How to build a profitable marketplace

So you want to build a marketplace. Cool. We have tons of experience building profitable marketplaces and can guide you in the process. But first, here’s a handful of valuable tips.

Actually, let us show you something first.

At some point, marketplaces became somewhat of our speciality. We’ve built several so far, so here are some examples.

clicktrans marketplace app

A marketplace connecting individuals with transport companies. 

econtainers marketplace app

A marketplace helping businesses find and book container shipments. 

tagvenue marketplace app

A marketplace where you can find and book venues in the UK. 

oliv marketplace app

A marketplace for university students and recent graduates, where they can find internships and graduate jobs.  

elm marketplace app

An electric car subscription service.

And more.

As you can see, the essence of marketplaces is connecting. People with other people or businesses (which, in the end, are still people.) Which is what makes building marketplaces so much fun.

But it’s not just fun. 

Things to remember when building a marketplace


The changing needs of consumers and your business are an essential thing to remember when creating any kind of software (remember what we wrote about future-proofing and thinking ahead ?) 

Our marketplaces are modular and adjust to the needs of your customers. And with modular web design, your marketplace will consist of reusable, autonomous components you can later flexibly repurpose as your marketplace evolves.


This is part of flexibility as a whole. You will be integrating your marketplace with things like payment gateways, accounting systems, scheduling apps, etc. And depending on your market, you will need to be able to accommodate a wide variety of solutions – and your marketplace should be built for that.


With marketplaces, you’ll want to be able to track important metrics to evaluate your business KPIs. These can be anything from the most viewed pages or items to bounce rates, cart abandonment rates, average order values, transaction per seller, and lots of others.

 So make sure you have solid analytics built-in.

Search engines are essential to providing a seamless customer experience – nothing is more irritating than not being able to find something you actually want to buy (not to mention it just doesn’t make sense businesswise.) So using the right search tool is crucial.

For example, with (marketplace), we used the Algolia search tool, which resulted in a significant boost in page performance and speed plus really leveled up the user experience. For (marketplace), on the other hand, we needed to make sure people could narrow their search results by city alongside searching venues on a map.  

Checkout + payments

Obviously, a huge one. People need to be able to easily order or book their service or item. User experience and the right choice of payment methods are key if you want to minimize dropouts at checkout and improve your conversion rates.

Store management

On the flip side of this, vendors need to have an easy way to add and manage their listings, edit information, add photos and descriptions, etc.  Remember we’re not just talking about user-friendliness for the end-user, but for people and businesses who’ll be using your marketplace to sell something. It should be smooth sailing for everyone.

Marketing and SEO

We’ll say it again – the MVP process should be the base for your marketing strategy (and it is when you’re going through it with us.)  It’s not enough to just go and create a marketplace if you haven’t researched the market well yourself and are missing the mark in terms of what people actually need. Sorry to say this, but chances are you’re just going to fail – like thousands of startups in marketplace history.

As part of marketing, SEO is crucial for people to be able to find your website and for Google to promote it in search results. And this is not just about the keywords (and definitely not about keyword stuffing) but also about how your website is structured or how fast it loads. And this needs to be taken into consideration while the marketplace is being developed.

Customer service

Customers need to be able to get in touch with the vendors, so implementing a chat is also a good idea.

So, what do you need to build a profitable marketplace? 

  • Team up with an experienced software house that knows how to build marketplaces (that would be us.)
  • Create an MVP and validate your business assumptions before you go to market (and we’ll be happy to do it with you.)
  • Iterate, test, gather feedback, iterate. You know the drill.
  • Expand and grow, potentially with the help of a VC.

Marketplaces are not rocket science

But they’re best created in response to a genuine market need and by people who’ve been there, done that. You’ll find them at DeSmart, so reach out and let’s talk about your marketplace idea.

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