10min read

How to build a successful online Peer-To-Peer marketplace

In this article, we’ll show you everything you need to know to be part of one of the most popular business at the moment

With the ever-growing popularization of social media and online resources, creating your own e-commerce is becoming increasingly accessible, especially when it comes to the popular Peer-to-Peer Marketplace.

It only takes a creative mindset to give the first steps into making people shop smart through a groundbreaking app or website.

Gone are the days when selling a simple product was only possible through an absurd investment or at least an intermediary to make it happen.

eBay, Airbnb, Uber and Amazon are just a few of the successful P2P businesses in our daily lives that keep growing and attracting more and more users, whether they are sellers or buyers looking for better deals.

But getting into the P2P e-commerce can be tricky for beginners, from choosing its type to understanding its ideal functionality. In this article, we’ll present a detailed and in depth view on one of the most popular online businesses at the moment.

So if you want to start your own online marketplace like this but have no idea how to, we’ll show you everything you need to know to create a scalable and successful peer-to-peer platform.

What is a Peer-To-Peer marketplace?

You’re traveling on vacation to a different city and decide to rent a good and cheap apartment through Airbnb to spend the nights. To get from place to place in this new city, you decide to get a ride in an Uber car. Back at your rented apartment, you order your favorite meal through Uber Eats delivery.

The P2P Marketplace has naturally become part of our daily lives, even though many people still don't know its definition.

To summarize its concept, when you find a website or an app that easily connects clients and providers while having direct contact with each other, you have come across a P2P marketplace - also known as Client-to-Client marketplace.

This is a business model in which all you need is an online platform that provides direct communication between supply and demand while also offering the options of being both the product/service provider and the client.

This applies to businesses where people can buy and sell items or simply rent them for a short period.

For example, Uber turns transportation cheaper and more accessible to people by easily connecting drivers and passengers. All the company needs to provide is the app, while the essential factor - the car, is provided by the drivers themselves.

Uber is a shared p2p model type

That is why the P2P model is a less expensive way to make business and sell products, besides being arguably less bureaucratic as well. It’s easy to see that this commerce model has grown in popularity in recent years.

Besides having the help of the growing technology, specialists have noted that young people seem to be more comfortable with sharing or renting goods than actually owning them, which also plays a big part in the rise of sharing commerce models such as Uber and Airbnb.

A 2018 report by SNC-Lavalin has shown that 66% of people would be willing to look for shopping in a shared community. That's because it simplifies the market and the shopping / selling experience for everyone, becoming an innovative and disruptive new form of doing business.

The natural evolution of P2P platforms is expanding and reaching new areas of the market, turning it each time simpler and more accessible to common people. The modern era is all about practicality, and that’s why online shopping is adapting to it as well.

Ebay is a popular p2p platform

Main differences between a P2P model and an online store

Although sharing many similarities, online marketplaces and typical online stores are essentially different commercial platforms.

While in a simple online store the roles of the buyers and sellers are very specific and differentiated from one another, the P2P commerce provides multiple roles for everyone, allowing the buyers to be sellers at the same time.

In addition, there's a few key differences that make the two business models so different. Let's take a look at them:

Management

In an online store, the owner will be responsible for almost everything that happens there. They will deal directly with the suppliers and then with the customers, managing all of the sales and transactions related to the store.

That means that typical online stores have almost no difference from a physical store in terms of the roles of the suppliers and the clients, with the only advantage being its easy access.

In a P2P platform, the platform’s owner won’t actually deal with any of the sales or handle the suppliers. Their role is only to provide an efficient space to connect clients and sellers and offer a safe payment system to accomodate all of the transactions.

It becomes an easier and better way to start your own business, besides creating a way more accessible shopping environment for everyone.

Expenses costs

The maintenance costs of a traditional online store is considerably high in comparison with modern P2P marketplaces.

While online stores require big investments on the website development and on the products offered, two-sided platforms only need an initial investment for the app or website, since you don’t own any of the goods that will be available there. All the rest will be provided by the sellers themselves.

Marketing

One of the great advantages of a two-sided marketplace platform is the practicality sellers find to attract potential customers. While an online store will require a good marketing campaign in order to get attention, a two-sided platform automatically attracts people who are looking for specific items or services in a faster and easier way.

If it was already more convenient to buy and sell through a typical online store, the online peer-to-peer commerce presents an even better business experience for people who just want to save time and money.

Besides, renting goods and services becomes a safer activity for everyone when in a trustworthy sharing economy platform.

Its simplicity and time-saving platform style it’s precisely what attracts both suppliers and clients who see the advantages of the constant modernization on the market, with options expanding each day more according to the people’s necessities.

Main differences between online stores and peer-to-peer marketplaces

Knowing the different types of P2P marketplaces

The popularization of online marketplaces is opening doors to people’s creativity to solve problems and to ease our daily needs. That’s why so many different types of online peer-to-peer commerce are starting to emerge everywhere in the world, expanding this model from food to education.

To better understand it and get an insight on what type of business you want to build, it’s important to know each one of them.

