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How to Build a Marketplace App: Main Steps & Challenges

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Elena Besedina, Project Manager
How to Build a Marketplace Platform: Main Steps & Challenges

The rise in mobile devices and apps has expanded ecommerce accessibility, allowing on-the-go shopping. Additionally, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR) are revolutionizing online product presentation and user experiences. As a result, the global ecommerce market is expected to reach $57.22 trillion by 2032, growing at a CAGR of 15% from $14.14 trillion in 2022.

Marketplace apps are the current trend in the industry, offering numerous advantages to companies and their customers. If you want to create a marketplace, don't be afraid of Amazon and eBay — there are a variety of niches you can join.

As a reliable custom software development company, Integrio will share its expertise about prominent marketplace niches, the benefits of such platforms, and the importance of prototypes and MVP creation. Also, we will discuss crucial steps to build a marketplace app and preferred technology stack.


What Is a Marketplace Platform?

A marketplace platform is an online system that facilitates the exchange of goods and services between independent sellers and buyers. Amazon, eBay, Airbnb, Upwork, and Patreon are great examples of popular marketplaces.

Unlike a traditional online store, which sells its own products, a marketplace platform acts as an intermediary, providing a space for multiple sellers to list their offerings. They combine a diverse range of goods and services so customers can choose from various options, sellers, and pricing strategies.


Why Build a Marketplace App?

A good marketplace is like hitting the jackpot. Let's overview the benefits of creating an app in more detail:

Scalability

Create a marketplace to accommodate growth and scalability. It allows the addition of new sellers and products without overburdening the central platform. In contrast, a traditional ecommerce store often requires more extensive modifications to the core structure, impacting performance.

Cost-Effectiveness

The cost of building a marketplace app is comparable to an ecommerce website, but the marketplace model is less risky. You don't need to invest in goods and inventory management infrastructure. Sellers take responsibility for storage and delivery, reducing operational costs.

Monetization Options

Marketplaces offer several monetization models beyond sales commissions — premium listings, lead generation fees, advertisements, subscriptions, etc.

Value for Sellers

A marketplace app provides an attractive platform for businesses, particularly startups. They can sell products without needing a physical store or extensive marketing investments. Also, sellers benefit from low commission fees and a user-friendly solution.

Customer Satisfaction

A marketplace app allows customers to choose from various options, making it convenient to find and order everything they need in one place. The diversity of offerings in a marketplace enhances customer interest and satisfaction.

Advanced Analytics

By tracking vendor popularity and product performance, you gain strategic insights, optimizing collaborations and promotions. Thus, you stay agile in response to market shifts, ensuring adaptability to trends and user preferences.

Automation

Automation streamlines communication through messaging systems and notifications, minimizing manual intervention. This extends to transaction processing, automating orders, payments, and confirmations, boosting efficiency and reducing errors.

Wide Audience

Create a marketplace to access a wider audience of buyers and sellers. If the platform spans multiple industries, it attracts an even larger user base.


The Niches with the Most Significant Growth in the Market during 2024

The dominance of big players like Amazon and eBay may scare you. Nevertheless, there are emerging niches for the marketplace app.

Digital Artwork & NFT

The digital artwork market is forecasted to grow from $4.09 billion in 2023 to $12.12 billion by 2030. NFTs provide a unique way to authenticate and sell digital art, attracting both artists and collectors. This trend is likely to continue as more artists explore the digital space and the technology supporting NFTs advances.

Home Office Equipment

The shift to remote work has driven increased demand for home office equipment. As more companies adopt flexible work arrangements, individuals are investing in ergonomic furniture. For example, customers are increasingly ordering tables, chairs, bookcases, and storage solutions.

Home Fitness Equipment

With a rising focus on health and fitness, coupled with the convenience of working out at home, the demand for home gym equipment has increased. People prioritize their well-being and seek alternatives to traditional gym memberships. Pay attention to products for jogging, biking, swimming, and fitness. There is also steady demand for innovative products like smart treadmills or dumbbells.

