Development of a Large Niche Marketplace

E-commerce represents a vast and challenging sector in the realm of web development, and at SECL Group, we have been specializing in E-commerce projects for over a decade. During this period, we have designed numerous online stores and marketplace, the most extensive marketplace of which catered to all product categories and attracted over 10 million, monthly visitors.

In this article, however, I aim to delve into niche marketplace development. It’s crucial to understand the right approach if you plan to create a marketplace website. Apart from product marketplaces, we will discuss how to build a service marketplace. I will outline the technology stack for successful e-commerce marketplace development. This information will arm you with essential insights to consider when planning to utilize marketplace development services.

Preparing to Create a Marketplace Website

In the past decade, many marketplace websites have emerged. The majority of these are thematic, while universal marketplaces are usually developed for local markets, particularly in smaller countries where such a niche remains unexplored.

Potential clients often express their initial requirements in terms such as, ‘I want an Amazon clone!’, ‘Can you build something like Alibaba for me?’ or ‘I need a new Etsy!’.

However, many of these individuals may not fully comprehend the vast amount of work involved in such projects. Beyond the public-facing storefront of a marketplace, there’s a considerable internal component to these platforms. This includes IT systems for the marketplace’s sellers and the operation of the marketplace as a business entity.

For instance, some marketplaces maintain their warehouses, necessitating the use of warehouse management software. This represents a separate, complex IT system that connects the company with both sellers and buyers. And there can be numerous such systems, hidden from the view of ordinary users, but significantly impacting the scope of development.

It’s crucial to understand that each feature of an e-commerce platform is underpinned by a technological foundation. If 79.8% of Amazon shoppers choose this marketplace due to its fast, free shipping, then it’s an indication that the shopping software module works flawlessly. Many elements contributing to the success of marketplace websites operate under the hood. We’ll delve into these aspects further in the following sections.

Characteristics and common features of e-commerce marketplaces

An online marketplace is an e-commerce website where sellers offer their products or services. Currently, the global e-commerce market is experiencing significant growth. It isvalued at $5.7 trillion in 2022. The lion’s share of sales comes from marketplaces. In 2022 alone, sales from leading online marketplaces grew by nearly 3% to reach $3.24 trillion. Remarkably, 47% of online purchases are made through online marketplace platforms.

E-commerce marketplaces

Retail and e-commerce are incredibly dynamic sectors where new and combined types of platforms continually emerge to showcase products to consumers. Alongside classic marketplaces, there are also platforms called aggregators, which primarily serve as an informational platform, a kind of digital catalog that allows buyers to review and compare offerings from various sellers.

Transactions and orders are executed outside the aggregator’s platform. Nonetheless, this type of web product is intriguing, with its target audience and monetization paths.

Returning to marketplaces, these digital platforms typically should provide the following:

  1. User login and authentication, user profiles.
  2. Vendor Accounts.
  3. Marketplace Navigation, the main element of which is a well-designed menu.
  4. Product Catalogs
  5. Popular Products
  6. Top Selling
  7. Novelties
  8. Electronic Merchandising (ranking of products)
  9. Product Card
  10. Demonstration of goods.
  11. Tracking price and availability.
  12. Product Modifications (Product Builder).
  13. Product Search, including the possibility of faceted search
  14. Reviews
  15. Product Ratings
  16. «I have it!»
  17. «I want this as a gift!»
  18. Substitute Products
  19. Complementary Goods
  20. Missing Items
  21. Previously Viewed Items
  22. Product Comparison
  23. Favorites
  24. Shopping cart and checkout
  25. One-click purchase
  26. Call Request
  27. Buy on credit or installment plan
  28. Payment
  29. Cancellations and Refunds
  30. Delivery
  31. Order fulfillment tracking
  32. Integration with vendor information systems
  33. Analytics
  34. Integration with external DBs
  35. Advertisement System.
  36. Social Media Integration.
  37. Marketing Activities.
  38. Synchronization with off-line trade
  39. Integration with accounting systems
  40. Affiliate Program
  41. Error pages
  42. SEO module
  43. Responsive web design
  44. Microformats
  45. User-friendly (clean) URLs
  46. Multilingual
  47. Loyalty program
  48. Multicurrency
  49. Behavioral System (Personalization)
  50. Contacts
  51. Online chat
  52. News
  53. Email distribution
  54. Notifications
  55. Articles & Reviews
  56. Polls and research
  57. Assistance
  58. Complaints and claims.
  59. Integration with CRM, ERP, PIM, and other internal IT systems (typically over 20-25 systems).
  60. Data export in XML, CSV, and other formats.

