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How to Create an NFT Marketplace App Like OpenSea

build marketplace like opeansea

Marketplaces for digital collectibles are gaining in popularity by the second. If you plan to tap into this market, then you are wondering how to create a marketplace yourself.

That’s a good question which we will explore in this article.

Besides the growing popularity, the NFT market is still in its infancy, there are still huge opportunities that are ripe for the picking. Here are a few amazing case studies of some of the startups and enterprise companies that hired DevTeam.Space to build their software application development:

  1. A combination of cryptocurrency exchange and secure cryptocurrency wallet: Developers from DevTeam.Space played a key part in creating the exchange and wallet.
  2. SwiftGift: The DevTeam.Space developers played a crucial part in developing SwiftGift, an instant gift application with its own eCommerce functionality.
  3. WhiteHawk: Developers from DevTeam.Space redesigned and rebuilt WhiteHawk, an online market for an Australian cybersecurity company.

Read on, as we utilize this expertise to explain how to create an NFT marketplace app like OpenSea.

A brief introduction to NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens)

An NFT (Non-Fungible Token) is a cryptographic token. Entrepreneurs and developers create them using a public blockchain platform like Ethereum. A few key differences exist between NFTs and other cryptographic tokens, which are as follows:

  • An NFT is a unique cryptographic token. One Bitcoin is exactly the same as another Bitcoin (BTC), however, each NFT is unique.
  • You can’t divide NFTs into smaller parts. On the other hand, you can divide a Bitcoin or Ethereum (ETH) into smaller parts.

A few similarities exist between NFTs and other types of cryptographic tokens. They are as follows:

  • Developers use a blockchain platform like Ethereum to create a cryptographic token. This holds true for NFTs.
  • You can create a cryptographic token by coding certain computer programs. That remains the same with NFTs. 
  • One can trade cryptographic tokens. That holds true for NFTs.

Digital kittens in the blockchain-based game CryptoKitties are prominent examples of NFTs. This Ethereum blockchain-based online game allows players to trade and collect digital kittens. Other popular examples are as follows:

  • NBA had launched NFTs.
  • Beeple, the well-known digital artist launched an NFT named “Everydays – The first 5000 days”. It’s a collage of artworks.  

What are NFT online marketplaces? An overview

NFT marketplaces are online marketplaces to trade NFTs. They are similar to other eCommerce marketplaces, e.g.:

  • Amazon, eBay: Online marketplaces for merchandise;
  • Airbnb: Vacation rental marketplace;
  • Upwork: Marketplace for freelancers.

An NFT marketplace works as follows:

  • Users sign-up on the platform and choose a digital wallet.
  • Creators of digital collectibles create their digital assets, create NFTs, and upload the digital assets.
  • The product listings feature of the eCommerce platform displays the digital collectibles.
  • Sellers can specify a fixed price or conduct an auction.
  • The eCommerce marketplace helps users execute sales and auctions.
  • Finally, the online store processes the transfer of digital assets and money.

Examples of popular NFT marketplace platforms

Review the following popular examples of NFT marketplaces to get design ideas:

OpenSea

OpenSea is a well-known NFT marketplace. You can find different kinds of digital collectibles here. These include artworks, trading cards, sports-related digital collectibles, etc.

You can create an account with OpenSea. You can NFTs for your digital collectibles and sell them. OpenSea allows you to search for different kinds of NFTs, and you can buy them.

Rarible

Rarible is another popular NFT marketplace. It offers all standard features of an NFT marketplace. You can create your account, subsequently, you can create digital collectibles. Rarible allows you to sell them. You can search for collectibles and buy them.

SuperRare

SuperRare is an online marketplace platform for digital art. The developers of this NFT marketplace built it on Ethereum. SuperRare offers the standard features offered by an NFT marketplace. You can create your account, create digital artworks, and sell them on SuperRare. You can also browse digital artworks and buy them.

What features should you offer in an NFT marketplace website or app?

An NFT marketplace website or app should offer the following features:

  • An eCommerce storefront;
  • Search functions, including the advanced ones;
  • Various filters while searching;
  • The creation of product listing;
  • Displaying the status of the product listing;
  • The buying functionality including features like the shopping cart, checkout, etc.;
  • The auctioning functionality;
  • Integration with popular digital wallets;
  • The payment functionality including the integration with payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, etc.;
  • Synchronization of the offline activities;
  • Product rating capabilities.

