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App Development
7 minutes read

Mobile Marketplace App: How to Create One

By Robert Kazmi
A marketplace owner working on her computer while surrounded with boxes.
By Robert Kazmi
App Development
7 minutes read

Building a marketplace mobile app is no easy thing. It requires many hours of work, a clear vision, a well-defined target audience, understanding all the features needed, and a great team that can make it happen. Once it is done, the work is only starting. 

You will need to contact businesses that believe in your app in order to offer their products and services. You will also need customers, and most importantly, you will need to keep things going. After all, sales are an essential part of a marketplace’s growth. 

Marketplace development for iOS and Android, the two most popular mobile OS, can be hard if you don’t have a well-thought-out plan. Although plans usually don’t work as expected, having one will help you prepare for what’s to come. Consumers can be very demanding and they want to have the best customer experience possible.

In this article, we will review what a marketplace is, its fundamentals, and factors to consider when building a marketplace mobile app.

What Is a Mobile Marketplace?

An online or digital marketplace is an online store that aggregates various vendors that can offer products and services on the same platform. Just like a regular marketplace, an online one gives small businesses the opportunity to access a bigger market than they would otherwise be able to do on their own. 

A mobile marketplace is a specific type of marketplace application that is thought out with a mobile-first strategy. In other words, it prioritizes a mobile application experience. It differs from a marketplace website in the type of User Experience it can deliver.

On some occasions, a digital marketplace is often referred to as an eCommerce marketplace; both belong to the retail industry, but they are different things. This is usually very confusing, as a marketplace and an eCommerce solution are two different things. A marketplace is a broader online sales concept that offers a wider variety of products and services. Its business model is not to sell things directly, but to offer businesses the place where they can sell them. On the contrary, an eCommerce solution focuses on selling directly to consumers or other businesses.

On a marketplace platform, prospective customers can buy the same product from many different vendors. On an eCommerce platform, customers can only buy from one seller. In other words, an eCommerce platform is usually a dedicated selling place for one company.

Benefits of an Online Marketplace

Just like a physical shopping center, a marketplace for the digital world offers users a series of benefits that they would be unable to achieve on their own. This applies to both seller and buyer roles, although the main priority for a marketplace is usually the sellers, also known as the businesses that offer their products on your platform.

Through strength in numbers, small businesses and independent sellers can compete using the same tools that larger companies use. These are some of the benefits that a marketplace offers to small businesses:

  • Greater visibility
  • Increased sales
  • Online sales infrastructure
  • Customer support tools
  • Customer Relationship Management systems
  • Smooth Customer Experience (CX)
  • Brand awareness

Why Own a Marketplace App?

With mobile devices everywhere, customers can easily access online stores directly from the palm of their hands with marketplace apps. This makes it easier not only for customers to buy what they need but also for businesses to reach their audience. Through powerful marketplace apps for both iOS and Android, businesses can tap into the potential of mobile devices.

Many small businesses do not have the resources to develop their own marketplace, even if they know that these elements might benefit their bottom line. A marketplace app is an ideal solution for companies that wish to reach wider audiences but do not have the capability to develop an app. 

Types of Marketplaces

There are as many different types of marketplaces as there are business relations. The different types of marketplaces are:

  • Business to Business (B2B)
  • Business to Consumer (B2C)
  • Consumer to Consumer (C2C)
  • Consumer to Business (C2B)

For more information on them, we recommend researching what eBusiness is about. 

Building a Marketplace

Developing marketplace apps can be hard if you don’t understand some key requirements of mobile shopping. In order to build a marketplace app, make sure to keep the following considerations in mind:

  • Ideate your vision carefully to offer potential business partners and mobile users a clear and defined business niche. Combine seller and buyer requirements when thinking about your app.
  • See yourself as a service provider. Understand the different electronic devices and online services your target buyers might use to do their purchases and establish your own niche based on their preferences.
  • Consider using a payment system like a secure payment gateway.
  • Select the right mobile app technologies based on all the functionality required by your marketplace. A mobile development partner can help you choose the right tech stack.
  • Choose between iOS or Android for your marketplace development project and deploy your mobile applications on the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. If you don’t want two separate apps for diverse mobile platforms, consider a Cross-Platform app built with React Native.
  • Plan how you will scale your business. Consider using business analysts that can help you widen your perspective on how to gain traction.
  • Offer business partners on your marketplace a clear and beneficial value proposition. Understand exactly what they need and make your marketplace network solve their problems.
  • Identify key features like push notifications, chat messages, GPS services, and also spot key software components like third-party integrations and the right quality assurance tests.
  • Understand the user journey in order to offer a superb Customer Experience (CX) to your business partners’ customers.

Examples of Marketplaces

There are many big marketplaces that have consolidated themselves as the dominant players in specific niches. Some of them focus on geographic niches, while others are more driven by specific products. 

Amazon is the most important and biggest marketplace in the world, and although it might be tempting to imitate them, consider that they are a behemoth that’s hard to compete with. Other important marketplaces include Mercado Libre in Latin America, and Ali Baba, which has been gaining traction all over the world. An example of a niche-specific marketplace is Etsy, as it focuses on handmade and vintage products. 

Online Marketplaces: Cost of Development

Developing an app at the early stages of your business can be demanding. After all, a world-class digital product is something that only expert developers do, and this makes it expensive. Keep in mind that a cheap product will almost always deliver suboptimal results. 

When it comes to building a mobile app, cheap is expensive, so make sure to find the right development partner. This is no exception if you want to build a marketplace that succeeds. 

Understanding the costs of mobile app development. This can give you a clearer sense of what your financial requirements will be. 

Mobile Marketplace Apps: Final Thoughts

Building a marketplace requires more than an app idea. It will take time before you develop innovative features and start to gain traction, but it will surely pay off. 

A good idea is to start to build a marketplace app from a minimum viable product. This allows you to implement must-have features first. Other innovative features can later be added in a strategic way, prioritizing the most important aspects first before going all in. 

Also, make sure to have the right vision, one that can help you execute your business strategy. More importantly, make sure to have by your side a development partner who understands the development process. 

When it comes to developing mobile apps, having a technology partner who can help you build a strong value proposition to differentiate yourself from competitors can make all the difference between failure and success. Find someone who can balance the need for a custom app with meeting your business goals through a mobile marketplace app.

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