#Marketplaces | 19 min read | Updated: 10/18/2021

How to Build a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Marketplace

Updated: 10/18/2021
, Senior Project Manager
#Marketplaces
19 min read

Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay, still remembers his first sale on a newborn peer-to-peer marketplace in 1995. It was a broken laser pointer with a $15 price. His offer received many responses from people. That’s where the success story of one of the biggest P2P platforms started.  

Soon businesses realized what powerful attraction-based effect marketplaces had. 

Today it’s possible to find hundreds of P2P marketplaces on the market, covering all needs of modern people. 

Marketplaces are staying adamant during the COVID-19 pandemic, with their 14% revenue growth in 2021

This article covers what types of peer-to-peer marketplaces became successful, what it takes to build a marketplace, and how much it’s going to cost.

What Is a P2P Marketplace?

A P2P marketplace website or an app is a platform that matches suppliers and products with consumers. 

Through this type of platform, people can take advantage of the following options:

  • sell things that have not been used for a long time
  • exchange one goods for another
  • rent a thing for a certain period
  • pay for various solutions, etc.

Types of P2P Marketplaces

All peer-to-peer platforms can be divided into four main types, based on the services they offer.

Rental Marketplace

A rental marketplace is a type of peer-to-peer platform that provides users access to an extensive selection of properties for rent. The owners of this platform can charge renters for each transaction. It can be a transaction fee or charge fees.

Examples: HomeAway, Airbnb

Product Marketplace

A platform allows sellers to display any product online, only by taking a certain fee. 

Examples: Etsy, eBay

Service Marketplace

A Peer-to-peer online marketplace allows consumers to quickly find people with the necessary skills.

Clients can be confident in the high level of quality of their future employees. It’s true because the managers conduct interviews to check the candidates’ skills before granting them access to the platform.

Examples: Helpware, TaskRabbit

Money or Loan Marketplace

Money and loan platforms relate to investing in loans or obtaining financing. Here we can distinguish such main areas of investment in 2021 for people:

  • creativity (best entrepreneurs and creatives engaged in music, painting, etc.) 
  • people education and healthcare 
  • rehabilitation and disaster recovery

Examples: Kickstarter, GoFundMe

In 2021, various types of P2P platforms like Etsy, Airbnb, and others show consistently high sales growth.

peer-to-peer sales growth in 2021

Source: Statista, Yahoo, Phocuswire, WallStreetZen

Why Should You Choose a P2P Marketplace?

The peer-to-peer market is a fertile ground for business owners. It creates an opportunity to attract a large audience and get instant profits.

To find out why so many entrepreneurs choose to start a marketplace business, let’s take a closer look at the P2P numbers:

C2C trends you need to know

Source: Statista, Forbes, Swaper

letter

Before building your online marketplace, we advise thinking about the value of the products for users. If there is not enough value, companies won’t attract loyal users after the launch.

Lower Costs at the Start

When business people have decided to create a startup, they want to spend less money at the start. 

A good idea would be to build an MVP that helps entrepreneurs to receive the first version. It’s vital when you want to attract further investors.

Also, with C2C marketplaces, founders don’t worry about stocking or delivering, as online shops do. Instead, companies can save that money and spend it on advertising or other business investments.

Network Effect

The network effect is a phenomenon where the business becomes more valuable as more people join it.

This effect appeared gradually due to:

  • the simple way to become a supplier or consumer
  • social networks promotion and recommendations for products, etc. 
network effect you need to know

Worldwide Popularity

Global popularity came to P2P marketplaces primarily because they were a unique new model on the web.

Marketplaces with easy access, huge variety, and the ability to find one-of-a-kind products or facilities became widespread not only locally but globally.

Currently, there are two C2C leading countries such as China and the United States. 

Let’s take a look at a prominent number of leading peer-to-peer marketplace business giants:

p2p marketplace giants

Source: Statista, WallStreetZen

Trust

A peer-to-peer marketplace site or an app is an ideal platform to build for both sides:

  • customers can choose the things due to rates and reviews
  • suppliers can create a positive customer experience that influences the sales.

