#Marketplaces | 9 min read | Updated: 2/5/2021

How Much Does it Cost to Build an Online Marketplace

Olga Iakubovska , Senior Project Manager

Marketplaces have disrupted almost every industry. Others are just waiting for the changes.

But why did marketplaces become so popular? 

They provide incredible value for both sides: customers and suppliers.

On one hand, customers don’t have to check dozens of sites to find what they want. Suppliers, on the other hand, get access to a much wider audience. 

In return, the platform gets to charge fees and be the facilitator between 2 parties.

Today it is not even a question whether it is a good idea to build a marketplace in your niche.

The actual question is how much does it cost to build an online marketplace platform?

Well, there are a few factors that influence the cost of marketplace development. In this article, we will touch upon all of them.

Kinds of Marketplaces

In order to know the marketplace development cost, you should know the type of marketplace you are planning to build. There is a range of aspects by which online marketplaces are differentiated. For example, by offered products, business models, communication means and types of participants.

Depending on the type of marketplace you decide to choose, the cost of web marketplace development will change.

Online marketplaces by offered products:

  • goods and products

Examples: eBay, Amazon, Etsy, AliExpress.

Find out: How to build an online auction website like eBay

eBay - goods and products type of marketplace
  • services 

Examples: Uber, Airbnb, Booking, Couchsurfing

Booking.com - service marketplace
  • media 

Examples: TravMedia IMM, Matpra Media Marketplace, MediaMath.

Matpra Media Marketplace - media marketplace
  • investment and crowdfunding 

Examples: Kickstarter, Indiegogo, CircleUp.

Discover: How to Start a Crowdfunding Website Like Kickstarter

Kickstarter - crowdfunding marketplace
  • Other types like social networking, entertainment, advertising marketplaces, etc.

Online marketplaces by participants:

B2C  — Business to Customer

This is the most traditional model, enabling the interaction between sellers and customers. On such platforms, there are always many offers. The best online marketplace examples are AliExpress and Booking. High competitiveness provides a strong incentive for sellers to better their client service and provide quality products.

Examples: AliExpress, Booking, Uber, Lyft.  

AliExpress - B2C marketplace

B2B — Business to Business

In this case, the business sells to other businesses. B2B marketplaces are useful for wholesale shopping and entrepreneurs that look for suppliers. 

Examples: Alibaba, Made-in-China.

Alibaba - B2B marketplace

C2C — Customer to Customer

This model assumes equal communication between customers. Usually, participants in such platforms are not entrepreneurs and businessmen. On such platforms, people exchange skills and services. 

Examples: Airbnb, Etsy, BlaBlaCar, Couchsurfing, Handy, Thumbtack.  

More on: How to Build a Website Like Airbnb

Airbnb - c2c marketplace

How to Create an Online Marketplace

Creating a strategy for building a marketplace depends on your business specifics and involves a number of steps. But the most important things for future success are a competitive idea and choosing the right platform for its implementation.

Stages of creating a marketplace

1. Conduct Market Research

Firstly, conduct market research, gather information about marketplaces that already exist. Secondly, analyze the most common issues that concern your target audience. Moreover, try to address one or even several of them.

Related: The Project Discovery Phase or How to Avoid Failure

2. Choose the Right Business Model

Find out all details about each business model and decide which monetization model would be best for your business. There is always a risk of failing if you create a marketplace using the wrong business model.

3. Select a Platform

The choice of the platform to build a marketplace website depends on the particular business needs. Obviously, according to the type of development you are going to choose, the cost of developing an e-commerce marketplace will vary.

If you have the idea of an entirely new service, which will break into the market, then you should order the custom development.

If you only want to create an online marketplace, bring vendors, and receive interest for sales, then you can base an online marketplace platform over a ready-made solution

Such platforms allow:

  • starting the system quickly
  • reducing the implementation time through the usage of ready resources
  • increasing the efficiency of operations
  • reducing the maintenance costs, and purchasing new equipment
  • simplifying the future integration of the trading platform with partners.

However, there are also a number of disadvantages.

Ready-made templates can not perfectly meet your business requirements and your customers’ needs. Also, you will not be able to receive behavioral data about the users. Additionally, you will not be able to update your platform quickly according to this information.

Read more: How to build an online marketplace: from scratch vs marketplace software

custom development vs ready-made solutions

4. Create a Marketplace Website MVP

Marketplace MVP allows:

  • demonstrating your idea to customers
  • collecting user feedback
  • adjusting the marketplace platform development process according to the received data. 

Online Marketplace MVP

While building an online marketplace, it is important to get feedback as soon as possible. Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a product that, being endowed with the core features of the idea. It is presented to the users for collecting user feedback for further development.

Marketplace MVP development

The MVP will answer a number of questions, such as:

  • Have you chosen the right niche? 
  • Have you chosen the core functionality correctly?
  • Is your product generally interesting to people? 
  • How are your customers satisfied with your product?

Moreover, it will help to determine the problems that may arise later. This way you will save time and marketplace development costs. Having all this data, you will have a solid understanding of how to build an online marketplace.