Let’s take a look at the functionality of the marketplace in terms of user experience. Research shows that in e-commerce, a personalized customer experience is of paramount importance and can boost revenue by up to 25%.

What elements can’t the modern consumer live without? Here are the five essential features of a marketplace for optimal user convenience:

  1. Navigation and search. Simple, intuitive website navigation and an efficient product database search system are a must. Users also value the ability to compare similar products. Customers appreciate a broad selection of goods. However, they don’t want to spend a lot of time navigating through them. With just a few clicks, users should be able to find the needed things. They’re likely to switch to a competitor’s website if they can’t do it.
  2. Payment availability. Your platform’s payment gateways should support user-friendly payment methods. Whether it’s bank cards, PayPal, or e-wallets, make sure to accommodate your clients’ financial habits.
  3. Mobile-friendliness. The ability to easily access your marketplace from mobile devices can significantly enhance its popularity.
  4. Buyer reviews and real ratings. More and more shoppers are making informed decisions and carefully studying reviews. Vendor and product ratings should be objective as they are taken into account, so providing the ability for customers to leave detailed comments and ratings is beneficial.
  5. Security. Users expect robust platform security as a given. They won’t tolerate the loss of money or leakage of personal data. Preventing any security threats is crucial, and modern web development offers a plethora of protection methods.

It’s worth mentioning that today’s e-commerce marketplace development technologies offer an extensive range of opportunities for personalized customer experiences, contributing to the growing popularity of sales platforms.

Understanding the Difference Between a Marketplace and a Store

How does a marketplace differ from a store? Well, truth be told, from a user’s perspective, there’s hardly any difference, as both marketplaces and online stores are ostensibly e-commerce platforms where various goods or services can be bought and sold.

However, the business models of these platforms vary significantly. An online store typically has a single seller offering all products, whereas a marketplace is a platform that hosts products from different vendors. It’s even feasible for a marketplace to integrate various online stores onto its platform. From a developer’s perspective, both stores and marketplaces share similar functionalities, yet creating a marketplace is slightly more challenging and time-consuming due to its broader range of functionalities. This primarily applies to the management of payments and organization of deliveries, and as a general rule, marketplaces often benefit from higher traffic and broader geographical coverage.

Once a marketplace has implemented convenient and secure payment and delivery systems, it often accelerates quickly, and online stores that struggle to establish these functions for themselves are inclined to operate on such platforms, as a marketplace’s popularity and consumer trust in it are also crucial factors. Advertising and SEO efforts invested in the created marketplace website indirectly benefit all the vendors represented on the platform, providing fledgling stores with ample opportunities for a quick start.

Additionally, marketplaces have the advantage of diversification. Issues affecting a single online store, supplier, or even an entire industry are less critical in a marketplace setting. Underperforming stores can be replaced with new ones. The platform’s scalability allows for a reduction in the payback period for marketplace development and promotion.

Ultimately, a successful online store with a dedicated customer base and well-established business processes can always ascend to the next level by transforming into a marketplace. However, this would require a shift in e-commerce marketplace development priorities, with a renewed focus on payment automation, delivery, third-party solution integration, and collaboration with a substantial number of retailers.

How to get started with creating niche marketplaces

What are the advantages of a niche marketplace? Let’s explore the evolution of e-commerce marketplace development over the past few decades. The 2000s marked the era of online store development. Consumers are gradually adapting to the concept of online shopping. But since the 2010s, we’ve seen a surge in marketplace development. This trend continues despite the saturation of most market niches.

We are currently witnessing a new phase in online retail. With an abundance of online stores, easier launching methods, and fierce competition, it’s becoming increasingly advantageous to create platforms for vendors. These vendors, equipped with automated sales tools, help promote the entire platform through their activity. Such platforms appeal to both existing stores, looking for additional sales channels, and aspiring entrepreneurs who lack the resources to establish their stores.