Until 2019, people wrote reviews about their negative experiences on the web much less. But now the situation has changed.

By the end of 2020, 31% of people worldwide say they have started reading more reviews. Also, consumer participation in product reviews increased by 104%.

An inspiring fact for many business people is that 64% of customers confidently use various marketplaces if they have read positive reviews.

c2c project numbers growth in 2021

Source: Statista, Swaper

6 Core Steps in Building a Peer-To-Peer Marketplace

No matter how unique and one-of-a-kind idea you have, the sad truth is that many startups businesses can fail due to numerous reasons, such as :

  • Platforms don’t solve problems of users
  • Companies choose the wrong business model
  • Websites don’t have the necessary functionality
  • Entrepreneurs entrust the implementation to untested vendors 

We are going to share the basic steps for how to build a peer-to-peer website or app. This will help to avoid the typical failures that occur when building a C2C site or an app.

Step 1. Finding Your P2P Marketplace Idea

The idea doesn’t have to be unique and break all the stereotypes. It’s crucial, however, to think about what problem the P2P platform can solve. Then try to decide whether the market volume is large enough for commercial success. Only such a marketplace will be able to become a source of income and growth.

Step 2. Choosing the Right P2P Business Model

For a business to make a profit, it is not enough to have a platform that solves the audience’s problems. It is essential to choose the right business model before building. It should particularly fit for you as

  • an owner
  • a supplier
  • a consumer

To determine which business model is best suited for your peer-to-peer platform, we advise studying the leading competitors in your niche locally and on a worldwide scale if necessary.

There are several online marketplace business models to choose from for your C2C site or app:

Commissions

The most common model for the P2P market is the commission model. Peer-to-peer marketplaces prefer charging all sellers for the placement of products or each completed payment transaction.

Examples: Etsy, Airbnb, Uber

Advertising

This business model can be added to the commission option while building. It allows advertisers to receive payment for each impression of products or click on an ad placed on the website or an app. 

Examples: LinkedIn, BlaBlaCar, SkillShare

Subscription

A subscription fee model means users need to pay for a membership that provides access to the service or premium products. It can be monthly or annually.

Examples: eBay, LinkedIn, CrateJoy, Rover

Freemium

A freemium business means the sellers have free access to the platform but need to pay for: 

  • Placing a large number of ads users need
  • Advanced features like query statistics or an ability to make consumer behavior analysis

Examples: Olx, PayPal

Listing

The business-listed products and facilities are quite transparent for building since the sellers need to pay for anything posted. 

Examples: Etsy, Upwork

Most C2C marketplace companies have mixed monetization types that include several types of fees. Sometimes, to build the impression of exclusivity, some marketplace businesses need to add monetization models such as special offers.

Step 3. 8 Key Functions to Include in Your P2P Marketplace

P2P companies require a special set of functions to be effective. Let’s consider the core elements that most marketplaces need to have:

Consumer Profiles

When building profiles, it’s a good idea to pay attention to different types of users like:

  • sellers or service providers
  • consumers
  • administrators

When registering on the website, it’s vital to ask users to add crucial data like:

  • name
  • address
  • gender
  • location
  • zip code, etc.

This information provides personal and payment processing data usage.

Listings

The listing function will guide users to find all available listings on the business after the profile is created.

C2C platforms also may add some list view functions for unregistered people.

Search and Website Navigation

Users will be able to make a search for the desired objects using this function. 

Common filters that can be enabled are location, price, availability, color, brand, etc. It is also a good idea to create a properly formed navigation system.

A well-thought-out navigation system will build to retain users and keep them interested in the website or app. 

Checkout Page and Online Payments

A checkout page is a page that needs to fill before the transaction. 

Usually, it asks users to fill in the following information:

  • Name and surname
  • Address
  • Payment system, etc.

The main rule for a checkout page is to be informative and short. 


While building a marketplace, it’s crucial to integrate modern payment systems by including options like smartphone payments, card payments, digital payments, and other popular payment methods.

