It's no surprise that marketplaces make up a high percentage of the apps we build for clients. On the heels of breakout successes like Airbnb and Uber, marketplaces have been the fastest-growing category in the startup world for the past decade. There are virtually endless niches where web platforms can connect buyers and sellers (whether that’s to buy/sell a product, hire for a gig, share/rent assets, etc.).
But beyond the sheer number of startups out there, the barriers to creating a marketplace app are lowering thanks to the rise of services like AWS, technical frameworks, and no-code platforms. Based on our experience building all types of no-code marketplaces for clients, we’ve found they’re an especially great technical fit for the unique capabilities that Bubble provides over the next best alternatives (i.e. traditional code and SaaS platforms).
Below, we want to share what we’ve learned from these experiences, and why Bubble checks all the boxes for marketplace apps so well.
Why Bubble to create marketplace apps?
Startups have a few different options to get their marketplace platforms up and running. They can build with traditional code, which provides complete app customization, iteration, and scale. Or they can use a SaaS provider like Sharetribe, which offers templates that allow an MVP to be built in as little as 30 minutes. While both options have legitimate and viable use cases, our clients described that traditionally coding their marketplace platform would be very slow and expensive, and building with a SaaS provider would likely limit their app’s functionality.
When they discovered Bubble as an option, many of our clients found that it could offer the speed they wanted without the restrictions. In other words, they could retain complete control over their marketplace app’s design, functionality, and extensibility, without running into hard guardrails in functionality or timeline.
Refer to our guide What is Bubble.io? to learn more about how Bubble works.
4 marketplace traits that are a fit for Bubble
Having worked with hundreds of marketplace founders over 7 years, we have observed several key factors that draw business leaders to Bubble to launch and scale their products. Here are the 4 most common traits we’ve noticed all marketplaces share that Bubble naturally fits. They:
- Use existing technologies: Marketplaces require common, everyday web functionality (e.g. user signups, profiles, search, transactions, etc.) rather than new technological solutions. This means that the alternative process of developing software using a conventional coding language isn’t needed, as this approach is best reserved for problems without technical solutions (e.g. e.g., video editors, custom AI, machine learning algorithms, etc.).
- Require a high degree of customization: Even though they fit into common patterns (i.e. connecting buyers and sellers), creating marketplace apps requires significant customization. This is because there are so many permutations of how the 2 (or more) sides connect, arrange, and transact – all of which radically change the user experience on the platform. To illustrate, you may choose to connect buyers and sellers in any one of the following ways:
- Buyer reviews things for sale and chooses one (like Etsy)
- Buyer posts a request, sellers apply/bid for it, buyer accepts one (like Upwork)
- Buyer posts a request, the system selects a suitable match (like Uber)
- Buyer reviews things for sale and chooses one, but the seller approves (like Airbnb)
- And many more options!
Each type of marketplace has unique characteristics based on their product or service offerings, customer base, and geography. This means you may be unable to rely on SaaS tools (like you can with Shopify in simple eCommerce situations) because they often don’t offer enough functionality. See more on the limitations of SaaS platforms and when to migrate here. If you want full control to customize your feature sets, Bubble is one of the most robust tools for achieving that.
- Rely on user trust and experience: Because marketplaces require monetary or business transactions, it’s critical to alleviate users’ worries by addressing issues that may erode trust in the platform. In the early days of a marketplace, this is especially important as there are fewer buyers and sellers on either side. You can do this by ensuring users have a highly polished, well-designed, convenient experience on your website to convey platform legitimacy and security.
- Need continuous iteration: Development speed and flexibility are critical for marketplaces to grow their user bases (buyers and sellers) at the same time – and at the same rate. In many cases, you may want to make frequent changes to one experience or the other to keep both sides in balance as they scale. We’ve found that our clients have appreciated Bubble for its ability to rapidly push updates so they can respond to their users’ needs.
Next steps to start creating your no-code marketplace app
As you evaluate no-code for marketplace apps and whether Bubble is the right tool for it, just remember: all marketplaces will need certain platform components. These will vary by the type of marketplace app you are creating and the specific needs of the user - and certain things will be more or less important for your audience.
For a full breakdown of the core items marketplace needs, check out our ebook, The Digital Marketplace Guide. You’ll learn key things to consider when deciding which features to build into your core components, such as:
- How do users sign up and login?
- How does the seller create their profile?
- Who posts and manages items for sellers?
- How is pricing set?
- Which side does the searching?
- How are the options displayed?
- How is the transaction initiated and confirmed?
- What payment formats are accepted?
Ready to create your marketplace app on Bubble but need help?
If you want custom functionality but can’t spare the time to build and refine your no-code marketplace, Airdev can help. We’ve worked with many entrepreneurs, startups, and large businesses to build their digital marketplaces on Bubble.
Airdev is the largest and most highly-rated Bubble agency globally. If you need to launch a custom, production-grade app fast, contact us about your marketplace today!