How to Build a Marketplace App in 2024 [Complete Development Guide]

SolveIt
5 min readJun 7, 2024

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In a world where time is priceless, daily convenience reigns supreme. And nothing embodies this convenience more than an online marketplace.

Sure, the e-commerce arena is quite competitive, and many startups hesitate to jump in. But let’s put those fears aside, as statistics paint a promising picture.

In 2023, online retail soared to a jaw-dropping $5.8 trillion. Now, hold your hats because experts predict a whopping 39% surge in the years ahead — e-commerce is about to hit the $8 trillion mark by 2027.

There’s never been a better time to ride the wave of e-commerce growth, so there’s room for any e-commerce business idea. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the essentials of marketplace app development, covering core features, basic steps, and costs. So buckle up, and let’s get started!

Marketplace app: is it worth building?

While it’s no secret that online marketplaces are a profitable endeavor, these factors may fuel your entrepreneurial fire to start building a marketplace of your own:

Global reach | With an online marketplace, your potential customer base isn’t limited to a single geographic location. The Internet breaks down boundaries and allows users to shop worldwide all from the comfort of their couches (pajamas optional)! Such broad reach means you can tap into markets you might have never considered before and gain significant profit.

Scalability | One of the most attractive aspects of marketplace app development is scalability. As your business grows, you can quickly scale up your marketplace to accommodate more customers, sellers, and products. With the right technology and expert development team, scaling your online marketplace app can be relatively smooth and cost-effective.

Flexibility and innovation | You have the freedom to experiment with different business models, product offerings, and marketing strategies to find what works best for your target audience. Plus, tech innovations, such as AI-driven personalization, mobile shopping experiences, and blockchain-based transactions, continually push the boundaries of what’s possible in the online marketplace space. By staying agile, you can gain a competitive advantage and deliver exceptional customer value.

“One more advantage to add to the profitability of marketplace projects is the array of monetization opportunities they offer. Some of these methods include:

Partnership contracts with vendors

Commission-based models for transactions

Advertising opportunities

Paid promotional features

Fees for additional services

By strategically leveraging these avenues, businesses can maximize their revenue potential and create sustainable source of income.”

Natalia Ivleva, Lead BA at SolveIt

Marketplace app development: most inspiring examples

Before we dive into the essentials of marketplace app development, let’s get inspired by successful examples of popular online retailers:

Amazon

Arguably the undisputed king of online marketplaces, Amazon needs no introduction. Founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994 as an online bookstore, it has since evolved into a one-stop shop for nearly every category imaginable. From household essentials to electronics and even groceries, Amazon’s ecosystem connects millions of sellers with a global audience. Its Prime membership program, offering perks like free two-day shipping and streaming content, has further solidified Amazon’s dominance in the e-commerce space.

eBay

Thriving on its auction format, eBay has been connecting buyers and sellers since 1995. eBay started as a platform to buy and sell used goods and eventually has grown into a global marketplace with items across various categories. It’s a treasure hunter’s paradise, perfect for seeking unique vintage finds or grabbing incredible deals on everyday items. eBay’s auction-style listings and “Buy It Now” feature provide flexibility for both buyers and sellers.

Fiverr

Fiverr is an online services marketplace catering to freelancers and small businesses. The platform has democratized access to professional digital services, making it easy to find affordable and high-quality solutions. Whether you need a website revamp or a catchy jingle for your business, Fiverr connects you with talented individuals ready to bring your vision to life.

Zillow

Zillow is the go-to destination for all real estate things. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or rent, Zillow has you covered with its extensive database of properties, expert insights, and intuitive search tools. With millions of listings and a user-friendly interface, finding your dream home or investment property has never been easier.

Marketplace development: app types

There are three main types of marketplace apps categorized by the interaction between buyers and sellers:

Business-to-Consumer (B2C) | This is the most familiar marketplace model, connecting businesses (sellers) directly with individual consumers (buyers). These platforms offer a vast selection of products across various categories, allowing buyers to compare prices and find the best deals.

Business-to-Business (B2B) | Here, the marketplace connects businesses with other businesses. These platforms often cater to specific industries or niches, such as wholesale marketplaces for retailers or platforms connecting companies with service providers.

Peer-to-Peer (C2C) | This model allows individuals to sell directly to other individuals. Users can interact with each other without the involvement of businesses, offering unique finds and fostering a sense of community.

In addition to these core types, there are also hybrid models that combine aspects of several categories. For instance, a marketplace can connect businesses with consumers (B2C) while also offering a C2C section for reselling used goods.

Building a marketplace: most essential features

To create an online marketplace that can win users’ hearts, you need to cater to both sides of the coin: buyers and sellers. Let’s delve into the features you simply can’t overlook.

How to build an online marketplace: 8 steps

Conduct market research

Start with a thorough discovery phase to understand your audience, discover your niche, and determine the unique selling point (USP) that makes your marketplace special. By examining demographics, behaviors, and pain points, you’ll shape your strategy for further marketplace app development.

Whether you’re targeting busy professionals or passionate hobbyists, market research helps you identify opportunities and stand out from the competition.

Decide on the core features

Now that you know your market, it’s time to define the core functionalities. Ensure that both buyers and sellers have everything they need to engage effectively on your platform.

For buyers, it’s about creating a seamless shopping experience with easy navigation, secure payment options, and detailed product listings. Sellers need tools to manage their inventory efficiently, communicate with buyers, and track sales.

Choose monetization model

Explore 6 more steps to build a marketplace app and discover SolveIt's experience of launching such products!

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