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The Secret to Launching Successful Peer-to-Peer Marketplaces

Mariam Ispiryan • July 28, 2022 • 12 min read

How to benefit from a crisis and launch a 113 billion USD valued company? 


Picture this, San Francisco, year 2007, the Industrial Designers’ Conference, shortage of hotel rooms, and many people left with no accommodation. Two guys, Joe and Brian, offer airbeds for guests to spend a night in their place for a much more affordable price! A year after the event, Joe and Brian launched airbedandbreakfast.com, now known as Airbnb. 


How Airbnb started its neverending story shows how anyone can develop a successful company from a simple idea. The platform later adopted a much more profitable business model known as a peer-to-peer marketplace and now is estimated at 113 billion USD today.


Today you’re going to turn into Joe and Biran in earlier years of making Airbnb learn all about building a peer-to-peer marketplace that would later turn into. But, how about we build the marketplace in less than a week? 


Challenge accepted!


In the article we'll cover the following:

  1. What is a peer-to-peer marketplace?
  2. Peer-to-peer marketplace categorization: What’s what? 
  3. Peer-to-peer marketplace must-have features 
  4. How to build a peer-to-peer marketplace platforms 
  5. Case study: Build a freelance peer-to-peer marketplace with Softr 

Want to make your marketplace idea a reality?

Softr’s marketplace website builder lets you create a user-friendly, no-code marketplace from your database.

What is a peer-to-peer marketplace?


A peer-to-peer marketplace is an eCommerce business model designed to connect people who want to sell/rent and buy services/items.


The most common features of a peer-to-peer marketplace are:

  • Product catalog system organizes product data into a single point of reference
  • Inventory tracking is the process of continually monitoring the inventory of a business
  • Separate vendor store is a space for a single vendor to sell its items
  • Product reviews & ratings is buyers’ authentic thoughts and ratings on a purchased item
  • Refund/return management starts with customers filing for a product return and ends with the process of returning a product.
  • Easy checkout process is a simple set of steps for buyers to purchase an item
  • Pre-integrated payment gateways are third-party platforms used to​​ accept credit card purchases from customers.
  • Advanced order management incorporates store pickup, mixed orders, and return transactions. 


Peer-to-peer marketplace categorization: What’s what? 


2 categories each platform falls into contribute to the identification of P2P marketplaces. These categories are items and approaches.


Let’s break them down accordingly

By Items



Product P2P marketplaces 

product p2p marketplaces

Product P2P marketplaces offer a platform for sellers to present their products and find potential customers. eBay is the best example of how to build a product P2P marketplace. eBay allows users to buy and sell different types of products: clothes, supplies, electronics, and much more.


Most product peer-to-peer marketplaces have: 

  1. Seller/buyer accounts, 
  2. Payment getaway, 
  3. Product listings,
  4. Separate vendor portals for sellers
  5. Search and nav systems, 
  6. Shopping cart, 
  7. Review system.


Having a similar set of features, eBay has managed to hit $10.8 billion in revenue in 2019. The platform earns most of its revenue from ad placements and from sellers who get a limited number of free listings, all additional listings are paid. When an item is sold, sellers are also charged a percentage by the platform.



Property P2P marketplace 

property p2p marketplace

Take property P2P marketplaces as property brokers or real estate agents. Based on your budget, and requirements, they offer you accommodations listed by property owners. Airbnb and Booking.com are the perfect examples of successful property P2P marketplaces. 


Most property marketplaces allow sellers to publish listings to the platform, book dates, and reserve selected houses or rooms. They also have a massaging system, safe payment getaway, booking, and review system installed.



Service P2P marketplaces 

service p2p marketplace

There are millions of people out there who won’t mind getting some side money out of their skills, talents, or hobbies. They go to the web to look for platforms where they can post gigs to find potential buyers who are in search of freelancers or part-timers. Platforms they search for are service P2P marketplaces. 


