How to Build a Website Like eBay? A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Build a Website Like eBay? A Step-by-Step Guide image

With the rise of eBay as the most popular platform for purchasing and selling products online, many of us have thought of building a similar website. Indeed, auction websites are gaining popularity due to a simple business model that allows generating revenue without active involvement. Apart from that, such platforms create marketplaces where any user can become a merchant and get access to customers from all over the world.

If you think building an auction website is rocket science, we are going to prove the opposite.  In this article, we provide a step-by-step guide on how to get your platform running quickly with only minimal background knowledge required.

eBay Success Story: why is it so successful?

Before we dive into all the technical details, let’s find out how eBay initially looked and evolved over time. The company was founded by Pierre Omidyan at the end of the previous century. The auction project was just a hobby for its creator that turned out to be a multi-million corporation with more than 177 000 active merchants worldwide. The first eBay interface was not that appealing and native. The company heavily relied on the business model that allowed every user to sell and buy things online from any region of the world.


Currently, eBay defines itself as a multi-vendor marketplace that utilizes e-commerce to empower people with the help of technology. However, if to put it in simple terms, eBay is an online store that allows users to sell goods on the Internet using two different formats. You can choose a fixed price model and use the website as a traditional marketplace to pitch your goods to customers. Alternatively, you can organize an auction, set the starting price and send the product to the client with the highest bid.

A simple and clear business model is what makes eBay one of the most popular marketplaces on the web. You can use a similar approach to build an auction website that would provide you with a bunch of benefits including:

  • Auction websites provide you with a stable passive income
  • With new CMS solutions and technological advancements, you don’t have to spend a huge amount of money to scale your project
  • Having own marketplace, you avoid paying high fees and commissions to other service providers
  • You get access to customers from all over the world
  • You can generate revenue quickly and easily attracting new users to the website

As you can see, building an auction website like eBay can be really beneficial and profitable if you provide merchants with a user-friendly and affordable marketplace to sell their products. When you are aware of all the advantages of an eBay business model, let’s get into technical details and choose the best way to launch your project.

Choose the Right Tool and Technology to Build Your Website

Before you get down to the development process, you should define your goal and set the right targets to select the right tool or technology to power your website. There are three main options you can go with:

Each technology has its own set of peculiarities that might affect project duration and budget. Depending on the outcome you want to get in the end, you will choose a different approach to create an auction marketplace. With so many alternatives on the market, which option you should go with?


Many users know WordPress as a blogging platform, and it actually best describes how it started out. Nevertheless, it has been transformed into a simple, versatile and open-source content management system with an admin panel to create, manage and edit any content on your website. WordPress also has a set of plugins and extensions that make web development a piece of cake even for newbie users.

Despite all the benefits WordPress delivers, there are a set of restrictions and limits. This CMS will make the best match for you if:

  • You are not looking for the ways to outpace eBay on the global market, but you want to set up a small business to attract customers
  • You strive to establish full control over your auction website
  • You don’t mind doing a bit of technical work
  • You don’t have a solid technical background and want to get access to a global community of developers to support you during the project implementation

Ruby on Rails Development
Wordpress is just perfect if you don’t want to spend much money and effort to launch your auction website. However, when you need a complex solution that is scalable and flexible, you have to consider other options. Most CMS are hard to scale, so you will require a reliable and scalable tool to be able to process big data and provide a seamless experience to your users.

Ruby is an object-oriented programming language that was created more than 25 years ago. All these years of practice and experience made this technology one of the best on the market. With maintainable and easy syntax, Ruby has become one of the most popular tools among software developers around the world. So, what are the key advantages of this programming language?

  • Ruby can be easily embedded into HTML
  • It is scalable and can be used when you need to process big data
  • Ruby projects are easy to run and maintain
  • If you need to add extra features to your platform, Ruby is the best fit for you
  • GitHub and SlideShare are just a few of the successful projects run on Ruby

Python Development

Python is a great alternative when you are looking for a flexible and scalable technology to power your auction website. Unlike Java or C++, Python code is easy to understand and scale. Similarly to Ruby, it has extensive documentation and a big community of developers ready to support you with any challenges and crunches. Although Python was not intended to be applied in web projects, Django platform made it possible to use this technology for building websites of different complexity. Main benefits of Python include:

  • Python code is easy to read and understand
  • Modules and libraries are built in, which means you don’t have to waste time to find and implement them
  • It provides a wide range of tools for protocols
  • You get access to a helpful community of developers to support you in the project

If you don’t have extensive experience of running and operating an e-commerce marketplace, we advise you to start with WordPress development to see how it works. This option does not require a big budget and allows you to experiment with various tools, plugins and extensions.

How to Set up the Auction Website with WordPress from Scratch?