Conversely, consumers appreciate the convenience of browsing a single marketplace website instead of having to comb through numerous individual online stores. Furthermore, the likelihood of finding your desired product/s in a marketplace is significantly higher!

Overall, the superiority of marketplaces manifests in the following ways:

  • Wider assortment.: A marketplace inherently boasts a wider array of goods and services compared to even the largest individual stores. This is because a single marketplace can host hundreds of thousands of sellers, each offering its unique range of products.
  • Customer Convenience: Being able to offer a vast selection of goods naturally draws a large customer base. Shoppers can find the products they’re seeking much more quickly, spot the best prices, and easily make comparisons.
  • Specialization: niche marketplaces cater to specific product groups, making them an excellent platform to discover both the latest items and proven bestsellers.
  • Customer Trust: A marketplace’s reputation is a significant asset. It’s motivated to uphold its standing and maintain high-quality customer service.

For example, there is data according to which 48% of online shoppers, when thinking about buying, go directly to a large e-commerce marketplace, bypassing individual online stores.

Why do so many people aspire to develop an Amazon or Alibaba clone? Because they are huge and successful international marketplaces! No wonder there are so many queries around creating a website like Amazon.

However, it’s important to remember that Amazon, like many other similar projects, began its own existence as a simple store. Then, it evolves into the modern sprawling marketplace we’re all familiar with. Today, Amazon not only sells its own products but also resells items from other manufacturers. At the same time, it offers a platform for sellers around the globe to hawk their goods using Amazon’s infrastructure.

Being a platform where other businesses trade is always going to be the most advantageous position. By connecting sellers and buyers, you can always generate income. Moreover, sellers rely on the platform due to the numerous benefits associated with it. They even contribute to the promotion of the platform through their efforts. Such a marketplace model is nearly impossible to eliminate from the market, whereas many traditional stores often appear and disappear within a short time.

Some might question the potential of new marketplaces, considering the domination of global e-commerce giants. However, let’s dispel such doubts by referring to industry-specific statistics. Please take a look at the infographic on marketplace development, which illustrates when today’s leading online e-commerce platforms were established.

Top online marketplaces broken down by year launched

It’s easy to see that over half of the top 100 marketplaces were established within the last decade. This is an inspiring trend, as it showcases the potential for growth in e-commerce marketplace development.

Being a niche marketplace means you can dominate a specific segment of the market. But how small is ‘small’? Well, that’s relative. A billion-dollar market segment may be considered too small for a behemoth like Amazon, and they might not invest in it. However, for a niche marketplace, a segment of this magnitude can be quite lucrative. As a result, today we see marketplaces springing up in a diverse array of categories: clothing, food, collectible coins, alcohol, and many others.

Suppose you’re considering creating a website akin to Etsy or Amazon. Before you enlist marketplace development services, you must first decide: do you want to emulate the universal model of Amazon or the specialized nature of Etsy?

Etsy serves as a powerful example: instead of following the beaten track, this platform has specialized in handmade and vintage items. Its marketing model is tailored to reflect its chosen niche and the characteristics of its target audience. After all, in this product category, no two items are exactly alike. Consequently, Etsy’s focus on a personalized shopping experience has been vindicated. The number of active Etsy buyers doubled between 2019 and 2021, reaching a staggering 96.3 million.

Now imagine the sheer volume of product segments and niches out there in the market. And now multiply this by the number of countries in the world… There are still so many untapped markets remaining, and we continuously receive requests from clients looking to develop niche marketplaces.

Marketplaces come in various subtypes, the main ones being:

  • B2C (Business-to-Customer) — This type of marketplace facilitates sales from businesses to individual consumers.
  • B2B (Business-to-Business) – This format typically involves businesses selling to other businesses, often covering wholesale transactions.
  • C2C (Customer-to-Customer) — Here, everyday users or customers sell goods or services to each other. This format is also frequently referred to as P2P (Peer-to-Peer, Person-to-Person, or People-to-People).