Such platforms, Fiverr for example, often have integrated buyer/seller account setups, private communication platforms, custom offers, multi-category jobs, gig/service listings, seller/buyer rating & feedback systems, and more.

 


Ride-sharing P2P marketplaces

ride sharing p2p marketplace

Only a few years ago, people weren’t comfortable with sharing rides with total strangers which were considered dangerous and even life-threatening at the time. But ride-sharing services have come around to changing the perspective and making ride-sharing safe and affordable. One of the more interesting cases on ride-sharing P2P marketplaces, BlaBlaCar, is a great example to showcase the success such marketplaces have. 


BlaBlaCar lets drivers share their rides with people who go in the same direction. People can request rides, and even choose if they want to talk during the trip and so on. The same system works for Uber, which is also a marketplace. But the main difference is the approach and how much the company manages the processes involved in sharing rides. We’ll get into the types of P2P approaches in depth later in the article. 



 E-learning P2P marketplaces

e-learning p2p marketplace

You’ve probably already taken courses from E-learning P2P marketplaces. Popular platforms like Udemy, and Skillshare provide a space for tutors and experts to share their knowledge through video courses. Students enroll in classes, pay in advance and start their journey. There are also other platforms like Preply that provide real-time 1-on-1 learning opportunities for a more individualized learning experience.


These platforms often have a video board, task board, real-time statistics dashboard, integrated video and audio calling systems, pre-integrated chatbots or online messaging systems, payment gateways, and different types of billing methods.

Want to make your marketplace idea a reality?

Softr’s marketplace website builder lets you create a user-friendly, no-code marketplace from your database.

By approach


There are four marketplace management types: unmanaged, lightly managed, fully managed, and decentralized.


Unmanaged marketplaces such as Etsy, eBay, and Fiverr, do not invest in background checks or quality control. The majority of customers rely on product reviews. Peer-to-peer marketplaces are by default unmanaged.


Markets with light management, like Uber, Grubhub, and Shutterstock, make modest investments in quality assurance. Their top priority is to provide their users with correct info and create a secure environment.


There are also peer-to-peer marketplaces that conduct thorough background checks and feedback analyses. Fully managed marketplaces are pretty much uncommon for P2Ps, although they do exist. Platforms like Opendoor, Luxe, and thredUP keep an eye on supply, operations, and transactions in the market.


Decentralized marketplaces invest extensively in infrastructure to construct trustworthy solutions to orchestrate the exchange of commodities and services. The most obvious advantage of decentralized platforms is that they are private for non-participants who have no right to meddle with platform interactions. Lendoit is a decentralized marketplace that enables direct communication between lenders and borrowers. Participants carry out transactions using their e-wallets.

Peer-to-peer marketplace must-have features 


Before you start developing a scaling business plan, make sure your P2P marketplace has these default features.



User profile


user profile p2p

User profiles are a prior feature for all marketplace types. Customers and sellers should have their user profiles filled with personal and any other information users need to provide and work with. 


The signup process should be extra simple by letting users export personal data from their social media. 



Product listings


product listing

Product listings should also be high on the list of must-have features to focus on. The product listing feature allows users to add products or services to the platform. It should be possible for providers to add, remove, edit, publish, and delete items. Customers can then rate, review, and comment on items/services.



Check out/Payment functionality

payment functionality

Adopting a payment functionality is essential to a P2P marketplace. Customers should be able to pay for their orders directly on your marketplace. This is a key component, and it will be fantastic if you could integrate the platform with payment gateways. A few great payment gateways are Stripe, Dwolla, Authorize.net, and PayPal payments standard.


You also need to launch a simple checkout page for customers. Make sure to use the best UI/UX techniques to create a simple, and intuitive checkout page.



Reviews & rating system

review and rating system

This feature is a great approach to building trust and filtering the sellers on your marketplace: Those who receive good feedback and high ratings should be on top of listings and be recommended to new buyers.



