Anyone can create a website or online store without coding. In fact, people have been using Wordpress to build websites for almost 20 years! (It launched in May 2003).
However, in the last few years we’ve seen the no-code and low-code movement explode. The term "no code" refers to a tool or platform that does not require coding knowledge. On the other hand, "low-code" refers to a tool or platform that requires some coding knowledge.
New tools seem to be popping up on a weekly basis and they’re seriously impressive. We’re also seeing plenty of marketplace-specific website builders emerge. Building and launching an online marketplace has never been easier, quicker, or cheaper!
These no-code and low-code tools have revolutionised the way websites and online marketplaces are created. With just a few clicks and drag-and-drop features, anyone can now build a professional-looking website without any coding knowledge. It's like having a team of developers at your fingertips, but without the hefty price tag.
Sharetribe, Webflow, and Bubble are leading the pack in this space, offering intuitive platforms that make marketplace creation a breeze. Whether you're looking to start a niche marketplace for handmade crafts or a platform for renting out properties, these tools have got you covered. And the best part? The prices are incredibly affordable, starting at just $24 per month.
Gone are the days of spending thousands of dollars on web development. Now, even small businesses and individuals can have their own online marketplace up and running in no time.
So, whether you're a tech-savvy entrepreneur or a complete beginner, these no-code and low-code tools are here to make your dreams of owning an online marketplace a reality.
Say goodbye to the complexities of coding and hello to a world of endless possibilities. Start building your marketplace today and join the growing community of successful online entrepreneurs.
Which tool should you use? Well, that will depend on your requirements.
If you want to create a platform for people to rent, share, or sell things, Sharetribe might be a good choice.
Sharetribe provides you with a ready-made marketplace that you are able to fully customise. You can customise and configure a lot yourself without needing to touch a line of code, however, you'll need the help of a developer if you want to build any additional or complex features.
To go live with your marketplace, you’ll need to pay Sharetribe a subscription fee starting from $99 per month.
Although Sharetribe is not the cheapest option, they are the best if you want to launch a marketplace quickly. I also really like the Sharetribe team. They are friendly, helpful, and passionate about making it easier and faster for people to build and launch a marketplace using no-code tools.
If you want to create a marketplace that connects businesses to consumers or businesses to businesses, you should consider using Webflow.
Webflow is a website builder with broad appeal. Although it doesn't have a specific focus on marketplaces, they have an extensive library of plug-ins to help you turn a simple website into a marketplace.
Webflow also allows you to dig into the code and customise it which is great if you’re technically minded. If you’re not, you’ll need the help of a developer. Luckily, there are plenty of Webflow experts around so it should be fairly easy to find someone within your budget.
Unicorn Factory is an excellent demonstration of the possibilities that Webflow and plug-ins offer for connecting freelancers. Unicorn Factory use Jetboost for search and filter functions, Parabola to sync data and Zapier to automate tasks like emails. They also used Airtable as their database. In total, it costs them around $106 per month, which I think is an absolute bargain!
Coming from a design background, I find Webflow fairly easy to use. However, if you’ve not used a tool like this before, you’re going to experience a steep learning curve. Luckily, they have fantastic (and hilarious) training videos that are really worth watching.
Webflow lacks certain marketplace features like in-app messaging and being able to process transactions between buyers and sellers. Instead, you can use a subscription model to charge either the supply or demand side for using your marketplace.
Webflow starts at $29 per month.
Another good tool for building a marketplace which connects businesses to customers (B2C) or businesses to businesses (B2B) is Bubble.
Bubble offers ready-made website templates. These templates are great for those seeking a no-code solution. You can add more features like payments and reviews using plug-ins, saving you time and effort.
Bubble serves as a "generic" website builder and does not have a specific design for people to build marketplaces. To meet your marketplace's needs, you'll have to make many changes to the available templates.
Non-technical founders might struggle to get grips with how Bubble works. I personally found it to be a steep and complicated learning curve. But if you are technical and enjoy coding, you'll have the chance to create your dream marketplace.
Bubble starts at $25 per month.
Finally, of course, you can do a custom build. I would only recommend this route to those who validated their marketplace idea. Ideally, you should have been operating an MVP for at least 6 months and seeing good signs of progress.
Custom builds are incredibly expensive and take time. You’ll need help from a team of designers, engineers and testers.
However, choosing to do a custom build can be beneficial in the long run. No-code and low-code marketplaces may outgrow their original templates and developers may need to build features that the template cannot accommodate. Eventually, you may need to create your own marketplace from scratch.
Investors prefer custom builds because it reduces platform risk, ensuring that your website will not disappear if the platform it is built on closes.
As always, my advice is prioritise the features of your marketplace. The first version of your marketplace should be simple and lightweight, with more complex features added later.
If you'd like to learn more about this, check out my article on my design process and how to create a product roadmap.
If you plan to make minor customisations to your marketplace template (e.g. add your own logo and change the brand colours) then you probably don’t need any design support. To make changes to the page layout, marketplace, or add new features, it's recommended to hire a freelance UX designer.
Marketplaces are more complicated than a one-page website or an online store, so they need more thinking and planning. Having a good user experience (UX) is extremely important. Your website should be easy to use and understand. If it's not, you will have a limited number of customers or suppliers.
A UX designer can help design the structure and user journeys of your marketplace. This includes creating listings, finding suppliers, and booking services. They will make sure your site is intuitive and enjoyable to use.
To find a good UX UI designer, ask people in your network or other marketplace founders for recommendations. Many are happy to work on a freelance basis and for a reasonable price.
I hope this article has inspired you to kick-start your no-code, low-code marketplace journey! There are so many platforms and tools available with great features and reasonable prices. There’s also a fantastic community of no-coders on Twitter who provide lots of ideas, support and advice.
So what are you waiting for?!
To learn more about no-code marketplaces, you can download the Guide to No Code Marketplaces by Mike Williams (Yoroomie). This guide also includes an interview with me.
With over eight years of product experience, Fiona designs beautiful, yet easy-to-use marketplace websites. What makes her unique? Well, she's an ex-marketplace founder and has previously worked for a Venture Capital firm so she has experienced life on both sides of the deal! Fiona is based in the UK and has clients all over the world.Work with me