How to build a selling app like Letgo or Offerup

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Max Litvinov

Sep 7, 2021 | 23 min read

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With over 6.4 billion global smartphone users, the exponential growth witnessed in the mobile app industry is expected. At present, most of the growth is coming from selling apps which account for more than 69.4% of all internet users.

Considering that mobile e-commerce sales are expected to reach $3.56 trillion in 2021, a majority of business owners are looking to expand their operations by developing mobile apps. 

Offerup & Letgo are examples of selling apps that have gained a lot of traction in a short amount of time. They are successful marketplaces allowing people to seamlessly trade products. Furthermore, they have received millions of downloads, which is one of the reasons why entrepreneurs wish to create similar selling apps. 

One of the software development companies at the frontline of this technological revolution is Appvales. We are a reputable eCommerce mobile app development firm with a track record of successful end-to-end product development and collaboration with client teams via specialized mobile developers. 

At Appvales, we deploy our resources to build software products for startups as well as enterprises, right from the MVP stages to completion. Read further to discover the essential features of developing a selling app and how we, as a mobile app development company, can help you create a marketplace app.  

OfferUp Business Model

If you want to learn how to make a selling app, we suggest learning about Offerup’s business model.

OfferUp has become a reputable household name. It is a C2C (consumer-to-consumer) internet marketplace where users may purchase and sell things. As a mobile-first company, most of its users access its services through its Android and iOS apps.

Customers on OfferUp can shop for items in various categories, including furniture, apparel, sports equipment, toys, and much more.

For the first five years of its operation, access to OfferUp is free. The founders made this choice because they wanted the platform to compete with giants like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, both of which do not charge sellers to list their items. They also sought to attract buyers to Offerup, which could only happen if sellers provided enough inventory to entice them in.

So now, OfferUp stands out with its mobile-friendly software, allowing users to post photos of the items on sale. To boost its credibility, the platform allows you to rate buyers and sellers. As a result, its user base has significantly increased.

The platform has since raised $381 million in total revenue and has around 100 million app downloads.

In 2016, the average OfferUp user spent 25 minutes per day using the app, which is impressive.

How Does OfferUp Make Money?

OfferUp, like any other marketplace, makes money by selling various items and services to its vendors. It began to monetize its services after 2016. 

Let’s take a closer look at how OfferUp generates revenue.

Seller Fees

When a seller on OfferUp sells an item that needs to be shipped, they pay a service fee. Fees begin at $1.99 for each sale or 12.9 percent of the total sale price.

Through its cooperation with the US Postal Service, OfferUp allows sellers to ship their wares to 48 states across the United States.

In addition, OfferUp charges a small service fee for the shipment’s execution. This fee varies by state.

When customers locate anything they want, they may enroll in Ship To Me, make an offer, and pay through the app if the seller accepts. OfferUp can ship items if they are:

  • Under 20 pounds.
  • Not more than 18 inches wide
  • Fit into the predefined box size on OfferUp.
  • Prices range from $2 to $750.
  • Readily available for shipment.

For items that don’t fit these criteria, the buyer and seller can meet in person and transact. OfferUp does not charge any fees for in-person transactions. 

Promoted Listings

OfferUp’s Promote and Promote Plus tools allow sellers to boost their listings. 

A promoted item will appear in the top 50 in the search results.

Users can purchase promotions for a set period, such as two or seven days. Sellers can also purchase so-called Bumps, which propel an item to the top of a feed. So, with each new Bump purchased by other vendors, the listing will slide down the feed.

Sellers can also choose Promote Plus for longer-term or ongoing promotions. Promote Plus is a paid subscription service that allows sellers to promote their items continuously.

OfferUp offers two tiers, namely, Plus-1 and Plus-5. In addition, sellers can promote one or five products at a time for as long as they choose.

The Promote Plus plan starts at $19.99 per month. In addition, OfferUp’s mobile apps allow sellers to cancel at any moment.

If the item does not satisfy these conditions, the buyer and seller can meet in person to complete the transaction. OfferUp does not charge any fees for in-person transactions.

Verified Dealer Program

According to OfferUp, the company’s marketplace currently accounts for more than 10% of all used automobile sales in the United States. 

