Lex Melnykow Head of Web

    Building a Marketplace App in Go: How Platform’s Cost Forms

    As buyers prefer online shopping to offline, companies look for easy ways to build a marketplace app and to find a platform for it. In 2022, $3.25 trillions worth of goods were sold on U.S. marketplace platforms, and such platforms became a key to success for many businesses. For example, in Amazon, Taobao, and Tmall you can find thousands of companies selling their products. The easier it is to choose, buy and receive a wished item, the more likely users are to come back. At the same time, how attractive and convenient your online marketplace is, largely depends on the technologies you choose to develop it. 

    For 12 years, the Surf team has been creating various projects, including online shops and marketplace platforms, and we know everything about programming languages to prefer for each case. In this article, we’ll explain how much it costs to build a marketplace app and why Golang is best for the purpose.

    Online shops apps developed by the Surf team

    What factors affect for building a marketplace app: platform’ development cost 

    Functions and features of a marketplace 

    To build a marketplace app and a platform for that, you and a developer team you chose should be aware of as many trends as possible. Surf’s proficient in this task due to the amount of completed ecommerce projects, so we know what is better to start with. 

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    Login. This feature allows sellers and buyers to login into their accounts with a phone number, e-mail address, or a profile on social media. In this step, users appreciate an opportunity to enter fast and at the same time—data security the marketplace platform or app ensures. Importance of the feature for businesses is really high: the easier it is to login, the more people will use a service.

    Example of easy login process from Chairish. Source:

    Onboarding for sellers. Develop tools that help sellers understand how to register in your marketplace, load photos and descriptions of their products, and set up advertisements. Sellers are very busy, so a fast onboarding process is important. If you pay enough attention to this feature development, it’ll mean a good user experience and, as a result, one more chance to become a marketplace that sellers like and recommend to each other. 

    Search options. Today, many ways of searching for items at marketplaces exist: exact search, product type search, category search, ordinary or voice search. To be user-friendly and popular among more and more people, a marketplace needs to have numerous options that make choice easy.

    Search options and convenient menu on Amazon. Source:

    Wishlist. This feature helps not only to sell more, but to discover your customers’ way of thinking. Each wishlist is unique, and, thanks to it, you may form offers that will positively surprise your customers—so that, your application will gain popularity. 

    Photos and built-in video player. These features help customers take a better look at items before ordering them, and most people consider it a must. If it loads fast and works well, the marketplace sells more products.

    On Amazon, user can zoom photo of an item by rolling it over. Source:

    Reviews. People appreciate marketplaces for honest reviews and real photos, or even videos of products they plan to order. It makes the choice easier, so the buyer’s expectations are much more likely to be met. And this is a great reason to come to your marketplace platform again and again. 

    Personalized recommendations. It implies that users’ behavior is analyzed by special algorithms to offer them products they would be happy to buy. So, the UX becomes better, and business acquires regular customers.

    How recommendations in Tmall look. Source:

    Chatbots. The technology helps users learn answers to popular questions about their orders and form a feeling that your ecommerce application is worth their trust. As a result, the next time the buyers need to order something, even if it’s an expensive product, you can be sure that they will opt for your services, preferring them to others. 

    Subscriptions. Marketplaces and sellers can offer subscription plans for products preferred by buyers—so, they receive the products regularly (for example, monthly). It looks like a magazine subscription and helps businesses increase retention rates and form a predictable source of income.

    Programming solutions

    The programming language you prefer for building a marketplace app can help you save money and time, as well as can lead to wasting them. Golang is an up-to-date language developed for Google and often chosen for high performance, multithreading, numerous tools and libraries, and easy code. Thanks to the benefits of the language, it provides a developer team an opportunity to create and launch a marketplace significantly faster than with other languages.

    Go in a nutshell

    Curious about the benefits Go has over other languages? Read about it in one more article.

    Desktop and mobile apps

    To speak about a desktop version, for backend development Golang is the best choice: today marketplaces are transitioning from the monolithic architecture to microservices, and there is no as powerful language for this purpose.

    However, a convenient and powerful mobile application is necessary for a marketplace platform, too: today, 61,2% of buyers in U.S. use mobile phones to make an order. The app’s backend is better to develop with Golang, and frontend—with Flutter. This software development kit provides an opportunity to use one code for Android and iOS. As a result, companies have over 40% savings. 

    An app for a pharmacy chain built on Flutter by the Surf team. Learn more


    After a release an app requires regular updates in order to keep high functionality and competitiveness. So, developers detect and fix bugs in time, help maintain services compatibility with various devices and keep the service easy-to-use. Usually, these expenses amount to ~15% of the initial development cost per year.

    Out-of-the-box or custom solution

    Out-of-the-box solution implies a standard tool set typical for most marketplace platforms. It is cheaper, but you won’t get a result that could help your company stand out from others.  

    Custom solution implies that a project is developed individually, suiting business specific needs. It’s a rational choice if you have a clear understanding of the results you want to get and are ready to explain your idea to the developer team. Of course, the custom solution  costs more and takes longer compared to out-of-the-box solutions, but it brings really effective results for those who want a unique value proposition for their businesses.

    At Surf we have a huge experience in developing custom solutions. We are skilled and creative, and really like complicated tasks—it helps our clients get powerful business tools. For example, we developed KFC DSR—a custom ERP system which is scaled for over 600 restaurants. Automated scheduling, face-recognition system, various team management tools—all the features make the ERP system a powerful business tool for a world-famous company.

    Face-recognition in KFC DSR. Learn more

    Developer team experience 

    Marketplace platforms aren’t easy to build. If a developer team does it for the first time, the process takes more time, but the result often appears to be not as good as a business owner expected. For those who aren’t ready for “surprises” like this and want to be sure of the result, a skilled developers team with experience in online marketplace building is the best choice.

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    Price models IT teams use for building a marketplace app along with a platform

    Fixed price

    It’s an appropriate solution for small projects. When a client chooses a fixed price model, it means that development cost is estimated before the start of the working process. Any additional work requires a full agreement with a client, so cost and time of the development can increase significantly. The model isn’t flexible enough, and if a project is complicated, it bears many risks: for example, a budget overrun or missing deadlines.

    Time & material

    This model is ideal for long-term and complex projects. The development process is divided into stages (sprints) and estimated monthly, allowing for flexibility in adding new features without a complete approval procedure. The time and material model focuses on results, rather than just building a feature list, leading to better outcomes and time-saving. 

    Surf uses this model, which clients appreciate for its transparency in pricing and fast feedback. Sprint Zero is a great way to estimate costs and get a better understanding of the finished product. It takes 1-3 weeks and costs about 5% of the full project price. Learn more and try it out.

    development process diagram
    Development cost in a chart

    To sum up

    1. A marketplace application development cost depends on technologies you choose and features you want to see there. 
    2. Supported platforms and maintenance also affect development cost.
    3. There are two price models IT companies use: fixed price and time & material. The first one is better for small or short-term projects, and the second one—for complicated, long-term ones such as marketplaces. 
    4. Choosing a contractor and solution, note that for marketplace app building you need a skilled IT team with a representative and confirmed portfolio and detailed case studies. It will prevent your project from the risks of the necessity to change the vendor in the middle of the project. 

    At Surf, we have great experience in developing and launching marketplaces. We use up-to-date technology stack to help businesses reach powerful results, building ecommerce and other projects in Go.

    Want to hire a Go developer, but aren’t sure of success?

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