Building a Marketplace Website: Step-by-Step Guide for 2024

Building out a new marketplace website is an endeavor with many moving parts. Brands have to decide on aesthetic (color scheme, copy, images, etc.) and technical (host for the site, payment gateway, etc.) aspects of the site. They have to ensure they stay in line with brand guidelines while also working seamlessly with the rest of the business. Here, we take a look at what goes into building a new marketplace in 2024.

Jess Edwards

Jess Edwards

Customer Marketing Manager

Build a website for selling products

Your eCommerce store could do well if you use platforms like Amazon. However, if you have your marketplace website with a few niche products or services, your business will thrive.

The reason is that marketplaces like Amazon have a lot of competition and businesses are looking for marketplaces where they can sell their products to a niche audience.

Create a website for selling products

When your potential customers search for a specific product they want on a platform like Amazon, they will have a range of similar or even better products to choose from. However, when you have your online store with a niche audience, you can develop a brand name that can give you better profits.

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However, many businesses think that because Amazon has a huge 37.6% of the market share, it can benefit them more than if they invest in a niche marketplace. Many businesses are reluctant to create their website because they are afraid of the risks associated with it and the work it demands. Therefore, a niche marketplace would help them to minimize the risks and reach an audience that is truly interested in their products.

How to build a selling website

A marketplace that is well-designed and SEO-optimized can quickly become a digital asset for a business. The reason is that an SEO-optimized website can attract buyers and sellers in a limited niche. Plus with a well-designed marketplace, you can make sure that sellers can build trust with the customer and charge better margins in exchange for this promise of trust.

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The listing fee on Amazon only allows businesses to get listed on the platform, with no guarantee of any sales. But, with investment in a marketplace website that attracts a specific kind of audience, sellers can benefit from the multiple checkout options, and even upsell to the customer. Plus, with a niche marketplace, brands have the opportunity to build a loyal customer base and implement strategies to keep the brand on top of the customer’s minds, benefiting them in the long term.

Step #1 of creating an online marketplace

If you’re thinking about creating a new online marketplace, you will have to start by creating a business plan.

The first step is to define the concept of your marketplace. Research the market you want to sell to and get a hold of metrics to track the potential demand in the industry.

For instance, the home improvement niche could attract a lot of buyers and sellers since the marketplace could list a range of products. Course marketplaces are also becoming quite popular now that people have started accepting the concept of online classrooms.

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Here are some initial questions you can ask to define your marketplace concept and lay out a business plan:

  • What problem are you solving for buyers and sellers?
  • How will you generate revenue (commissions, subscriptions, etc.)?
  • What value will your marketplace bring to both buyers and sellers?
  • Which essential features like seller tools, product listings, security for online marketplaces, secure payment processing, and search functions will your marketplace have?

What will be the marketplace website SEO strategies to make the business successful

Step #2 of building an online marketplace

When you have a business plan ready, you will have an idea of the kind of technical expertise and investment you need to put the idea into reality.

So, the second step is to gather a team. But before you do that, you must decide if you’ll build from scratch, use existing platforms, or leverage marketplace software. If you plan on building your marketplace from scratch, you will need a solid, technically sound team to put together the user interface and user experience design for marketplace sites.

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Once the development is in process, you will have to test your marketplace for any bugs and errors. To do this, you could create a minimum viable product (MVP) with core functionalities to gather initial user feedback from both buyers and sellers. Before the launch and before you start monetizing your marketplace website, you will have to make sure that everything is set and in place. So, refine and improve your platform based on user testing and feedback.

Step #3 of how to build a marketplace

When you’re building a marketplace website, the platform development comprises just the initial steps. You will need to develop strategies to attract your target sellers, like offering incentives or highlighting potential reach. Since you will have two types of customers (buyers and sellers), you will also have to implement marketing campaigns to drive buyer traffic to your marketplace.

The better audience you get, the more sellers you will have on your platform. Many marketplaces have business models that use a market penetration approach. This means that they attract their customers through low pricing.

For this strategy, you can offer discounts to both buyers and sellers. Sellers can be attracted through low platform fees and buyers can be attracted through sales and special discounts.

Step #4 of how to create an online marketplace

Creating a marketplace is no easy feat. After the platform creation, you will have to market your platform to both buyers and sellers constantly. To do this, you can utilize email marketing and SEO strategies to stay on top of search engines. If you’re appealing to an audience in a small geographic area, make sure that you are using appropriate SEO strategies to rank locally.

