Creating a marketplace is not an easy task, but building a peer-to-peer marketplace is even more challenging because it is not just a regular website, but more of an accomplished ecosystem with a complex architecture. So, if you want to create one, but lack some information and useful insights, read this article till the end to be sure you’re on the right track with your future or existing P2P marketplace platform.


Common vs. Peer-to-Peer: Main Differences

At one point, a common marketplace and a peer-to-peer shopping site are not that different, but if you compare them, you’ll find not so many similarities as expected. 

There are 3 main types of marketplace:

  • Business to customer (B2C);
  • Business to business (B2B);
  • Customer to customer (C2C or P2P).

Differences between P2P marketplace, B2B and B2C

The first two B2C and B2B types imply only selling products or services usually without the possibility of buying something in return on the same platform. Vendors interact with their clients not as peers, but as commercial brands and their representatives.

What distinguishes C2C from other marketplace types is the fact that it shapes a fully-functional community by interests. The customer-to-customer business model is often named as peer-to-peer (P2P), which means that people who sell and purchase on a certain platform have similar interests and/or other things in common.

P2P marketplaces are successful and popular for bringing a human touch into commerce and making them:

  • Discuss and establish beneficial conditions;
  • Get custom products and services;
  • Save time and money;
  • Change roles from seller to buyer and vice versa;
  • Gather into active communities.

Such online platforms create an opportunity to start a small business without significant expenses on personal online store development, promotion, and support for thousands of people.

General or Niche Targeting

Working on every startup should essentially begin with a deep research and data analysis. Thus, before taking first steps that imply pouring money into making your idea real, do the research on the market and your competitors.

Depending on your goals and needs you’ll get a clear picture whether you’re moving in the right direction with a selected niche or not so much. If you don’t want to make your peer-to-peer e-commerce platform general, make sure that you’ve made the right decision on the niche. 

Today, a startup owner can hardly find a profitable niche not occupied by a successful competitor. That is why, when doing your research, pay particular attention on their weak spots and make them your personal strong sides if possible.

Solve problems of your users and you’re gold! 

When it comes to choosing stores and services, people always pick the ones that solve their problems the best way possible. Being a P2P marketplace owner is challenging, because you must please both sides - sellers and buyers. However, keep in mind that you can start with a niche model and expand your open source peer-to-peer marketplace to general and it will be good for your brand, unlike if you start with general targeting and then narrow it to one niche. 

Custom P2P Marketplace Development over Ready-Made Solutions

Even if you don’t have to create it with your own hands, you still need to know how to build a peer-to-peer marketplace, at least the basics of this process to be sure that the specialists you hired use tools and technologies that fit best, and your project will be delivered in a timely manner. 

Using ready-made solutions to make a peer-to-peer marketplace can be beneficial, because it:

  • Accelerates product launch;
  • Eliminates the necessity in design, development and testing services;
  • Saves money.

However, these advantages are not that beneficial as it seems at first, and if you want to be competitive on the market and get into the list of top companies, you better consider collaboration with experienced P2P marketplace developers.

Creating a commercial website from scratch may be more costly than using various peer-to-peer marketplace software complex website builders like Sharetribe, but if you want a custom platform that is scalable and flexible to respond to all kinds of architecture changes you need to choose this option.

You can find many companies and individual freelancers that provide web development services, but not all of them can give you top-quality services. So, before making a final decision regarding who will work on your project, ask your candidates to show their case studies as an experience proof.

A custom system with a set of features and functionality that fulfills your goals and needs entirely will give you a solid advantage over your competitors that chose to stick to ready-made solutions for their platform.

Functionality that is a Must

A peer-to-peer online marketplace basic functionality is very close to the one in an online store and includes:

  • Profiles. Your business platform must include at least two types of profiles - for buyers and sellers. Even though your service is two-sided (P2P) they require different feature sets, because some users prefer staying buyers only. Commercial profiles should have advanced admin panel to operate their stores and communicate with their clients properly. 
  • Listings. You must develop a flawless logics for listings on your platform, because if vendors find them non-convenient to post, edit and remove, while they are also not user-friendly for browsing and seeking, your P2P marketplace website won’t be their choice for using on a regular basis.
  •  Payment. Try to give your platform users as many safe payment options as you can. You won’t be the one who participates in discussions and transactions, but all kinds of fraudulent activity and unfair business practice of vendors on your marketplace can bring consequences and seriously damage your brand reputation.
  • Alerts & notifications. This functionality is vital for both sides of your marketplace. Customers will find it beneficial if they will receive notifications on news, changes, new items they might be interested in, discounts, sales, etc. Vendors will be grateful for remindings on news, their membership expiration, etc.
  • Ratings & reviews. To make your marketplace a reputable service and gain trust of its users, you need to implement the possibility for both customers and vendors to rate each other as well as place reviews based on their personal transaction experience.

