In recent years, the marketplace business has gained significant popularity among startupers. This is because of the universality and relative simplicity of the marketplace platforms – almost every type of business can be adapted to this type of online platform.
When the marketplace business was only getting started, there was only one way to develop your own platform: building a fully custom application from scratch. This was quite difficult and costly, and required the teamwork of numerous specialists in web development.
Yet, along with the increasing popularity of the business and the development of the software industry, numerous software providers have created out-of-the-box marketplace development platforms, allowing the marketplace development process to be speeded up and simplified. The platforms created as a result of custom development and using out-of-the-box solutions differ in many aspects; however, both ways have their benefits.
In this article, we will speak about the pros and cons of both development strategies: using an out-of-the-box platform and custom development from scratch. You will learn in which cases it is better to create your own platform and in which ones to build it on a ready-made base. We will also speak about the existing platforms, their pros and cons, and give you some advice on how to choose a marketplace development platform.
Custom development or out-of-the-box solutions – what to choose?
Using software from a company specializing in marketplace construction will allow you to build a working platform in a timely manner. Your product will have a customized design and you will be able to choose and add any necessary functionality from the possibilities offered by the software.
Such services will allow creating a marketplace platform, even for people without a significant technical background and with a limited budget. By choosing different subscription plans, you will get access to a different number of the provider’s resources. Your data will be stored on their servers, along with the marketplaces of their other users.
The most advanced and challenging option is to consider the services of a software development company. They will offer you a team of developers, QA engineers, and project managers, who will take into account all your requirements and preferences, and create exactly the product you want. By the way, the core specialty of Sloboda Studio is the development of online marketplace platforms.
In this article, we will pay the most attention to the out-of-the-box platforms, which allow creating a marketplace relatively quickly and cheaply. The most famous platform for online marketplace development is Sharetribe. Now we are going to consider the possibilities of Sharetribe and its main competitors: NearMe, Marketplacer, Arcadier, and Multivendor CS-Cart.
You will learn about the basic possibilities, pricing, and the strong and weak points of each solution. Hopefully, this material will help you to choose a marketplace development platform that will perfectly suit your needs.
Most popular platforms for marketplace development
Sharetribe is a universal constructor that allows building any type of marketplace – selling things and services, renting property, booking a property or location, etc. The platform provides a quick and efficient marketplace constructor that allows building a working, quick, and mobile-friendly platform within just a few minutes.
The client does not need to worry about payments – the basic platform has integration with Stripe and Paypal, and works with more than 20 currencies in more than 190 countries. You can charge the fees, hold the funds, and manage the finances of your marketplace in the way that you want.
Sharetribe offers extensive functionality to make the work with the marketplace more convenient, such as advanced search system, built-in messenger, unlimited number of listing, localization to different languages, possibility to select the currency, etc.
Like the majority of similar services, Sharetribe offers its clients a paid subscription with different plans: Hobby ($99/month), Pro ($149/month), Growth ($199/month), and Scale ($299/month). The main difference in the subscription plans is the capacity of the marketplace – the platform with Hobby subscription is only able to handle 100 users. Each other plan increases the capacity by 10 times – to 1000, 10,000, and 100,000 users respectively.
Additionally, the plans differ in terms of their customization options: the Hobby plan offers unlimited traffic, listings, images, transactions, and access to the 7-day support. In addition to these options, the more advanced plans allow using the custom domain and email address, and to removing all Sharetribe branding from the website.
If you want to save a bit, we recommend paying 6 months in advance – it will be about 20% cheaper.
Sharetribe offers everything you need to create a stable, scalable, and working marketplace for a moderate cost. It is really user-friendly and accessible even to users who don’t have a significant technical background. Additionally, if you decide to change your marketplace provider, you can just download the copy of your marketplace, delete it from the Sharetribe servers, and migrate it to a different one. This option opens up numerous possibilities to users for scaling the business.