Feedback and Reviews

The customer experience of the platform can improve its quality and value. Marketplace owners should always pay attention to the feedback and reviews they receive. Visitors can make comments and that’s wonderful. It’s the way to create an ideal platform for users and build trust relationships.  

If a business allows customers to evaluate a product or service, it can also attract new visitors with its positive reviews and recommendations.

Communication

For the convenience of communication between sellers, consumers, administrators, and 24/7 support, the marketplace platform needs to implement a communication feature. Users should be able to write a message to the seller personally on the platform and receive a response. 

There may also be embedded information emails that will send, for example, confirmation of a reservation or cancellation.

Notifications

For businesses, it is a good idea to create web push notifications. They are small permission-based informational messages sent by a given web page. Notifications effectively build users’ engagement without needing their data or email address.

Administration Features

An admin function is crucial for

  • monitoring seller behavior
  • removing inappropriate content
  • enforcing platform rules

Also, an administrator can be responsible for

  • initiating promotions
  • building discounts
  • various incentive perks for buyers and sellers.

An admin panel can be as simple or as complex depending on your goals.

core c2c marketplace features

Step 4. Building an MVP

If you have an idea of a peer-to-peer marketplace business that will be useful to your target audience, it’s probably time to build a marketplace MVP.

A minimum viable product (MVP) is the first version of your marketplace product that has enough features and value to attract early users. It is also a visual way to demonstrate the product to investors for fundraising. False modesty aside, MVPs often make a fortune.

If companies don’t start with a marketplace MVP, they won’t know the target audience for their business. The software begins with the core features while the entrepreneur can add other functions later. So, the time to bring the platform to the world is faster.

want to build a p2p marketplace?

Step 5. Keeping in Contact with Your Audience

To constantly be in touch with the audience and be aware of their current problems, your marketplace should include the following elements:

  • Clear call to actions that help guide people on the way to becoming a client and advise them on the next steps
  • Contact information should be in a prominent place to build stable communication
  • Round-the-clock support people at any time for emergency questions and solutions
  • Continually updated content that shows the business care and pays attention to feedback from users

It will be helpful to show the business values and attitude toward clients. This will establish an emotional connection with users, which will make them more inclined to trust the marketplace.

Step 6. Learning From Your First Suppliers

The idea is ready, and an MVP is on the way, now it is essential to find the first suppliers. They will add their proposals to the platform. Your first users will be the starting point for receiving feedback. 

If companies want to have a massive flow of suppliers on their marketplace platform, it’s vital to follow these guidelines:

1) Users must be comfortable and make benefits using the marketplace

2) Users should see the advantage of the marketplace platform over competitors

3) They need to realize the potential of the marketplace platform in the industry 

To understand the direction in which the marketplace business is moving, set performance indicators for your platform and configure their tracking. It’s vital to make the numbers check constantly and adapt based on trends that form.

How to Minimize Risks Building a P2P Marketplace: Follow These Insights

Every marketplace business would like to minimize the risks as much as possible when building marketplace products. The process of building something new is associated with difficulties throughout the process.

However, some pain points of P2P marketplace companies can be avoided easily. Let’s find out exactly how.

Finding a Real Problem to Solve

If you want to minimize the risks of building a C2C marketplace, the first thing to do is researching the target audience. The audience will show exactly which platform and with what functionality they would like to cooperate. 

By posting a survey message on social networks, companies will receive a great response. Businesses become closer to the users and gain an understanding of their needs.

During the survey, it’s vital to ask users what they would like to make a change. It helps to understand how to position the marketplace product and what functionality to roll out to cover the client’s needs and make them happy.

Starting Your P2P Business with a Narrow Focus

After a business has found a marketplace solution that solves a specific customer problem, it should begin to narrow its focus. Many business people don’t understand the advantage of a narrow focus strategy. They prefer a broad direction.

Sherwin Pishevar, an experienced investor, explained the reason why businesses forget about a narrow focus. People strive for universality. It means to create or use the services of a company that could cover all their needs. However, from the business point of view, this is rarely the case for success. To create a trusted marketplace, it is necessary to focus on a specific niche.

