How to build a service marketplace (fast and no-code)

Mariam Ispiryan • May 04, 2022 • 12 min read

If you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night with the perfect idea for a marketplace app but had to fall back asleep knowing you could never code such an idea to life, this article is for you.

Service marketplaces are a great way for entrepreneurs to generate revenue and build community. But the task can seem daunting if you don’t have a background in coding and aren’t sure where to start.

Despite everything you might’ve heard, it’s actually not that complicated to get your marketplace, or a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), up and running—thanks to no-code tools and predesigned templates,

So if you’re looking for some inspiration, a step-by-step guide, and suitable tools for building a service marketplace, you’re in the right place.

In this article, you’ll find the following:

  1. What is a service marketplace?
  2. What are the three types of service marketplaces?
  3. What are the benefits of a service marketplace platform?
  4. Challenges of building a service marketplace
  5. How do I start a service marketplace?
  6. How to monetize a service marketplace?
  7. Create a service marketplace that works for you

Let’s dive in!

Don’t let a lack of tech know-how hold you back

Take the first step and build your no-code service marketplace today.

What is a service marketplace?

A service marketplace is an online platform that connects customers and service providers. Unlike product marketplaces, service marketplaces focus on connecting the supply and demand of services like tutoring, construction work, freelancing, and accommodations.

Depop, Wish, Etsy, and Amazon are all famous examples of online product marketplaces. Service marketplaces include platforms like Airbnb, Lyft, Fiverr, and Coursera.

Entrepreneurs, creators, and businesses can monetize their online service marketplace by

receiving commissions, subscription or listing fees, lead fees, freemium, featured listing fees, or by including ads. 

By providing a trustworthy space for sellers and buyers to connect, you can earn revenue without the need to sell any services or products yourself. 

All you need to do is flesh out your idea for a service marketplace, find a no-code marketplace builder that fits your needs, validate the idea, and launch! First, take a look at what types of service marketplaces are out there, so you can easily narrow it down.

What are the three types of service marketplaces?

1. B2B

B2B service marketplaces focus on connecting businesses that offer services to those that are looking to buy. A B2B digital marketing company can help service marketplaces reach their target audience and increase their visibility online. These marketplaces aren’t so commonly talked about outside their respective industries.

Some examples of these marketplaces include Thales, Malt, and Caterspot.

Caterspot an online B2B service marketplace homepage

Caterspot is an online B2B service marketplace focused on providing necessary services that improve workplaces.

2. B2C

This marketplace model includes transactions between businesses and consumers, unlike the B2B model which is purely between businesses. The majority of everyday consumers use this type of marketplace.

Some examples of these marketplaces include, Thumbtack, and VRBO. 

Kidscirlce an online B2C service marketplace, homepage

Kidscirlce is an online B2C service marketplace made with Softr. 

3. P2P 

Peer to Peer marketplaces follow the C2C business model. Here, individual buyers connect with individual sellers without a third-party company between them.

These types of marketplaces are becoming more and more common. Every time you order an Uber or Lyft, you’re putting in an individual request, which gets accepted by an individual driver. 

If you’re into couch surfing, you’ve probably heard of the Couchsurfing app, where travelers can stay with locals who offer temporary accommodations. 

Bookzdoctor an online B2C service marketplace, homepage

Bookzdoctor, a Softr-built telehealth artificial intelligence platform, allows patients to connect directly with doctors through smart contracts and tailored programs.

So, the first step to building your online service marketplace is to decide which of the above business models your marketplace is going to adopt.

What are the benefits of a service marketplace platform?

We’ve discussed what a service marketplace is, what types of users it serves, and how it’s different from product marketplaces. Let’s take a look at why you should even consider setting one up.

Setting up your marketplace is a great way of generating revenue. It requires little to no inventory or stock from your side, and you earn commissions on every successful service order.

In 2020, in part due to the Great Resignation, the gig economy grew by 33%. The need to access services online is increasing, and it’s predicted that by 2023, full-time independents will take up more than 50% of the US workforce. 

Now is the perfect time to jump on the bandwagon and develop your business ideas.

And thanks to no-code tools, creating an online marketplace has never been easier. Neither has providing a stunning user experience.

4 Challenges of building a service marketplace

While a service marketplace can be extremely beneficial to its creators and users, the process isn’t without its challenges. Here are some of the challenges and how you can address them.