Therefore, MVP not only allows presenting your marketplace website to users as early as possible but also helps to improve the product, having an acute understanding of the behavior and expectations of your target audience.

Related: How to Build a Minimum Viable Product For a Startup 

6 Main Features of an Online Marketplace

One of the factors that will influence the cost to develop a marketplace is a marketplace functionality.

At the stage of the marketplace MVP creation, you should think about the main functionality that your product would offer and develop your marketplace accordingly. Also, do not forget that the first impression is very important. Below, we present core features that are indispensable for marketplaces.

6 Main Features of an Online Marketplace

Personal user accounts

It is important to make personal accounts and profiles as detailed as possible. Furthermore, it is essential to develop functionalities specific to the needs of each party. 

Buyers, for example, will appreciate:

  • a simple registration process
  • thoughtful navigation
  • the ability to see detailed information about the providers.

 Sellers should be able to:

  • manage their public information
  • create new tasks
  • group their products or services.

Instant Messaging

While looking for the necessary service or product, users often have questions. Therefore, the instant messaging option and the ability to communicate with providers is really important.

Real-time Booking

This feature will give users the opportunity to book a service or product they are interested in and subsequently return to buy it. Thus, it is worth adding booking capabilities. Additionally, this option will allow users to book a product that is temporarily out of stock.

Flexible Payment System

First of all, both users and providers must be convinced that the payment process is safe. For convenience, you should provide a transparent payment system. This system will calculate the total amount of services and standard fees automatically. It is also important for users to see transaction history and easily manage payment methods.

Listings

Providers should be able to publish and manage products and services they offer, users — search, filter, manage and search for a listing.

Reviews & Feedback

Online shopping differs significantly from offline retail. The difference is that customers can review a product only by its description or photo. Therefore, it is important for buyers to be able to receive detailed information about services, products, and sellers. Feedbacks are trusted information. 

So the functionality for ratings and reviews will be useful in building trust between users and providers. Users should be able to see a product’s reviews, write reviews themselves and rate listings. Providers should have the ability to view users’ reviews and moderate them.

Additional Features to Developed in Future Versions

After introducing the basic version of the product to the customers and receiving feedback you can start thinking about improving your platform and implementing additional features. Leading criteria here should be convenience, novelty, and user-friendliness.

Push Notifications

Notifications from the marketplace help users to stay informed when new products appear or when the booked product becomes available again. They also will encourage users to visit the platform more often. Users should be able to view notifications and change their notification settings.

Product Comparison

This feature will help users choose the best product or service by comparing product features, prices, and ratings. This will save the time and effort of the buyer.

Sharing to Social Networks

Given the popularity of social media nowadays, this feature will be useful to both buyers and sellers as well as the platform owner. Social media sharing creates additional advertising for your market and promotes your brand.

Wishlist

This feature will be useful not only for users but also will increase the chances that this product will be bought using your platform. And, as noted above, sharing such a wishlist to social networks will attract a new audience to your platform.

How Much Does it Cost to Build an Online Marketplace

Marketplace website development costs are very different and depend not only on hourly rates of developers but also on the type of the platform: the adaptation of ready-made solutions or custom development, as well as used components.

 Anyway, while budgeting you should take into account the following costs:

  • back-end hosting cost
  • user interface and user experience design cost
  • development: front-end and back-end programming
  • quality assurance: automation tests and manual testing
  • marketing costs
  • further tech support.

According to the European services cost market research, the average hourly rate of Ukrainian engineers is $35 per hour, and it’s cheaper than in the Baltic states ($45), Scandinavia ($70) Central and Western Europe ($65).

How Much Does it Cost to Build an Online Marketplace: Hourly labor cost on the marketplace evelopment

But how much does it cost to build a marketplace website?

In the table below, you can see an approximate amount of time needed to build an average online marketplace:

cost of the marketplace development

Our Experience in Marketplace Development

We are a progressive team with 7 years in online marketplaces development that has successfully completed more than 100 projects for customers from the USA, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, and others. 

How Much Does it Cost to Build an Online Marketplace

TikkTalk

TikkTalk is an open marketplace for interpreters that enables them to cooperate with customers anywhere they want using a number of various devices  (using video and phone conferences, webchats, Skype, mobile apps). 

TikkTAlk - B2C marketplace

This project is not just a platform for booking the services of translators but also a great help for businesses that require solutions to communication problems.

SalesFolk

SalesFolk is a managed marketplace for freelance copywriters. 

SalesFolk - managed marketplace for freelance copywriters

For this web app, our team developed new features, like a registration system and a customer profile view, the ability to modify emails, to create a buyer persona for editing emails and others. 

Sloboda Studio has upgraded the initial MVP and created a dashboard panel for different user roles.

Conclusion

In order to know the cost of building a web marketplace, there are a few things you should decide on:

  • Type of hour marketplace
  • Marketplace functionality
  • Approach to development
  • In-house or outsourcing development

If you want to find out more about YOUR online marketplace development cost, the best idea would be to consider your product idea and get a quote from marketplace development experts.

We have been building marketplaces for over 7 years now. Our team has experience in such industries as home services, human resources, media, PR, and transportation.

Contact our team today and we will provide you with a free estimate.

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