Although Sharetribe offers a lot of opportunities for building almost any type of marketplace, it is possible that you will want to have something completely different, and Sharetribe will not have the necessary features or it will offer you ones you don’t want.
Near Me | Marketplace Software
Near Me is a highly configurable marketplace platform that allows setting up a fully custom design and offering access to HTML/CSS of the platform. The marketplace can possess the key functionality similar to the biggest marketplaces of our time, such as Airbnb, Upwork, Etsy and Ebay.
The marketplace based on NearMe will have a powerful, mobile-friendly dashboard, secure shopping cart and the possibility to localize the platform on any language. They also provide built-in SEO tools, account management, and support by phone or email.
Starter plan: $500-1000 monthly. The starter plan offers a capacity of up to 10,000 users, technical support via email, a custom domain, and a free SSL certificate. Additionally, the platform can be translated into different languages.
PRO-subscription: $2000 monthly. In addition to the starter plan, the more advanced solution offers a more powerful platform with a capacity of 25,000 users and priority phone support in addition to the email one.
In comparison to Sharetribe, NearMe offers a more functional and advanced platform with a wider range of customization options.
Due to the difference in functionality, the pricing of NearMe is comparatively higher than that of Sharetribe. Although it is justified, the NearMe platform may be not affordable for clients on a tight budget. Additionally, Sharetribe allows you to download your marketplace in order to migrate to a different provider. This is impossible with NearMe.
Marketplacer is a universal platform that allows you to build almost any type of marketplace, such as sites for selling goods and services, or event and booking platforms.
They provide a wide range of options for seller and customer management via an admin panel, advanced search system and secure shopping cart. For marketing and advertising, they offer a powerful marketing toolbox allowing users to manage advertising, the content of the platform and other media options.
Marketplacer provides powerful analytics options, which Sharetribe does not have. You can integrate Google Analytics, track Seller and Advertisement performance, generate Financial reports, etc. Additionally, you can choose any revenue model you’d like, including Commission, Subscription, Listing fee, Pay-per-lead, etc. To find out more about the revenue models for marketplaces, you can refer to our recent articles.
Marketplacer is less customizable than Sharetribe. Like NearMe, it does not allow users to move the marketplace to a different provider, which may cause scaling issues.
Arcadier is a software provider for marketplace platforms that offers the ability to custom build a platform suitable for any type of business – selling goods, services, renting property, etc. Owners can make their platform private by allowing new users to register only via invitation. To simplify the registration process, you can create an account or log into your existing account via Facebook or Google.
The basic payment providers are already integrated on the marketplace, so the marketplace owner will not have trouble establishing a payment system. Any other payment provider can also be added to the marketplace. To provide an efficient workflow on the marketplace, Arcadier has already created a search system, admin panel and seller dashboard. There is also a built-in messenger, allowing the parties to communicate with each other.
Arcadier provides 4 subscription plans: starter, basic, growth, and scale. They all include an unlimited number of users and listings, Google Analytics integration, email support, localization to different languages and custom domain names. Having paid for a subscription, the user is not charged any additional fees for transactions.
The difference between the existing plans is in the limitations as to the number of transactions: the cheapest Starter plan offers up to 500 transactions, the most advanced Scale plan – up to 10,000. Additionally, there are other functions in each type of subscription: the Basic plan gives the possibility of adding custom code and customizing the home page, the Growth plan provides the Marketplace API access, and the Scale subscription offers hosted API integrations.
The price of the subscription depends on the frequency of billing: if you choose monthly payment, you will have to pay $39 for the Starter plan, $79 for the Basic, $199 for the Growth and $399 for the Scale plan. By paying for a six-month subscription in advance, you will be charged $199 ($34/month) for the Starter subscription, $403 ($68/month) for Basic, $1,015 ($170/month) for Growth and $2,035 ($340) for the Scale. The cheapest solution is to pay for a year in advance, which will cost you $305 ($30/month) for the basic plan, $711( $60/month), $1,791 ($150/month), and $3,591 ($300/month) for the Starter, Basic, Growth, and Scale plans respectively.