1. Ensuring data security

Data security is probably one of the biggest challenges of creating a marketplace. Before taking action, make sure to check the compliance requirements for your service.

Pro tip: when choosing a no-code marketplace builder, it’s important to pick a tool that ensures backend-level security as well as client-side security, like Softr.

2. Attracting users

Another challenge to getting your marketplace off the ground is knowing how to attract users.

Suppliers and sellers are more likely than customers to want to join the marketplace first, even during its early phases, since it can be a major source of revenue for them. 

Attract sellers by incentivizing them to list on your marketplace in exchange for rewards and perks. Promote your perks on social media to get traction fast.

Once there are a few sellers listed on your platform, it’ll be much easier to attract buyers. You can also offer rewards, perks, coupons, and discounts to buyers who register early. 

But remember, after your first few sellers sign up, it’s important to focus your efforts equally on attracting both buyers and sellers. If the scales aren’t balanced, you could risk losing customers.

3. Retaining users 

Once sellers and buyers have connected through your platform, what’s keeping them from leaving it to bypass commissions and other fees?

One of the most useful things you can do to prevent platform leakage is offer features and functionalities to make your users disregard the commission and listing fees and stick around.

You can retain your users by:

  • Creating a good user and customer experience: You can do this by collecting user feedback and constantly iterating and improving the marketplace.
  • Fostering trust by providing secure payment methods: On Softr, you can make transactions securely with the help of the Stripe native payment integration.
  • Building an engaged community between users: Users are much more likely to be retained if they feel the support of a community on your platform. Implementing a robust and efficient business phone system can further enhance communication within the community, providing users with reliable and seamless connectivity.

4. Solving a real problem

Before investing resources, make sure that your service marketplace solves a real problem.

To do that:

  • Conduct in-depth market research
  • Develop an MVP to validate the market demand
  • Test the success of your MVP in solving the market’s problems

With solutions like Softr, you can build a no-code MVP in minutes and, within a matter of days, start testing your idea.

When building your MVP, make sure to include the features you believe are going to address the key pain points of your end-users so you can receive early feedback and start iterating.

How do I start a service marketplace?

You can always hire a team of developers and designers to build your marketplace. However, if you want to build it yourself, you’re going to need a wide variety of tools like: 

  • A website builder solution
  • A database tool or platform
  • A payment processing platform
  • A membership management platform
  • And a form solution or tool

And depending on the tools you choose to go with, you might also need an automation tool that lets them all talk to each other. This whole process can be extremely complicated and anxiety-inducing. 

So why bother?

With Softr’s no-code solution, you can easily and quickly set up the entire platform using the right templates. In just a few minutes, you can connect to your Airtable database, integrate Stripe or other payment systems, manage memberships, and add forms. 

Let’s get building!

Step 1. Duplicate the Softr template, review the page settings and user groups

First, start by creating an account, or signing in, and duplicating the Softr service marketplace template (a freelance marketplace template and others are available as well). Once that’s done, you can go ahead and: 

  • Rename your application and connect a custom domain
  • Edit user group names and conditions
  • Adjust the typography and colors
  • Move and adjust the placement of pages 

Watch the video below for an in-depth tutorial on how to complete step 1.

In part 1, you’ll learn how to set up the barebones of your online service marketplace. 

Step 2. Connect your marketplace to Airtable 

When using a template, you can easily just work with the template Airtable data. After choosing the List block to connect to Airtable, click the Setup Airtable button to get started.

In this step, you’ll need to:

  • Connect your Airtable API key
  • Copy the template base to your Airtable account 
  • And link your Airtable database to your marketplace

Check out the video below for a step-by-step tutorial on how to do just that.

Connect your marketplace to Airtable to make sure you have all the data you need for your platform. 

Step 3: Adjust your Airtable List Block settings 

Now it’s time for you to adjust your Airtable List Block settings. When you’re working with Dynamic List or Dynamic List Details blocks, the content is updated in the corresponding Airtable Base, not in Softr. 

So, to access the settings for the Dynamic List block, just click on the list to expand the right-hand style panel. Then, use the refresh icon at the top of the List Style panel to refresh the connected base when making adjustments to the Airtable data.

Review the Airtable Base, Table, Default view, Sort by Items per page, and Items per View. Make the adjustments you’d like at this stage.

Watch the video below for more information on how to adjust your List Block settings.

When adjusting your List Block settings, remember that the list item field type and all other content should be updated on Airtable, not Softr.

