Anastasia Kryzhanovska

Building a Peer-to-Peer Marketplace from Scratch


An online peer-to-peer marketplace

If building a peer-to-peer marketplace is your next challenge, we’ve got just the solution!

In this article, we’ve covered:

  • The principles of the peer-to-peer e-commerce;
  • Ways to develop peer-to-peer marketplace;
  • Tips on working with P2P marketplace specialists.

The era of the internet has given rise to rapid online commerce development. However, the standard B2C model limits people with certain roles: you can be either a consumer or a seller. In contrast, peer-to-peer marketplaces provide greater e-commerce freedom.

What is a peer-to-peer marketplace?

P2P marketplace serves as an infrastructure that allows sellers and consumers to interact freely and exchange products. These solutions are getting more popular with each year, as they provide more opportunities for the users and evolve gradually.

Peer-to-peer marketplace structure

Let’s take a look at the benefits of peer-to-peer marketplaces from a perspective of a customer, a seller, and a marketplace owner.

If you are a customer

Peer-to-peer shopping is a very comfortable option as consumers don’t have to run through many different online stores and can find everything they need at one platform.

The main benefits of the P2P marketplaces for the consumers are:

  • A large variety of offers from different sellers at one place;
  • Open access to the reviews and feedback from other users;
  • An ability to compare different products and sellers and make an order on one platform.

If you are a seller

A peer-to-peer marketplace is a source of limitless opportunities for sellers. In short, the advantages boil down to:

  • A large target audience gathered at one platform without the need to open an offline store;
  • A chance to communicate with the customers directly and receive feedback in real time;
  • An opportunity to sell products to buyers all over the world and grow internationally.

If you are a marketplace owner

Owning a P2P marketplace platform offers a lot of different options for future development and enlargement, and that’s why it’s a great project to invest in.

Here are some advantages you could benefit from:

  • Relatively low cost of starting a business;
  • Great digital visibility which lets you reach large groups of people all around the world;
  • A chance to earn users’ trust from both audiences: the sellers and the consumers;
  • Ways to reach passive income and earn profit online without the need to produce the actual products;
  • Growth in geometrical progression thanks to the word of mouth and personal recommendations of your platform by satisfied users;
  • Relatively simple management system thanks to various ways of automation, results tracking and analysis;
  • No limits regarding the profits or the platform enlargement.

How to build a strategy for a peer-to-peer online marketplace?

Peer-to-peer marketplaces such as Etsy, BlaBlaCar or Airbnb have reached their success thanks to the accurate strategy and a holistic approach to the technical capacities of their platform.

First of all, it’s important to keep in mind that a peer-to-peer marketplace platform is an infrastructure, and the success of it will be defined by the service and the opportunities you provide to the users. Your main goal is to offer the best possible user experience on your peer-to-peer website; it should be comfortable, user-friendly, and interactive.

Write your plan down

To begin with, go through these 5 questions, which will help you understand what features you need to have, what audience you are going to target, and what products you want to have on your peer-to-peer website.

Peer-to-peer marketplace strategy planning

  1. What’s your niche and target audience?
    The biggest idea behind any successful business is to solve real-life problems. Begin with analyzing the market, defining your target audience, and listing their pain points that you are going to address with your product.
  2. What features are necessary for the platform to operate?
    After you’ve decided on the niche, the target audience, and determined the problems you want to solve, it would be easier to understand what basic features your peer-to-peer website should have. Write down every functionality that your platform won’t exist without, and think about the user journey throughout your website. Try to plan ahead what steps users will have to take to complete various actions. Typical features may include user profiles, lists of services and products, payment solutions, individual item cards, reviews and ratings, and so on.
  3. What additional features will make your platform more convenient?
    Now, when the basic features are planned out, imagine what functions will improve the user experience, bring some human touch, and make buyers and sellers feel comfortable on your peer-to-peer shopping platform. Maybe you want to add some fun and interaction and apply the gamification trend or provide users with additional features not available on other peer-to-peer e-commerce websites. However, try not to overwhelm your solution with unnecessary or distracting elements.
  4. How are you going to monetize your platform?
    After you’ve defined exactly what you offer to the users, you should think about your revenue. You can charge a commission from the transactions, provide paid plans, get profits from advertisements and promoted products, and so on. To begin with, choose one or two options, and, then, add more opportunities.
  5. What are your plans on scaling?
    At this stage, you don’t have to plan too far ahead but give this topic a thought. What direction would you like to take if your business grows? Are you ready for scaling or would you like to keep your business small?

