How to build a Marketplace platform - Starter Guide 2024

June 30, 2024

Welcome to this marketplace start guide created by Codelevate. Imagine creating a thriving virtual space where buyers and sellers from around the globe can connect, interact, and transact with ease. At Codelevate, we specialize in transforming innovative ideas into successful, scalable marketplace platforms, and we're thrilled to share our expertise with you.

Did you know that global retail e-commerce sales are projected to hit a staggering $6.54 trillion by 2023? According to Statista, this explosive growth underscores the vast potential of marketplace platforms. In fact, marketplaces accounted for 62% of global online sales in 2020, as highlighted by Digital Commerce 360. These figures are not just statistics; they are a testament to the incredible opportunities that await those ready to dive into the marketplace arena.

This guide is crafted for visionaries like you—entrepreneurs, business owners, and dreamers eager to bring their marketplace ideas to life. We'll break down complex concepts into easy-to-understand language, ensuring you grasp the essential elements needed for success. Whether you’re looking to launch a product marketplace, a service platform, or a rental hub, we've got you covered.

Throughout this guide, you'll discover the different types of marketplace platforms, the steps to create one, and the must-have features for success. We'll also explore the benefits of using ready-made solutions versus custom-built platforms, helping you make informed decisions that align with your business goals.

Let’s dive into the world of marketplace platforms and turn your vision into reality!

What is a Marketplace?

A marketplace platform is a digital space where buyers and sellers can connect, interact, and conduct transactions. Unlike traditional e-commerce websites that sell products or services from a single vendor, marketplace platforms host multiple vendors, offering a wide range of products or services to consumers. This multi-vendor model provides numerous benefits, including variety, competition, and convenience.

Key Characteristics of Marketplace Platforms

  1. Diverse Listings: Marketplaces feature a broad array of products or services from multiple sellers, providing consumers with various options and competitive pricing.
  2. User Interaction: These platforms facilitate communication between buyers and sellers, often incorporating features like reviews, ratings, and direct messaging.
  3. Secure Transactions: A key function of marketplaces is ensuring secure and seamless transactions. Many platforms integrate with trusted payment gateways to protect both buyers and sellers.
  4. Scalability: Marketplaces are designed to handle growth, accommodating an increasing number of users, listings, and transactions without compromising performance.
  5. Trust and Safety: Successful marketplaces build trust through verification processes, user reviews, and dispute resolution mechanisms.

Types of Marketplace Platforms

Marketplace platforms can be categorized based on the nature of the transactions they facilitate:

  • Product Marketplaces: Platforms where physical or digital products are sold. Examples include Amazon and eBay.
  • Service Marketplaces: Platforms offering services provided by professionals or freelancers. Examples include Upwork and Fiverr.
  • Rental Marketplaces: Platforms for renting goods or properties. Examples include Airbnb and Turo.
  • Crowdfunding Marketplaces: Platforms for raising funds for projects or ventures. Examples include Kickstarter and GoFundMe.

Marketplace platform
Marketplace platform by Codelevate

How to Create a Marketplace

Creating a marketplace platform involves several crucial steps that require careful planning and strategic execution. This chapter will guide you through each phase, providing insights and tips to help you build a successful marketplace.

Define Your Idea, Target Audience, Business Model, Goals, and Budget

  1. Define Your Idea:
    • Start with a clear vision of what your marketplace will offer. Identify a niche or a unique selling proposition that differentiates your platform from others.
    • Research existing marketplaces to understand gaps and opportunities.
  2. Identify Your Target Audience:
    • Conduct market research to identify your potential users, including their demographics, preferences, and behaviors.
    • Create user personas to represent different segments of your target audience, helping to tailor your platform to meet their needs.
  3. Choose Your Business Model:
    • Commission-Based: Charge a percentage fee for each transaction completed on your platform.
    • Subscription-Based: Offer monthly or yearly subscriptions for access to premium features.
    • Listing Fee-Based: Charge vendors a fee to list their products or services on your platform.
    • Freemium: Provide basic services for free while offering premium features for a fee.
  4. Set Clear Goals:
    • Define short-term and long-term goals for your marketplace, such as user acquisition targets, revenue milestones, and market expansion plans.
  5. Establish a Budget:
    • Outline the costs associated with development, marketing, operations, and maintenance.
    • Plan for initial investments and ongoing expenses to ensure financial stability.

Define Platform Functionality

  1. Essential Features:
    • User Registration: Easy sign-up process for both buyers and sellers.
    • Listings Management: Tools for sellers to create and manage their product or service listings.
    • Search and Filter: Advanced search and filtering options for buyers to find what they need quickly.
    • Reviews and Ratings: Allow users to review and rate products, services, and sellers.
    • Secure Payment Processing: Integration with reliable payment gateways to handle transactions securely.
  2. Advanced Features:
    • Dynamic Maps: Display locations of products or services.
    • Booking and Scheduling: Calendar tools for booking services or rentals.
    • Chat Functionality: Enable direct communication between buyers and sellers.
    • User Dashboards: Personalized dashboards for users to manage their activities on the platform.
  3. Customization and Scalability:
    • Ensure your platform can scale with user growth.
    • Plan for future feature additions and customization options to meet evolving user needs.

