What themes and plugins are needed/compatible for a catalogue-type site with limited merchant functi

I have been reading for the last 5 days and I have several questions. Here is a description of what I would like to set up:
-A main product catalogue on the main domain/page: sellers list their products, customers look for products.
- Sellers can: have a slightly customizable blog (can it be only colors and images? For example Teatrade and Fondelifair are bit too messy for me, where everyone can do whatever they want, I prefer the Etsy look). Each seller handles their sale and merchant options individually; I want nothing to do with it.
- A searchable directory of all sellers and a searchable database of products (advanced search)
- A network wide forum (not per site) for questions or suggestions on new or existing products and services and their uses.

So here are my Questions:
1- So, what theme should I use? I think it is Frame-Market with child Gridmarket? Or should it be Product? Business Portfolio? Blogs MU? And I can't locate for each theme what plugins it already include, is that info available?

2- In order to have a network wide forum not a forum on each site), do I need Buddypress or bbpress plugin will do? Or is there something else? After reading here and on the web It is still not completely clear to me what is the difference.

3- I am confused about the essential plugins I will need, it seems to me there are different plugins that cover the same functions. I have looked over all of them (I think!), and I have come up with a list of plugins that I think I will need, so are the following plugins appropriate/compatible/needed for the theme you will be suggesting? Do you recommend any others that would be crucial for it to work?
- Pro-Sites or Pay to Blog?: to administer seller membership types
- Directory or Members Directory or Blogs Directory, or Users Widget?: So visitors can see a list of sellers and or look them up by location, type of products, etc.
- Moderation or Monitor?: to monitor inappropriate posts and comments
- Market Press: to enable merchant options? As far as I can see it is included in Frame Market, rigth?
- Post indexer, Global Site Search or Global Tags Search: to index products, so visitors can search items using different criteria, something like and "advanced search" feature
- CustomPress: so I can customize fields available for product listing
- Avatars: so sellers can include their picture in each product posting.
(There are other plugins but I think its clear to me how I can integrate them...we'll see)

4-And just to confirm: either if I use directory or sub-domain format for my network it basically has the same result: sellers can create their own sites

5- Can user capabilites to add/edit/delete/deactivate networkwide categories, plugins and widgets be deactivated so site admins can't alter these components? OR when defining Users, can a new type of user be defined, something in between an "Editor" and an "Author"? Someone who can do everything except alter these features? Does Pro Site offer this capability?

I hope I am not abusing the service :slight_frown: I have tried to chat with someone, but I don't seem to have the times right, I have searched, but have found partial/old/unclear responses and some of my questions I think are too specific.

Thanks in advance for any advice!


  • Mark de Scande

    @gvpeace BlogLines.co.za is set up in a way that your looking at .

    The list of plugs you will need is long but the good news it is doable

    1 So, what theme should I use? This is up to you :slight_smile: any one with work i always say keep it simple Less is always more.

    2) In order to have a network wide forum not a forum on each site) I would just add this Plug
    https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/forums and only activate it for the main blog

    3) essential plugins Have a look at the screen dump please dont add them all do them on by one and set them up one by one :slight_smile:

    4) Set up your site IE blogs.mysite.com NO www it is always better :slight_smile:

    5) Just use supporter

    6) Market Press (You can use the global Sort codes to do the trick)

    So yes it is doable but it will take a lot a lot of HARD work to have it all set up Good Luck

  • Mason

    Hiya Glenda,

    First off, welcome to WPMU DEV! :slight_smile:

    Mark's already given some terrific advice (thanks Mark, some rep points headed your way for that).

    FrameMarket/GridMarket Theme
    Pro Sites (the just-released version is the upgrade to Supporter 2.x)

    Other considerations:
    New Blog Templates (for quick and easy setup for other default theme/plugin settings)

    As long as you only provide the GridMarket theme to your individual store/site owners, the look will remain largely the same (can do small color changes like you mentioned, but that's all).

    I like the look of sub-domain installs myself, but technically you can do either.

    I put BuddyPress on the list as it includes a network-wide forum capability as well as the ability to list members/shop owners along with a search capability through the Profiles. That will be far easier to do than using many separate directory plugins.

    With BuddyPress, just disable the components you don't want to use (like Activity Stream and Private Messaging/Friending for example). You may want to add these later, but no reason to have them from the beginning.

    My only other advice would be to start small and think through each step before adding everything in. Get multi-site up and running smoothly and make sure you understand how it works on the site and network level. Then add BuddyPress and get to know it inside and out. Next activate MarketPress and the GridMarket theme - again you have to be an expert at these items as you'll be the one supporting your clients!

    Finally, add Supporter to create your levels/subscriptions. Then you'll be ready to open your network registrations!

    Hope this helps. If you have individual questions along the way, we're happy to assist and would prefer individual threads for each as it helps us keep things neat and clean around here.

    Thanks and best wishes to ya!

  • gvpeace

    Thanks guys.

    masonjames! Exactly what I needed. I have my own domain and shared hosting, have already installed WPMU and read the instructions for it, I read the instructions for BP but was not sure if I should install it or not or in what order, so thanks a million. I'll go ahead and do it as you recommended. I interpret by your response that all the plugins/functions I listed are covered by these essentials you mentioned above. If not I'll ask individually later.

    What do you mean by "New Blog Templates (for quick and easy setup for other default theme/plugin settings)"? Is it a plugin? I did a search and could not find it...