Decide on the business model and project scope of your proposed NFT marketplace

Onboard a team that includes a competent project manager (PM), an experienced software architect, and a few smart business analysts (BAs). This team needs to determine the marketplace business model. It should document the scope of the project, furthermore, it needs to decide on the best approach to execute the project.

This might involve various questions, e.g.:

  • Who are your target audiences?
  • What is your key value proposition?
  • Do you want to operate a multi-vendor marketplace?
  • Do you want to operate as an aggregator as Uber does in the cab-hailing space?
  • What are the different pricing mechanisms that you want to use?
  • Will you charge a listing fee?
  • Which characteristics of the sharing economy do you plan to use?

Your team should use appropriate tools, e.g.:

  • Market research;
  • Interviewing the various stakeholders.

This team should determine the project scope. That should include the following:

  • Functional requirements: You need to finalize the feature to offer. Document them effectively. Follow our guide to writing functional specifications.
  • Non-functional requirements: Determine the non-functional requirements (NFRs) like scalability, performance, etc. Document them effectively.
  • Platforms: Decide whether to build a mobile app along with an eCommerce website. Identify the platforms you want to target, e.g., Android, iOS, etc.

Plan the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) of your proposed NFT marketplace

You would like to validate your business idea, therefore, you need market feedback. Launch an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) for that. An MVP is a functional product. It has fewer features than the final product. However, an MVP has sufficient features to get market feedback. You can enhance your product based on the feedback.

While you might have decided to offer many features, you will offer fewer features in the MVP. How do you determine those features in the MVP? You need to prioritize them. Use the following tools for this:

  • “Pain and gain map”;
  • “Prioritization matrix”.

Our guide to creating an MVP can help you.

Option #1 to create an NFT marketplace: Use SaaS eCommerce platforms

You can create an NFT marketplace using SaaS eCommerce platforms like Sharetribe or Shopify. These platforms don’t require you to have an experienced software development team. However, they don’t allow much customization.

Review the following options:

Sharetribe

Sharetribe is an easy-to-use marketplace solution. It offers the following advantages:

  • You can create an elegant online marketplace without coding.
  • Sharetribe offers all standard features for an online marketplace. These include the creation of an account, product listing, shopping carts, checkouts, order flow, etc.
  • Sharetribe allows you to integrate popular payment systems.
  • You can access the comprehensive Sharetribe documentation.
  • Sharetribe regularly adds new features to its marketplace solution.
  • The company offers a wide range of pricing plans, and it offers a free trial.

Shopify

Small business owners and retailers that don’t have a software development team can use Shopify to build their eCommerce websites. This platform offers all the key capabilities that you need, e.g.:

  • Marketing;
  • Sales;
  • Listing new products;
  • Order management;
  • Shipping;
  • Integration with various payment methods.

Shopify offers a comprehensive set of resources to learn this platform. The company offers a range of pricing plans, furthermore, you can avail of its free trial.

Option #2 for a startup: NFT marketplace development using a CMS (Content Management System)

You can use popular open-source CMSs (Content Management Systems) like WordPress, Drupal, and Magento to create an online marketplace business. This option works for marketplace owners without an experienced software development team. You don’t need coding skills to use these CMSs.

You have the following options:

WordPress

WordPress is a popular open-source CMS. You can use this CMS to build various kinds of websites. This includes eCommerce, online marketplaces, etc.

You need to get a WordPress hosting plan. Various hosting providers offer such plans, e.g., Bluehost, SiteGround, InMotion Hosting, etc. They offer easy-to-use tools like cPanel, Softaculous, etc. These tools help you to install WordPress, set up login credentials, install SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), etc.

WordPress themes determine the look and feel of the website. WordPress plugins help you to incorporate various functionalities in the website. Many providers offer popular WordPress themes. These themes reduce your front-end design workload, furthermore, they help with SEO (search engine optimization) too.

E.g., you can review the WordPress theme named “Mayosis”. This theme supports building an online marketplace website. It offers paid extensions to integrate PayPal and Stripe.

You can use the popular WordPress plugin named WooCommerce. It helps you to create eCommerce websites. Furthermore, you can use the plugin named the “Multivendor Marketplace Solution for WooCommerce”. It helps you to create a multivendor marketplace.    

Drupal

Drupal is another popular open-source CMS. You can use it like you would use WordPress despite a few different terms.

You need to find a hosting provider. Pantheon, Acquia, SiteGround, and Cloudways are some of the options. You can install Drupal easily using tools like cPanel, Softaculous, etc.

Drupal provides extensive documentation. You can choose one from several popular Drupal online marketplace themes. Lozin is an example.