Eco-friendly Products

Growing environmental consciousness has led to increased demand for eco-friendly products. Today, buyers are even ready to pay an extra 24% for sustainable goods. The range of products is extensive, encompassing items like metal water bottles, reusable straws, eco-friendly clothing, and biodegradable trash bags.

Online Education

The online education sector has experienced significant growth, projected to reach $602 billion by 2030. The convenience of remote learning, together with technological advancements (artificial intelligence, virtual reality, learning management systems), has increased educational materials adoption. Consider online courses, ebooks, degree programs, tutorials, etc.

Professional Services

As businesses navigate an evolving landscape, there is a growing demand for professional services like consulting or digital marketing. This is especially facilitated by business digitalization, which affects internal processes and customer relations. It helps companies adapt to changing market conditions, implement technology solutions, and enhance efficiency.


What is an MVP for a Marketplace App?

Let's discuss more intelligent and economical ways for validating ideas — prototyping and minimal valuable product (MVP):

The Role of Prototypes in Developing a Marketplace App

A prototype is a visual representation or mockup of a product, focusing on its design and user interface. Its purpose is to visualize the concept and demonstrate how the app will look and feel.

Adjustments and Improvements

Develop a marketplace prototype to conceptualize the idea early in the building process. This enables you to make adjustments and improvements based on feedback. By visualizing the app's essential elements, specialists refine design and navigation until the product reaches a market-ready state.

High Predictability

Creating a prototype empowers the team to plan the entire development cycle more effectively. Combined with detailed specifications, it provides a foundation for estimating project duration, breaking down the development process and evaluating the budget. This reduces the likelihood of unexpected issues.

UX Validation

User experience (UX) is crucial for the success of a marketplace app, especially considering the significant drop in retention rates within the first month after installation. Prototyping allows app owners to create a visual representation of the user interface and run tests to validate the UX design. Refine the app's user experience and contribute to retaining users over the long term.

Smooth Development Process

Prototypes ensure developers understand the desired features, functionalities, and design elements clearly. This helps prevent misunderstandings and errors during the actual marketplace development phase, leading to a more efficient and successful implementation.

Why You Should Build a Marketplace MVP

A minimum viable product is a simplified version of an app that incorporates the fundamental features of the eventual solution. This enables dedicated developers to experience the platform, gather initial feedback, and assess its viability.

Securing Funding

An MVP, despite its limited functionality, can address the primary user problem effectively. If you're seeking funding for your solution, build a marketplace MVP. It serves as a tangible demonstration to potential investors, showcasing the app's core capabilities and generating interest in its potential.

Flexibility

Launching a feature-heavy product right away can pose challenges, making it difficult to implement changes and adjustments. By starting with an MVP and gradually introducing features through small, iterative steps, companies can make changes on the go without consuming excessive time and resources.

Verifying Market Demand

Unforeseen events like pandemics or supply chain crises can significantly impact industries. Develop a marketplace MVP to test the market demand for your app before fully investing in its development. By releasing a simplified version, you can gauge user interest, obtain feedback, and validate your idea. Avoid potential monetary losses by ensuring your app aligns with current market needs and conditions.

Marketplace App Version 2.0

Following the creation of an MVP and completion of user testing, gather valuable insights and implement modifications to enhance the existing app. In subsequent stages, the emphasis should be on refining the product, introducing distinctive elements for differentiation, and broadening its functionality.


8 Steps to Build a Marketplace App in 2024

Explore our brief checklist for marketplace app development before starting.

Choose App Type and Monetization Model

Before initiating your marketplace development, clearly define the type of marketplace you intend to create:

  • Marketplace types by audience: peer-to-peer (P2P), business-to-customer (B2C), and business-to-business (B2B) solutions.

  • Merchandise categories include goods marketplaces, service marketplaces, and hybrid solutions.