Step 4: Set up Airtable List Blocks on additional pages 

Now that the initial Airtable base is connected to the template, you need to work through the remaining pages to make adjustments to displaying the List Block details, just like you did on the homepage.

Click Browse Hosts, select the List Block you want to adjust, and make the changes you want.

Watch the video below for a more in-depth walkthrough.

Select the List Block you want to edit, and make the adjustments you want till it’s to your liking.

Step 5: Add a form to allow users to become service providers 

So, with Airtable set up, it’s time to add forms that allow users to become service providers. You can adjust existing forms on the template, or add new ones.

To add a form to any page on Softr, just click the + to add a block, choose Dynamic, select the Form dropdown, and choose your favorite block. 

Follow the steps described in the video below to learn how to adjust existing forms, or add new forms to your platform.

Add a form to allow users to become service providers.

Step 6: Review sign in/ sign up and finalize settings 

We’re almost there! The last step is to review the sign-in and sign-up screens and get ready to publish. In this final step, you’ll need to:

  • Adjust the existing Sign in and Sign up forms 
  • Review the visibility settings for every page
  • Review site settings
  • Make any last-minute changes

And Publish when you’re ready! 

Check out the video below for a step-by-step explanation.

In this last step, make any last-minute adjustments, review site settings, and publish when you’re ready!

How to monetize a service marketplace?

Last, but not least, let’s talk about how you can monetize your service marketplace.

Here are some ways to generate revenue with your platform:

  1. Transaction fees. Charging transaction fees or commissions is the most popular monetization model. This way, your marketplace will charge a certain percentage of every transaction that’s made between a buyer and a service provider. Some marketplaces, like Fiverr, charge a 20% commission fee, while charges an average of 15%.
  2. Membership fees. Membership fees, or subscriptions, generally apply to all the users of a marketplace, and not just the service providers. If you choose to charge a membership fee, you’ll need to market your services as exceptional and somewhat personalized. For example, dating apps like Tinder, charge a fee for additional perks or services.
  3. Listing fees. Marketplaces like Etsy or VRBO charge a listing fee from service providers. This fee can be per listing, or it can be accumulated into an annual subscription.
  4. Featured listings. Your marketplace can choose to feature listings from certain service providers for a fee. These listings will be viewed more, and can be highly beneficial to the service provider.
  5. Ads. Featuring relevant advertisements can be a relatively straightforward way to generate revenue from your marketplace. Do keep in mind, however, that featuring too many ads in the wrong placements, can hinder your user experience and cause them to leave your platform.

Create a service marketplace that works for you

Online marketplaces can be a great source of revenue for entrepreneurs. But the lack of technical knowledge can hold some people back.

Building a platform can take months and a large investment. And on top of that, how can you know that your marketplace can foster community, attract users, cultivate trust, and ensure data security?

That’s why picking the right development approach is important. 

Using no-code marketplace builders like Softr, anyone can create and launch their marketplace or MVP within hours, instead of months, regardless of their technical knowledge.

The service marketplace niche is extremely popular and is predicted to grow even larger in the coming years. So there’s no better time to get started!

Frequently asked questions about service marketplaces

When grouped by their target audience, eCommerce marketplaces fall into the following 3 categories: 1. B2B: Business to Business 2. B2C: Business to Consumer 3. P2P or C2C: Peer to Peer or Consumer to Consumer.

Some Softr-made examples for the various types of service marketplaces include: 1. Nanny Network 2. KidsCircle 3. Humble Help 4. Bookz Doctor 5. SharedC

The top 10 online services marketplace features include: - Resource directories - Payment integrations - User authentication - Public access to marketplace - Payments and gated content - Ease of use - Simple signup process - Service-provider dashboard - User groups and visibility rules - Mobile-friendliness

A service marketplace is an umbrella term for any kind of marketplace where services are offered and bought. Examples of service marketplaces include, Upwork, and VRBO. A peer-to-peer, or consumer-to-consumer, marketplace, is a type of service or product marketplace. Here, individuals connect to offer and buy products or services from each other, and the pricing depends entirely on the seller, as opposed to on a company or startup. Think: Depop, AirBnB, and Etsy.

While the two terms can sometimes be confused, the distinction is that products are tangible, while services are intangible. Products can be anything from clothes to cars, while services can range from babysitting and food delivery to transportation.

Client Portal | Internal Tools | Web App Builder | Free Website Builder Made with Softr