Magento

Magento is a popular open-source CMS with a focus on eCommerce. Conceptually, it’s similar to WordPress and Drupal.

Find a Magento hosting provider. You can choose one from well-known hosting providers like HostGator, InMotion Hosting, A2 Hosting, and SiteGround. These providers provide helpful tools like cPanel, Softaculous, etc. You can install Magento, set up your login credentials, and install SSL using them.

Magento provides comprehensive documentation. Many popular Magento marketplace themes exist. An example is GemMart.

Option #3 to build an NFT marketplace: Use the OpenSea SDK (Software Development Kit)

You can create your own NFT marketplace by using the OpenSea SDK. As the name indicates, this SDK is from OpenSea. This alternative requires you to have a software development team.

You build your NFT marketplace on top of OpenSea. The JavaScript-based OpenSea SDK allows you to create a crypto-native marketplace. It offers all the key features that you need, e.g., buying, selling, bidding, etc.

The OpenSea SDK offers many advantages, and we find the following noteworthy:

  • You don’t need to create and deploy your own smart contracts.  
  • You don’t need to create your own backend order books.

OpenSea provides extensive SDK documentation. The documentation covers all aspects, e.g.:

  • Installation;
  • How to use the SDK;
  • How to check balances and ownerships;
  • Bidding-related aspects like making and accepting offers;
  • Product listing;
  • Buying;
  • Selling;
  • Running crowdsales;
  • Transferring NFTs.

You need to manage a full-fledged software development project when you use the OpenSea SDK. This includes the following:

  • Requirements management;
  • Human resource management;
  • Executing the phases like development, testing, deployment, etc.;
  • Tracking and controlling the project;
  • All other project management aspects.

Option #4 to create an NFT eCommerce business: Custom development

Undertake a custom software development project if the above options to develop an NFT marketplace don’t suit you. Developing a system from scratch allows flexibility.

This option differs from the above-mentioned alternatives in the following ways:

  • User experience: You can design the user interface the way your prospective users want it. Overall, you can design the system to cater to your target audience.
  • Features: You can offer customized features and differentiated capabilities. No-code or low-code options don’t allow that.
  • Architecture: You choose a software architecture pattern to meet your specific functional and non-functional requirements.
  • Technology stack: Choose a technology stack to cater to your requirements. E.g., decide whether to offer native mobile apps or hybrid ones. Furthermore, choose the database solutions that cater to your requirements.
  • Software development team: You need a complete software development team with cloud platform architects, developers, UI designers, testers, and DevOps engineers.
  • Project management: You need to manage a full-fledged software development project from end to end.  

Take the following steps to develop an NFT marketplace from scratch:

1. Choose a software development methodology to build the planned online marketplace

We recommend you adopt the “Agile” software development methodology for this project. You can launch a functional MVP with minimal features. Based on the market feedback, you can enhance the product.

As we explained in our guide to SDLC (software development lifecycle), the “Agile” methodology allows iterative development. You can use the “Scrum” technique. We call the iterations “sprints” in this technique. 

2. Choose between native and hybrid mobile apps when building a marketplace platform

Assuming you will offer a mobile app as a part of the NFT marketplace project, you need to decide the kind of app to offer. You have two options, which are as follows:

1. Native mobile apps

Native mobile apps offer the best user experience, performance, and security. These apps use the platform-specific hardware optimally. They also use the operating systems feature well.

You need to develop native Android apps using Java or Kotlin. Native iOS development requires Swift or Objective-C. These programming languages offer security, and they are best for the respective operating systems.

Developing and maintaining native mobile apps can be expensive. You need to develop two completely different apps, and you maintain two different codebases.

2. Hybrid mobile apps

Hybrid mobile apps are like web apps. They can run on both Android and iOS devices. They fall short of native mobile apps in terms of user experience, performance, and security. This gap is pronounced if you create a hybrid app using mobile frameworks like Ionic or Cordova. However, React Native, a popular mobile framework delivers a near-native user experience.

If you create a hybrid mobile app using React Native then can reuse your code to a great extent. This reduces your development and maintenance costs.

Note: Analyze your business requirements and target audience carefully before choosing between native vs hybrid mobile development.

3. Select the appropriate software architecture pattern for the marketplace website and app

You need to select the right software architecture pattern. Architectural decisions are some of the first decisions that you make during a software development project. You need to get them right.

Your choice of the software architecture pattern influences how you deliver the functional features. This also determines scalability, performance, and maintainability.