The history of many C2C marketplaces shows that this approach brings a lot of benefits.

The ThredUp clothing exchange peer-to-peer marketplace was initially focused on all types of clothing. However, the company grew significantly only after the decision to focus exclusively on children’s clothing. It was only after they had achieved significant success in this single niche that they could finally expand the focus again.

A simple conclusion is that creating a marketplace platform for a limited niche is the correct way to avoid getting scattered and win the trust of customers.

Attracting Users From the Start

To be on top marketplace companies need to attract users from the very beginning. Here are some ideas businesses need to follow:

1) Catchy advertising using unique content and video 

2) Customer-friendly website or app navigation 

3) Special offers that build sales growth

Many companies use instant perks to gain immediate attraction. For example, by building a search on the marketplace, users are allowed to use premium functionality for free with the possibility of free cancellation.

Fundraising

Fundraising is a process of attracting third-party investment resources for a business. It’s a great way to help marketplace companies build their business and scale it further down the road. 

Companies are often looking for investors even after the product is gone public.

Sometimes startups are looking for investments before they start creating an MVP. However, in this situation, companies will have nothing to offer investors except numbers and forecasts.

With an MVP, the chances of attracting investors increase significantly because they can see the marketplace and initial results firsthand.

Not so long ago Sloboda Studio created a list of potential investors businesses need to explore. 

It was thought that the COVID-pandemic might become a factor that could destroy fundraising efforts. Some P2P companies have reduced their building improvement because of a lack of investments. At the same time, some investors have reduced their number of deposits. 


However, investments in C2C marketplaces continue to grow. In January 2021 European businesses founded €346 million.

Optimizing the User Experience

It’s crucial to pay attention to client wishes and add advanced functionality. If a C2C marketplace deals with rent or favor, pay attention to such functions as:

  • booking functions
  • availability calendars 
  • response time

If the platforms want to deal with location-based systems, it’s necessary to integrate a map.

If the platform is engaged in selling, the delivery function will be vital. Also, it is a good idea to add ID verification. It helps to foster a high level of trust.

Scaling

Marketplace companies need to create a platform with the ability to scale. 

Why?

Because it’s the only way to succeed and make a profit.

Scaling is the process of improving and upgrading a business platform. It’s necessary in order to increase functionality and provide a better user experience. 

Naturally, scalability is related to investment, either your own or third parties. The USA is a leader when it comes to investing in P2P businesses in 2021.

3 Ways to Build a Peer-To-Peer Marketplace

There are three ways to create a peer-to-peer marketplace for your business. Let’s briefly talk about the three approaches.

Custom-Built P2P Marketplace Website or Application

A custom-built P2P marketplace software provides functions that are not in the finished marketplace. Building a marketplace website or an app tailored to the company’s needs implies an increase in productivity.

By choosing this type of building, the C2C marketplace gets complete freedom to add or remove functionality. 

It’s possible to choose a tech stack and follow the building process to be sure of the quality. It’s the most cost-effective and scalable approach among the three ways of software. Other types take more time and money to implement.

Only a custom solution will allow you to cover all the needs of the marketplace business within the chosen business model and the specifics of the marketplace.

planning to build custom marketplaces?

SaaS Solution

SaaS is a way to start a marketplace model using the Internet as a service. Companies don’t need to install and maintain software. They only need to have access to a ready-made web-based platform.

Business people don’t worry about the building marketplace process itself because the SaaS service provider monitors it. In addition, this software is quite fast and you do not need a technical team. 

Despite the higher speed, security and the customization factor remain disadvantages of the SaaS approach.

Ready-Made Platform

Ready-made solutions are an ideal business choice if the company has absolutely no time and the product has to enter the market as soon as possible. With this approach, the site or app functionality is chosen by the vendor that builds your marketplace. The ready-made solution model isn’t unique, but it saves time.

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Peer-to-Peer Marketplace

If you decide to build a custom P2P marketplace, then the next step will be choosing who is going to build the business software.

