How to Build a Marketplace Website like Amazon (That Converts)

June 10th, 2023 | 5 min read

Want to build a website that is in nature like Amazon? You’ll need a marketplace website that converts! Let's look at some of the most popular marketplaces - marketplaces like Amazon are some of the most highly visited websites in the world. 


Throughout this Yclas blog series, ‘How to Build a Website Like Amazon,’ we will guide you through the steps to launch your marketplace website.

We will start with what marketplace websites are (including their types and range of functionality and features), idea creation, business models (revenue streams), monetization, and finally, going live.

Over the course of this blog series, ‘How to Build a Website Like Amazon,’ we are going to guide you through the steps to launch a marketplace.

First, let's get started with some fundamentals. If you want to skip the basics, keep scrolling for more information and links to other blogs in the series.

What is an Online Marketplace or Classified Website?

Marketplace and classified websites can work in similar ways. They provide an easy-to-use platform for users to buy and sell their items. Users can access services and products from virtually any device.

While Amazon is a ‘prime’ example, there are many other smaller-scale ventures, real estate websites, online job boards, car dealership listings, etc.

What Types of Online Marketplaces Exist (Other Than Amazon)?

Marketplace builder software allows you to build websites for peer-to-peer websites (P2P). On a P2P website, you can provide a marketplace platform for both buyers and sellers to use your services rather than focusing your efforts on directly selling to businesses or customers. 

These P2P marketplaces work on leveraging the “network effect” to grow their business.

On P2P sites, you provide a platform for both buyers and sellers to use your services rather than only selling to businesses or customers.

For example, P2P sites (like Airbnb, Etsy, Amazon, and eBay) offer features that ensure sellers can set up their inventory easily while providing safe and efficient buyer check-out systems. 

Their value resides in providing an efficient and trustworthy platform.

What is the Easiest Way to Build a Marketplace Website? 

The easiest way to build a marketplace website is with marketplace builder software.

In a nutshell, if you do not have experience in website building (HTML, Java, CSS, Python, etc.), a marketplace website builder will save you:

  • Time
  • Money
  • Frustrations (that come with trying to work out what line of code is stopping your whole website from loading)!

Marketplace website builders do not necessarily require previous website building, marketplace, or coding experience. 

Marketplace website builders do not require any previous website building, marketplace, or coding experience. 

Want to Start a Marketplace? Not Sure What to Offer?

If you don’t have an idea for your marketplace, yet, start here:

  • Examine your local neighborhood to see what physical marketplaces exist
  • What problems/challenges can you see that could be solved online?
  • Are there gaps in the niche industry that you might already be familiar with?
  • Can you improve on existing solutions (if any exist)? 

Let’s look at some of the original ideas behind some of the world’s biggest marketplaces.

A ‘Prime’ Story – Online Bookstore to Online ‘Everything’ Store

The Amazon story started in 1994 when Jeff Bezos left his job to start an online bookstore from his garage. Bezos did not know he wanted to sell books initially.

After he did some market research, he noticed a gap in the market and saw an opportunity to offer consumers alternatives to brick-and-mortar bookshops.

Bezos did not know he wanted to sell books initially.

In 1998, Amazon started selling CDs and VHS’. 1999 ushered in a suite of new product categories, and you might say the rest is history.

The company started growing when he leveraged his knowledge to transform his website into a marketplace for others to sell their products. 

What has made Amazon stand out is its passionate focus on making it one of the easiest platforms to shop online on and then leverage this for others. 

In many ways, that should be your goal when you create a marketplace. 

You want to be passionate about creating a community and platform for your niche that encompasses their shopping needs. 

You want to be passionate about creating a community and platform for your niche that encompasses their shopping needs. 

Use Other Marketplace Websites for Inspiration When Generating Ideas

eBay started as an online marketplace for selling Pez dispensers. Etsy was established to provide a way for creatives to sell their hand-made wares.

Upwork was the result of a merger of two freelance websites. With a fresh marketing approach and updates to functionality and features, Upwork attracted employers and freelancers worldwide.

Starting a marketplace is often a journey to find where your platform adds the most value. Where these marketplaces started isn't always where they ended up.

Another way to be inspired can be to grab a copy of your local paper and check out the classifieds.

The classified papers will have listings that have been turned in niche marketplaces like job listings, local real estate, services, accommodation, events, news and more. 

Most online marketplaces are digitalized versions of the traditional classifieds we used to only find in the paper.

Airbnb Solved a Local Problem

Housemates and designers Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk, and Joe Gebbia offered local visitors a couple of airbeds and a home-cooked breakfast.

What prompted them to do this? All the local hotels were booked solid due to an overwhelming amount of people attending the Industrial Design conference.

Before the lads knew it, their ‘AirBed and Breakfast’ was booked out. It was only then that their vision for a marketplace started. 

What’s Next in Your Online Marketplace Journey?

In the next blog in this series, learn to take your ideas to the next step!

• How to choose your online business model.

• Decide how you will generate income.

• Discover the unique features and functionality your website will need for success.

If you want to start immediately, head to the Yclas website for a free trial. With a free trial, you can test out all of the marketplace website builders’ features and functionality for 14 days.

You can start building your website today and adding products and services to your marketplace.  You'll get a base website and the ability to create your product and list pages.

Till next time. 

1. Hayes, A. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Service. Investopedia. 2021.
2. Hartmans, A. Jeff Bezos Originally Wanted to Name Amazon’ Cadabra,’ and 14 Other Little-Known Facts About the Early Days of the E-Commerce Giant. Business Insider. 2021.
3. Sherman, E. 20 Years of Amazon’s Expansive Evolution. CBS.
4. Wells, S. The Beginnings of eBay. The Balance Small Business. 2019.
5. Majewski, T. A Brief History of Etsy on its 10th Anniversary. Built in NY. 2015.
6. Brier, E & Pearson, R. Upwork’s SVP of Marketing Explains What It Takes To Perfect An Offering That Relies On People. Tech Day. 2022.
7. Keycafe Team. The History of Airbnb. Medium. 2019.

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