What options are there for building a marketplace?

Hello there, I am planning to build an on-demand coaching platform, much like Clairty, in the college-admissions consulting space. I would like to know what options exist beyond just hiring a developer (or devp. company) to build it from scratch. Options that come to my mind so far are: 1) WordPress marketplace themes; 2) no-code solutions like Bubble; and 3) as previously mentioned, build from scratch. I would like to get your thoughts and advice on which solutions (both off-the-shelf and tailor-made) I should look at. Thank you for your time.


The first thing to consider is are you building this as an MVP or are you digitizing a business where you are already offering this service successfully offline.

Ultimately you get what you pay for and if you go down the cost-effective route initially MVP style you will need to rebuild at a later date.

If you're replicating an existing business that you are digitizing it would probably be worthwhile to use cost effective developers and more of a prototype approach.

Based on the description of what you are doing I am going to assume you are looking to develop an MVP:

1. Using WordPress - using existing theme (free) or use a designer on Upwork/PPH to create a design and wireframes (~ +/- $1k). Use existing membership/payment plugins (cost as per use), use developer to customise and bring everything together $2-5k. With this solution there it is likely there will still be manual operations to do in background as it is difficult to customise word press 100%

2) Using no-code solution like Bubble. This is a fast and easy way to create web and mobile applications. There is a learning curve which can be quite steep depending on what you want to do. The cost for this is $0 except for your time, depends if you are time poor or could be working on something delivering more value. You may need to use a professional for more complex customisations and integrations cost for this tbd depending on what you want to do.

3. Build from scratch - create a business and requirement document/user stories. Post on Upwork, PPH or similar. Talk through with a few bidders, this will help you get your idea to a more advanced stage and may also uncover things you haven't thought of. Estimated cost for an MVP $5k-$40k

Time to launch for all the above would be 2-4 months estimated for a basic stripped back MVP.

I have gone through this process many times when building MVPs and businesses, there is, unfortunately, no fixed way, it will depend on your situation.

Good luck!


Answered 4 years ago

Every marketplace has some basic functionality requirements, such as creating a listing, communication between users, and handling bookings and transactions. Existing marketplace software will already have most, if not all, included. You can also develop additional features on top of the existing feature set, or at the very least, customize the look and feel of the marketplace.
Even though the software is open-source, hosting, updates, and maintenance incur monthly costs. If you can pay for multiple developers to do the work, the platform will be ready to launch a lot sooner than if you would be doing it yourself. In any case, it will likely be a lot less expensive than outsourcing the development of the marketplace from scratch. In any case, finding the best open-source software that is as fast and easy as possible to customize is a challenge.
You can read more here:
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 4 years ago

I would not go with Wordpress

The disadvantage of Wordpress is that it is basically a blogging software, turned into a website software, turned into an e-commerce software, turned into everything. The point is lots of workarounds, safety issues, plugins needed that might not work with one another etc. Plus you must be able to maintain the server/ hosting environment. Just because it "runs'' as it does with a shared hosting (worst option for business purposes) does not mean it is properly configured for safety or speed.

In my opinion the best tool for your idea is
You can start free and only pay when you go into production mode.

A few big advantages of Bubble (especially in regards to your idea) are:

*in-built sign up/ sign in /forgot password functionality (can be implemented in 10 minutes with few clicks)

*in-built database, easy to create necessary database structure

*automate basically everything with an "If this / then that"- editor

*dynamically insert content from database

*you own your customer's data and can export it

*marketplace of free and paid plugins

* payment processing via 3rd party provider

Of course no software is perfect so here some of the disadvantages to consider:

* there is a learning curve, especially when it goes beyond the basics

* the UI editor is outdated, as it works with absolute positioning coordinates and width/height instead of relative value for easy responsive design. There is a responsive module but it is not intuitive and a pain to debug

* the application will be slow with lots of users

* while it is easy to build so it works it is hard for non-coders to build processes that do not slow down the software, as it all depends on how you write and read data.

Overall if you do not have the budget and just need to start out I would definitely say the pros outweigh the cons. As you can build a MVP in a reasonable timeframe, get started, build your community and deliver a proof of concept to get the necessary funding.

If you need any help with that let us chat:

Answered 4 years ago

I am currently mentoring a Startup that works on the solution you are looking at.

There are many options available and you can find them easily through people or the Internet. But I think your real question is "how to choose the best option to bring your dream to reality". If I am you, I will ask my question instead of yours as I believe it will be more valuable to you.

Please feel free to contact me if you need my help.

Answered 3 years ago

If you are thinking about starting an online business, then there are several roads you can take. E-commerce stores and online marketplaces are the most effective ways to achieve your goal. The choice between the two depends on your business’s state, needs and goals. If you know the difference between the two, then you will be able to figure out what to choose.
While developing the marketplace you’ve to consider the following:

Online marketplaces are large businesses that deal with different vendors who provide their catalogs and typically carry much more inventory than online stores. Usually, when an online store owner manages their own stock and inventory, they have to invest heavily in stock acquisition and management on starting the business (except for drop shipping models). But in the case of an online marketplace, the catalog offered is held by external vendors and thus, the investment in stock management is not a big deal (except for hybrid marketplaces).

As a result, the marketplace owners just need to make sure that their sellers are adhering to the quality regulations and guidelines.

Customer satisfaction
When operating an online marketplace, there’s so much to consider like inventory management, site management, customer service, marketing, sales, social media, content, etc. But when you are running a marketplace, the main focus is simply to offer the best platform for the users, i.e., for the sellers and the customers they sell to.

With different merchants selling at a single platform, marketplaces tend to give an exciting shopping experience for customers as they find cheaper options and new alternatives. So, if a marketplace functions well then it can be a huge community of highly satisfied customers.

They offer more lean and scalable business models to the marketplace owners. Some of the world’s biggest marketplace owners like Uber, Airbnb, and Amazon are great examples for the same. As Tom Goodwin said, they don’t own what they sell but they are creating a platform for the sellers and consumers. While they have to sell a large number of products or services, the fact that the focus is on the platform and reaching more customers means that economies of scale are easier to achieve. So, when compared to other digital businesses, those who are new to the marketplace will be surprised by what they achieve with a relatively small team.

Shopping experience
One thing that unites all the vendors on a marketplace is that there’s just a single checkout process. When customers shop on this platform, they don’t have to click away to different websites to complete the transaction. So when you buy from different sellers on a single platform at the same time, there won’t be any complication even though the merchants aren’t associated.

Answered 3 years ago

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