Notification system

notification system

Implementing a notification system to streamline the processes is also an important part of a peer-to-peer marketplace.


Allow users of the marketplace to select the channel they find most convenient for receiving system notifications. Notify the user's messenger, phone, email, and other devices of their preference.



Messaging portal

messaging portal

Using innovative technology to power communication between buyer and seller would not only assist the marketplace in bringing on more users but would also keep them engaged on the site through effective real-time communication. 


Back4app, PubNub, Firebase, and Atomchat are great messaging portals to integrate into your marketplace.

Want to make your marketplace idea a reality?

Softr’s marketplace website builder lets you create a user-friendly, no-code marketplace from your database.

How to build a peer-to-peer marketplace platforms 


Here comes the climax of the article: building a peer-to-peer marketplace. By now, you probably know what type of peer-to-peer marketplace you want to build. It’s time to know how. There are a few directions you can take when building your platform. 


You can choose out of these 3 options:



1. Build the P2P from scratch 


If you have a lot of time on your hands and you think of building a platform with high-level complexity and customization, building the marketplace from scratch is your go-to option. 


Developing a marketplace, either alone or with a dev team, takes months and a lot of money to finish. But it’s still one of the most effective and safe options for building marketplaces.


Pros

  • Uniqueness 
  • Flexibility 
  • Original UI & UX 
  • High level of cusotmazion 

.

 Cons

  • The time-consuming process of a hiring development team, 
  • Expensive, 
  • Long building process.


Again, if you have a gradient, innovative and advanced idea, developing the platform with a dev team will meet all your requirements. But if you have something less customizable and fast-paced in mind, SaaS marketplace-building platforms are all you need.



2. Marketplace building platforms


SaaS platforms are in high demand in web development. These platforms help automate workflows and build platforms fast and with little effort. Marketplace building platforms like Sharetribe, Marketplacer, and Shopify offer endless features and solutions for any type of peer-to-peer marketplace you want to build.


Pros

  • Perfect for solo projects,
  • Fast implementation,
  • The quick and less costly building process.


Cons

  • Not a secure solution,
  • Less customization,
  • Won’t be an option for innovative and niche platform ideas.



3. No-Code Platforms 


There is always an alternative web app building option for all. For those who don't know how to code, we have no-code tools as a great alternative version. No-code tools enable building responsive and beautiful web apps without writing a single line of code. No-code tools are also known for their flexibility and fast paced building approach. 


A few no-code tools worth mentioning are Bubble, Webflow, Adalo and last but not least Softr. Softr is the easiest tool to build P2P marketplaces out of the no-code list. It’s your perfect match if you need a simple solution and need to get started quickly. To get you going even quicker, Softr has a number of templates perfect for building P2P marketplaces.


If you don’t want to start from scratch and looking for a less customizable option, starting with a marketplace template is a great idea. The best part about the templates is all the default features are pre-installed so you can focus on the more creative and customizing part of the process.


Pros

  • Perfect for MVPs and simple P2P marketplaces,
  • Fast-paced development process,
  • The least expensive option out of the 3.


Cons

  • Limited customization,
  • Difficulty with scaling.


Softr is also great for those who don’t know much about web development but still want to work on their projects solo or with a small team. If this is the case, the final chapter of our guide would be the cherry on top for you.

Want to make your marketplace idea a reality?

Softr’s marketplace website builder lets you create a user-friendly, no-code marketplace from your database.

Case study: Build a freelance peer-to-peer marketplace with Softr 


Remember we promised to share the tips and tricks of building a peer-to-peer marketplace within a week? 


Here we are. 


Softr is your simplified, small learning curve, no-code solution to building a P2P marketplace. 


Softr offers many templates to start your building process. There is a new Freelance marketplace template we’re going to use to build our P2P marketplace. 

freelance marketplace Softr template

Create a P2P marketplace with a Softr template


Step 1: Sign up/sign in to your Softr account

sing in/sign up Softr page

Step 2: From the template menu, track and choose the Freelance marketplace template 


Step 3: Click the “Use template” button to proceed.

