The biggest retail giants in the world are marketplaces. Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Alibaba… these are just a few of them. These platforms help people sell and buy goods. They handle advertising and marketing and provide an audience for merchants and a big choice of products for buyers. How can you build a marketplace app and what should you watch out for? Find out in this article.

Why build a marketplace app?

Marketplaces have become the primary place for people to buy products. They’re beneficial for everyone: sellers, buyers, and marketplace owners.

Sellers enjoy having a place they can sell their products without having to put lots of effort into marketing. It’s way faster and easier to put your product on an online platform than to create your own ecommerce website or app and then struggle to get traffic, investing thousands of dollars in search engine optimization (SEO), app store optimization (ASO), and advertising.

It’s easier to sell a product on a marketplace because the target audience is already there.

marketplace statistics benefits
More and more companies prefer to sell their products on marketplaces: they gain audience instantly and don’t spend budget on promoting their own retail website

Buyers like to save time and money by buying products on marketplaces. They enjoy having lots of options for different prices and the ability to compare products and buy everything in one place without having to browse dozens of separate ecommerce shops.

You, as the owner of a marketplace, have lots of effective ways to generate revenue. You can get money from advertising, and of course you can charge a percentage for each deal. Another business model involves seller subscriptions, which allow merchants to post a limited number of goods on their profiles.

Marketplaces are currently the most profitable form of online retail business.

marketplace statistics
Marketplaces are a great place to sell products not only for online shops, but for individuals as well

This type of online retail is especially popular in the United States, which means that other regions have lots of potential.

To compete with existing marketplaces, you need to be mobile-first. For this business, having both a website and a mobile application is a must, as people make over 50% of their purchases via mobile phones. Mobile websites are also a great option, but they aren’t nearly as responsive and convenient as mobile applications.

If you don’t yet have a marketplace you’d like to expand to the mobile market, it’s a good idea to start from a website and deploy it as fast as possible

Another option is to use an app builder, but its templates won’t give you nearly as much versatility as you need to make your marketplace successful. An app builder is a good option for an MVP though, but after you find out what the market wants, you’ll need to create a custom app that will correspond to your business needs.

However, if you don’t yet have a marketplace you’d like to expand to the mobile market, it’s a good idea to start from a website and deploy it as fast as possible. A first simple version will give you the ability to test your service and make sure it has potential in the niche you’ve chosen.

Now let’s find out what features are a must for the first version of your online marketplace application and what features you can add to make your app irresistible.

The perfect marketplace mobile app: Must-have features

Every marketplace involves several user roles, so you should take this into account when you create a marketplace app. These user roles are:

  • Merchant
  • Buyer
  • Administrator

You can either combine seller and buyer roles into one application or make two separate apps. For administrators, you’ll need a separate web application, preferably for desktop.

Onboarding

The onboarding process should be easy and clear. You can let people sign up with emails or social media profiles.

The onboarding logic will depend on your app’s structure. If you have one app with two different user roles, allow people to choose to create a seller or a buyer profile.

onboarding marketplace app
Onboarding should be as easy as possible, and it should direct a user to a profile they’ll use: a buyer or a merchant’s profile

Another option is to combine these two roles in one profile so that a user can both buy and sell stuff through the same account. Or you can create two separate apps, but that’s rather uncommon for marketplace applications.

Just after the onboarding stage you can add an interactive tutorial on how to use your app’s features and how to manage user profiles.

Personal profile

Users in both roles need to have personal profiles. A buyer’s profile should contain information about the user, their favorite items, current and past orders, a payment method (for example, a credit card), and settings.

Sellers should be able to see their own listings, the number of product views, and the number of people who have favorited one of their products. All users should see incoming messages and chat history. I’ll talk about these features more later.

Settings

There should be a short list of settings that allow a user to customize push notifications, personal information, and so on.

marketplace app settings
Settings often contain credit card information and other personal data that should be stored securely

Listings

Listings are a core part of an application. They should showcase the products, including their names, pictures, and ratings. Pagination is crucial for listings: it allows the application to load information faster because it separates data into small chunks and loads it gradually.

Recommendations

If you want to drive sales in your application, you should not only showcase what’s available but make suggestions to users. You can base these suggestions on two things:

  • Analysis of a large data set to determine what might be interesting to an individual user based on their previous searches and items they’ve added to favorites
  • Products that were paid to be promoted on the main page of your app in the recommendation section

Categories

You should include categories in your mobile app for marketplace to make search more convenient for users. The categories will depend on what your marketplace is about. Be sure to make them logical.

mobile app categories
Dynamic categories that constantly change will take significantly more time to implement

Search and filters

Search and advanced filters are crucial for a marketplace app. The best practice is to make search predictive. Aliexpress, for example, shows the number of results for a certain query, allowing a user to choose a query that will provide them with more options.

Filters by price, delivery type, rating, and so on are also an important part of any application that has anything to do with choosing products.

Product profiles

In product profiles, a buyer should be able to find all necessary information to make a purchase, including an item’s name, photos, a description, average rating, reviews, and characteristics.

Favorites

Allow users to add favorites so they don’t lose a product they like and are considering purchasing.

Ratings and reviews

Ratings and reviews are a must. Most people won’t even buy a product if there are no reviews, so this is a must-have feature. Ratings can come in lots of forms, but a five-star rating system is the most popular now. You can come up with something more original, but make sure the ratings are still clear for users.

marketplace reviews
5-star rating is the most popular type of ratings on web and mobile apps. You can come up with your own system, but make sure it’s clear

Shopping cart

A shopping cart is necessary for any retail mobile application or website. Allow users to add products from different sellers to their shopping cart and show the price of all products combined. Don’t forget to include coupons, discounts, and any other loyalty program attributes if you have them.

