If you are looking for a business idea to start online, we have an amazing option: a peer-to-peer marketplace. P2P marketplaces connect service providers and customers worldwide. Who hasn’t used Uber at least once or a similar service? Uber and Airbnb are the largest peer-to-peer marketplace examples.
In this article, we discuss how to build a P2P marketplace platform and what key functionalities to include to succeed in the P2P market.
What is a P2P marketplace?
A brief overview of the P2P business model:
P2P platform vs marketplace
To understand how a P2P website differs from a usual online marketplace it is enough to look at the interaction model. On a peer-to-peer website, both sellers and buyers can play two rules. For example, by registering on Airbnb peer-to-peer rental app you can be a service provider, displaying an apartment for rent, and a customer renting a house.
So, a P2P eCommerce site provides a space for two groups (product or service providers and buyers) to connect and interchange the roles.
Types of peer-to-peer marketplaces
Horizontal or vertical
Horizontal P2P marketplaces provide a big assortment of products and services, not limiting the client to one specific segment.
Vertical P2P marketplaces offer products and services from one segment only. There could be many product variations, but they all will be related to one category. For instance, it can be a peer-to-peer platform for car-related items.
Local or global
Peer-to-peer businesses can operate in different markets: local or global. Almost in every country, there are local marketplaces that are only eligible in this region. On the other hand, there are some global solutions, like the well-known Airbnb, that operate worldwide.
It is important to distinguish those types. Because if you plan to launch a peer-to-peer business, the type of future marketplace will affect the development and the budget.
In addition, there is a criteria for the type of products provided on the P2P website.
Peer-to-peer renting websites are the platforms that offer a big selection of properties for rent. Peer-to-peer rentals allow customers to rent items. Such marketplace websites create a whole community where you can find a trustworthy provider and make a secure purchase. As for peer-to-peer rental site owners, one can charge users for each transaction and receive a particular fee for each purchase made.
The most known examples of P2P rentals are HomeAway, and Airbnb.
Product P2P marketplace
Peer-to-peer website aimed at products allows to sell of any physical items online. In such a peer-to-peer business model you can charge users a certain fee for displaying their products.
One of the most known examples of product P2P is Etsy. Etsy connects sellers and buyers all over the globe. The major category of products is handmade items. It is a great platform to promote your creativity and make money from it.
As it comes from the name this is a peer-to-peer selling service. Such a platform allows consumers to easily find people providing the services they are looking for. To have a clear representation of such a model check out TaskRabbit.
Why should you choose a P2P marketplace for your online business?
It is enough to look at Uber’s success: more than 90 million users in the world and a leading position among P2P marketplaces.
Peer-to-peer eCommerce is one of the most profitable directions in the industry. Let’s review the advantages for sellers and buyers.
Benefits for sellers
When you want to sell products you have two ways. You can build your online store, which can be very expensive and time-consuming. Not to mention it can take a lot of resources to promote the store and grow the audience. Or you can become a part of the P2P marketplace and display your products there. It is more affordable in terms of finance and will cost a lot less than building your eCommerce solution.
A great number of customers
By joining the marketplace providers do not need to worry about customers. The wide range of products displayed on the marketplace attracts customers. So as a seller, you don’t have to spend so much effort to attract buyers.
Being a member of a P2P marketplace means getting access to all the functionality. Sellers receive important data on sales; statistics, and reports. All the routine tasks are automated, and through the personal admin, the panel seller can manage the products.
Benefits for buyers
A great number of sellers
Just as sellers access the big audience, buyers get access to the wide range of sellers providing them with tons of products. This allows for easy finding of goods and services of any price, color, and price.
It is easier to pick an item when you can learn all the feedback and make sure the quality of the product meets your expectations. Rating and reviews build trust among buyers and give them the ability to express their opinion.
P2P marketplace users can sleep well. Most of the platforms are implemented with escrow payments. That allows for the marketplace to collect the payment and transfer it to the seller only after the service of the product is delivered to the buyer.
Top 5 reasons to start a P2P marketplace
Still, have doubts about whether you should launch a P2P marketplace? Take a look at these reasons telling why it is a good idea to start a peer-to-peer business.
The development of technological and modern marketplace platforms is still an expensive process. However, with the P2P approach, the cost is lower. For starters, you don’t need to create a warehouse system or even implement a delivery service. Sellers stock the products on their own. The saved resources can be applied to advertising.
Let’s review the experience and success of Airbnb. The project was started with a small team, not a single property is owned by a member of the team or purchased. Yet, it is a giant peer-to-peer rental marketplace.
If you want to make it more affordable and efficient start with building an MVP – Minimal Viable Product. This way you can test the idea, receive feedback, and spend considerably less amount of money.
Peer-to-peer marketplace building software
Get scared just by thinking you need to code the whole project from scratch? Luckily, the technology is so advanced that you can find a ready-to-use marketplace solution tailored to your needs.
For example, Simtech Development is a certified partner of CS-Cart Multi-Vendor software. It is an eCommerce solution that helps build online marketplaces and is suited for any business model.
