When building your marketplace, there are many things to think through and evaluate. Sometimes it is easier to see a real world example of how a marketplace platform could be built using no-code. Etsy is one of the most successful marketplaces in the last decade and connects independent makers and artists with buyers who want custom, hand-crafted goods. If you were building an Etsy MVP using no code, or if you’re thinking of something similar, here’s a playbook for getting to your MVP.
Etsy has two audiences it must cater to: makers and buyers. For makers, Etsy gives them a platform to display and sell their handmade goods to a broad audience. For buyers, Etsy provides a place to find and purchase homemade or custom goods. The platform handles the discovery and purchase of goods, and each individual seller handles their own fulfillment. For the marketplace to work, it needs a few basic things:
Etsy’s primary business model is taking a small (3.5%) transaction fee at the point of purchase. Etsy also has additional business models, such as taking a listing fee from sellers and offering additional advertising, but this guide will only focus on the transaction fee.
With a marketplace like Etsy, getting the sellers onboard is likely the place you want to start with as you’ll want to have some products to browse through when you start looking for buyers. You’ll want to capture basic profile information and create their account. Below are the onboarding components to focus on.
Once sellers have created their account, they will need to add their products. You’ll also want to have a place for sellers to view and manage their items once they are added. Below are some ways to have sellers add and manage products.
The next thing to think about is how buyers will search for and view the products on your platform. Because sellers are listing physical products, images and visuals will go a long way as buyers scroll through what they are looking for. Having ways to filter and search for exactly what they want will also be critical to their experience.
Sellers may be listing custom products that require some back and forth before or after purchase. Buyers may want to ask a seller if the customization they want is possible or try to negotiate a bulk discount. Including a messaging system on the platform helps encourage a discussion and reduces the risk of the transaction happening offline.
When a buyer has found a product they like, the next step is to purchase it. Having a streamlined and trusted checkout flow will increase the likelihood of getting to a completed transaction. This is one of the most critical parts of your platform, so you’ll want to focus on setting this part up correctly.
Once an order gets placed, the seller will have to fulfill and ship the item to the buyer. You’ll want to make this as easy as possible for the seller, and keep the buyer updated along the way. For an MVP, having the sellers manually ship the products and enter the tracking numbers into the platform will be sufficient, and you can set up email triggers to the buyers to receive tracking info once the seller marks the item as fulfilled.
For custom or homemade products like Etsy, it can be helpful to include reviews on the platform so that future buyers can be more confident when deciding to purchase an item. This also encourages sellers to always produce their best and to focus on a speedy transaction so that they will get positive reviews and more business in the future.
After setting up the seller and buyer sides of the platform, you’ll want to add a few administrative things to manage your platform overall. Being able to see all the users on your site, the transactions that have happened, and general metrics will allow you to get insights into how your marketplace is performing and give you a place to handle any problems.
Now that you’ve finished your basic Etsy MVP, you can launch your marketplace and start getting feedback! Early on, it’s helpful to be hands-on and talk to your users directly. Find out what they like or don’t like and where you can add or modify things on your platform. Check in with sellers that may have lapsed and with those who are active to fix the things that aren’t working and double down on the things that are. And remember to take time to enjoy all the progress you’ve made - you’ve gotten past the hardest part which is starting!