When we finally get down to web development, it is essential to have clear steps and milestones to follow in order not to miss any important details. This user-friendly and reliable CMS solution enables you to launch your auction site from scratch with no background knowledge. We will walk you through this process to ensure you can implement your project quickly and easily.

Step 1. Set Up the Website: Domain, Hosting And WordPress Installation. Before you resort to any actions, your absolute first step is to buy a domain name and a hosting provider. We advise you to find hosting first as you can purchase a domain name directly from them.

Pay attention to this step since your choice will define whether your website will run quickly and smoothly. Don’t go immediately with the cheapest option as you might face the risk of downtime and website crash. To save your time and effort, we prepared a list of reliable hosting providers:

  • Bluehost
  • InMotion
  • HostGator
  • Hostinger

These providers have different subscription options depending on your requirements. We recommend you to conduct research, identify your business needs to choose the best alternative. If you strive to provide a seamless experience to your customers, InMotion is your choice. Currently, it is the best hosting provider on the market with excellent performance and tech support. InMotion is frequently used by large e-commerce platforms. The company offers two subscription plans: InMotion Power and InMotion Pro. Keep in mind that large marketplaces require more memory than a traditional corporate website as they process large amounts of data. It means you will need at least 64M of memory. You can start with the basic version and upgrade to Pro when you scale your auction website.

After you decide on hosting provider and subscription plan, you can choose your domain name. The system provides you with several variants. Just look at the available options and pick up the one that is memorable and best fits your business.

When you have your domain name and hosting plan, it is the right time to install WordPress. Reputable and reliable hosting providers offer one-click installation:  just go to your CPanel, click on WP icon and you have your CMS running.

Step 2. Create Design and Add Content. Plenty of WordPress themes are available online, which provide you with an appealing design to showcase your products online. PremiumPress Auction Theme is currently the best choice of e-commerce merchants. It is bright, attractive and provides you with all the features that are necessary to run an auction site. It requires a one-time charge of $79, which is an average price on the market. After you get your PremiumPress theme installed, you can add content to your website in the form of texts and images.

Step 3. Install Auction Plugin. When you have your WordPress installed with the theme and content, you can look for an auction plugin to extend your website functionality. This step will allow you to actually create and run auctions and provide your users with the same opportunity.

If you try to google, you will probably find several options available on the market with their pros and cons. However, to stay on the safe side of things, we advise you to use the WordPress Auction Plugin as it is the most straightforward and reliable alternative. It will come at $35-89 depending on the plan you choose. Having analyzed developers’ feedbacks and its competitors, we can state that it worth its money. This plugin provides you with a bunch of extra features, such as adware, quality support and frequent update, which make it worthwhile. You can go with another option and follow all these instruction as the setup process looks similar for all plugins.

To install WP Auction Plugin, you should:

  • Go to the website and purchase the plugin
  • Download the file to your computer
  • Go to WordPress Dashboard – Plugins – Add New
  • Upload the plugin from your computer and install it
  • Activate the plugin and move to a setup process
  • Go to general, payment and other settings to have your website running

Step 4. Implement a Payment Gateway. To generate income from your auction website, you have to collect payments and fees from merchants and customers. For this purpose, you need a reliable and secure payment gateway that will best fit your target audience. Navigate your Dashboard plugin area and move to settings. You have two primary options available: PayPal and Stripe. Analyze your target audience, define the preferred payment gateway and integrate it into WP.

To integrate your PayPal account into WordPress, you should follow a set of steps:

  • Fill out your payment account and click update options
  • Create URL for your payment page
  • Add a new page “Payment” and publish it with relevant URL and payment account
  • Return to main settings and resume entering payment details

Read also: PayPal Payment Gateway Integration in PHP

Step 5. Launch Your First Auction. The plugin has very clear and self-explanatory fields, which means you don’t have to guess which information to fill in or what steps to undertake. Create a name for your auction, add content and have it running. When you finish writing a description, you should decide how this content will appear on your website. If you want your auction to be placed in the blog, create a new post and add product images together with a description. You can also create a separate page where users will be able to bid, leave comments and view your product. In case you want to combine several auctions on one page, you can go to “Show Auction in AJAX Popup?” field and make it appear as a pop-up window. This option provides excellent advertising opportunities to promote special offers and products with discounts.

After you’ve completed all the steps, you have your auction website running. This platform will allow you to experiment with different formats and business models to find your audience and set clear business goals. Nonetheless, keep in mind that e-commerce platforms limit your possibilities as they are old-fashioned and hard to scale. If you don’t have a solid technical background, your chances for building a competitive marketplace like eBay are moderate. Hiring a software development team with expertise in Ruby or Python helps you to get rid of all the pain of building a scalable auction website with multiple features. With outsourcing company, you get a reliable partner, who guarantees successful outcomes and provides you with long-term support in the project.


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