Features Essential for Every Peer-to-Peer Marketplace Platform

Basically, features are certain advancements and additions to the basic functionality set. Depending on your niche, scale and other parameters you can have different useful features that will make your marketplace even more attractive for buyers and sellers.

Consider following features that will contribute to your competitiveness on the market:

  • Sign up with social media;
  • Compare items;
  • Full reporting for vendors;
  • Currency options;
  • Payment systems;
  • Data protection;
  • Messaging for vendor-customer communication;
  • Simplified booking;
  • Blog;
  • Social media share;
  • Live support.

When you work with P2P marketplace specialists, you can be sure that they would be motivated to suggest different improvements and additional features, which will make your platform most competitive among other marketplaces.

The Development Process

Basically, such online product can be divided into 3 parts:

  1. Server that processes and stores data;
  2. Web-client or a website;
  3. Mobile application.

All these parts require different technology stacks to develop a peer-to-peer marketplace that would be strong and competitive. 

- Server. When it comes to building a P2P marketplace, knowing how to build and where to place a server is the first thing you need to take care of. Depending on what architecture your marketplace needs, a development specialist who will work on your project may use such programming languages as:

  • PHP;
  • Python;
  • Ruby;
  • Node.js;
  • C#;
  • Java.

Of course the list goes on and a team that will do the development process will use tools and technologies that fit your idea and specification perfectly. 

- Website or Web-client. You can create a peer-to-peer marketplace using ready-made solutions like website builders, but if you want to succeed at what you are about to start, you better rely on a professional development team that will give you a robust and flexible complex solution. The choice of developmental technologies always depend on what result you want to get, however, you will most likely use:

  • HTML5;
  • CSS;
  • JavaScript;
  • Angular;
  • React;
  • Vue.js;
  • Their libraries and frameworks.

There is no one-size-fits-all technology, when it comes to building a website with multiple separate pages or a single page application only experienced specialists can offer you a stack of technologies that fit your peer-to-peer website idea.

- Mobile app. Android and iOS remain being on the leading positions on the worldwide market share. According to the Statcounter service, within the period from February 2018 to February 2019 the most widely used mobile operating systems are:

  • Android - 74.15%;
  • iOS - 23.28%;
  • KaiOS - 0.96%;
  • Windows - 0.29%;
  • Samsung - 0.29%;
  • Other -0.42%.

Mobile OS market share in P2P marketplace

This means that you will benefit from making your mobile app for both Android and iOS platforms. To do it, you need to decide whether you want a hybrid app with a universal code that will work on both operating systems or two native apps that work faster and have wider functionality range.

Time and Costs to Build a Peer-to-Peer Marketplace

Developers who have different experience in building digital products like peer-to-peer marketplaces have different demands on their salary and different speed of code writing. In case if you have no intentions to create a development department and keep it functional on a regular basis, your best choice would be to outsource your IT department

The best way to define how much time and costs you need to spend on building your marketplace service is to find a company or a team that offers project estimation prior to starting the actual development process.

You won’t be able to calculate expenses precisely, because the building process implies development, quality assurance, bug fix, launch, support, and many other processes. Even if you know how much an hour of developer’s work costs, it would be difficult to calculate the cost without knowing how much time they need to complete the project. Some companies practice free project estimation, which is beneficial for startup owners.

Why Having an Application is a Must

People tend to buy expensive items using desktop computers and less expensive ones via tablet or smartphone.

A peer-to-peer business field has certain average order value and the bigger the price the larger monitor size a typical user is likely to choose. A peer-to-peer market commonly implies order value less than $150. 

According to Statista, the average value of global online shopping orders vary for different devices, so if your vendors’ average item price is expected to be less than $100 you need to strongly consider building an application in addition to your website (which also should be properly optimised to fit main mobile platforms).

Average P2P marketplace online shopping value in 2018

Having an application is always beneficial for a marketplace, because it helps to cover and engage younger and bigger target audience. In addition, you can also monetize your application by ad placement and offering additional custom membership packs. 

If you choose one team for both website and mobile app development, you will get two fully functional platforms of the same quality and save your time and costs on seeking mobile development experts.

Beneficial Business and Monetization Models

To build a profitable peer-to-peer marketplace you need to choose the most efficient business and monetisation models that will be beneficial for you and won’t frighten the users away from using your service to sell and buy stuff. To determine what business model is best for your platform, you need to research your competitors and top worldwide marketplace services.

One of the P2P marketplace giants Etsy charges all sellers for listing items, and for every completed sale. 