  • Vertical marketplaces focus on specific niches or industries. Horizontal marketplaces offer a broad array of products and services across multiple categories.

Identify your target audience by examining demographic, geographic, and psychographic characteristics. Analyze competitors to understand their strengths, weaknesses, target audience, pricing strategies, and marketing tactics. This comprehensive research helps uncover market gaps and opportunities for differentiation.

Select the monetization model for your app. You may use:

  • Commission on transactions

  • Weekly, monthly, or yearly subscription

  • Listing fee for each posting

  • Advertising models

  • Pay per lead

  • A freemium model with free access to the app's basic features while requiring a fee for more advanced functions.

Partner with the Right Development Team

If you want to create a marketplace app, choosing the right development experts is a critical step. What factors should be considered?

  • Look for professionals who have successfully delivered similar projects and demonstrate a deep understanding of the industry's nuances.

  • Ensure they are skilled in relevant programming languages, frameworks, and tools for your specific marketplace app requirements.

  • Review the portfolio of potential development experts. Examine their past projects to evaluate their work's quality and the delivered solutions' complexity.

  • Seek client references from previous projects for insights into the development team's reliability, professionalism, and ability to meet deadlines.

  • Look for experts who take the time to understand your business goals and objectives. Choose those who can articulate technical concepts clearly and are ready for discussion.

  • Pay attention to teams that follow Agile methodologies or other effective project management frameworks. A well-organized team is more likely to deliver milestones on time and within budget.

  • Ensure that the development experts prioritize quality assurance throughout the development lifecycle.

  • Prioritize long-term support and maintenance services. This ensures that your marketplace app remains up-to-date, secure, and capable of adapting to evolving market trends.

Discovery phase

Setting up the structure of your web or mobile marketplace app is crucial and aligned with your overall business strategy. Establish clear goals during this phase.

  • Understand who will be using the marketplace. Tailor the UI to meet user expectations and align functionality with user activities.

  • Define the core services your marketplace will provide.

  • Determine how tasks will be carried out. This guides the implementation of APIs, plugins, and integrations in the development process.

Establish Core Features

Develop a marketplace app that caters to both sellers and buyers. It's important to consider the unique needs and preferences of each user category to design a user-centric platform. In some cases, the divergence may be so pronounced that the app can be effectively split into distinct interfaces for each user group.

  • Incorporate essential features that form the backbone of the marketplace app. These may include secure payment systems, search and filtering options, user profiles, and efficient communication channels between buyers and sellers.

  • Enhance the seller experience by providing seller analytics, inventory management tools, promotional features, and detailed reporting functionalities. Customizing functionalities for sellers fosters a more comfortable and productive interaction with the platform.

You should regularly reassess and update marketplace app features to align with changing user expectations, technological advancements, and industry standards.

UI/UX Design and Prototyping

In the UI/UX design and prototyping stage, designers create a visually appealing and user-friendly interface that aligns with the app's requirements. This involves understanding user needs, wireframing, and defining information architecture.

Design a clear and intuitive navigation structure so users can easily find what they're looking for without unnecessary complexity. Also, prioritize a mobile-first design approach as many users access marketplace apps on mobile devices.

Visual design and interaction shape the app's look and feel. Simultaneously, prototypes, ranging from low to high fidelity, provide tangible representations for stakeholders to visualize and test the app's structure and flow. Usability testing of prototypes allows for iterative improvements before transitioning to full-scale marketplace development.

Decide on the Tech Stack

By selecting the right tools, you will address any technical challenges encountered during the development process. On the other side, with numerous tech solutions available, choosing the most suitable tech stack becomes a challenge. Follow our tips to succeed:

  • Tailor your tech stack to the specific requirements of your marketplace app. Different types (peer-to-peer, B2C, B2B) and features may demand different technologies.

  • Anticipate the potential growth of your app and choose a tech stack that can scale seamlessly to accommodate a larger user base and increased transaction volume.