Put your thoughts to paper and write a detailed answer to each of these questions. The success of every step you take further will depend on how well you’ve planned everything ahead. You should also analyze your competitors to offer users something not provided by other platforms or provided in an inefficient way.

Need some advice on P2P marketplace strategy planning? Contact us!>>

Choose a solution

To build your platform, you can use an open source peer-to-peer marketplace such as Sharetribe or Magento or build your own.

The choice fully depends on:

  • Your overall idea and features you want to implement;
  • The budget you are ready to devote to this project;
  • The time you have on your hands.

Open source platforms can be described as online templates that you customize and add a limited number of additional features. There are solutions on the market made specifically for creating peer-to-peer marketplaces such as Sharetribe, Marketplacer or Near Me. They let you customize the design and apply some features necessary for a P2P platform: payment systems, analytics, ratings, reviews, product listings, and so on.

While the open source peer-to-peer marketplace platform seems like the easiest and fastest solution, you should know that not every Software as a Service (SaaS) platform is suitable for creating a peer-to-peer marketplace.

For example, Sharetribe is a good choice for building an open source peer-to-peer marketplace as well as for the e-commerce websites. At the same time, a popular solution called Magento doesn’t allow you to create a peer-to-peer marketplace software right away. You will need to buy various extensions for every feature you want to have for the platform to exist. As a result, you may end up with a lot more spendings than you planned to in terms of the budget and the time.

In contrast, building a brand new platform from scratch that can be done with the help of a development studio is a lot more flexible and allows to bring almost any idea to life. For people who would like to add more customized features or apply a unique design, it’s better to work with a web development studio.

How to work with a ready-made open source peer-to-peer marketplace or a SaaS solution?

If you need a simple and fast solution, and your idea isn’t overwhelmed with additional features, use open source peer-to-peer marketplaces.

Let’s see what pros and cons they provide, and how the building a peer-to-peer website process looks like on such platforms.


  • It’s relatively simple, as all you need to do is register and figure out how to customize the template to fit your needs;
  • It’s also cheaper than to create a peer-to-peer marketplace from scratch;
  • It’s perfect for the beginners or people who want to try and see if their idea works out.


  • You won’t be able to add your own designs or features, as you have to choose from the ones the platform offers;
  • It would be very difficult to enlarge it and stay on the open source platform if your business grows and scales;
  • You don’t control the off-the-shelves platforms, so if there’s any technical problem, it could affect your business.

These are the steps you need to take in order to develop a peer-to-peer marketplace platform using an open source solution:

  1. Choose the platform of your preference;
  2. Sign up and pick a plan;
  3. Define a theme and customize it the way you like;
  4. Configure services like online payments and other features necessary for the platform.

If you would like to implement some features or designs not available on open source solutions, it’s better to contact P2P marketplace specialists who know exactly what to do to bring your idea to life.

How to create a peer-to-peer marketplace from scratch?

An alternative to open source solutions is working with an agency that can develop peer-to-peer marketplace software from scratch. Delivering a unique and personalized user experience, original interface, and all the features you come up with is the bare minimum you get by contacting professionals.

Experienced developers will know for sure how to build a peer-to-peer marketplace that fits your needs. There are many advantages to this method but you should also pay attention to some drawbacks which can affect your final choice of the platform.


  • The fact that you build a peer-to-peer marketplace platform from scratch means that any design or custom solution is possible;
  • Features which you couldn’t find on open source platforms won’t be a problem anymore, as P2P marketplace specialists will write unique code for each one of them;
  • You will have a chance to consult with experts on any question you might have about your future peer-to-peer marketplace;
  • If your business goes well, and you feel like you need to scale, it will be a lot easier to do on a self-made platform;
  • Any problem you might face can be solved, as you always have access to the developers who are the initial source of information for your unique problem.


