Uber, Airbnb, AliExpress – What does come into your mind when you look at these three mammoths of a company? At first sight, there is not much common amongst them. But, if you dive a little deeper, you’ll realize that these three corporations belong to the same category; marketplace platforms.
Ever since sharing economy took off in the 2000s, marketplace platforms are gaining constant traction. For instance, in 2010, the marketplace projects had an investment rate of almost four billion dollars. And in the current year, it is at forty-six billion dollars, with most of the belonging going to the US market in this growth.
Nevertheless, it is no child’s play to create an online marketplace platform. There are many things one needs to take into consideration before the process of development begins. So, in this piece, we will aim to cover the main phases of online marketplace website development, which will lead to a successful deployment of an application. So, without further ado, Let’s get started!
What is an Online Marketplace Website?
Marketplaces are a platform where buyer meets the seller through a digital third party to buy services or goods, make deals, and communicate. It follows a Person-To-Person model that plays a vital role in the success of this modern business-conducting platform, which means that users of the website get facilitated with convenient communication between them, without the interference of a middle-man.
How to Build a Marketplace Website: A Step-By-Step Guide
It shouldn’t come to you as a surprise that an in-depth knowledge of your domain (or I’d say more than that) should be the number one goal on your priority list when you decide to develop an online marketplace website. Whether it is an accommodation-sharing platform or an online meds store that you want to build, it is a requirement to conduct thorough market and consumer research to come up with an idea of a platform that is user-oriented, detailed, and supremely smooth.
Let’s now get straight to the point of why you are here in the first place. Here are the steps you have to take for building a robust and comprehensive online marketplace website:
Discovery of Product
As briefly discussed earlier, this stage is undoubtedly one of the most crucial stages of the development process. At this stage, you get to know your potential users and learn about their actual needs. Unfortunately, some falsely think that conducting an exhaustive analysis of the customers and marketplace; product discovery is nothing but a waste of time. Contrary to the assumptions, let me mention some discovery artifacts that can end up giving your platform a competitive edge.
Understanding the market and potential customers is a head start to your journey, but keeping an eye on competitors’ doing is also crucial. That is why competitors’ analysis is a great strategy to stay updated on what your competitors are up to with their solutions.
Proto personas are basically your assumptions of what the targeted customers may look like. We can come up with proto personas to better understand the type of audience we are working for. For example, proto personas help a marketplace app development company to have an answer for the question: “For whom are we designing for?”
We initiate the process of proto personas by first assuming the audience and then doing research to validate our assumptions. For instance, we are developing an app for an audience in the age bracket of 18-24, and since young adults are very well informed on what their smartphone icons mean, we don’t need to put any text descriptions on them.
Customer Journey Map (CJM)
Marketplace platforms can be complex at times. That is why it is very crucial to create a Customer Journey Map. CJM is a process that works on a customer’s experience with a service or a product by communicating and capturing complex interactions. Each customer has their journey, so to stand out amongst your competitor, treat every individual with the utmost attention.
After gathering information about users’ behavior, we would have a good understanding of what a user wants further along with the insight to add more new and improved features or make the user interaction more intuitive.
Finally, after conducting thorough research, build a prototype and interview users for their reviews. The reason for these interviews is to get an idea of whether the users feel that they are getting what was promised or did they have any difficulty using the platform.
Creation and Validation of Design Prototypes
After going through the primary stage of product discovery, we are now able to move to the designing of prototypes which will be a reflection of the user flow. These prototypes should embody the product’s idea and comprise its basic functionalities so that the users can test them and give their initial thoughts on the product.
The design prototypes should not only be about designs. They also reflect the business logic of the product and demonstrate the fundamental functionalities. For instance:
- Who will look after the delivery process: the marketplace or provider?
- Who is in charge of payment processing?
- How does the loyalty system operate?
After completing the designing process and the approval of the UI part and concept, the development stage comes in. As you may know, the coding part comprises two phases: frontend and backend. At this stage of the development process, the technical side should be robust enough for future scaling projects (if that is something part of your plan). For that to happen, you need to:
- You need to have a good number of partners-providers that will make the website attractive for the users. Unfortunately, you will not find any luck in the market with an empty page of offers;
- It is a good idea to make your way into the market with a slow and gradual approach, giving enough time for the development and scaling. If implemented a proper game plan, there are very few chances of your website ever going down.
Launch of Product in Market
Finally, after long and exhausting stages of discovering the product, validation through rigorous testing, and an efficient development process, it is time to reap what you sow- the product launch. But the absolute goal is not yet accomplished. You now have to analyze the customer’s behavior on the website. You get the most insightful analysis once the product is launched in the digital stratosphere. Therefore, it is necessary to benefit from them by improving the existing functionalities and introducing new ones.
After completing the development process, a whole new journey begins. If you want to keep your online marketplace business up and running, you should maintain and scale it frequently. For such an ambitious purpose, we came up with a list of things you can do when you are over with the development process:
Continuous Iteration and Testing
The industry of online marketplace platforms is constantly evolving and improving. And the only way to survive and excel in this competitive business is by running constant iterations and tests on your website, as it is crucial to do so if you plan to stick around for a while or want to lead the industry itself. Just try to stay active by constantly giving attention to the details and finding better ways to come up with creative notions that will lead to the rapid growth of your platform.
One of the significant ways of achieving such stability is by observing your customers’ activities on the website. It is a good source of learning what users are looking for and what is trending these days. All these tactics will help you take the business up a notch, and the best part about it is that it is free to do so.
Providing Convenience to Partners
Your primary focus is providing efficient and convenient services to your customers, who are at your website for purchasing goods.
However, you also have to cater to your providers providing the goods on your marketplace platform for your customers. So, it is a good idea to offer such features for your partners that will make the entire process hassle-free. Although the priority is always the customers, having a good and trustworthy relationship with the providers is always beneficial.
Over the top addition of features and scaling up the website may push it too hard and result in a hot mess. You can undoubtedly lose sight of track under such immense pressure and may compromise on the design consistency. So, stick to the roots, remember what got you to the dance; a thoughtful and sought-out design system. So, it is a sound recommendation to create a robust design system and follow its lead.
There you have it! A simple yet informative article about online marketplace website development. With the help of this piece, you may now have a good understanding of this industry, how to build your own platform, and what it takes to flourish your business as you go further along in this highly competitive line of work. Now you can go from nothing to having your own marketplace website, which you can scale up with the increase in the demand for your services and can also move towards mobile apps with the help of a marketplace app development company. So, good luck!