Marketplaces are surely a sea of great opportunities and dangerous challenges. In our previous article on the subject, we talk about what it is and how it works. But apart from the features and the types of marketplaces, there are many things you should take into account before creating one.
Like, which payment method to choose, why it’s important to synchronize all the data, and how to make business logic secure.
LinkUp Studio has worked on more than 20 marketplaces, so here’s a piece of advice based on our experience. Let’s start from the end.
Each marketplace has its own way of making money. Working on marketplaces, developers must handle the challenges of all money transactions that happen there. We use existing payment systems for that aim, such as PayPal, Stripe, Pyrex (specific for the Switzerland market) and others.
Some marketplaces have to implement escrow services, which means a legal concept of financial instruments. Escrow money is held by a third party on behalf of two other parties that are in the process of completion of the transaction. A marketplace has to be this third party to take money from one to another and keep this money in between.
As your marketplace might work around the world, you have to know how things work in different countries: you need to know your target audience very well and think about all the legal aspects of this transaction.
If you’re from the USA or Australia, you might wonder how people may not use PayPal in some countries (like, let’s say, Ukraine), but unfortunately PayPal doesn't work everywhere the way you expect it to work. You may be able to pay through it, but you may not be able to get money through it.
But even if you know your audience well, and you’ve counted all the nuances of their laws, there will be lots of technical challenges your marketplace is going to deal with.
We have a great example based on our work on Wisio.com, a platform that gathers users and influencers who get monetization from responding to their audience. It needs a system to calculate the payment, which means a good and experienced developer is essential for this task.
Sounds a bit silly, but you need to have the most up-to-date data. The task becomes more complicated when you understand that you have different data resources, and that they are not synchronized. And it gets even more complicated when you find out some of them don't have a proper API, or that it doesn't even exist and you have no idea how to get this data at all.
Everything has to be on time, synchronized and in a single format. You may have something in Microsoft Word and something in Microsoft Excel, but you will need to merge it together to make it understandable and clear for usage.
Even though the machine is supposed to do it, you must program it beforehands. That's a challenge developers should solve by creating an architecture that will constantly ping each different data resource. Then, they need to process the data and get it back to the marketplace’s users in order to have the most up-to-date data.
It doesn’t seem so complicated if we forget about a common problem: the human factor. You have to communicate with people who deliver this data to you, develop this project, and you have to coordinate with them. And you should think about it at the very beginning: where you will take your data, how it will work and which company you have to connect with.
When your marketplace works for a long time, it has its own superstars: the vendors who are always at the top of the search list. And it's very hard for the new vendors (or for the small ones) to start making business on that marketplace. Your platform has to give these vendors the ability to get a bit of attention from users, which is actually a great opportunity for you to make additional revenue.
Technically, it's not a complicated task, but you still need to have some mechanism to keep the balance. That way it will be valuable and will bring you money, but not in a way where everybody just constantly buys their positions in lists.
So, it’s not just a subscription revenue model or commission based revenue model, but it's also a service based revenue model, and adding the right functionality can give an opportunity to the marketplace to make even more money.
It’s too obvious to speak about security of user data (of course it’s important, and we all know that), so let’s talk about security of the business logic.
For example, if you need to build a referral system, you should do it in a way that people can’t just share invitations to those who don't exist, and then somehow get the benefits (like money). This system should either be impossible to cheat or so complicated to cheat that people won’t even try.
We tell you all these stories not in order to frighten you, but just to bring out things that should really be considered before starting to develop a marketplace.
So, if you want to find more about our experience and the cases we’ve worked on, you should listen to our new podcast episode. And if you need a consultation from us or from some of our partners mentioned in the podcasts, please, feel free to ask.