Online marketplace app development - when should you build with no-code?

Online marketplace app development - when should you build with no-code?

Businesses looking to build a marketplace app have a few options to get their platform up and running. They can build with traditional code, which provides complete app customization, iteration, and scale  – but can be very expensive and slow. Or they can use no-code development.

No-code development platforms have lowered the barriers for businesses and startups to create marketplace apps – without requiring any coding knowledge or technical expertise. With the ability to create an app quickly and at a lower cost, no-code platforms have disrupted the traditional app development landscape, making it easier for businesses to create marketplace apps. Refer to our What is no-code? guide for a full overview on building apps without code.

Below, we’ll explore when it makes sense to build a no-code marketplace (vs. a traditionally coded app), and options businesses have for using this approach to launch their platform.

5 reasons businesses choose to build a no-code marketplace

Over the last few years building custom no-code web apps for businesses of all sizes, we at Airdev can objectively say this: Marketplace apps are by far our most popular app category.

One out of every 3 custom apps we build are marketplaces. These marketplaces range in variety and focus, including everything from product and service marketplaces, to gig, rental, and digital marketplaces. 

While every client’s use case is unique and there’s no single answer for why an individual or business chooses to build a custom no-code marketplace app, the reality is that no-code tools are becoming an ideal option for creating a marketplace product or idea. 

This is because in software development, some problems have been solved lots of times before and, as a result, there exists a standardized way of solving them. This applies to most two-sided marketplaces. Most of their functionality isn’t particularly hard and, because of that, it can be abstracted and built without code.

Below are a few key reasons our clients have chosen to create a marketplace app with no-code development (versus traditional software development): 

  1. They have limited technical expertise: no-code platforms can be a good option for businesses that don't have a dedicated development team or individuals with technical expertise. These platforms typically provide an intuitive visual interface that allows non-technical users to create apps without writing code.
  1. They have a limited budget: no-code is significantly cheaper than building your marketplace app from scratch. Before no-code, building and running a marketplace was a capital-intensive endeavor due to the high cost of hiring traditional software developers or a technical co-founder. In addition, using traditional coders before finding product-market fit requires immense amounts of money upfront to fund the development of a business that will likely need to pivot at some point in the near future.  No-code offers a way to bypass this, as it eliminates the need to hire traditional developers or invest in expensive development tools. No-code platforms can also allow businesses to iterate quickly and make changes to their app without incurring additional costs.
  1. They need to move quickly: by building with no-code, companies can speed up the development process to get their products into market quickly and iterate faster and more frequently over time. This is especially helpful for building a marketplace MVP, as it allows individuals and businesses to quickly launch, gather feedback, test the market, find funding, and adjust/update quickly and frequently.
  1. They want to test an idea: no-code can be a great option for businesses that want to test a new idea and gather user feedback without committing significant resources to app development. These platforms can allow businesses to create a basic version of an app and test its viability before investing further resources.
  1. They want to experiment: no-code platforms can be an excellent option for businesses that want to experiment with different marketplace app features and functionality. These platforms can allow businesses to iterate quickly and make changes to their app without incurring significant costs or requiring technical expertise.
  2. They want more control: no-code platforms enable users to create applications or make their own changes without having to write (or learn to write) code. They are usually drag-and-drop, integrated, and visually intuitive, making software development more accessible to a more diverse set of innovators, builders, and end users. And for existing businesses, they can reduce the custodial burden on IT teams.
  3. They need to guarantee stability: the benefit of a fully hosted no-code platform is that it takes care of security and technical maintenance centrally. This means that the latest infrastructure security patches, compatibility, and monitoring will be centrally managed by the platform and not your team. 

How to make a no-code marketplace app

​​Today, there are a wide variety of no-code tools and approaches to choose from depending on your needs. No-code is not focused on one specific industry or area of work, there are many kinds of tools. However, all no-code tools have a specific purpose – and some are better suited for certain use cases.

Below are 3 different approaches for how to make a marketplace app without code and explanations around when they make the most sense for you to use:

  1. Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms: These types of tools are great if your product is standard and rudimentary. They’re typically one-size-fits-all solutions created for non-developers and they offer templates that allow you to build an MVP marketplace app inexpensively in as little as 30 minutes. However, the downside is that your no-code marketplace is entirely constrained by the functionality that the SaaS tool offers.

    For example, Sharetribe is a perfect option for someone without a large budget or tons of time who wants to build an online marketplace app. It offers standardized, common marketplace templates. Just be aware: as soon as you need more customization, you’ll hit a wall.
  2. Hack together multiple no-code tools: To get started on your own at a really low cost point, but enjoy more customization than what an off-the-shelf SaaS tool can offer, you can build your online marketplace app with several different no-code tools.

    This could include using tools like Softr + Zapier + Airtable to cobble together a no-code marketplace app. One point of caution: this approach is best for crude tests around your marketplace’s viability and can be time consuming to figure out.
  3. General visual development tools: If you need lots of customization in your marketplace app, but cost and speed are important too, these tools are your best option. These are a subset of no-code tools built to allow anyone to build applications to their specification without needing to code. This option will give you the ability to build your no-code marketplace in around 4-6 weeks, and continuously iterate.

    For example, a no-code tool like is the closest alternative that there is to traditional code. You can build almost anything you want on Bubble without limitations. However, there’s a much steeper learning curve than just logging into a SaaS platform. Learn why many businesses have chosen to build their no-code marketplace with Bubble.

When should you create a marketplace app with traditional code?

In our experience, no-code software is the ideal approach for creating most marketplace apps – however, it’s not right for every case. Sometimes, traditional programming is a better fit depending on the marketplace product and team needs. If the underlying technology of your marketplace app is novel, or there’s a big strategic advantage to your app being proprietary, we recommend you build with traditional software developers.

Common reasons for bypassing no-code and instead needing code include:

  • Novel technology (e.g. machine learning algorithms)
  • Huge scale (e.g. app needs to support millions of daily users)
  • Custom visual interface (e.g. create something like Photoshop or iMovie within app)
  • Team capabilities (e.g. you have existing developers who need to stay busy)

Learn if no-code is right for your online marketplace app development

Download The Quick Guide to No-Code for tips on how to decide if no-code is suitable for your marketplace app and how to choose the right tool to build with.