Nowadays, marketplace applications are a rising trend, mainly with the supremacy of leading companies (Uber, eBay, Amazon). These businesses with a high income have developed unprecedentedly. It cleared up such e-commerce concepts as B2B, B2C, and C2C. An increasing number of users make purchases through the Internet since they may quickly access the necessary product online. The wide use of mobile commerce implies that more marketers have begun putting money in marketplace applications. The majority of large enterprises have transferred their businesses to mobile platforms because mobile devices have enabled them to reach their clients more quickly. According to Statista research, in 2019 the users stored over 200 billion mobile applications to their gadgets. Also, the demand for marketplace mobile apps will grow. 

By reading this article you will get to know the strategies and approaches to create marketplace software and the estimated cost for the project. Also, our specialists can offer solutions to the challenges that you are going to encounter in the process of developing an app.

Step 1. Identify What Type of Marketplace Your Business Needs

A Step-by-Step Guide on Developing a Marketplace Mobile Application - 1

At present many humans are aware of the concept of the mobile marketplace. These are the applications created particularly for smooth, handy shopping through an electronic device. The essence of the marketplace lies in accommodating many shoppers and sellers, whereas the Internet stores provide a single seller. Here are 3 accessible categories of marketplaces:

  1. B2B (Business-to-business) platform suits the product exchange between businesses on profitable terms.
  2. B2C (Business-to-consumer) platform suits for delivering the product from business to the individual. Its primary benefit lies in the wide selection of commercial proposals in a single site. It is a universal webshop where you may find whatever you wish.
  3. C2C (Consumer to consumer) platform suits the product exchange between consumers, where both sides are even. It helps the individuals to reach agreement on profitable terms – today you make a purchase, tomorrow you will market your goods or services.

Moreover, there is another classification of marketplaces, where they are divided into the following 2 types:

  • Vertical platforms provide similar products from various manufacturers (e.g., Uber, Airbnb).
  • Horizontal platforms provide different goods and services with similar features (e.g., Etsy, Handy).

In case you own a young marketplace company, select a suitable type, sort out the marketplace matter in detail and launch a project. Now let’s review the necessary strategies of creating an app for your marketplace enterprise.

Step 2.  Follow an Effective Strategy for a Marketplace Start-up

A Step-by-Step Guide on Developing a Marketplace Mobile Application - 2

There are different effective strategies for various marketplaces. We have chosen the essential ones for successful businesses globally. Let’s examine them:

  1. Define your focus group. Begin with making a perception of who your software fits the most. You must distinctly understand your audience and direct marketing toward it. Be aware of their age, way of life, habits, and whatever enables you to comprehend who is your buyer. Consider not to cover a wide audience or please everyone.
  2. Make a profitable offer. Determine the cause of why users must purchase your product. It must be unique, necessary, and pithy. Consider escaping hype since excessive extravagant claims can harm your business. Your proposition must indicate which issue your product fixes and what value will the user receive when he gets your product.
  3. Grow steadily. Although your software has a strong technical side, do not rush to grow. Here is when it is best to start scaling:
  • You have a ready-made PoC. It means you are aware of your clients’ specific problems and your solution can weaken them.
  • You have the necessary amount of money. Do not invest in growing without preparing a backup plan, ensure you have some financing.
  • You have a ready-made technical base. Growing implies accessing more people and, as a result, collecting bigger data volume and processing more financial transactions.
  • Make sure you have a qualified team. Humans are an essential resource, employ more people to solve the tasks and innovate.

Most startups do not accommodate SWOT analysis to their business plans or do it wrong. Thus, these companies risk to exceed the expected budget and fail to complete the project.

Can’t analyze your project? Our experts guarantee to help you scale your business so that it brings you a large income!

Conduct a SWOT analysis

Step 3. Define Your Product with SWOT Analysis

What is unique about your marketplace mobile app?Which features does your marketplace app need to improve upon?What user queries can increase the number of app downloads?What are the benefits competitors have over your marketplace app?

The advantage your software brings to users affects if they will order your product. Ask yourself the following questions to get your value proposition ready:

  1. Which items or services do I market?
  2. Which ultimate benefit will the user receive?
  3. Who is my target audience?
  4. What helps my product to stand out on the market?