Step 4: Connect your Airtable with Softr with the Airable API key. You can find your API key in your Airtable account.

Airtable API key
Airtable API key #2

Step 5: Copy the template base to your Airtable account.

copy the airtable base
copy the template base

Step 6: Add the base to your workspace 

add the base to your workspace

Step 7: Go back to the template dialog and click on “Click here to refresh” for the base to appear on the dropdown menu.

refresh the page

Step 8: Select the Freelance marketplace base from the dropdown menu.

select freelance marketplace template base

Step 9: Click “Connect to Airtable” to continue.

Edit the page settings and user groups


Now you have your P2P marketplace installed and connected to Airtable.


Go ahead and start editing page settings and user groups.

 

Step 1: Name your application and connect a custom domain;

Step 2: Edit user group and conditions;

Step 3: Adjust the fonts and colors;

Step 4: Move and adjust the placement of pages.


Here is a tutorial on how to do all the above on your Softr application.

Airtable List Block settings 


If you browse the template you’ll see there are many pages you can work with, and most of them have List blocks. List blocks are a crucial part of our P2P marketplace and are connected to your Airtable base.


To adjust list block settings, you will need to edit your data on Airtable, then adjust List block settings directly in Softr. 


At this stage, we’ll recommend paying attention to the Airtable Base, Table, Default view, Sort by Items per page, and Items per View settings.


You can find more information on List block settings in the next part of the tutorial. 

Adjust freelancer’s form


To have a freelance marketplace, you should have freelancers sign up and fill out a form to be listed on the platform.


The peer-to-peer marketplace takes care of that and we have a ready-made page available for freelancers.

freelancer's form

But if you want to start from scratch:


Step 1: Click on the + sign at the top right corner;

Step 2: Select “Dynamic”;

Step 3: Select “Forms”;

Step 4: Choose a form to continue. 


You can find more information on adjusting and creating forms in the tutorial below.

Adjust sign-up/ sign-up forms

 

Next, you’ll need to review the sign-in and sign-up pages and adjust the forms. There are already ready-made forms for you to work with in the template:

sign in form

All you got to do is:

Step 1: Modify the existing Sign in and Sign up forms 

Step 2: Review the visibility settings for the pages

Step 3: Review site settings

Step 4: Add any last-minute changes

 

And publish

Want to make your marketplace idea a reality?

Softr’s marketplace website builder lets you create a user-friendly, no-code marketplace from your database.

Take your peer-to-peer marketplace to the next level


Building a peer-to-peer marketplace could be difficult if you have no technical background or a team of professionals. 


That’s why we believe getting started with a no-code marketplace builder is an effective and beneficial step towards your goals.


You’re in luck since this is just the beginning. You can always continue optimizing your marketplace with Softr’s 70+ blocks, integrations with platforms like Stripe, Google Analytics Krisp, and more. 


If the presented peer-to-peer marketplace template is not your cup of tea, there are other great marketplace templates you can choose from.

Want to make your marketplace idea a reality?

Softr’s marketplace website builder lets you create a user-friendly, no-code marketplace from your database.

Frequently asked questions about peer-to-peer marketplaces

1. Conduct competitor and market research. 2. Validate your business idea. 3. Create Prototypes. 4. Develop an MVP. 5. Monetize your platform. 6. Keep Improving.

The following are considered the most popular P2P platforms 1. Amazon. 2. eBay. 3. Rakuten. 4. Cratejoy

The global peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplace market was valued at $67.93 billion in 2019 and is expected to increase at a CAGR of 29.7% from 2020 to 2027, reaching $558.91 billion by 2027.

Simply put, yes. A peer-to-peer (P2P) is a decentralized model in which individuals collaborate to exchange goods and services directly or to manufacture products and services jointly without the use of a mediator, or business firm.

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