or services, and so on. Business Directory Plugin has a custom category system for this.
Go to Directory → Directory Categories. Add your vendor categories there.
We'll also add category images thanks to the Enhanced Categories module. This module has many other features too. Explore all of them and apply them to your directory.
Step 5: Configure the plugin settings
Business Directory Plugin comes with some preloaded settings to ease your life. Still, based on your directory type, you need to tweak these settings.
Define a publishing policy
This will vary by your directory type. See the following policies!
For a business: Are you a business? Do you want to list your suppliers on your directory? If “yes”, then you may not want to get any listing submission from the visitors. In that case, your internal team will add listing items to your directory (like a staff directory).
That means your visitors don't need to access the item submission page. Also, you should hide the auto-generated Submit Listing button from the main archive page. You can hide it from Directory → Settings → Listings → Buttons.
Then go to Directory → Settings → General → Registration. Ensure that the users will need to be logged in for submitting a listing item. Also, disallow account creation while adding a listing item.
From Directory → Settings → Listings → General Settings, you can make the default post status “published”, because all of them will be made by your team members.
Also, for the “Listing duration for no-fee sites (in days)” option, set the value “0”.
This will prevent the listing items from auto-expiring after 1 year. Still, you can remove them whenever you want.
For a commercial directory site: If you are maintaining a directory site and allowing public listing, then follow this section instead. In this case, you need to make the Add Listing page accessible to the public. So, link it from wherever you think best.
Ensure that the Submit Listing button is also visible on the main directory page. You can use the default publishing policy that you get right after activating the plugin. Let the visitors submit listing items to the directory.
Make sure that all new submissions and edits are held as pending. You can publish the new submissions or edits after reviewing the content. Go to Directory → Settings → Listings → General Settings to apply this policy.
If you want to allow paid listings, you need a fee plan (pricing plan). Go to Directory → Fee Plans. Add one or more paid fee plans. You’ll find it easy.
If you need some help, please see the fee plan documentation.
And finally, to accept payments, add a payment gateway to the directory. Visit Directory → Settings → Payment.
To learn details about setting up the payments, please check out our payment documentation.
Step 6: Add some content
Now our directory is ready to add vendor listing items. So let’s visit the Add Listing page.
Provide necessary details and publish the listing item. It's that simple.
Step 7: Style the WordPress vendor directory
Our vendor listing site is now working. Let's beautify it. Business Directory Plugin offers some dedicated templates for this.
With the Elegant Business theme, our directory main archive will look like the following screenshot.
Below is a directory archive view.
And here is a screenshot of a single vendor listing.
Business Directory Plugin ensures that you don't need any third-party WordPress theme for your directory. You don't have to maintain a web design team too. Our web designers and developers have built some universal directory templates that will meet your needs.
A vendor directory can be an important element of a company’s transparency and openness. On the other hand, for a commercial directory, vendor listings can be a good source of traffic and revenue. We hope this tutorial will help both parties. Thanks for being with us!
Business Directory Plugin offers a risk-free 14-day money-back guarantee. Get Business Directory Plugin premium now and build a WordPress vendor directory today!