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How to Build a Marketplace Website MVP and Not Fail

Do you want to know how to build a marketplace website that will become popular and profitable? And you don’t want to risk money and waste a lot of time, right?

A great plan is to start with a minimum viable product (MVP). This way you will not spend a lot of time and money, and you will get valuable feedback on the product and its primary features. Using this approach, you will definitely understand whether your idea is worth investing in or not.

Today, we want to discuss how to build a marketplace MVP through several simple steps.

Why you should start with building a marketplace MVP

An MVP is a version of your custom marketplace that contains only the most basic features. Once the MVP marketplace is created, you will be able to understand what should be modified/removed/added on the website. It can be done with the help of useful feedback from your early adopters.

This approach allows you to rapidly and viably build a marketplace MVP that can further be scaled and corrected.

Here’s how the MVP approach works in product development:

Minimum Viable Product approach

Main principles to follow when building a marketplace MVP

  • Narrow focus

Aim both your financial and mental efforts at covering the smaller groups of the audience in the early days. This will narrow your focus and thus make the most of your budget. Once you get a positive response, you can focus on larger target groups.

  • Users in mind

In order to positively impress your customers, you need to fix their pain points through your custom marketplace. How will your product make their lives better? Why do they need your product and what can it offer them? When you come to building your marketplace MVP, keep in mind these questions and always try to answer them.

  • A slow, but promising start

Success always takes time. You need to implement all the primary and additional features, target both customers and vendors, and promote the platform. Obviously, it cannot befall overnight. However, if you spend much time and defined goals are not reached, then reconsider your business model.

You may also like: MVP and Prototype: What’s Best to Validate Your Business Idea?

World-famous examples of marketplace MVPs

  • Amazon

Nowadays, it is pretty hard to find a person who does not know about such an e-commerce juggernaut as Amazon. However, few do know that in 1994 the company began selling low-cost books with the simplest design.

First version of Amazon’s website

It was an extremely successful MVP as the books are easy-to-sell and easy-to-ship goods that do not require many expenses from customers. Step by step, the marketplace started expanding the product categories. This way, they boosted the conversion rate and became the largest e-commerce platform.

Related reading: How to Build a Marketplace Website Like Amazon
  • Airbnb

The website was initially started to gain some money for rent payment. However, it happened that the platform has become a major lodging rental marketplace competing with Booking. The MVP version was the simplest website. It included the only accommodation option published by the platform creators. In a while, their idea was successfully validated. People found an interest in staying in someone’s home instead of picking a hotel with a complex sign up procedure.

First version of Airbnb’s website

Further reading: How to Start Online Marketplace like Airbnb

Core functionality of a marketplace MVP

As we said before, when you want to build a marketplace MVP, its functionality should be valuable to the potential users. It means you need to build features that will cover most of both platform sides’ needs. It includes providing the best user experience, easy navigation, and others.

Now, let’s take a look at the main features for your custom marketplace MVP:

  • Account page of buyers and vendors

This function is more important for suppliers than buyers. The matter is that the information about an online store or vendor should be clearly presented and easily manageable by the seller. The buyer needs to know the general store information and understand what the shop offers. It increases the user experience as it takes a little time to get the required data.

  • Product page

This feature allows buyers to know details about the goods listed by sellers. It includes description, item information, technical specification, customer reviews, and warranty. Product pages are the most viewed and visited throughout the website. The reason is that buyers conclude whether to buy an item at this stage.

  • Search option

Search is extremely important for a marketplace MVP, as it enables buyers to find the required item rapidly and smoothly, just entering a keyword in the field. Suppliers can use the search option to navigate through the website and find information on competitive goods. This way, they conduct a market and competitor analysis.

  • Messaging

The feature allows both sides to get in contact and discuss a product or service. Besides, they can communicate on any issues connected with the cost, payment methods, delivery, etc.

  • Payments processing

It is vitally important for users to both choose the desired item and pay for it expeditiously.

Besides, it is always a perfect idea to provide your customers with multiple payment methods, e.g. PayPal, Stripe, Square.

  • Reviews and ratings

Make your marketplace MVP reliable. With the reviews and ratings, you can make buyers feel confident and give them a sense of trust when buying goods. This way, they will more likely place an order.

  • Notifications

This feature enhances the user experience for visitors and boosts traffic. They inform users about new messages, order requests, special deals, etc. It means that users always stay engaged with your brand.

  • Administration panel

It gives you (as an admin) an opportunity to monitor and manage all the seller-buyer interactions. It includes editing info about the platform users, items, and payments. Using this feature, you can take into account the users’ feedback and locally improve the marketplace workflow.

Core features for a marketplace MVP

Related reading: How to Build an Online Marketplace Website From Scratch

How to further develop your marketplace MVP

Once building a marketplace MVP is over, you will get feedback from your website users. It stands mainly for the features that should be improved or added. You need to put your visitors’ demands first and enhance the platform.

Here comes the Build-Measure-Learn (BML) technique of Lean Startup methodology. Using this approach, you make the online marketplace development process efficient. So, you build the product, analyze it, and collect feedback, and then decide what should be added/deleted/modified. This is a cyclic process that results in constant improvement.

Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop

Below you can find examples of additional marketplace features that can be implemented after the main functionality is built.

  • Mobile version

The number of mobile users is growing rapidly. For this reason, build a user-friendly mobile marketplace to cover more potential visitors which can greatly increase the website conversions.

  • Comparison of goods and services

An ability to compare products with each other will be highly useful for the buyers. This feature on your marketplace platform will boost visitors’ user experience. They can avoid opening separate l product pages to compare goods.

  • Social network sharing

This feature massively promotes your marketplace business within the users’ social networks.

  • Wish list

It gives users an opportunity to have all the products they want in one location. Thus, you can send them notifications with discounts on the products from the wishlist, and further help them make an easy purchase.

  • Localization

An adaptation for customers from all over the world. Usually, this includes choosing the country, language, currency, etc.

How to build a marketplace MVP?

There are several options you can take into consideration:

  • Team of freelancers;
  • In-house custom software development team;
  • Software consultancy specializing in custom marketplace website development.

Actually, each option has the right to exist and deserves your attention. The differences are the rates, delivery time, and quality of the solution you will get in the end.

We recommend you to pick a software company that specializes in custom software development, and especially can build a marketplace MVP for you.

The matter is that such a company already has a solid experience in developing and launching marketplace websites. They will not only meet your requirements but can also advise you on the UX and the functionality you need or not. Such an agency knows how to build a marketplace MVP and make it successful.

You may find interesting: Online Marketplace Design


Once you have chosen the list of the required features for your website, you can proceed to the technical implementation of your ideas. You surely want to build a scalable, maintainable, and sustainable marketplace MVP.

At Codica, we prepare a list of the best suitable technologies before starting a new project. It is crucial as different tools have their specific benefits. It means that we can combine them to build the best possible solution within particular requirements.

Below you can see the list of programming languages, libraries, frameworks, and other tools we use in practice for custom marketplace development:

  • Server-side

Back-end or server-side technologies are tools that allow interacting with servers. This way, we can get or update the existing data. It is then used in the app’s view layer to give users relevant information depending on their actions.

So, we work with Ruby, Ruby on Rails, ElasticSearch, Redis, i18n gem, MySQL, and Sidekiq for handling server-side operations.

  • Client-side

Front-end or client-side tools allow displaying webpage elements to users. For example, we can get some data from servers using back-end tools. Then we utilize front-end technologies to display this data properly.

Considering the client-side tools, we use HTML5, CSS3, JS, Ruby on Rails, React, and Vue.js in practice.

  • Tools

Integrations and tools simplify development, communication, DevOps, and other processes. Also, some of them allow adding extra functionality to your marketplace MVP.

At Codica, we prefer the following tools: AWS S3, GitLab, GitHub, Slack, Digital Ocean.

To conclude, the right choice of technology stack influences your product scalability, sustainability, and maintainability. We believe that the tools mentioned above will help you build a web solution of any scale and complexity, For sure, you can choose other technologies to meet your goals.

Codica expertise in marketplace MVP development

We always offer our customers to build a marketplace MVP first. This way, they get initial feedback from users, present their app to stakeholders, and save custom marketplace software development costs. Also, with the help of an Agile approach, customers can make changes at any stage of the development process.

Solid expertise in building marketplace MVPs

Since 2015, Codica team has helped numerous startups build successful and profitable Minimum Viable Products. Specifically, we have delivered 30+ web products and our clients have raised over $36 mln with their startups. They have succeeded in e-commerce, finance, travel, automotive, accommodation rental, and insurance domains.

Strong programming experience and technical expertise

Codica team includes 30+ technical experts. We use the most up-to-date programming tools. It allows us to build scalable, maintainable, and high-performance solutions for customers.

Our technical specialists combine their experience with the best practices to build a marketplace MVP product. This way, it meets clients’ business requirements and caters to end-users needs.

Project management approach

At Codica, we are flexible at choosing the project management approach. We both apply agile methodology and waterfall. It helps us choose the best option for the early delivery of a product. In terms of building marketplace MVPs, we provide clients with factional iterations. They help customers see results during the first stages.

So, we deliver product functionality step by step, test early, and make our solutions working from the start. This way, clients can launch their apps quickly and get useful feedback from users.

Excellent communication and timely reporting

Good communication is the key to project success. It influences the understanding of the project, the accuracy of deadlines, and the final product quality. For these reasons, we have built an efficient and transparent communication process. It allows our clients to see results at each development stage and monitor the progress.

Usually, we use Slack, our time-tracking tool Timebot, and Trello to communicate in our teams and with customers. With the help of these instruments, we have created a solid development process and provide clients with timely reports on the work done. This way, customers always stay up-to-date with the project progress and get high-quality product delivery.

At the same time, we are flexible in terms of working tools and are more than willing to use any other tools that our clients prefer.

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Final words

Marketplace web development is a tough hill to climb which takes a large amount of time and effort to succeed. The more efficient way is to know how to build a marketplace MVP version that validates and verifies your ideas in the early days. This way, you collect initial feedback from potential users and investors. As a result, you can generate a client base early and further improve the product.

At Codica, we have built multiple complex and unique marketplace MVPs, and we will gladly help to create yours. Check our ready works or contact us to discuss your project.

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