As far as mobile commerce is concerned, it seems challenging to be unique since all main functions of the product are almost the same in the applications. Yet, you may succeed by submitting another value to specific customers. It may be chargeless delivery, discounts on the next purchase, an exchange/return option, etc.

Step 4. Select What Features You Want to Add to Your Marketplace App 

Proper app features enable you to encourage a booming group of consumers and marketers, contribute to product diversity, and manage sales.

Here is an overview of the most primary marketplace app features for a seller :

  1. The payment system enables financial transactions between a consumer and a retailer. The system should offer an option to hold payments. It is beneficial for the buyer since the payment is held for the seller unless it is delivered and approved by the consumer.
  2. Personalized search. Some users browse the online store catalogs without knowing what they need until they examine the options. Others know for sure what they need. Consequently, they wish to find the necessary item sooner and make a purchase. A successful marketplace app design can combine both types of users.
  3. Marketer pages and item catalogs. They allow sellers to submit comprehensive product details and better visualize the desired product as if they shop in a traditional store. We assist sellers to develop the catalog templates that comprise several images of the product, comprehensive details, and geolocation if necessary.
  4. Social media connection. Users have always loved to shop, and social media connection will help them share experiences. So, the buyers will be able to show their acquisitions, consult on the account of the next purchase, or discuss different products.

Here is an overview of the most primary marketplace app features for a seller:

  1. The payment system should offer an option to divide payments. It is essential if the cart holds items from several sellers. Thus, you can subtract your fee and taxes on sales.
  2. The admin interface is beneficial for marketers for the following reasons. It helps to track the activity on the website and to alert if some terms of the platform have been broken. Overall, it is a toolkit for the regular implementation of changes and adapting to a fast-growing market.
  3. An order system. The purpose of any seller lies in making a checkout option so simple as possible. Simplify the process of checkout, it will help you to escape upsetting your potential buyers. Yet, you should offer a clear structure to reduce the risk of cheating.
  4. Currency and languages. To be competitive, it is necessary to offer several currency options. Such convenience will increase your customers’ loyalty. Also, suggest several language options. If your users won’t have to spend time translating your texts, they will come back to you again and again.

Step 5. Consider These Key Challenges & Solutions While Developing a Marketplace App

In addition to secure payment methods and pain-free shipping, clients want more. Mainly, a pleasant shopping experience using all devices is essential for them. Everyone hopes to get a customized approach. As far as the marketplace is concerned, both parties (shoppers and retailers) are clients, and you should accommodate each one. Let’s review the main challenges you are about to encounter and the ways how you can handle them.

Challenge # 1. Incomplete Comprehension of the Market Demand and Focus Group

Incomplete comprehension of the market demand and focus groupDetailed business analysis 

Detailed business analysis is obligatory for businesses that are preliminary preparing for the product. The primary purpose is to confirm the following guesses about the clients. What are their specific problems and which solution could you offer are some of the assumptions. The respondents’ answers will set vectors to your further work. Thus, you will come to an understanding of what customers expect to get once you kick off your product.

Here are the steps which this solution comprises:

  1. You make such an assumption – ‘My client has such a pain point…’ or ‘My client regards … as the most critical feature.’
  2. Find several experimental persons who fit your target audience.
  3. Conduct a survey that consists of matters which will confirm your assumptions.
  4. Carry this out repeatedly unless you get a complete understanding of who is your potential client and what is his pain point. Also, think of what can you offer so that you get income from this solution further.

Can’t define your audience and what they need? Reach our specialists who will advise you on this issue for free!

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Challenge # 2 Where to Get New Customers?

Where to get new customers?Separate marketing approaches and a solid offer

If you wish to create software that will accommodate both customers and retailers you should develop a flexible interaction approach. Customers will not use the application without retailers, while the latter ones will not present their product without having an interested party. Here are the essential tips on how to find the first customers:

  1. Create a solid offer. It is best to come up with 2 separate propositions for different parties since each one has unique pain points.
  2. Consider finding customers first. It is more challenging compared to finding sellers. At first, focus on building a customer base rather than getting a large income.
  3. Adapt your marketplace mobile app for several operating systems. Thereby, you will increase the likelihood of finding the first retailers and clients.

