Do you know how much it costs to build an online marketplace platform? Building the site itself from scratch used to cost a fortune, not just in monetary terms but also in terms of time and effort. The emergence of Software-as-a-Service or SaaS marketplace providers such as Arcadier has made that much more affordable and much less time consuming, breaking the barriers of entry and even allowing marketplaces to be used for non-commercial purposes such as charity fundraising or community bonding.
But exactly how much does it cost to build a SaaS marketplace with Arcadier?
The platform — $0–499/month
Arcadier offers an option for you to get your online marketplace up and running for free. Limited to 250 transactions a month, it’s fully hosted and equipped with all the features you need for a smooth user experience, including mobile responsiveness, multi-lingual and multiple currency features, Google Analytics support, and generic payments. The free SaaS marketplace is perfect for entrepreneurs who want to build their minimum viable product (or MVP marketplace), small-scale community organizations and non-profits, or even school projects.
Arcadier charges no transaction fees for any of its SaaS marketplaces. Even with the paid solutions, subscription is on a monthly basis and no long-term commitment is required. If you decide operating a marketplace isn’t for you, there will be no strings attached.
Third party service providers required to build the marketplace
Payment gateways usually take a small percentage of the transaction amount. For Arcadier’s default payment gateways PayPal and Stripe, the fees are around 3–4%. If you have decided to use other payment processors & gateways (such as Braintree, Adyen or Alipay) that are commonly used in your country, be sure to ask how much they charge. You might need to hire a payment integration specialist too if you have no experience in coding.
For those who know how to code, Arcadier has provided features that will allow you to add features and tweak the look of your SaaS marketplace. Alternatively, you can hire a developer by the hour to do this work for you. We recommend that you do this only if the changes that you want to make are absolutely integral to your purpose for starting the marketplace.
Other optional services to spend on may include Google Translate to change your marketplace language, or buying your own domain name. New domains start from around $10 a month, but there are also expensive domain names that cost up to millions! You can check domain name registrars such as GoDaddy to see if the name you want has been taken. Also, be sure to pay your renewal fee on time or you could lose your site.
Branding & compliance
One of the first things you are required to upload on your marketplace platform is a logo. If you don’t already have one, you can look for inspiration and design yours for free on Canva, or get a graphic designer to do it. Marketplaces such as Upwork or Fiverr are great for this, and you can get a logo designed for as low as $15.
Remember, you logo needs to stand out because it represents your brand identity. But you don’t need to spend too much on it when you start because you can always improve it later. Many brands — such as Apple, Coca Cola, and McDonalds — have redesigned their logos more than twice!
When starting a digital marketplace for business purposes, depending on your country’s laws, you might need to establish a legal company, trademark your name and logo, and pay taxes. The costs vary by country. It’s generally advised that you only establish a legal company when your business is really taking off.
Amount of time required to build and manage your marketplace
As explained above, building your SaaS marketplace with Arcadier can be completely free. When you start an online marketplace, the bulk of your commitment would come in the form of time and effort. How much time and effort are we talking about here?
Early on, your goal should be to create awareness about your online marketplace and attract users on both sides of your marketplace (the supplier and buyer). This means that you have to reach out and talk to as many people as possible to get the word out. Marketplace marketing is hence an important component to building a successful marketplace business.
Online search is important to ensure that you are discoverable. To make sure you appear on the first page of a Google search, you need build your brand’s credibility for the search engines (SEO). This could mean managing multiple social media profiles and maintaining a blog. Content marketing, email marketing, and SEO are critical in helping you generate demand. Marketing your marketplace offline, writing e-mail newsletters, and creating original content for your channels requires a lot of work.
For the most part, publishing your own content is free thanks to channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Medium. You can also use MailChimp for free (for up to 2,000 subscribers) to create email campaigns and surveys. SEO research can also be done with without spending much, with tools like Google Trends.
Photo credit: MailChimp blog.
On the whole, these might require at least 20 hours of work per week. It might be more manageable if you have a partner who’s helping you with these efforts.
Building to Scale
Every entrepreneur considers longevity and expansion as important goals. Once your marketplace becomes successful and you’d like to add more features to create a unique experience for your users, how do you transition from your SaaS marketplace to your very own tailored platform?
Arcadier also offers the Enterprise package, a multi-tenanted, cloud based, fully hosted solution for unlimited transactions. Utilizing APIs (Application Program Interface) to build your custom marketplace on top of Arcadier’s range of features, you can hire your own developers or work with one of Arcadier’s development partners.
About the writer: Clarissa Santoso is a Marketing Communications Specialist at Arcadier, a SaaS company that powers next generation marketplace ideas. You can follow Arcadier on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for the latest insights on the sharing economy.
Learn More About Arcadier: arcadier.com