Payment gateway

Checking out is the next step a user will take after adding products to a shopping cart. To avoid shopping cart abandonment, make sure it’s fast and easy to pay. Don’t sacrifice security though, as it’s a primary concern for people who shop online. Be sure to choose a reliable payment gateway that will meet both your needs and your users’.

Delivery tracking

If you have a marketplace, delivery will probably be the responsibility of sellers. However, you should ensure that sellers send goods through a trusted delivery service. In any case, both buyers and sellers need to see the parcel delivery status in your application. This will make your service more trustworthy and convenient to use.

Order status and confirmation

Order status and confirmation helps sellers manage orders and see which can be considered closed. After a buyer confirms an order, they should be asked to leave a review.

Push notifications

Push notifications let your users know all about their orders, remind them of abandoned shopping carts, and inform them of any price changes or discounts. Rich push notifications are the best option for marketplace mobile apps because you can attach media to the notification. This makes it more visible and enticing to click on.

Analytics

Analytics is crucial for any application, and you should include it in your MVP prototype even if at first it seems useless. Analytics gives you an idea of how your business is doing, what parts of your strategy are working, and what isn’t performing as well as you expected. Analytics can help you find your niche and control your business development.

mobile app analytics
Analytics will give you valuable insights you can use to scale and change your business model according to the market needs

Profile statistics

Sellers on your platform should have access to statistics that give them an idea of how interested the audience is in their products. Minimal statistics should show product views and the number of people who have added a product to their favorites.

Product admin panel

To manage a shop within your platform, a seller needs to add photos, descriptions, categories, and prices and edit all this information.

Support chat

A marketplace relies on trust. Your sellers need to trust you, and buyers need to be sure of your reliability as well. All users of your app must know that you’ll handle any dispute fairly. That’s why you need support in your application in some form. It can be text-based chat. Or it can be a callback button. But in our opinion, a chat is the best option because in a chat users can also attach screenshots and photos that prove their point. With this, your company will be able to solve issues faster.

A marketplace relies on trust. Your sellers need to trust you, and buyers need to be sure of your reliability as well

The cost of marketplace app development

The cost of marketplace app development depends on:

  • Your scope
  • Technologies and tools
  • Third-party services
  • Hourly rate of the development company

The hourly rate depends on the country where the marketplace app development company is situated. For example, an application that may cost over $150,000 in the US may cost only $25,000 in Ukraine.

cost of mobile app development
The price of mobile app development depends on a country in which a country is situated

Here you can see the costs of all the features I mentioned in this article. You can choose the ones you’ll need for your marketplace app and see approximately how much your app might cost.

FeatureEstimate in days
Onboarding3 — 5
Customer personal profile2 — 5
Seller personal profile2 — 5
Tutorial1 — 2
Chat2 — 4
Settings2 — 3
Listings3 — 6
Recommendations2 — 4
Categories2 — 3
Search2 — 6
Filters2 — 3
Push notifications2 — 4
Product profiles2 — 4
Favorites1 — 2
Ratings and reviews2 — 4
Mobile payments2 — 3
Analytics6 — 14
Shopping cart2 — 4
Delivery tracking1 — 2
Support chat3 — 5

 

If you want to develop two marketplace apps for Android and iOS, you’ll need to multiply your budget by 1.75.

Note that this is only the cost of developing a set of features. The whole marketplace app development process consists of lots of other things you’ll need to consider in your budget. Let’s look at the main steps of marketplace mobile app development.

1. Creating a technical specification
If you don’t have a technical specification, you’ll need some time to communicate with a business analyst who will then create one for your app. This will help make sure the final result matches your expectations and will give you a clear idea of the budget you’ll need for the whole app.

2. Design
If the design of your app is complex, design can take up to 20% of the whole development time.

3. Creating a development environment
Before starting development, programmers need to set up the system, create an architecture, and prepare all the necessary APIs.

4. Development
The cost of development includes the cost for quality assurance, which is compulsory at Mobindustry. We don’t provide clients with code that wasn’t checked, so at least a minimum of quality assurance will be included in the development process. Note that you’ll also need to spend time on communication, as it’s very important to be on the same page with your team and get reports about everything that happens on the project.

To keep people using your app, you need to take care of it and update it when new libraries and operating systems come out

5. Deployment and optimization
The final step of building a marketplace app is deploying it to the app store. To let people know about it, you’ll need to optimize your profile for the app store’s search engine.

6. Maintenance and support
To keep people using your app, you need to take care of it and update it when new libraries and operating systems come out. Maintenance is an important part of any application’s life cycle, and the better you support your app, the longer it will be relevant.

Conclusion

A marketplace application is a big project that requires lots of attention before, during, and after the main development process. Before creating a marketplace app, decide on all the details: how you’ll monetize your platform, what products or services it will feature, and how you’ll make sure people trust you.

If you already have a marketplace website, don’t just recreate it on mobile

After that, contact an experienced development team that can help you formalize your idea and translate it into a technical specification. This document will be a guide for developers and an assurance for you, as you’ll know exactly what you’ll get at the end of the development process.

If you already have a marketplace website, don’t just recreate it on mobile. Make sure to add mobile-specific features and build a marketplace mobile app that will bring value for your mobile users. You can add gamification and even augmented reality to get way ahead of your competitors.

To find out more about the budget you’ll need to develop a marketplace app, contact us through the form below.

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