Choose technology

1. DIY Solutions:

  1. WordPress: Use WordPress with marketplace plugins and templates for a quick and cost-effective start. Ideal for small-scale or early-stage marketplaces.
  2. Off-the shelf: Use ready-made platforms for marketplaces such as ShareTribe to get started for simple solutions.
  3. Figma Designs: Leverage design tools like Figma to create user-friendly interfaces and prototypes.

Here is our Figma Design System for Marketplaces available for free: Link

2. No-Code Platforms:

  1. Webflow, Wized, and Firebase: These innovative tools enable you to build a custom backend while maintaining the flexibility to scale. No-code solutions are cost-effective and allow for faster development cycles.

3. Custom Development:

  1. For a highly professional and scalable solution, consider custom development. At Codelevate, we provide end-to-end development services, ensuring your platform is robust and tailored to your specific needs.

Build MVP (Minimum Viable Product)

  1. Focus on Core Features:
    • Develop an MVP with essential features to validate your idea and attract early users.
    • Prioritize functionality that directly impacts user experience and market validation.
  2. Testing and Feedback:
    • Conduct beta testing with a small group of users to gather feedback and identify issues.
    • Iterate based on user feedback to improve the platform before a broader launch.

Marketplace platform by Codelevate

Onboarding first customers

  1. Early Adopters:
    • Target early adopters who are likely to provide valuable feedback and help generate initial content and listings.
    • Offer incentives such as discounts or exclusive access to encourage participation.
  2. Soft Launch:
    • Begin with a soft launch to a limited audience, allowing you to test the platform in a real-world environment without overwhelming your team.

Promote the marketplace

  1. Marketing Campaigns:
    • Utilize social media, content marketing, and email campaigns to attract new users.
    • Highlight unique features and benefits to differentiate your marketplace from competitors.
  2. SEO Strategies:
    • Implement SEO best practices to improve your platform’s visibility in search engine results.
    • Focus on keyword optimization, quality content, and backlink building.

Collect feedback

  1. User Surveys and Widgets:
    • Use surveys and feedback widgets to gather user insights and identify areas for improvement.
    • Regularly review feedback to prioritize feature enhancements and bug fixes.
  2. Continuous Development:
    • Adopt an agile development approach to continuously improve and expand your platform.
    • Stay responsive to user needs and market trends to maintain relevance and competitiveness.

Grow and scale the marketplace

  1. Add Value:
    • Continuously add features and services that provide value to your users.
    • Consider expanding into new markets or niches to attract a broader audience.
  2. Localization:
    • Translate your platform into different languages to cater to international users.
    • Adapt your marketing strategies to suit different cultural contexts.
  3. SEO and Marketing:
    • Implement advanced SEO strategies to boost your platform’s ranking and visibility.
    • Invest in marketing campaigns to sustain growth and attract new users.

By following these steps, you can build a marketplace platform that meets user needs, stands out in the market, and has the potential to grow and scale over time. At Codelevate, we are here to support you every step of the way, offering expert guidance and development services to ensure your marketplace succeeds.

Marketplace platform by Codelevate

Marketplace Features

  • Registration Process for Buyers and Sellers
  • Onboarding Process to Collect Details
  • Create Listings for Offerings
  • User Dashboard to Manage Listings and Track Progress
  • Settings Page
  • Profile Pages for Sellers and Buyers
  • Dynamic Map for Locations
  • Booking Process
  • Calendar Availability Module
  • Payment Checkout Process (We recommend integrating with Stripe)
  • Home Page for Your Website
  • Chat Function for Complex Platforms
  • Blog Articles and Communities

Off-the shelf vs Custom Marketplace

Off-the-shelf platforms like Lodgify, ShareTribe, and WordPress are excellent for early stages. They provide all necessary tools to build a marketplace quickly but come with high monthly costs and limited customization options. Eventually, you might need specific features that these platforms can not offer, requiring a costly migration to a custom solution.

At Codelevate, we start with no-code tools like Webflow, Wized, and Firebase. This approach ensures your backend remains custom, making it easier to scale as your user base grows. Custom features can be added as needed, and overall costs remain manageable, typically around 20-50 EUR per month.


Building a marketplace platform is a complex but rewarding endeavor. At Codelevate, we are committed to helping you create a professional and scalable marketplace tailored to your needs. If you have a marketplace idea, don't hesitate to contact us or schedule a call. Let's bring your vision to life together.

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