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It is also up to you to stay updated on industry trends and adapt your marketplace accordingly. For instance, if the industry demands a new payment method, don’t hesitate to get it listed on your platform to provide the best service to the sellers and convenience to the buyers.

You should also make sure that you implement the latest, most robust security measures to protect user data and transactions.

Additional step: Building a marketplace app

Your marketplace website might do well with both buyers and sellers if you deliver a good user experience. However, to elevate your marketplace to the next level, it is wise to invest in a marketplace app.

Here are some advantages that a marketplace app can yield:

Increased Convenience

The seller’s target audience can browse products, make purchases, and track orders from anywhere, anytime using their mobile devices. With this added convenience, you can charge for more platform fees from sellers.

Enhanced User Engagement

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Push notifications and location-based services can keep users informed about deals, promotions, and nearby sellers, leading to increased engagement.

Improved Brand Loyalty

A branded app fosters a stronger connection with customers, in this case, both buyers and sellers. A positive app experience will attract more buyers and sellers to your marketplace in place of your competitors.

Data Collection and Insights

Mobile app analytics provide valuable data on user behavior and preferences, allowing for better marketing strategies and product offerings. By understanding how users are interacting with your app, you can make marketing and other strategic decisions to improve your marketplace.

Building a marketplace platform

We’ve covered all the steps you need to follow to create a marketplace. However, you need to understand that every market operates differently. It is up to you to devise marketing strategies that you think will work best for your niche. If your niche is related to electronic or luxury products, a market penetration strategy might not work. The reason is that buyers might think that they are not getting genuine products at such a low price.

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So, to create an online marketplace, it is important to first invest a lot of time in research before putting the concept to reality.

Why create your own marketplace?

Building an online presence in this competitive world of eCommerce is no short of a war. Competition can sometimes push businesses to survive on bare minimum profit margins. Niche, local marketplaces are a great way for sellers to reach a niche audience without having to invest in a separate website.

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Plus, a new marketplace can offer more marketing opportunities to sellers for selling online. For instance, new marketplaces can attract sellers by promoting them to potential buyers over email marketing.

Step-by-step guide to building a marketplace website

Building a website marketplace involves planning, development, and ongoing marketing. Before you create a marketplace, the first step is to define your concept: what will you sell and how will it benefit buyers and sellers? Craft a business plan outlining revenue generation and core functionalities. Then decide if you’ll build from scratch, leverage existing platforms, or use marketplace software.

Develop a minimum viable product (MVP) to test with users and refine your platform before launch.

Then, create an online and offline marketing strategy to attract buyers and sellers to your platform. Incentives are proven to get traffic on your marketplace. So, incentivize both buyers and sellers to use your platform.

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Even after the start, you must continuously update your marketplace with new features for scaling your marketplace website. You must also adapt to industry trends, and invest in security. Also, consider building a mobile app to enhance user experience and collect valuable data.

Challenges of eCommerce marketplace development

Launching a successful online marketplace requires overcoming hurdles beyond the initial planning stages. Here are some of the key challenges you’ll encounter throughout the development process:

  • Competition: The eCommerce landscape is crowded, so attracting both buyers and sellers requires a unique value proposition. So, choosing a platform for a marketplace website won’t cut it if there are a lot of marketplaces running on the same platform.

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  • Attracting Sellers and Buyers: Building a user base on both sides is crucial. You’ll need to convince sellers of your platform’s potential and entice buyers with a critical mass of products and competitive pricing.
  • User Experience: The challenge is to create a seamless and intuitive user experience with premium features of an online marketplace for both buyers and sellers. This includes efficient search functionalities, clear product listings, secure payment processing, and smooth communication tools.
  • Logistics and Fulfillment: Managing inventory, order fulfillment, and potentially cross-border deliveries can be complex.
  • Security and Trust: You will need to invest in robust security measures to protect user data and financial information. Alongside this, establishing trust with the customer through responsive customer service.
  • Managing Disputes and Returns: Disputes between buyers and sellers are inevitable. One of the ways this challenge can be tackled is by defining clear policies and efficient resolution processes.

Summary of marketplace website design tips

Creating an online marketplace website is not easy, but it certainly is financially rewarding. Your revenue model can yield you a lot of financial benefits. While there might be a plethora of challenges in running a marketplace, they can be tackled with a good team and the right strategies in place. So, if you can develop and lead a business, starting and running a marketplace will be a great experience for you.

image of asset management system on a tablet

In an industry where sellers want more storefronts to reach potential customers, the idea of a marketplace business is certainly viable. Not only will it help sellers reach niche audiences, but it will save them the hassle of establishing and running their websites.