How to Build a Marketplace Website like Etsy

create online marketplace

Businesses and consumers increasingly turning to online marketplaces due to the huge customer base that they offer. Do you want to tap into this growing market? If so, then you need to know how to build a marketplace website.

Thanks to our extensive software development experience, DevTeam.Space is ideally placed to help guide you. Evaluate our experience by reviewing the following projects:

1. Mejorate: A DevTeam.Space team created this app for users to choose and contact qualified healthcare professionals to solve their problems.

2. An influencer marketing solution: A software development team from DevTeam.Space created an influencer marketing solution for small and medium businesses to engage local influencers.

3. A natural language processing solution for a publisher: A DevTeam.Space team created an NLP (natural language processing) solution for Eksmo, a Russian publisher.

Ok, now let’s get our hands dirty. Do the following to build an online marketplace:

Contents

1. Review a few popular online marketplaces
2. Strategize on the business model of the proposed marketplace business
3. Form a small team to kick-off the marketplace website development project
4. Decide on the functionality and features of the marketplace platform
5. Plan for the MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
6. Decide on the software development approach for your marketplace idea
7. Choose a technology stack to develop an online marketplace website from scratch
8. Plan your marketplace website development project
9. Hire a software development team to develop the marketplace platform
10. Execute the marketplace website development project
11. Monitor and control the online marketplace development project
12. Monitor the performance of your marketplace platform
Final thoughts

1. Review a few popular online marketplaces

Online marketplaces are very popular. eCommerce competes intensely with offline shopping. A Finextra report states that the total online marketplace payments will reach $8.7 trillion by 2025.

The report projects a 20% CAGR for the B2C (business-to-consumer) and B2B (business-to-business) online sales via marketplaces during the 2020-2025 period. It estimates a 14% CAGR for B2C sales via online marketplaces during this period.

Review the following successful marketplace websites and apps:

Amazon

Amazon offers this multi-vendor marketplace. 3rd party sellers can use this e-commerce marketplace to sell new or used products.

eBay

eBay is an online marketplace. Users can view products listed for sale or auction. As the marketplace owner, eBay charges the sellers for using its platform.

Etsy

Etsy is an online marketplace for unique items. People can use this online store to buy and sell handmade, custom-made, unique, and vintage gifts. This peer-to-peer marketplace connects buyers with sellers directly.

Airbnb

People can use Airbnb to list their available properties. Vacationers can browse accommodations on this marketplace and book them. Owners of properties can earn rent.

Uber

Uber, the well-known cab-hailing service matches riders with drivers. That makes it an online marketplace too.

AliExpress

AliExpress allows small retailers to sell their products to internal buyers. It’s one of the popular eCommerce platforms, and Alibaba Group is behind this.

Upwork

Upwork is a freelance marketplace. You can post your job on this platform, and freelancers can apply. Conduct interviews to hire a suitable freelancer. Upwork provides a contracting and payment process.

2. Strategize on the business model of the proposed marketplace business

You need a great marketing strategy to create a successful online marketplace, and you need great execution. Conduct extensive market research to understand the pain points of your target audience. You should carry out detailed competitor research too.

Think of the business model to follow, e.g.:

  • Business-to-Customer (B2C);
  • Business-to-Business (B2B);
  • Peer-to-Peer (P2P), which is also known as the Customer-to-Customer (C2C) model.
  • Decide the kind of marketplace to offer, e.g.:
  • A vertical marketplace: You cover a niche, industry, or demographic segment.
  • A horizontal marketplace: Such a marketplace covers many categories of items.
  • You need to choose a monetization option. The following are a few common options:
  • Commissions;
  • Listing fees;
  • Membership fees;
  • Sign-up fees;
  • Freemium;
  • Additional services;
  • Advertising.

You can choose a combination of monetization options.

3. Form a small team to kick-off the marketplace website development project

Kick-off the project and plan it. You need a small team for that, and a project manager (PM) should lead it. You need a software architect and a few business analysts (BAs) in the team.