Analyze your requirements carefully before you choose an architecture pattern, e.g.:

4. Choose a cloud platform for NFT marketplace development

Choose the right cloud platform for your project. An MCSP (Managed Cloud Services Provider) takes care of the cloud infrastructure, therefore, you can focus on software development. Several reputed MCSPs exist, e.g., AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, etc. Choose one according to your business requirements.

Decide the kind of cloud platform you need, e.g.:

  • IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service): The MCSP managed the cloud infrastructure, e.g., server, storage, networking, etc. Amazon EC2 (Elastic Cloud Compute) from AWS is an example.
  • PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service): The MCSP manages the cloud infrastructure, operating system, middleware, and runtime environment. Top PaaS providers offer several services like database, DevOps tools, etc. You focus on coding, testing, and data. AWS Elastic Beanstalk is an example.
  • MBaaS (Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service): The MCSP manages the cloud infrastructure and persistent storage. This makes the development and maintenance of the mobile backend easier, therefore, you can focus on the front-end. AWS Amplify is an example.  

5. Find a 3rd party API solution to integrate crypto wallets

NFTs are cryptographic tokens. Therefore, your proposed NFT marketplace should enable end-users to store NFTs in crypto wallets. Multiple crypto wallets exist. We recommend you use 3rd party APIs to integrate crypto wallets.

You can choose one from several APIs, e.g.:

  • Coinbase digital APIs: The Coinbase digital APIs enable you to integrate your NFT marketplace to wallets. Coinbase provides various client libraries and mobile SDKs too.
  • Zabo APIs: Zabo APIs allow you to integrate different crypto exchanges and wallets. You can access its comprehensive API documentation.  

6. Choose the technology stack for marketplace platform development

You need to choose the right technology stack. Consider the following:

1. Web app frontend development

We recommend you use a JavaScript-based technology stack. You can use either AngularJS or ReactJS. Both are popular JavaScript-based web frameworks for front-end development, and many developers know them.

2. Web app backend development

We recommend you use Node.js. This open-source runtime environment for JavaScript helps you to build performant and scalable web apps. Many popular open-source frameworks and tools exist for Node.js, therefore, programmers gain productivity. Node.js doesn’t involve a steep learning curve.

3. SQL database

You proposed NFT marketplace will require an RDBMS (Relational Database Management System). We recommend you use either MySQL or PostgreSQL. Both of these open-source SQL databases enjoy a high degree of popularity. They offer scalability, performance, and ease of use.

4. NoSQL database

You will likely need to use a NoSQL database. You can use either MongoDB or Apache Cassandra. Both of them offer performance, scalability, and user-friendly features. MongoDB and Apache Cassandra are open-source, and many developers already know them.

5. API standard

You would need to develop your own APIs. You can use the REST (Representational State Transfer) standard for API development, alternatively, you can use GraphQL. Both have their advantages. GraphQL, a query language for API development is more modern. However, REST is still the de-facto standard. Most of the developers know how to develop RESTful APIs

6. Mobile development

As we discussed earlier, React Native is a good choice if you want to develop a hybrid mobile app. This JavaScript-based open-source mobile framework delivers a near-native user experience.

Are you developing native mobile apps? As we stated earlier, you need to create separate apps for Android and iOS.

You can use either Kotlin or Java for native Android development. Both are feature-rich programming languages. While Kotlin is a more recent entrant, its advanced features made it a popular language. Java is well-established for decades. Many developers know Java, which is an advantage. Analyze your long-term requirements before deciding.

You can use either Swift or Objective-C for native iOS development. Objective-C has been the mainstay for iOS development for a long time. Many iOS developers know this powerful language. Swift emerged later, however, its powerful features have made it a very popular language. Look at your requirements carefully to make a decision.  

7. AI (Artificial Intelligence) capabilities

Do you plan to offer AI capabilities in your proposed NFT marketplace? These could include analytics, search recommendations, customer support, and more. We recommend you use Python for developing AI or ML (Machine Learning) algorithms. Python has proved its mettle in the AI/ML space.

Depending on the kind of AI-powered features you offer, you might be able to use a 3rd party API. Do remember that every 3rd party API you integrate adds an external dependency. Ideally, you would like to strike a balance between using 3rd party APIs and your own APIs.

7. Implement the right set of application security solutions

An NFT marketplace will involve financial transactions. You need to implement the right set of security solutions to protect sensitive data. Plan for the following:

  • Mitigating the top application security risks identified by the OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) Foundation;
  • Using encryption for data-at-rest and data-in-transit;
  • Using firewalls and antivirus solutions;
  • Utilizing modern authentication techniques like multi-factor authentication (MFA);
  • Leveraging digital signatures;
  • Securing APIs using encryption, gateways, quotas, and throttling;
  • Using secure cloud infrastructure.