In the beginning, you can charge sellers either for placing items for selling or charge them for transactions on your website, or use the membership model. However, in the charge for sale case, you need to protect your platform from fraudulent schemes. For example, a vendor places an item on your marketplace, finds a client on it, but finishes selling it using direct messages, phone conversation or another way to avoid paying fees. You need to consider as many fraudulent schemes as possible to build a model and a strategy that would protect your business from the start.

When it comes to your peer-to-peer marketplace monetization you can check how do news websites make money and use some of these tips, because they will work equally good for your kind of platform.

As additional ways to monetize your platform, you can choose:

  • Ads placement (banners, popups, etc.);
  • Ad-free subscription;
  • Membership packs;
  • Special offers;
  • Freemiums;
  • Additional features.

It is only a short list of how your peer-to-peer marketplace can be successfully monetized. Start with one or few of them and add other models while your platform gains its popularity among loyal users.

Successful Peer-to-Peer Marketplace Examples

A peer-to-peer market has dozens of successful examples in such business fields as travel, work and service, e-commerce, education, finance, and many other.

AirBnB. This service is one of the world leaders in the travel rentals field. The platform covers 65 000 cities in 191 countries over the world and is monetized by receiving commissions from every booking. Since the day of its foundation in 2008 and till the present day more than 150 million people have already used this hospitality service marketplace platform.

Love Home Swap. This rental P2P marketplace platform implies not hosting, but swapping properties across the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and many other countries. The company chose a membership monetization model and offers the variety of monthly membership packs and a free two-week trial.

UpWork. Formerly known as Elance-oDesk, this P2P marketplace is the biggest and the most popular freelancing platform worldwide. Over the years of its history and existence, it has grown into a business giant with 5 million registered clients and 12 million freelancers sin over 170 countries. Upwork has a developed freelancers’ fee charges and offers membership packs.

Craigslist. As an advertisements website with multiple sections on services, jobs, items for sale and wanted as well as many other categories this P2P marketplace has grown into a complex platform where people can post and seek required services and items near their location in 70 countries. 

TaskRabbit. Today, this online and mobile platform is regularly used by more than 60 000 workers who can find and provide freelance labor services with delivery, cleaning and other everyday tasks. Launched in 2008, it has a 15% service fee for each task payment and is widely used in 40 cities across the United States and in London.

Uber. Being a transportation network company, Uber is a marketplace that includes such services as P2P ridesharing, food delivery and other. The platform is presented in 633 cities across the globe and has more than 100 million active users. Its business monetization model tightly connects rating and payment for every service.

BlaBlaCar. As one of the best examples of peer-to-peer marketplaces, this service is a carpooling platform that connects drivers who have empty seats in their cars and passengers who need to get to the same destination as a driver and are willing to share the costs. The carsharing platform is presented in 22 countries (mostly in Europe) and has millions of active users. 

Etsy. The focus of this e-commerce P2P marketplace is aimed at selling and buying handmade, vintage (the item should be at least 20 years old), and factory-manufactured items and supplies. Its revenue fees include $0.20 per item listing, 5% of the completed sale value and other. 

Ebay. This multibillion-dollar peer-to-peer marketplace platform allows to sell and buy items worldwide in a traditional way or as an online auction. This service charges sellers for listing items and for each completed transaction.

SkillShare. One of the biggest online learning communities can also be considered as a peer-to-peer marketplace. This platform functions on a membership basis and includes the variety of educational videos and online courses in such categories as business, technology, design, lifestyle and other. SkillShare was founded in 2010 and managed to extend its educational influence worldwide.

Learn from the business giants, but don’t copy them blindly.

It is only a short list of successful P2P marketplaces that has changed the business world and remain on top of their respective business fields. Even if your platform is intended to be in a different business area you will benefit if you go deeper into their history and research their choice of monetization and business models.


Knowing how to create a peer-to-peer website requires reading a lot more information than, for example, finding out how to start a news website and many other types of sites. Since a P2P marketplace must be designed to please all users it must be flexible to adjustments triggered by changing business trends.

Right after you make a final decision on the field as well as on the initial business and monetization models that won’t scare away your users, but bring enough profit to cover your expenses on research, development, launch, promotion and support, your next step is to find a professional and experienced team who will do all the technical and developmental side of work.

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A good and strong idea in combination with a strong skillful team always equals profit, popularity, and success. However, if you want to survive in the hostile business environment, you must be combat-ready for everything. Luckily, today technology innovations like Artificial Intelligence, data mining and other make it easier to survive and succeed on the market.

Remember that a good quality of any peer-to-peer marketplace is essential for high profit and popularity growth.