  • Building a peer-to-peer website from scratch can only be done by professional developers, which means that if you want to do it yourself you will have to learn a lot of skills and spend quite some time on this project;
  • It’s more expensive than using an open source solution but you know exactly what you are paying for;
  • The development process will take more time than creating a peer-to-peer marketplace on an open source platform, as it requires unique coding.

Ready to begin building your own peer-to-peer marketplace? Get a free quote!>>

How much does it cost to develop peer-to-peer marketplace platform from scratch?

For you to better understand how the development process actually works, and why it takes more time and money, you should know the approximate steps which the developers take:

  1. It all starts with a technical project that contains all the information on the upcoming project: goals, requirements, budget, timing, features, and a lot of other details that influence all future steps.
  2. Then, developers create the first prototype which lets you see the structure of the platform, see the paths that users will take, and understand the design solution on a block level.
  3. When the structure is set, it’ time to create a unique design, understand what color schemes, typefaces, and elements you want to use and create animations and micro animations to make your platform look neat.
  4. Now goes probably the most complicated step which is the development process.
  5. When the product is ready, it’s important to test it and fix all bugs before the official launch.

As you can see, many people are involved in the whole process: web designers, UI/UX designers, testing specialists, developers, and others.

The costs of a P2P marketplace development fully depends on factors like:

  • The level of complexity of a project;
  • The experience of the team;
  • The number of experts working on the project;
  • The additional services, and so on.

P2P platform development price

There’s always an option to hire individual freelancers, but some of them tend to miss deadlines or call for more edit iterations than teams of experts. It not necessarily may happen in your case, though we don’t recommend taking chances, and see that hiring entire teams is a more rationalized solution than searching for freelancers.

One more thing you should pay attention to is that a more expensive offer isn’t always the better one. We recommend taking a careful look at the portfolio, case studies, reviews and comments on social media and agency website, publications in media, support availability, and other factors which demonstrate how experienced the team is.

Regarding the average development price, it would cost around $40,000 to hire a team of 2-3 developers, a tester, and an analytic to develop peer-to-peer marketplace software.

Want more details on pricing? Contact our team right now!>>

What features are recommended for a peer-to-peer online marketplace?

If you want to get the most out of your project and build a comfortable, easy-to-use marketplace with a strong community, it’s better to learn from the existing marketplaces, compare their strengths and weaknesses and offer better solutions for problems that you find on these platforms.

We’ve made a list of useful features we recommend you consider while ordering a P2P marketplace platform development:

  • In P2P marketplaces, trust is key, and that’s why you should implement verification mechanisms so that users trust each other.
  • One of the biggest parts is the community, and your goal is to introduce the right values. For that, you need to track sellers and buyers and give awards to those who comply with these values. For example, if a seller takes little time to answer messages or offers an easy-to-follow return policy, you can automatically raise their ratings. If a buyer always follows the rules of the platform, you can gift them with discounts and bonuses.
  • Communication instruments play a big role here, as it’s important to let users communicate freely via email at a very minimum. The best option is to integrate your marketplace with a Telegram, Viber, online chat on your website or even to create a comfortable mobile app.
  • Human factor should be considered at every stage of the deal, and each step should push users to proceed to the next one.
  • There definitely should be mechanisms for deals monitoring and dispute resolutions, especially at the very beginning when the deals process is not perfect yet.
  • For the comfort of the users, you should include as many payment methods as possible.
  • To help out the sellers, you should figure out ways to help them define the prices based on location, seasons, and other factors. It would be very useful to track which product pictures get the most clicks and lead to the highest number of purchases to show them more often in the search.
  • Talking about the search system, it should be easy to find exactly what a user needs. One of the most common problems of P2P marketplaces is that there are so many offers, and it’s confusing for a buyer to find what they are looking for. On marketplaces like Etsy, for instance, a user may not even know what to search for. That’s why you should begin by offering a couple of different products, and then, show users products based on their clicks. The brightest examples of such mechanisms in action are Pinterest, Amazon or Scout.

The bottom line

If you are thinking how to create a peer-to-peer website and measuring the pros and cons of different solutions, it’s better to take your time, measure the budget, timing, and understand what features you want to implement.

If you can’t wait to begin and bring your idea to life, our P2P marketplace developers will answer your questions, evaluate the development costs, and offer a perfect way to build your own peer-to-peer marketplace from scratch.

Contact P2P developers>>

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