As soon as a new category of items becomes available for sale, the emergence of a corresponding marketplace is simply a matter of time. Take, for example, crypto marketplaces where cryptocurrencies and other blockchain assets, such as Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), are traded.

Interestingly, we’ve been seeing an increasing number of inquiries from potential customers along the lines of how to build a service marketplace recently. This area already boasts several successful models to learn from, like TaskRabbit or Fiverr.

Of course, each niche comes with its unique considerations. For instance, when you create a services marketplace, it’s important to ensure that users receive accurate information about the location of service providers. Some services can’t be provided remotely and even for those that can, it’s often crucial that the customer and the service provider share the same time zone.

These days, honestly, the term marketplace is a fairly broad concept. As previously stated, there are many types and subtypes of marketplaces. However, there are also commonalities in their internal organization.

For this reason, it’s beneficial to select a software development company that specializes in your particular niche. This way, you can integrate your innovative ideas with tried-and-true e-commerce marketplace development strategies.

The key is to promote a business model with strong potential, capable of winning customer favor. In turn, marketplace development services will provide you with a high-quality technological base suitable for any niche marketplace.

Marketplace Software Development: Key Considerations

I’d like to discuss the primary considerations involved in marketplace software development. Previously, I explained that e-commerce platforms often share many essential features, which are considered a necessity for this type of web resource. Consequently, there are suitable ready-made solutions available.

Out-of-the-Box Solutions vs Custom Development: Pros and Cons

The question often arises: Which is the better option, out-of-the-box software or custom development? A decade ago, my answer would have unreservedly favored custom development. However, with the plethora of out-of-the-box solutions available today, the choice isn’t so clear-cut.

Today’s market offers an array of platforms for e-commerce, from ready-made solutions like CMS/CMF to specialized website builders, with most providing functionality for creating marketplaces. If your budget falls below $50,000, you might find that an out-of-the-box solution with minimal functional modifications is your only viable option. This necessitates adopting a pre-existing system and accepting its inherent limitations.

However, it’s crucial to note that there aren’t any successful pre-packaged «Amazon analogs» on the market. You may find suitable options for small marketplaces or for ‘market testing’, but nothing that could feasibly rival Amazon.

For ambitious plans and specific functional requirements, custom development remains the superior choice. It is often challenging to tailor pre-packaged systems to meet unique functional requirements. Many attempts to economize by modifying out-of-the-box solutions. However, caution is strongly advised as such customizations can become never-ending projects, with costs eventually surpassing those of developing from scratch. It’s a well-known fact that it’s often more challenging to modify an existing system than to build a new one.

The primary advantage and drawback of out-of-the-box software is its ready-made functionality. On one hand, its readiness eliminates the need for development, making it a great fit for those without extensive experience, as the system draws from the expertise of other operators. On the other hand, if your requirements are specific, then this pre-packaged functionality may fail to meet them or require significant optimization.

By the way, consider this interesting observation on software development in e-commerce. Our company, which I founded and where I initially served as a programmer, has been operational since 2005. About 10-15 years ago, we primarily developed basic online stores, but as time went on, we progressed to constructing more sophisticated stores. Nowadays, we predominantly create marketplaces or internal IT systems for retail and e-commerce businesses, reflecting a significant shift in market demand.

For basic stores, there are numerous well-designed and flexible ready-made solutions available. Marketplaces, on the other hand, do not yet have such options, although I do very much anticipate their emergence within the next decade.

The range of existing off-the-shelf solutions often comes with several shortcomings. For instance:

  • They struggle to handle product databases exceeding 30-50 thousand items.
  • Their functionality is geared towards generic product marketplaces and doesn’t cater well to most niche marketplaces.
  • Their integration with accounting, warehouse management, logistics, and other IT systems is often fraught with complications.

In my view, the marketplace sector is currently experiencing market saturation. In such a landscape, a startup that has pioneered a custom solution will likely secure market share. Those who opt to wait for the ready-made solutions to mature may find themselves trying to penetrate a market already claimed by others in ten years.

At present, the potential returns from custom marketplace development seem to outweigh the associated risks and costs. This is evidenced by trailblazers in online retailers like Amazon and Alibaba, who have reaped substantial rewards for their innovative efforts.