They also have extensive partnership networks of design, marketing, SEO, and PR agencies, as well as payment facilitators. These options make maintenance of the marketplace clear and easy. Additionally, the platform can be localized to different languages.
The platform is not scalable enough, and the user may have issues while scaling his growing marketplace platforms.
How to choose the right platform for a marketplace development project
We have considered the functionality of Sharetribe and its most famous competitors. Although all of these platforms offer a basis for creating your own marketplace, the scope of their services and pricing plans is quite different.
The only way to create a perfect marketplace is to build a custom platform from scratch. In any other case, you will face certain restrictions and limitations. Before selecting the necessary platform, we recommend considering the following issues:
- The desired functionality of the marketplace
Before choosing the platform and starting the actual development, it is necessary to plan the business logic of your future platform describing its value proposition, monetization model, the way the parties will interact. The more detailed the plan is, the more mistakes can be avoided.
- The existing functionality of the platform
Having considered your requirements on the platform, you should study the market of software providers. Each of them offers different number of resources, applies different restrictions, provides different functionality, etc. The proposition of the marketplace provider should correspond to your vision of the future platform.
- Financial issues
Having created a shortlist of the platforms whose offer matches your needs, it’s time to consider their pricing policy. Depending on your budget and their available subscription plans, you should choose the most appropriate option that matches your requirements and money.
One more thing to remember – none of the platforms will offer you the possibility of building the exact marketplace of your dreams. There will be restrictions imposed by the subscription plan and the capabilities of your platform itself.
If this does not prevent your platform from working in the way it should, everything seems to be OK. If you have encountered difficulties with workflow and understanding that they are caused by the native peculiarities of the platform – it’s time to change the subscription plan, choose another service or transfer your business to your own servers.
Building a successful marketplace is a challenging task that requires the considerations of a lot of development and business issues. The primary issue is the necessity to choose between an out-of-box solution or custom development with a software company.
If you have read this article to the end, your ultimate choice will most likely be a marketplace constructor. So let’s review the platforms that we have considered:
This is the most famous, simple and universal platform. It would be a perfect choice for a marketplace with relatively simple and typical logic, resembling one of the most popular platforms like Airbnb, Ebay or Upwork. Additionally, Sharetribe-based marketplaces are scalable and you will not have trouble even when moving it to a different provider.
The weak point of Sharetribe is customization, so you won’t be able to make your marketplace unique on the market.
This relatively expensive (in comparison to the other platforms) constructor offers a wide variety of options for customizing and configuring your platform the way you want. They even provide access to the HTML/CSS part of the marketplace, allowing you to give additional options for customization.
However, NearMe is more expensive in comparison to its competitors, so it is not an option for business owners with a limited budget. Additionally, NearMe does not provide a way to easily download and transfer the marketplace, so the client may have scaling and migration issues.
This platform is famous for its analytics options, which neither Sharetribe nor NearMe have. Marketplacer makes it easy to track user behavior and transaction history, and generate reports, which makes it a wonderful option for marketing and finance specialists. Additionally, almost every revenue model can be implemented on their platform.
Like NearMe, Marketplacer does not provide a simple way of transferring the platform to a different provider, so the user may encounter scaling issues.
This a flexible solution with extensive functionality and numerous built-in solutions. The interface is simple and user-friendly, which makes the platform easy to work with for users without a technical background. They also provide numerous analytical, SEO, and marketing tools.
However, the platform is not scalable enough, and users may have issues when growing and scaling the marketplace.
Apart from the main marketplace constructors, we have spoken about things to consider when choosing a marketplace development platform. There are three points that are most important:
- The desired functionality of the marketplace
- The existing functionality of the constructor
- The financial resources of the business owner
If you carefully research all of the relevant points, you will have no trouble choosing a suitable platform. And if you decide that it is better for you to develop a custom platform from scratch, we are always here to help you. Good luck!