Make your research and you will find tons of solutions allowing you to turn the idea into life without the need for coding and build a marketplace in several months.
P2P marketplaces gained popularity on the global level. For some time it was a new and original idea. People quickly jumped on board and continued to develop the eСommerce direction.
The takeaway here – you can start a simple local project with the potential for scalability and entry into the global market. There is a chance you may win users from China to the USA.
Trust and community
P2P marketplaces differ from other eCommerce products. Often similar platforms turn into friendly communities where people exchange products and services, leave reviews, and help each other. This is the type of digital space built on trust, and such things as reviews and feedback play a significant role.
By creating a P2P marketplace site you create an opportunity for users to initiate their small business and find unique items and services online.
The peer-to-peer segment is more flexible. You can easily change the direction of the marketplace, as you are not tied to vendors and suppliers. It is easier to adapt to growth. Sellers of the marketplace usually handle the logistics tasks themselves. With the growth of the audience, you won’t need to change delivery services, maintain their work, manage the payments, etc.
How to build a peer-to-peer marketplace?
We created a short guide with the key step for building a P2P site.
We all know any business project starts with researching and proper planning. At this stage, you need to study some basics. First, define the niche you want to be presented in. Next, determine your target audience.
The market you are choosing and the target audience are interconnected. The gap in the market will help you identify what customers lack, and the needs and pains of buyers will help to structurize an offer.
Don’t forget about the competition. Test your competitor’s platforms and evaluate the functionality. Is there anything you can perform better?
This step is needed to make sure your idea is solving some problems and makes it better than other similar solutions. Only when the marketplace meets the needs of buyers and sellers it can succeed. In other words, make sure there is a demand for a P2P marketplace service you are going to provide.
The biggest challenge is that you have to think for both buyers and service providers. For example, there might be a lot of sellers willing to display their products or services on the marketplace for purchase. Yet, it may be more convenient for buyers to rent this type of product instead of buying it.
So pay attention to such small but important details. And we suggest building and launching an MVP faster to test the product in reality and get real user feedback.
A business model you choose should satisfy every party involved; you as an owner, buyers, and sellers. All should benefit from it.
To define what business model suits your P2P marketplace check out strategies of local and global platforms and evaluate what works the best.
There are several popular monetization models you can apply:
The most used is the commission type. Following this model, a peer-to-peer site charges sellers for products and services placement or each transaction made. Uber and Etsy use this model.
Subscription is another popular model where users pay monthly or yearly to access the service of the platform. This model is applied by eBay.
Advertising can be used as a separate monetization model or can be added to another option. It is about displaying an advertisement on the platform and charging creators for their placement.
You can use the freemium model and grant access to users free of charge. Still, they need to pay if they want to use premium and advanced features. For example, promote the products in the list, or use additional analytical tools.
The listing option is very convenient and transparent. It is easy to follow as you charge sellers for each product ad posted.
One of the greatest advantages here is flexibility. You can mix and match different options on your marketplace.
After you defined the idea, made research, and determined the niche you can move on to the development process. But to make it simpler, we recommend creating an architecture of the software.
The designing architecture will help to create a complete structure of the P2P website, identify all sections of the marketplace, understand the interaction between users, define the technology stack and functionality set
For this, you need to hire a software architect. But with the project scope, it will be much easier to move on to the development stage.
Here we come to the development phase. But instead of diving into the complicated processes of programming and all the challenges that come along with building a platform from scratch, you can do the minimum and create an MVP.
It is the first version of the project you are creating. Your goal is to provide a certain value to the users and demonstrate the product to them. Users will be able to try the P2P marketplace and provide feedback. Considering their experience and reviews you on the other hand can create a road map or further improvements and scale the product.
It is a common tactic to use an MVP to attract investors. Include the basic functionality to visualize the project and show its potential. Later you can grow the platform and add more advanced features.
To build an MVP you will need to hire a development team: software developers, QA engineers, and project managers. It will be of great value to have a business analyst.
At this stage as well you with your team will determine the technology stack or find a ready P2P marketplace software such as CS-Cart.
Software development is always a never-ending process of improvements and updates. After the MVP is ready, it is time to collect reviews.
Users of the P2P website are live indicators of any issues and problems on the platforms. Their feedback should be used as the basis for further improvements. Don’t focus on fixing the bugs, but try to expand the functionality. What to include in the basic set of functions we explain in the next section.
Key functionality for a successful P2P marketplace
There is a list of the most important features a P2P marketplace should have.
The first and most important feature. Users need to have a personal profile page where they can list all the required information, get access to settings, and use it as the priority point for engagement on the platform.
Make sure to differentiate the profiles for sellers and buyers. Two user categories require a different set of features.
A product page or listing is vital for sellers. The look and feel of this page directly affect sales and allow for better performance on the platform. Add different sections to the page such as product descriptions, photos, videos, reviews, etc.
Convenient navigation is key to customer satisfaction. For users, it is necessary to quickly find the product they are looking for.
If you focus on physical items, enable search by tags, categories, and price and include as many filters as possible. If this is a P2P rental site make sure there is a search by location.