Marketplace website development tech stack

When considering how to create an online marketplace like eBay or how to create a website like Amazon, aside from the business model, you should not lose sight of technology.

By opting for off-the-shelf software, you’re committing to the technologies embedded within it. Currently, the majority of these ready-made solutions are built in PHP. Certainly, there are e-commerce platforms based on Python/Django, and systems rooted in JS/Node.js, among other prevalent technologies, however, these are less numerous and not as popular as platforms like Magento.

Software is usually selected based on project requirements, relegating the choice of technology to a secondary consideration. When selecting pre-built solutions, companies primarily assess their alignment with project requirements and functionality. If these parameters are equal, then attention shifts to the popularity and prospects of the languages and frameworks on which the system is constructed.

Custom development from scratch offers the flexibility to utilize any popular language and framework. If you scrutinize renowned projects established over the past decade, you’ll find examples of all the popular programming languages in use.

One thing I strongly advise against is attempting to blindly mimic the tech stacks of behemoths like Amazon. Firstly, these global platforms were developed in an era where there were scarce options for such projects beyond Java or PHP.

Secondly, titans like Amazon have crafted intricate internal ecosystems, often operating on several technologies simultaneously. Older projects might be constructed on Java, while newer ones might utilize more contemporary technologies like Python/Django or JS/Node.js. Concurrently, distinct new subsystems could be developed using languages such as Go. For new projects, I would recommend leveraging modern programming languages.

When selecting technologies for marketplace development, several key factors should be considered:

  • The popularity of languages and frameworks among new projects.
  • Prospects of languages and frameworks, as well as the size of the developer communities that use them. Language capabilities and main characteristics, starting with speed, etc.
  • Several ready solutions for languages and frameworks.
  • Support cost and other business parameters.

As of now, Python/Django, JS/Node.js, and a few other popular programming languages and their respective frameworks fulfill the criteria discussed above. Hence, I recommend you primarily focus on the development of a Python/Django marketplace. If this doesn’t fit your needs, then consider creating a JS/Node.js online marketplace. If neither of these sets of technologies suits your requirements, then PHP/Laravel/Yii might be worth considering for web development.

Remember at the start of this article I mentioned that we had developed a marketplace supporting 10+ million users per month? This marketplace was built using Python / FastAPI with a microservice architecture. While in this case, it was the client who chose these technologies, we would also recommend them for a project of this scale.

That being said, it’s important to emphasize that the technology stack should be chosen based on the project’s specific needs. Therefore, I encourage you not to rely solely on general recommendations. Feel free to reach out to us for personalized advice, and we’ll assist you in selecting the most suitable tech stack for your project.

While I’ve mostly focused on the server-side aspect of the project thus far, let’s not forget the client side. Ensuring user interaction with the web resource is paramount. Thus, you should consider leveraging the capabilities of the JavaScript (JS) programming language, including its libraries and frameworks.

There are several fascinating instances of various technologies being put to use. For instance, Alibaba is built on Vue, a framework that was developed by the company behind the platform for its own needs.

However, web development is filled with nuances. Despite some companies using React and Vue encountering difficulties with optimization for Google and other search engines, this doesn’t necessarily reflect the shortcomings of these technologies. It’s more about the proper utilization of specific frameworks and libraries.

For instance, Vue requires additional optimization, and knowing how to achieve it is crucial. Alibaba’s use of this framework testifies to its utility. We also incorporated Python/Django and JS/Vue into the tech stack of one of our startups and made the most of these technologies.

You might have noticed that I jumped straight into discussing frameworks. This is because most custom projects are written using frameworks. Online marketplaces, for example, are almost always built with the aid of frameworks. The CMS and CMF I mentioned earlier are ready-made tools, and every web project employs a variety of technologies in addition to languages and frameworks.

This extends to the front end, which is commonly built using JS frameworks, with search engine optimization often handled through React or Vue, and less frequently, Angular. Different databases are employed for different kinds of information. There’s also the task of selecting associated technologies, such as AWS (Amazon Web Services) for website hosting, and many more. A modern website consists of a large assembly of technologies.

