How it works


Welcome to the Village Tree Online Community Marketplace!
We hope you find shelter from the sun in the company of other creative souls with the ambition to take your creativity to the next level and earn an income. We realize that e-commerce and computers do not come naturally to all creatives, thus we have decided to put together this overview to explain how it all works.


What is an online marketplace?

If you have ever visited, exhibited or shopped at an arts and crafts market, you will find it easy to understand the concept on which an online community marketplace is based.

At a market, exhibitors usually rent a stall or space from the organisers/owners of the market and pay stall fees and/or commission on sales of their products. Vendors at a market are responsible for bringing their own products as well as dealing with customers. Some markets have a central checkout point, while at others each vendor takes payment from customers individually. The market organisers allocate spaces to vendors and are responsible for marketing and all publicity for the event so that enough customers know of and support the market.

The Village Tree is an online version of such a market. We have set up a website that utilises standard e-commerce software, with an added extension to cater for a multi-vendor scenario where customers can browse different vendor ‘stalls’ or products in different categories. Each vendor rents a ‘stall space’ (vendor shop) from the website and can customise and upload products to that shop. Our website software uses a central checkout system so that customers do not have to go through multiple transactions when buying from different vendors on the site. Funds received through this process are catalogued and paid out to respective vendors on a fixed schedule.


How does shipping work?

As a vendor on our site you have the option of choosing from a menu of shipping classes (shipping options) when adding products to your online shop space on the Village Tree. You can assign different shipping classes to different products, or the same shipping class to all your products. These shipping classes have been pre-created by the website admin to save you the trouble of creating your own shipping rules and rates, which can be quite technical. They are based on the most used/easiest shipping options available to persons located across South Africa.

How do I get my shipping fee?

Shipping is calculated per order from your online store on our site. If a customer buys from two different vendors, each vendor’s shipping cost is added to their respective orders and paid to their respective store accounts with their scheduled monthly payout.

Who is responsible for shipping?

Vendors are responsible for shipping their own products. Website admins will not engage in any shipping issues with customers on the site. It remains the sole responsibility of the vendor to ensure that shipping is booked, followed up and completed to customers’ satisfaction. Please choose your shipping options carefully. Although mostly reliable, there may be issues arising from using the SA Postal Service. Please be fully aware of this.
It is very important to note that if you fail to assign a shipping class to your product, shipping costs will not be added to your order and will not be paid by the customer. We will not be held liable for any uncovered shipping costs that were incurred by a vendor failing to assign an appropriate shipping class to a product. This means that you will pay for shipping from your own pocket for every product not assigned an appropriate shipping class.

What are the costs and how are payments handled?

The Village Tree takes charges no monthly shop rental fee. We ask a 20% comission fee on vendors’ sales.

How do I know I am asking the right price?

If you want to make sure that you are earning as much as you should for all your hours of hard work and dedication, here is an example of how you can structure your products’ prices to sell with the The Village Tree.

Pricing Example:

If your cost of making a product is R50, you will have to add your profit, say 100% (you can decide on your own profit margin). This means that you will be charging R100 for your final product.

  • Cost of making product: R50
    Your Profit +R50
  • Your Product Selling Price = R100
  • 20% commission on your selling price +R20
  • Selling price on the Village Tree R120*

*Shipping is not included in this amount. It is calculated by our software and added to the final amount on the customer’s checkout page.

It is up to every vendor to decide on a suitable profit margin.

How and when is the income from my store paid to my account?

1. You will need a valid South African bank account to do business with The Village Tree Marketplace.

2. We use Payfast as a secure South African payment gateway on our website, which means that we do not store any customers’ credit card or banking details on our site. Customers can pay
with credit card, and are not required to have a Payfast account to purchase goods from our site. Funds collected for transactions on our website are immediately transferred into
our Payfast account. With Payfast, there is a compulsory holding period of 48 hours after a transaction (for fraud detection and reversal) before funds can be transferred to our FNB bank
account. You will thus not receive your payment immediately after your sale has been made on your online store. Our software keeps track of the amounts owed by us to you (your selling price before commission + shipping cost) and the commission we will keep.

3. We have a monthly vendor payout schedule to minimize administrative burden and banking costs for both us and you.

4. In case of a return or customer refund, as vendor you will be responsible for refunding the customer from your own pocket until the normal scheduled payout date. We will not handle refunds on your behalf.

5. You will receive an automated e-mail notification from our software that will alert you when the transaction for your product sale has been successful. You can then ship products to the customer knowing that your money is safely in our account until the scheduled payout date.

What do I get for my commission?

1. The opportunity to earn an income from your creativity and skill. You can work from home, whether it is in a city or remote rural area. As long as you have access to a bank account, computer, internet and a post office or courier.

2. Community projects can sell their products to the broader public and help improve lives.

3. You will get a pre-set up, but customizable online shop space on our secure e-commerce website without the worry of setting up a complete website with a domain and hosting.

4. The option to upload your own shop logo, profile picture, shop description and contact details to your online store.

5. You can upload as many or as few physical products as you like. The upload process requires a few administrative steps, but it is simple and offers the options to add a unique product code and can help you with stock control. You can also add different colours and sizes to the same product. The Village Tree does not currently cater to downloadable products or services.

6. You will have the option of assigning a product category to your products from our pre-defined product category list, which makes searching for products easier for your customers.

7. If a shipping class is assigned to your product, the shipping cost is automatically added to your customer’s order, and to your income.

8. You will have access to a detailed step-by-step vendor tutorial that will teach you everything you need to know about setting up your online store on The Village Tree Marketplace. You will be supplied with the link once you are approved as a vendor.

9. You will have access to a vendor admin dashboard which will give you detailed list of information relating to your orders and products. This will help you to keep track of all your transactions.

10. The Village Tree will do marketing campaigns on Facebook and by e-mail to make sure everyone who needs to know about The Village Tree, does!

11. Our website has a featured vendor every month. If our number of vendors allow it, we will have a different featured vendor every two weeks. If you would like to be a featured vendor, you will need to supply us with a bit of background information and photos for our gallery. All of this will be free of charge.

12. You don’t need any previous online store experience or coding knowledge. If you are a keen learner, you will have your store setup in no time. We are at hand to answer your questions.

13. Our software generates automatic order confirmation e-mails and sends them to customers. You will also be able to access their email address and telephone number to contact them to ensure that you make their shopping experience personal and professional.

14. You will have the option to send your customer a customised .pdf invoice that is automatically created with an order.

15. Your commission includes the Payfast transaction fee and monthly payout fee.