It is important to build a convenient and structural categorization.
What factors build trust around your P2P marketplace? The first thing that comes to mind is secure payments. Fortunately, there are so many options today, you can just select the one that corresponds with the legislation of your country.
Payment gateways can be easily implemented into your platform. This way you do not need to build a custom solution.
For sellers, it is important to access management tools. A professional panel for administrators is a space where they can monitor sales and transactions, manage products, update content, and access statistical instruments.
A powerful admin panel makes sure your users have the best experience and can manage their store with an advanced set of professional tools.
This particular feature is vital for building trust among users. For P2P marketplaces this is especially important, as people interact with each other directly with no third parties involved.
Allowing users to leave reviews, provides them with the freedom to share their experiences. Other customers can learn from them. This is very helpful for purchase decision-making.
For sellers, it is an opportunity to work on issues and provide better service.
The key point of P2P marketplaces is direct interaction. Buyers and sellers will be communicating with each other independently. Your task is to implement instruments for convenient communication. You can integrate a messaging service. Pay attention to its support of multiple conversations at once.
Besides this, it is important to enable notifications so users can receive timely updates.
How to minimize risks in building a P2P marketplace
Every business owner would like to minimize risks when building a new product. With P2P marketplaces it is the same. The process of building peer-to-peer eCommerce has its challenges. So to prevent yourself from possible risks we suggest doing the following:
Find a real problem
If you want your marketplace to succeed, find a real problem that you can address. For this, research the target audience, identify customers’ pains and understand whether your platform will be useful in solving these issues.
It is not only about the range of products or services you will display in the store, but more about functionality. Your P2P marketplace should become an indispensable tool for customers to solve a particular problem. Use social media for research and to communicate with potential customers. Social media platforms are a perfect space to know your clients and their problems better.
Define the narrow focus
The biggest problem of any marketplace is that the owner often tries to please everyone. Running for a greater number of customers, they lose focus and chase universality. It is not what buyers like today.
After you find the pain points of your customers, narrow the focus and concentrate on something specific. That will enable you to provide better service and good quality.
For instance, you learned that there is a gap in the automotive market, namely with auto parts. Go deeper and find what it is that is exactly missing. Maybe there is a problem finding auto parts for particular car models, so you can connect owners of specific auto brands.
Don’t wait too long to attract the first users
Start attracting users at the very beginning of the project. There are so many tools that you can use to warm up the audience. Launch some advertising campaigns beforehand. Create a catchy landing page where you will announce the launch of the platform. Introduce potential customers to the concept of the marketplace and create some interesting offers. Everyone like freebies and discounts. So make sure to offer something valuable to first buyers.
Later they will help you by spreading the word and promoting your store to their family and friends.
Optimize user experience
Every feature of a P2P eCommerce site has to bring value to its users. The platform should be reliable, simple to use, and secure.
To improve user experience add some advanced features that will help to put orders in place. Make it all consistent and visually appealing.
If you are not sure what to include aside from basic functions, push off the niche. For P2P rental sites integrate a map with good navigation.
Scaling and fundraising
Anything is possible in the era of technology. Apple and Airbnb’s success motivates startups, not to bury the idea, but to find those who would believe in it.
Today people are ready to invest resources in those who create and produce. Pack your idea into a good-selling presentation and win over those investors.
First, you can prepare a forecast and calculate some numbers, evaluate the potential profit you’ll get from the project. Once the MVP is on the table, it will be easier to attract third parties to invest in the project.
Another important thing to consider is the scalability of the marketplace. The growth of the platform is something that comes with time. So prepare yourself for the future and make sure you have the tools and resources to scale up the project.
How much does it cost to build a peer-to-peer marketplace?
Probably, this is the most common question we get, practically every time a client creates a request. Funding and budgeting are the key factors that define the destiny of the project. If there is no money, there are almost no chances the project will be made. At least not in a short time.
So how much should you spend to develop a successful P2P commerce platform today?
Let’s say that the overall cost may vary from $10k to $100k. It depends on the market: from country to country there are completely different pay rates. For instance, somewhere in Central Asia, you will spend an average of $20 per hour for the developer’s work, in Europe, the cost starts from $50, in the USA it is even higher and can reach $150 per hour.
According to our experience, the MVP development process can take about 2 months = 42 working days. Considering the fact that there are real professionals with great specifications on the team. 42 days, 8 hours of work per day, and an average rate of $50 per hour. It is already more than $16k, and it is just one specialist.
Of course, the cost of a peer-to-peer site depends on many factors. What if you decide to use a ready-made solution? In this case, we will be talking about different numbers.
That is why validating the idea and attracting investors help a lot to set the trajectory of the project.
To sum up
As it turns out, P2P eCommerce is a rapidly growing segment. Choosing this direction you are choosing the printable business model.
As for the development, there are many options you can follow: build the product from scratch, use a ready-made solution, or use a combination of both. Everything depends on your requests and resources.
If you need help determining the next phases of project development, feel free to contact us at [email protected]