Marketplace development: Integration of third-party solutions

The integration of third-party solutions is a critical component of marketplace website development. Due to its significance, we’ve dedicated a separate article to this topic. This element determines how effectively and seamlessly many participants interact with the marketplace. Any list of necessary integrations hinges on the business model and the platform’s functionality.

There are two primary models of collaboration between marketplaces and sellers:

  • FBS (Fulfillment by Seller) — The sellers are responsible for storage and delivery.
  • FBO (Fulfillment By Operator) — In this model, the marketplace handles the delivery of goods and, at times, their storage as well.

Certainly, a marketplace may leverage the services of specialized companies for the storage, packaging, and delivery of goods. As a result, there arises a need for integration with the software systems of logistics firms, courier services, warehouses, and similar entities.

Generally, these types of projects involve a multitude of third-party API integrations. On average, a project necessitates integration with approximately 7-8 services, while larger projects may require as many as 15-20 integrations.

The most sought-after integrations include:

  • Integration with other marketplaces, such as Amazon.
  • Marketing tools like Google Search Console or Google Analytics.
  • Internal IT systems of a company, such as Xero for accounting.
  • Payment services like PayPal or Stripe. Payment integration is a fundamental feature of the e-commerce marketplace, as buyers need the ability to pay for goods using familiar methods. Consequently, an online marketplace must ensure integration with the most prevalent payment systems.
  • Customer Experience Automation (CXA) platforms like ActiveCampaign, which consolidates email marketing, sales, and marketing automation, among others.
  • Delivery services. Such integrations enable order fulfillment monitoring and allow buyers to track their orders.

The potential for marketplace integration with third-party solutions is extensive and I maintain that your project can be expanded upon or modified according to its specific needs. Large marketplaces often develop their APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and SDKs (Software Development Kits), which simplify the integration of platforms with online retailers’ systems. We can discuss these elements further when you reach out to us for consultation on your marketplace development project.

It’s crucial to decide on the services requiring integration BEFORE development begins. For this process, it’s advisable to engage a professional team with experience in online marketplace development, including service integration. The chosen ready-made solution should already have modules for integration.

When developing from scratch, your project team must have extensive experience integrating various services into a marketplace or online store. I also recommend opting for solutions popular in the market, as these generally offer straightforward integration and comprehensive software documentation. This approach, in turn, makes it easier for developers to integrate such services.

Features of marketplace development services

Let’s delve into the process of planning and executing marketplace development projects. We’ll discuss the crucial components of this process, including project management, team composition, budgeting, and setting timelines.

Marketplace development: stages and areas

If you’re developing a system from scratch, I would recommend adopting an Agile methodology, specifically Scrum. This approach involves creating a comprehensive project roadmap, conducting two-week sprints, performing retrospectives after each sprint, holding daily team calls for 5-10 minutes, and following other established Scrum practices.

Let’s examine the primary areas of development:

  • Business analysis. Naturally, any large-scale project requires a business analyst. Their first task is to gather all the requirements and set the foundation for the project. Throughout the development process, they participate in every sprint, clarifying tasks from the backlog. It’s crucial that the business analyst, like the rest of the team, possesses robust experience in developing marketplaces.
  • UX/UI design. We previously wrote an article on our blog discussing how we crafted a design for an Alibaba analog, complete with mockups. Although these mockups are a few years old and may appear outdated, they give insight into the process and complexity of the work involved. On average, each marketplace may have between 120 and 200 design pages covering approximately 60-80 functional modules. You’ll need a designer well-versed in e-commerce and best practices for the purchasing process.
  • Backend. Depending on the size of the project, this portion of the system usually necessitates 1-5 programmers. Marketplaces are complex projects with rich functionality, so developers should ideally be of at least middle to senior level. The choice of technology may vary, as I’ve mentioned above. It all depends on your preferences. If you’re customizing a ready-made solution, you’ll need a programmer well-versed in that specific solution. If you’re preparing to code from scratch using frameworks, you’ll need an expert in the chosen framework.
  • Frontend. Similar to the backend, this role requires 1-5 middle to senior-level programmers. A key condition is that these specialists should have the ability to optimize React, Vue, or Angular for search engines. Without this skill, your project will encounter difficulties from the outset. Additional optimization of React and Vue for search engines is a crucial aspect of such a project.
  • Testing. At a minimum, you’ll need a manual tester for the project. However, it’s preferable to also have an automated test engineer working alongside the manual tester. Typically, 1-3 people are sufficient for developing an MVP marketplace. Also, don’t forget about unit tests written by the developers, which are crucial for the project’s quality. We’ve written a separate article on this topic as well.