  • Prioritize security in your tech stack, especially if your marketplace involves financial transactions or deals with sensitive user data.

  • Evaluate the cost implications of your tech stack choices, including licensing fees, hosting costs, and ongoing maintenance. Aim for a balance between performance and budget constraints

Develop an MVP and Run Tests

The MVP development stage involves coding, where the team translates the conceptualized design into a functional application.

Prioritize features and improvements based on user needs, preferences, and pain points to enhance overall user satisfaction. Although an MVP focuses on minimal functionality, consider scalability in the architecture, anticipating future growth.

You should thoroughly test the application to identify and rectify functional or performance issues. Include unit, integration, and user acceptance testing to ensure a stable and user-friendly MVP.

Collect Feedback and Move to Version 2.0

Maintain active interaction with users to gather insights and feedback. Here, you can use surveys, in-app feedback mechanisms, and direct communication channels.

Revamp and enhance the functionality of your marketplace app by introducing new features. For example, leverage third-party integrations like personalized emails, chat messaging, GPS services, and secure payment systems. They facilitate a seamless user experience and contribute to the platform's overall success.

Ensure that your marketplace app is equipped for scalability and expansion. Leverage the insights gained from user feedback and market trends to strategically plan for the future growth of the platform.


How Much Does It Cost to Create a Marketplace Platform?

To build a marketplace app, you should consider various factors that influence the cost of development. Here are key factors:

  • A simple platform with basic features will cost less than a complex one with advanced functionalities.

  • A basic, minimalistic design is generally more cost-effective than a complex, visually appealing solution requiring additional resources.

  • More experienced and skilled teams usually charge higher hourly rates, reflecting their expertise.

But what budget intervals can you count on? Rates may vary based on the geographical location of the development team and their expertise. But let's imagine that the hourly rate is $50.

  • The prototype requires 100 to 160 development hours, equal to $5,000 and $8,000, respectively.

  • MVP is estimated to be 400 to 1,000 hours, costing $20,000 to $50,000.

  • Full-scale product development takes around 1,600 hours and $80,000 for a basic app, and you need 1,600 to 2,000 hours or $80,000 to $100,000 for a more complex platform with advanced features.


Choosing Tech Stack for Marketplace Development

What do you need to build a marketplace app besides a team and a budget? The right tech stack that matches the project's goals.

Programming Languages and Frameworks

Different front-end and back-end stacks offer various advantages:

  • JavaScript is essential for client-side scripting. Frameworks like React, Angular, or Vue.js are commonly used for building interactive and responsive user interfaces.

  • Python is known for its readability and ease of use. Frameworks like Django and Flask are good for building robust backend systems.

  • Java is a good choice for large-scale and complex marketplace apps. Frameworks like Spring are widely used for building enterprise-level backend systems.

  • For native mobile app development, Swift is used for iOS, while Kotlin is used for Android.

  • For cross-platform development, leverage industry-leading frameworks like React Native, Flutter, and Xamarin.

  • PHP has been traditionally used for web development and can be integrated into a marketplace app's backend.

  • Developed by Google, Go is suitable for building scalable backend systems.

Web Servers

Choosing the right server is essential for creating a robust, secure, high-performing marketplace app.

  • Nginx is a popular web server known for its high performance, scalability, and efficient handling of concurrent connections. Nginx is often used as a reverse proxy, load balancer, and for serving static content.

  • Apache is another widely used web server that supports a variety of modules and configurations. It allows flexibility and is often used with application servers.

Cloud Solutions

Cloud computing allows businesses to dynamically scale their resources up or down based on demand, providing flexibility and cost efficiency.

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers a vast array of services, including computing power, storage, databases, etc. It provides tools for DevOps, AI/ML integration, and robust security features for diverse marketplace apps.

  • Microsoft Azure is known for its strong integration with Microsoft products. It supports various programming languages and frameworks, providing flexibility for diverse application architectures.