  • This team should do the following:
  • BAs should gather functional requirements and document them.
  • The architect should study industry benchmarks and decide on the non-functional requirements. These include scalability, performance, security, usability, maintainability, etc.
  • The PM should lead the processes like requirements management, project definition, and project planning. The team should collaborate and write the project specifications. It should facilitate reviews.

4. Decide on the functionality and features of the marketplace platform

Finalize the marketplace features to offer. Consider including the following features:

  • Account management features;
  • Search functions with customization;
  • A product page with product listings, availability, and pricing information;
  • Order management;
  • E-commerce features like shopping cart, checkout, etc.;
  • A wide range of payment methods like cards, mobile wallets, etc.;
  • Integration with payment systems like Stripe, PayPal, etc.;
  • Integration with payment gateways used in your target geographies;
  • An admin interface;
  • Reviews;
  • Social media integration;
  • Messaging and notifications;
  • Support for various languages and currencies;
  • Shipping with customization;
  • Analytics.

Your proposed marketplace website should have a high SEO (search engine optimization) ranking. Offer a great user experience. The website needs a responsive design, which is important for mobile users.

5. Plan for the MVP (Minimum Viable Product)

You want to know if your business ideas will work. You want feedback from customers after they use a functional product. The product might have fewer features, however, it should have enough for customers to try it.

This functional product with minimal features is called an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). You launch it in quick time. Based on the feedback, you can enhance the product or go back to the drawing board.

Prioritize the features to offer in your MVP. As we explained in our MVP guide, these should be the most important features.

6. Decide on the software development approach for your marketplace idea

Choose a development approach from the following options:

Using an eCommerce platform like Shopify

You can use eCommerce platforms to build a marketplace website. This approach doesn’t require coding skills. Check out the following options:

  • Shopify: It’s a cloud-based eCommerce platform. A marketplace start-up can use Shopify to launch an online marketplace quickly. Shopify offers robust documentation and support, and it’s a low-cost option.
  • Sharetribe: This is a cloud-based platform to create your online marketplace. The platform offers all the relevant eCommerce and marketplace features. Sharetribe provides excellent documentation, robust support, and a flexible pricing plan.
  • Magento: Magento is an open-source eCommerce platform. The creators of Magento developed it using PHP. You can use its powerful features like landing page-builder, order management, search, product recommendations, etc. Magento offers extensive documentation. You need a Magento hosting provider, and you can explore Cloudways, Hostinger, A2 Hosting, etc.

Using a CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress

You can build a marketplace website using WordPress, and this approach involves minimal coding. WordPress is a popular open-source CMS (Content Management System) based on PHP.

This CMS makes it easy to design and develop a website. You can take advantage of the rich ecosystem of WordPress. E.g., you can use Wolmart, the premium WordPress theme to build a multi-vendor online marketplace.

Premium WordPress marketplace themes integrate very well with WooCommerce, the popular WordPress eCommerce plugin. There are many other useful WordPress plugins for creating landing pages, improving SEO ranking, etc.

You need to find a managed WordPress hosting provider. Explore providers like Bluehost, HostGator, Hostinger, A2 Hosting, and InMotion Hosting.

Developing an online marketplace website from scratch

You can develop a marketplace website from scratch. This requires extensive coding, however, it also allows extensive customization. You can offer advanced capabilities like intelligent automation.

Utilize appropriate technologies for developing the front-end and back-end. You can offer the best user experience, performance, and security in this approach. You need a high-quality software development team for this approach.

7. Choose a technology stack to develop an online marketplace website from scratch

Decide on a technology stack to develop the marketplace platform from scratch. Focus on the following:

Front-end development

While there are several technologies for front-end web development, many organizations use JavaScript-based technologies. JavaScript is a popular open-source language with a rich ecosystem.

You can develop the front-end using JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Alternatively, you can use JavaScript-based web frameworks like Angular and React.js. These open-source frameworks expedite front-end development.

Back-end development

You have many options for back-end development. Node.js is a great choice if you want JavaScript. This open-source runtime environment for JavaScript helps to create scalable and performance web apps.

There are many useful open-source Node.js tools and frameworks. Node.js works well with web frameworks like Angular and React.js. It works well with MongoDB, and many programmers know Node.js.