Project team

Let’s consider the composition of the project team for marketplace development. Understandably, the fewest number of specialists would be required for projects adapting pre-existing software. In such a scenario, the team will consist of four members: a developer, a designer, a tester, and a project manager (PM) overseeing the project.

For custom development, the team should, at a minimum, include:

  • Project Manager
  • Business Analyst
  • UX/UI Designer
  • 1-5 Backend Developers
  • 1-5 Frontend Developers
  • 1-3 Testers

This is the bare minimum team required to develop an online marketplace.

If we consider examples like Amazon or Alibaba, each project employs several thousand specialists. All of these professionals are engaged in various internal corporate projects. As I previously mentioned, there will be approximately twenty-five such internal corporate systems, each of substantial scale and with their distinct teams.

The teams working on the storefronts of large e-commerce platforms are larger than those I described for smaller projects. On such projects, teams number not in the thousands but rather in the tens or hundreds.

Deadlines and budgets for marketplace development

No doubt: determining the timeline and budget for marketplace website development can be challenging. I always ask my clients to consider this question: If you’re tasked with developing comments functionality for articles, how much time and money would you expect to spend? Can you even provide a rough estimate? Even I would find it difficult to do so.

The comments feature can range from the most basic implementation—a text input field with a «Submit» button—to more complex variations, including user signup, comment rating, timestamp, anchor links to each comment, reporting features for inappropriate comments, and more.

These different versions of the comments feature can significantly vary in terms of development time and consequently, cost. Indeed, a common scenario is that clients initially opt for a basic text-button combination but decide to enhance the feature as development progresses.

Despite these uncertainties, entrepreneurs need to have at least an approximate project budget. As a businessman myself, I fully understand this necessity.

Let’s attempt to gauge what an «average budget» for custom marketplace development from scratch might be, noting that customization of out-of-the-box software depends on the cost of the software and the extent of the planned modifications.

To create a niche marketplace, developing an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) usually takes about 6-12 months. Given that marketplaces differ significantly in scale, it’s difficult to provide an exact estimate. Instead, we’ll aim to offer an average estimate for the sake of this discussion.

Based on experience, the projected duration of team member involvement is as follows:

  • Project Manager: 6-12 months.
  • Business Analyst: 2 months.
  • UX/UI Designer: 2-3 months.
  • 1-5 Backend Developers: 6-12 months.
  • 1-5 Frontend Developers: 6-12 months.
  • 1-3 Testers: 6-12 months.

A rough calculation reveals an average project requirement of 28 to 53 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees. Yes, the development of modern IT projects is neither quick nor inexpensive, but this is the route to achieving desired results. Remember, this is a very simplified and approximate calculation.

For a detailed estimate tailored to your specific case, please contact us to discuss your requirements for creating a marketplace website. We will assist you in considering all the important aspects of the project and provide a more accurate estimate.

The parameters I’ve outlined mainly apply to marketplace website development. Depending on the scale of your marketplace and user expectations, you might also require marketplace app development. This would alter the project setup, as well as your budget and team composition considerations.

We are happy to advise you on this type of IT solution should you approach us with your marketplace project.


Whether your objective is to create a marketplace website in a specific category or build a service marketplace, the development of a niche marketplace is a complex undertaking that necessitates a professional approach. It requires a deep understanding of both the retail and e-commerce industries, as well as the intricacies of developing marketplaces and stores. A full-fledged marketplace development services team with solid domain expertise is crucial for this task.

However, the rewards justify the investment of resources and effort. The potential of such projects is truly tremendous. By developing an e-commerce marketplace, you have the opportunity to tap into vast markets valued at hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars. There are countless inspiring success stories in this field. Having been involved in such projects for an extended period, at SECL Group, we are well-positioned to provide valuable advice on marketplace development.


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