8. Use the right tools and methodologies for testing and reviews

Quality management carries a lot of weightage in a software development project. You need to focus on both testing and reviews. Testing carries a lot of importance, however, it can’t unearth all defects. You need reviews.

Choose the right set of tools for testing. You might want to use Selenium for test automation. This popular open-source framework can help you to automate the testing of your proposed web app.

You can use XCTest for unit testing the iOS app. Espresso is a useful framework for testing Android apps, which you can consider.

You need to plan for the following reviews:

  • Requirements review;
  • Specifications review;
  • Test plan review;
  • Code review.

Finding experienced reviewers can be hard. Plan for sufficient lead time.

9. Hiring developers to build the proposed online marketplace

You need a competent team. Look for the following roles:

  • Cloud platform architects;
  • UI designers;
  • Web developers;
  • Mobile developers;
  • Testers;
  • DevOps engineers.

You have multiple options to hire developers, e.g.:

Freelance platforms

You can use freelance platforms. Post your job, and you will get resumes. Interview the shortlisted candidates and hire suitable ones. You might be able to negotiate a low hourly rate.

However, freelance platforms don’t offer project management support. You might find it hard to manage the work of part-time freelancers. You need to find a replacement if a freelancer leaves the project mid-way.

Software development companies

Software development companies can provide you with competent developers. Reputed software development companies invest in the professional development of their team members. Therefore, they can provide motivated developers.

Software development companies offer management support. You will work with full-time developers. Software development companies provide replacement if a developer leaves the project mid-way.

Note: We recommend you hire developers from a reputed software development company for complex projects.

10. Managing an NFT marketplace development project

Proactively manage your NFT marketplace development project. Use the “Scrum” technique. It works as follows:

  • The PM performs the role of a “Scrum master” and leads the “Scrum team”. Scrum teams are cross-functional teams where developers and testers work together.
  • A “Product owner” provides the features that the team should build.
  • The team estimates and schedules these features in various “sprints”. We call this process “Sprint planning”.
  • Scrum teams hold “daily stand-up meetings” to resolve project issues.
  • The team demonstrates the product to the business stakeholders in a “Sprint review meeting”. The business stakeholders approve a sprint if the product works as desired.
  • Scrum teams hold a lessons-learned exercise called the “Sprint retrospective meeting” after the sprint.

Follow our guide to scrum teams.  

Creating an NFT: An overview

While we talked about creating an NFT marketplace, let’s talk briefly about creating NFTs. We recommend you create your NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain platform. You need to develop Ethereum smart contracts for this.

Take the following steps:

  • Create an Ethereum account. Use an easy-to-use Ethereum wallet like eth-lightwallet.
  • Install testrpc, a popular blockchain client.
  • You need to Install Web3.js, an Ethereum JavaScript API.
  • Install Truffle, a popular tool to compile, test, and deploy smart contracts.
  • Install MetaMask, a popular browser extension to communicate with Ethereum.
  • Configure the above-mentioned tools by following our Ethereum development guide.
  • Code smart contracts to create an NFT. You should use the Ethereum standard named ERC-721, which is for NFTs. Code the smart contract by using Remix. It’s a popular IDE to code Solidity smart contracts.
  • Buy dummy Ethers from the MetaMask Ether Faucet.
  • Test your smart contracts using a test network like Ropsten.
  • Use Truffle to deploy your smart contracts to the Ethereum main network.

Final thoughts

We talked about how to create a marketplace for NFTs and digital assets. Such projects can be complex. Contact DevTeam.Space if you need help in executing such a project.

FAQs

1. Is it hard to hire a software development team to build an online marketplace like Etsy?

You can find developers with the experience of developing a website for an eCommerce business. Online marketplaces need more than just an appealing landing page. Your proposed marketplace needs to stand out. You need experienced developers for that. You need to plan well for that.

2. How important is application security for a successful marketplace online?

Cyber-criminals routinely target many websites, and online marketplaces are lucrative targets. You need to create a sound strategy for application security. It should include physical, technical, and procedural components. You need developers that know how to create secure websites and apps.

Business owners might not have sufficient software developers in their companies. Founders and co-founders of startup companies might not have enough developers. DevTeam.Space can help by providing complete software development teams for NFT marketplace development.

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