Open Marketplaces

These are the most common marketplaces around, which include OLX, Ebay, and other platforms where you can place your products for sale or buy products directly from the suppliers.

These types of P2P marketplaces are free for all users, and usually offer a wide range of options for the buyers that go from payment to shipment types during their shopping. It has an open pricing model, in which sellers define by themselves their product’s value.

Curated Marketplaces

Airbnb and Etsy are some of the most popular examples of this type of peer-to-peer platform, in which quality and safety are essential factors for the clients.

These platforms make sure to guarantee its users privacy and rely on their trusts to attract more and more clients and sellers, offering insurance on every deal. Similar to the open marketplaces, the prices are open to be defined by the sellers.

Crafted and controlled services

This type of platform usually has a predefined price range that is offered for the services, which are often limited to a specific list. It applies to apps like Uber and Lyft that offer a consistent experience to its users, focusing exclusively on transportation.

It usually relies on the “1 click” payment model in which options are not very extensive.

The different types of Peer-To-Peer marketplaces

What are the advantages of Online Peer-To-Peer Commerce?

P2P platforms rise to popularity comes as no surprise as it has many distinguishing factors that makes it stand out. Here we are going to present you some of them:

Low costs

One of the biggest advantages of an online marketplace is the amount of the investment that needs to be put in order to start your own platform. Most traditional startups require too much money with development, goods and marketing, which is not an easy way to begin by.

But the P2P business model becomes the most viable option to start a successful e-commerce business by only requiring a website or an app in order to function.

Since you don’t actually need to own any of the products or the service offered, your investments and maintenance costs are relatively lower than any other business.

Efficiency

The Peer-To-Peer e-commerce model is way more efficient in terms of extending its business to new customers due to its flexible platform. Differently from the client-server traditional model, it doesn't require a bigger investment to receive more clients, which can easily happen if the seller’s product attracts more attention.

High demand

With the constant change in client’s shopping habits in the modern era, every person wanting to start a new business must be aware of the market’s demand. Now, important factors like modern technology and the world economic crisis are contributing to the impressive rise of the peer-to-peer platforms.

Never before people saw such necessity to do business online, order home delivered food or rent goods in the comfort of their own homes as during the pandemic, which has been an essential factor to that. Being able to find a multitude of different goods and items in the same online platform is surely a game changer, allowing people to save time and compare prices in a few clicks on their phones.

Another important factor is the new mindset towards the sharing economy in recent years. Not everyone is able to buy a car or a new apartment, so the rising P2P platforms offer a good solution to that problem. Spaces like Uber and Airbnb save money through a temporary service, which is what people have been increasingly looking for.

Simple development

Due to the growing access to these types of marketplaces, it’s not a difficult task to build a new platform from scratch. There are a few online spaces that provide tools to easily create a selling or renting marketplace, which can be a good choice if you're looking for a simple platform.

The best option if you want to build a complete and successful P2P marketplace is to talk to a professional team. A well-prepared and experienced company is the best source to bring your idea up to a scalable business, by developing a personalized platform the way you imagine it.

The functionality of a Peer-to-Peer platform makes all the difference

An efficient and user-friendly platform like the successful Ebay or Etsy have one fundamental quality: its functionality. If your P2P marketplace doesn’t have a desirable performance to better accommodate the users or potential users, it can quickly fall from grace.

That’s why it’s important to make sure your platform's functionality offers some necessary options so users can experience.

Those essential functionalities include:

  • Social media connection

  • Personalized user’s profile

  • Smart search engine

  • Client’s ratings

  • Payment efficiency

  • Shipping options

Social media connection

Firstly, it is highly recommended to add the options to connect the user’s account to their other social media platforms on your online marketplace.

That feature will allow people to quickly login through their social media profiles, which turns the experience on your P2P platform easier and more practical. Also, a social login might help to better personalize the user’s profile, which is another important functionality to keep in mind.

Personalized user’s profile

It’s essential that users are able to personalize their profiles to be better understood by the clients, or to better find services that attend their needs. Including a wide range of options so your user can identify with it's going to make a big difference, so it's a step that can’t be skipped.

Smart search engine

What every buyer always really wants is to save time while looking for a specific item on an online marketplace. Nobody likes spending hours on the hunt for something to buy, and that can be what throws them off your website or app.

That’s why providing a smart filter for your user’s search option will make all the difference, allowing an easier and better navigation experience.

Client’s rating

In order to guarantee the experience’s safety on the platform, it’s important to include the option to let client’s give their ratings, opinions and thoughts on the services acquired.

This is specially important in Open Marketplace platforms, in which client’s reviews on supplier’s products can make a difference in the business’ performance.

Payment Efficiency

With modern technology and the increasing demand for safety on the internet, any respectable online business needs to prove they are trustworthy to their users. That is why guaranteeing a safe and efficient payment functionality is another essential aspect of your P2P marketplace.

To make sure this functionality will be efficient for your users, it is important to offer different payment gateway options. Choosing the best tools available will be crucial for successful transactions on the platform, to please both the suppliers and the customers.