A business has two main options:

  •  hire its in-house team
  •  turn to an experienced outsourcing partner

To determine which option is more suitable for your marketplace business, it’s crucial to study the pros and cons of each model. Below we have described all about these two models of outsourcing and in-house teams. It will allow you to choose the best model for your business.

outsourcing vs in-house development

There are various software development cost rates in different parts of the world. Entrepreneurs can make a choice.

outsourcing software rates you need to know

When choosing an outsourcing model, it is necessary to pay attention not only to the cost but also:

  • Technical expertise
  • Similar cultural and business values
  • Time zones

Nevertheless, business companies will be able to calculate the software creation cost of the entire marketplace based on our table. It shows the main features of the C2C marketplace and the optimal creation period.

Core P2P Marketplace Features Average Creation Time/hours
Registration60
Profile for Clients160
Profile for Supplier80
Listing24
Search and Navigation20
Payments110
Feedback and Reviews16
Communication tools24
Notifications16
Admin feature60
Design120
Project setup, deployment, architecture implementation, etc.130
Total820

Explore Peer-To-Peer Marketplaces We’ve Built

Sloboda Studio is a niche marketplace software development company, which has been creating marketplaces for over 8 years. 

In this time we have gained a profound understanding of the business and technology aspects of building the best marketplace model.

Our experts offer marketplace startups full-cycle software development with such vital options:

  • market research
  • ideas analysis
  • design, etc.

Our team can offer the P2P marketplace Discovery Phase in which the company receives:

  • Deep analysis of the idea;
  • Review of requirements;
  • Evaluation of all the possible challenges & best solutions on the way

Our Peer-To-Peer Rental Marketplaces

The executive team of Sloboda Studio has expertise in real estate development, so building rental marketplaces was a great experience that we are ready to repeat again.

Belgium client Moovle needed to create a rental marketplace using an MVP model. 

The choice fell on an MVP software building since the project had to be implemented in a very short time. It was just over a month to receive investment. 

The goal was to develop:

  • core functionality
  • integrate external APIs to synchronize listing
  • implement the entire listing control mechanism

The Sloboda Studio team coped with the task in 6 weeks and the client was able to offer the product to investors.

Peer-To-Peer Service Marketplaces

Sloboda Studio, as an experienced marketplace provider for over 8 years, has huge expertise in the software development of service marketplace platforms.

Cleaning Marketplace

Our Scandinavian client, who previously had an offline cleaning company, came to us with a request to create a marketplace for B2C & B2B online opportunities. 

The client asked about the custom service model. It was crucial to bypass competitors in the market and receive investment in the future.

A while after the project was released, our client got significant clients growth. The company was able to attract investment that helped add even more custom functional solutions and powerful support.

B2C Consulting Marketplace

Our UK client needed to add functionality to the MVP model – online video career consulting between employers and job seekers. 

After analyzing the product, we came to the most time-efficient and cost-effective solution – to create a sub-marketplace and connect it via API to the base platform. 

When the project was launched, our client received a functional platform and increased the client flow.

Real Estate Auction Marketplace

Our UK client, a leading regional real estate company that helps clients buy and sell properties, came in with a request to create an MVP software product. They needed to digitize their business going public as soon as possible.

Our task was to create a product with core functionality and a simple attractive design. After the platform entered the market, our client received remarkable results:

  • 3x growth of users and recommendations 
  • 75% more buyers attracted
  • 2.5 speed up the selling process

Sum it Up

Building a peer-to-peer marketplace in 2021 is one of the most successful directions that business owners are following now. Based on their financial resources and market needs, companies can choose one of three ways to implement their products:

  • Custom solution
  • SaaS solution
  • Ready-made platform

As practice shows, there is no single correct decision about the choice of business and how to build it.

Each business is a unique project. It requires the well-coordinated work of different departments to implement a product that will be successful.

If a company has a great marketplace idea, there is no need to put it on hold and wait for a better time.

Together with an experienced team, companies can reach the best industry experts right now. 

Sloboda Studio has been specializing in building various types of peer-to-peer marketplaces for over 8 years, feel free to reach out to our experts.

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