Over the past 15 years, our company has been collaborating with startups across the globe on launching and scaling their marketplace businesses. Working across industries, we now clearly see how the concept of a marketplace startup has evolved recently. A marketplace platform is no longer a place for selling physical goods exclusively. Custom marketplace-like businesses are now aiming at solving complex problems, allowing vendors to bring their creativity, digital products, and a variety of services to broader audiences.
This blog is a summary of our thoughts regarding the MVP development of the marketplace app. From our experience, the MVP step helps to quickly validate the ideas and make necessary product pivots before the actual product development starts. Here’s how you can organize this step for your project more effectively.
No one needs another marketplace
However sad it sounds, with the shift towards branded marketplaces, only companies with the mission and specific problems they are addressing can count for users’ attention and favor.
How does this relate to the MVP development phase? The answer is simple. If you’re launching a regular marketplace the same as myriads others out there, what’s the point of developing its MVP? What is there to validate with a minimum viable product? You can select one of the ready-made E-commerce solutions and start a business.
But if you have a specific idea in mind of how you can connect different people and solve challenges they are facing, you need to see if this idea receives traction. For this, analytics data and client feedback would be valuable and help you understand how you should change the initial concept to make it more useful and, hence, profitable.
The success of marketplace business in the post-covid reality requires more than an easy-to-access shopping destination. A successful marketplace today is no longer a place having everything for everyone but rather a platform connecting specific vendors, addressing specific problems aimed at specific audiences. Learn more about the evolution of marketplace app development from our previous blog post.
To better define the needs of this specific audience and provide better solutions to the problems they are facing, you need a marketplace MVP.
Consider launching an MVP if you need to:
- Bring your idea to the market quickly to see if it gets traction
- Learn from the audience feedback and introduce customizations
- Build a product within the fixed budget and timeframes
- Showcase platform concept to stakeholders
Check out our recent post on MVP mindset to be more prepared for the planning step.
Feature set for the marketplace MVP
A minimum viable product, or in the case of marketplace development, a minimum viable platform is a custom solution that solves the core problem of the target audience and meets the key expectations of all the sides of the marketplace – vendors, customers, and business owners.
The success of any product, and marketplace platform is no exception, is the unique value proposition it offers. With the marketplace model, this value proposition should be formulated for both sellers and buyers. And only after the value proposition is defined the core features set for an MVP can be assembled. For each business, the value propositions, and thus, the unique features set for an MVP will differ, but if to look at this aspect from a very high-level perspective, there are some common patterns.
- Value propositions for vendors should contain the ability to market the products or services they produce. Each vendor needs the ability to customize their profile to bring their unique proposal to the platform’s visitors.
- Value proposition for customers should include an efficient search experience on the platform that delivers specific product or service variants for a peculiar user. Ability to compare vendors, select the best matching variant and make a purchase quickly.
As for business owners (or administrators), the key functions will include the moderation of all the counterparts, as well as efficient analytics on how both vendors and customers interact with the platform, at what steps of the UX there are problems, and what workflows work best.
To sum up, the feature set for the marketplace MVP should allow all the counterparts to fulfill their ultimate goals on the marketplace platform, and depending on the product type, industry, or any other specifics these features will vary. The important thing to understand is that the better you formulate your value proposition for the specific audience, the easier you define the workflows you want to test and definite the features to implement during the MVP development step.
Functionality requiring special engineering expertise
Depending on the main idea behind a custom marketplace, the functionality that would require the most engineering efforts will vary. From our experience, the aspects listed further can become one of them.
Along with the defined problem your business addresses and value proposition for the target audience, at the MVP development for startups it is vital to decide on the business monetization strategy that can be realized via:
- Commission fee
- Subscription plans
- Paid listing
Besides, to enable purchasing on the marketplace, the platform should be connected to at least one payment gateway. Taxing & invoicing, split and recurring payments, payouts, inventory management, online payment security, and compliance are other aspects to consider in advance and require expertise from the tech team in charge of the MVP development.
E-commerce search is important when your business relates to the user-generated content, digital products, service line, or product catalog that is hard to categorize.
This functionality is beneficial for both end customers and vendors. For the first, the more relevant the search results delivered, the better user experience is provided. 76% of website visitors think that the key UX factor on a website is how easily they can find the necessary information. For vendors, the relevant work of the on-site search engine ensures fair competition on the marketplace platform.
Of course, all the advanced search customizations of the internal search are out of the question at the MVP development step, but some features require minimum engineering efforts but greatly enhance the customer experience even at the initial steps. They include:
- Autocomplete for the search queries.
- Sound-like and synonym search.
- Fuzzy search (ignoring typos, plural and case forms, and more).
- Faceted search and filters.
Learn how the E-commerce search can be developed across development iterations.
A lot of functionality that is developed at the MVP steps depends on the unique business idea. The more complex the products presented on the platform, the better you need to plan the platform's architecture for further scaling.
If you are creating a marketplace for some digital content, videos or podcasts, for example, separate attention should be paid to creating a video upload and playback library and the platform’s infrastructure. If you know that there are some marketing campaigns planned, your tech team should prepare the system for the expected number of visitors and higher system load. With any other business context or requirements list, the tech aspects that would require more attention will vary.
Learn more about how to approach tech stack planning for the MVP development step.
Roadmap for marketplace platform MVP development
To bring the expected results, the MVP development step should be thoroughly planned. This phase should contain only the development of functionality that allows users to test the platform from start to the desired state but not with multiple options on their way. This approach is called Minimum marketable user flow and, from our experience, helps to avoid over-engineering and speeds up the launch significantly.
The infographic below summarizes how the marketplace MVP step is usually organized when our team is involved in the engineering process.
Marketplace businesses we helped to launch
Here are some inspiring startups that are based on the multi-vendor marketplace concept – bringing creators closer to their specific audiences. Our team is very proud to be part of their success stories as the mission behind each of them is impactful and inspiring.
Online auction and events marketplace
One of our clients decided to challenge the regular entertainment opportunities like visiting a concert or sports event and decided to launch a marketplace of exclusive experiences and an online auction. Together with the Wise team, they developed and successfully launched an MVP for a marketplace and now are a fully operational and successful business that managed to survive even the covid pandemic that was devastating for the whole entertainment industry.
Read full case study on marketplace MVP development.
All-in-one platform for fitness chain
Another Wise client addressed the challenges the covid pandemics brought to the sports and fitness industry. As people were not able to train offline, the platform creators decided to help fitness trainers adopt new approaches to collaboration with their students.
The platform was designed to allow trainers to monetize their efforts in creating virtual workouts and online personal training programs. With the tech assistance of the Wise team, our client received the MVP of the digital fitness platform in 3 months and launched the platform’s 1.0 version with significant improvements and extensions in another quarter. The collaboration with the fitness trainers as a focus group throughout the development process contributed greatly to the project's success.
Read full case study on MVP app development.
What is your idea?
Outsourced marketplace app development services open great opportunities for startuppers today. With a clear vision of what you need to validate at the MVP step and the right tech partner at your side, you can test your idea with reasonable investments and within a strict time frame.
Contact us to discuss the business context for your marketplace business. We’ll help define the core platform functionality and all the tech aspects to consider at the initial steps, including tech stack assembling, team augmentation, and more.