Challenge # 3 Aiming to Reach a Wide Audience and Suffering from a Lack of New Clients

Aiming to reach a wide audience and suffering from a lack of new clientsCreate a new trend or find your niche

Some startup companies tend to make marketplace applications and suppose they have enough strength to oppose major players in the market (Amazon, AliExpress, Alibaba). However, these companies have more experience, resources, and customer trust that makes them unparalleled in their field. So, consider developing a flexible value proposition by creating a new trend or finding your niche.

Step 6. Choose a Tech Approach to Develop an Application for Mobile

Tech characteristics play a crucial role in the favorable outcome of your software. Selecting an appropriate tech approach makes your project supported, growing, and covering the functional demands. Thus, it can contribute to reducing the expenses and hours spent on the development process. The technologies develop as the software building trends make headway towards mobility. Thus, Swift has become innovative for making apps in iOS, while Kotlin – in Android. We will examine the following approaches in this article – custom and non-custom app development.

Non-custom Approach to SaaS Enabled Marketplace Development

If you want to create a proof of concept quickly and if you require the features that SaaS provides, then the non-custom approach fits you. Most startup companies choose either SaaS or immediate solutions for making a marketplace application. Although the solutions are quite speedy and do not force you to be tech-savvy, do not hope to get many personalization options or top-notch quality.

Software as a service (SaaS) enables you to develop marketplace apps without possessing any programming skills. This is easy to install, though it provides limited opportunities to create a user experience and work out a solution that would be uncommon in your niche.

One more variant is to use application builders (WooCommerce, Shopify, OpenCart, etc). Although these platforms were not developed for making apps, they offer all the necessary add-ons for that.

Custom App Product Development

If you have submitted your idea to the investor or have the necessary sum of money for the MVP, then the custom approach fits you. It implies coding a project from the ground up, considering your business plan. Here, you may use either native product development or react native.

We use the former approach when we are looking to make apps for both operating systems (Android, iOS) considering their maintained technologies (Swift, Kotlin).

Meanwhile, we select the latter option when we want to create software using this framework. With its help, you can make one code base and apply it repeatedly to both applications.

Here are the essential tech stack required to build mobile applications for the marketplace – 

  1. Swift. In case you are developing solutions for iOS, this language is the most suitable option. Swift offers features that do not require complex coding and, thus, can be easily supported.
  2. Java. This programming language is tailored particularly for developing solutions for Android. Java is easy to use and provides libraries, thanks to the open-source of which, users can easily select any of them.
  3. PHP. This programming language is suitable for application development (mobile and web-oriented). PHP provides the tools required for the creation of your software from scratch.

Step 7. Estimate the Cost to Write a Mobile App for Your Marketplace

StagesMinimal price based on the platformMaximal price based on the platform

App development cost is contingent on the following demands – dynamic features, hours needed to build software. We have made an approximate estimate of building a single app both for a shopper and a seller. And we have considered 3 primary aspects:

  1. Framework involves a sketch of the application that provides a basic concept about the functionality both to the programmer and the customer. The price can vary from $600 to $1.000
  2. Design is answerable for drawing the users’ attention towards the software. The user interface and versatility which you offer affect its approval among customers. The price for an attractive and complicated design would range from $6.000 to $9.000
  3. Development is the conclusive implementation of the approaches and design in creating an app using code. Depending on how many dynamic features and what resources you add, the value of this step varies from $35.000 to $70.000.

Want to know the cost of your marketplace? Then this article “How Much Does It Cost to Build a Marketplace?” will help you most. Here we review the key factors of web development for online stores. Also, we will help you define what type of marketplace should you make and what custom features to integrate there.


Undoubtedly, with the advent of marketplaces, the course of the global economy has changed. It occurs because such platforms are consuming many industries. Also, these businesses can change the existing state of affairs on the market.

Many modern marketplaces intend to engage autonomous marketers alternatively to traditional businesses. Consequently, they disrupt an industry, and startup companies can take the opportunity to build a unique marketplace application.

We assume that you are currently better aware of the marketplace application making than you were formerly. We attempted to embrace all the primary aspects, starting from the strategies for the marketplace to advising on how you may build an excellent user experience.

Yet, consider another essential aspect – meet a technical partner, who could assist you in going through the following stages – build a proof of concept, check out your business plan, improve your project.

If you are looking to build a unique marketplace app or scale an existing one, reach our team.