Cloud computing platform

A cloud computing platform can expedite the project to build your own marketplace online. Choose one of the leading MCSPs (Managed Cloud Services Providers) like AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and Azure.

You can use a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) platform for web development. PaaS platforms like AWS Elastic Beanstalk take care of the cloud infrastructure, operating system, middleware, and runtime environment. They offer key services like databases and DevOps tools. You bring code and data.

API development

You might want to use leading 3rd party APIs in some cases. E.g., you might use the PayPal API, Braintree Direct, or Stripe API for payment processing.

However, we recommend you develop your own APIs for key functionalities. This helps to utilize your business capabilities, furthermore, you scale up the software development processes.

Develop RESTful APIs since REST (Representational State Transfer) is the de-facto API development standard. Use MySQL or PostgreSQL if you need an RDBMS (Relational Database Management System). You can use MongoDB or Apache Cassandra if you need a NoSQL database.

8. Plan your marketplace website development project

We recommend you use the Scrum framework to manage this project. This framework helps to execute Agile projects effectively. You develop a product in iterations, which are called “sprints” in the Scrum parlance.

Once you hire developers, you should build a Scrum team. The PM should perform the role of a Scrum Master. The team should estimate the project requirements and schedule them in sprints. The Scrum Master also needs to plan for quality management, risk management, etc.

9. Hire a software development team to develop the marketplace platform

Hire competent people for the following roles:

  • UI (user interface) designers;
  • Web developers;
  • Testers;
  • DevOps engineers.

You might think of hiring from a freelance platform. However, you will find it hard to manage a project with part-time freelancers. Freelance platforms don’t offer any management support. You need to find replacements if freelancers leave your project mid-way.

We recommend you hire full-time programmers from a reputed software development company. Such companies provide management support, and they provide replacements in the case of a turnover.

10. Execute the marketplace website development project

Focus on the following:

  • UI design: Follow web UI design guidelines and best practices.
  • Application security: Use techniques and tools like multi-factor authentication (MFA), encryption, antivirus, and next-generation firewalls. Mitigate the top application security vulnerabilities.
  • API development: Create API endpoints smartly, and document APIs effectively. Secure APIs using encryption and API gateways. Create effective rules for API requests and responses.
  • Coding: Use IDEs like Ecplise to code, and integrate APIs.
  • Testing and deployment: Use the testing and DevOps tools provided by the cloud platform.

11. Monitor and control the online marketplace development project

Use well-known project management tools like Asana, Trello, or Jira to manage the project. Monitor the following product development KPIs for effective project management:

  • Story points retired;
  • Team velocity points;
  • Sprint burndown;
  • Errors per 1,000 lines of code.

12. Monitor the performance of your marketplace platform

You need to monitor how the new marketplace website works. Track the following product management KPIs for this:

  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT);
  • Retention rate;
  • Customer churn rate;
  • Conversion rate;
  • Customer lifetime value;
  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC);
  • The number of customer support tickets;
  • Daily active users (DAUs) and monthly active users (MAUs);
  • Session duration;
  • Bounce rate;
  • Monthly recurring revenue (MRR).

Final thoughts

We described how to build a marketplace website, however, such projects can be complex. Do you need help with a marketplace software development project? Contact DevTeam.Space, and a dedicated account manager will explain our value proposition and services.

FAQs

1. Has DevTeam.Space built only one type of marketplace or different types?

DevTeam.Space has extensive software development experience in custom marketplace development. As a software development company, we developed different eCommerce websites and marketplace apps. We built e-commerce marketplaces for startups and large companies.

2. Can DevTeam.Space offer high-quality developers to my marketplace start-up?

DevTeam.Space has highly competent and experienced developers. We have a mature software development process. We consistently encourage our developers to upskill, therefore, our developers are highly motivated. We can support your eCommerce marketplace start-up.

3. I want my own marketplace APIs. Can DevTeam.Space help to develop them?

DevTeam.Space has extensive RESTful API development experience. Our developers can use popular databases for this. DevTeam.Space programmers can design API endpoints carefully. Furthermore, they can create smart rules for API requests and responses. They can document APIs effectively.

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