The multiple payment options functionality is especially important to Open model P2P platforms such as Ebay, in which customers have more freedom to shop and do business.

Shipping options

The shipping service is another extremely important feature in every online commerce that can make all the difference in your user’s experience. Make sure to include more than one option in your platform so clients can choose based on speed of delivery or quality of service.

Nowadays you can find shipping companies that are specialized in peer-to-peer platforms and online businesses, offering easy integration tools for websites and apps.

P2P platforms functionalities

4 main challenges when building an online marketplace

With the rising popularity of the Open-Source Marketplace Platforms and the high competition as a result, starting your own from scratch is not an easy task. Although saving time and money on it’s creating process, it is still hard work like any other business.

There are many factors to be considered when building your own P2P platform that can either lead it to great success, or make it quickly fail.

Attracting both providers and customers and figuring out how to better attend to their needs it’s a pivotal task to put in practice in this business model, and the main reason why many don’t seem to succeed.

That’s why it’s crucial to have in mind all of the possible challenges you can face while developing your own two-sided marketplace, which includes:

Opening your marketplace for too many categories instead of narrowing it down

Not having a proper focus on what your platform will offer is a mistake that can put everything to lose, since it becomes much harder to manage it and will most likely not be able to offer the quality that you want.

A more limited proposition is the ideal approach when creating your online marketplace, defining a specific category of goods or service to be offered in it.

Creating a business that will solve a real and viable problem

A very common mistake in the P2P marketplace business is believing that your big idea will be revolutionary without doing proper research on the matter.

If there’s no real problem to be solved in your chosen area there’s no reason to invest in it, and it most likely will not succeed.

Building trust with both buyers and sellers

Every new online commerce problem is to gain the trust of the clients, since cases of scamming are not uncommon to be seen on the internet.

What people are looking for before shopping through a website or an app is safety measurements that will guarantee they receive the items they ordered.

Guaranteeing the quality of the products offered by sellers on your platform

As an owner of a P2P marketplace, you won’t have direct contact with any of the products or services offered on your platform, so it can be hard to inspect the quality and safety of each and one of them.

That’s why features such as client’s ratings are essential to any online commerce, since clients will feel more comfortable trusting other clients' experiences with the products and with the sellers.

So after all, how to properly start on this platform in a safe and less risky way?

How to take a P2P marketplace to the right direction

Getting started in any type of new business is inevitably challenging for anyone. There are a multitude of obstacles that must be overcome in order to succeed when a new idea shows up, but in depth analysis and a good early planning can make all the difference.

Let’s take a look on some ideas to succeed in your peer-to-peer platform:

Learn from examples

The best plan to succeed in any type of new business is to look at the already well-established companies with a similar take and observe their strategies. Although innovating is always essential to start a business, learning from successful examples is also an important to reach your goal.

Therefore, make sure to do your research in order to understand how everything works in that specific area.

Don’t skip the discovery phase

The discovery phase is an essential start point in every new project. There are a lot of steps to follow in this initial phase, but all of them are needed in order to get a detailed analysis of the market, the clients and many other aspects of the economy.

Skipping this part is one of the reasons why most new businesses tend to fail. A Research made by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 45% during the first five years, and 65% during the first 10 years.

Those numbers could be avoided if a careful market analysis and preparation was conducted by a professional team prior to opening the business. After all, you can't expect a house with no foundation to not come to the ground.

Thus, make sure you have all the information and all the details you need before putting your project to work in order to get the best results.

Provide safety systems on your platform

It’s all about community and personal contact. Researchers have pointed out that online marketplaces might be initially scary for people who are looking for trustworthy platforms to shop.

The best way for them to know if a new place is really safe is to rely on other buyer’s reviews and ratings, besides being able to have a direct conversation with people on your platform.

That’s why providing a chat system on your marketplace is an interesting feature to think about, as it might help you, the customers and the providers.

In addition, offering insurance is something that will guarantee user’s will not be scammed while doing business on your platform, making it even more reliable and safe for everyone.

Continue to improve

We live in the future, where technology gets updated and outdated at the speed of a blink. New features are constantly coming up and leaving the old ones behind, so it's crucial to keep improving your platform's functionalities so it won't become obsolete.

Another issue to be aware of is that people's preferences and shopping habits are constantly changing. What is popular and trending today might not be the same tomorrow.

That's why it's very important to always keep an eye on the market and its updates in order to get your business ready for anything.

Building your own scalable P2P marketplace is possible

Online Peer-to-peer Commerce is the future. Although already a popular type of business, it’s undoubtedly a platform that can expand and adapt to cover even more areas that haven’t been covered yet, and it all depends on creativity and desire to change the market.

Apart from having the chance of getting a big financial return with the launching of an innovative marketplace, you can change things by making people’s life easier and less expensive through a useful platform.

So, if you have a groundbreaking idea for a peer-to-peer marketplace and want to put it to use, this is the best moment to do it. Contact our team and get an estimation to take the first steps into your own business. Who knows, maybe you’re about to build the next big thing in e-commerce.

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