  • Google Cloud Platform (GCP) focuses on data analytics, machine learning, and container orchestration.

Databases

Database impacts performance, scalability, security, and overall application efficiency.

  • PostgreSQL is a powerful open-source relational database known for its reliability, extensibility, and strong community support. It excels in handling complex queries and supports advanced data types.

  • MySQL is a widely-used open-source relational database that offers high performance, scalability, and great security features. It is suitable for a range of applications, from small projects to large-scale enterprises.

  • MongoDB is a NoSQL, document-oriented database designed for flexibility and scalability. It excels in handling large volumes of unstructured data and is a popular choice for applications with rapidly changing data requirements.

Key Challenges in Building a Marketplace App

If you want to build a marketplace solution, technical proficiency and strategic foresight are paramount. Let's focus on the potential challenges you may encounter and effective strategies to overcome them.

Choosing a Development Stack

Prioritize security, flexibility, and scalability in your frontend and backend development stack. Avoid relying solely on emerging solutions; opt for proven technologies with seasoned engineers.

Market Failure

The failure of most apps is due to the lack of market research. Mitigate this risk by working with a specialized app development company and launching an MVP for proper market testing.

Team Scaling

Begin with communicating with three to four marketplace development companies to assess their work with a small task. Select a partner, and they can quickly scale their team for your project. It's important to choose a proven tech stack to ensure access to a skilled talent pool.


Build a Marketplace App with Integrio

Building a marketplace app might seem complex. However, with the right tech choices and strategies like prototyping and MVP, you can create a great product within a reasonable timeline and budget.

An ecommerce marketplace app enhances accessibility, allowing businesses to reach a broader audience and streamline transactions. It fosters a centralized platform that connects buyers and sellers, promoting efficient exchanges and facilitating your growth.

As the industry grows, there are a variety of opportunities for entrepreneurs. If you have an idea, contact a project outsourcing company like Integrio — and we'll help bring your dream marketplace app to life.


FAQ

The development time varies based on complexity, features, and customization. A simple MVP with basic functionalities may take 3 to 6 months to develop, while a more complex, full-scale platform with advanced functionalities and integrations requires 9 months to a year or more. Rapid development frameworks and an Agile approach can expedite the process.

The cost of creating a custom marketplace app varies significantly based on complexity, features, and development resources. For an MVP app, the cost can range from $15,000 to $50,000, while full-scale projects with advanced features and scalability requirements may exceed $80,000 to $100,000. Also, be ready for ongoing maintenance and updates.

An ecommerce marketplace app typically generates revenue through transaction fees, where the platform charges a percentage or flat fee on each successful transaction facilitated through the system. Subscription models and advertising fees from third-party vendors also contribute to the app's monetization strategy. Additionally, some marketplace apps explore affiliate marketing or premium memberships to diversify their income streams.

Popular types of marketplaces include peer-to-peer, business-to-customer, and business-to-business platforms. They can focus on physical goods, services, or a combination of both, catering to diverse consumer needs and industry demands. Also, you can span from ecommerce giants to specialized platforms in various sectors, reflecting the versatility of marketplace models.

Today, you should focus on personalized and immersive experiences, leveraging AI and machine learning to tailor content and recommendations to individual user preferences. Designing for mobile-first and responsive interfaces ensures seamless user interactions across various devices. Additionally, integrate user-friendly navigation, intuitive search functionalities, and visually appealing elements.

Navigation

How to Build a Marketplace Platform: Main Steps & ChallengesWhat Is a Marketplace Platform?Why Build a Marketplace App?The Niches with the Most Significant Growth in the Market during 2024What is an MVP for a Marketplace App?8 Steps to Build a Marketplace App in 2024How Much Does It Cost to Create a Marketplace Platform?Choosing Tech Stack for Marketplace DevelopmentBuild a Marketplace App with IntegrioFAQ

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