As a result, the firm launched its Verified Dealer Program in June 2018. Its goal is to boost the visibility of any vehicle dealership that actively sells on OfferUp.

The program offers various advertising features to help dealerships increase sales, such as an AI-powered top lead indication, a click-to-call button, and automatic DMS imports.

The size of the dealership’s business and the number of premium features employed determines the pricing that is available upon request.

OfferUp’s business model depends on charging sellers a commission on sales made and shipped through its platform. The company also makes money via promotional listings and a unique program for vehicle dealerships.

Core Features of Buy and Sell App Like OfferUp

To create a marketplace app, you should know what fundamental elements are needed to make it stand out. As a result, your app will compete with other apps on the market while still providing a unique service to your users.

Users will enjoy the benefits of a seamless purchasing and selling experience on your app if you have these basic features. In addition, you may simply generate more downloads and take the lead in the market because many people share these apps with others.

Registration via social network

This functionality is available in all of the best local selling applications. It improves users’ trust and makes the identity verification procedure easier. Users also won’t have to manually enter the information because the social network selected automatically pulls up their data.

Profile creation

Your selling app should also display user personal information, items for sale, a list of addresses, and cards. Additionally, it must also allow users to erase their profiles and cards whenever necessary.

Search engine

Keep in mind that people carry out location-based searches. So, your app should provide personalized search ranges. Integrating the location feature in your selling app helps your buyers find the nearest vendors when a need arises.

Advanced filters

Advanced filters make the search procedure quick and straightforward. To save shopper search time, segregate everything into categories based on parameters such as groups, price, size, location etc. This option is for you if you have a great app idea but a limited budget. 

Listing Items

If the seller has some identical goods with different variations, each listing can have two options: choose a good from the list (by color, fragrance, and other aspects) or enter one’s own. It would also be helpful to have a sizing chart.

Built-in camera

This function allows you to take images in the app and immediately upload them. The ability to edit pictures, crop them, and modify brightness and contrast would be a welcome addition that the vendors would appreciate.

Built-in chat

One of the most popular and beneficial functions of such apps is the built-in chat. It makes it easier for users to communicate and debate deal details.

Multi-language and currency support

If you want your app to work in multiple countries, it must support relevant currencies and languages.

Push notifications

It’s a cost-effective feature that lets your users stay informed about all novelty, updates, and changes and receive notifications of new messages in the chat.

Offer hot deals

A seller’s ability to offer hot deals, discounts, or coupons is an excellent idea. If you charge for this feature, you’ll be able to earn some more money.

Add categories

Adding categories like top deals and recent offers is an excellent method to encourage sellers to be more honest and increase their ratings.

Scan photo feature

When you want to create a marketplace app, you should consider the Scan photo feature. For example, your app can use this functionality to make suggestions on how to fill in article descriptions and categorizations. 

You may also check the quality of the photographs you’ve posted. Customers complain about the quality of the pictures or that they are fraudulent on numerous forums. Some services address this by canceling a deal and requiring a seller to upload at least one live snapshot of an item.

Inbuilt payment solution

The first time customers use your selling app, it asks for credit card details and phone numbers. Then, users input their emails for verification.

Integrate a safe and secure payment gateway to give your users a seamless experience in accessing your hot offers and bonus packages while reducing transaction time.

Comments and rating

Comments and rating features are essential in every buy and sell website. It helps build customers’ reputations and soft articles according to a seller’s rating. At the same time, the feature safeguards customers against unreliable sellers.

How to Make an App Like OfferUp

Here are the main steps you should undertake to understand how to make a selling app.

  1. Product discovery

First, you need to get your developers to understand your app idea, the problem it solves, the business model, and its target audience.

This step is crucial as it helps you plan your project goals and stages properly, to ensure that you are building the right product.

  • User and market research

When it comes to mobile app development, keep real market issues and customers’ wants in mind to ensure your app’s success.

You might already have a high-level idea of who your users are and what market segment you serve. However, when diving deeper and talking to potential customers, you gain valuable insights into how they see your product. 

This method helps you see hidden pains and gains and get closer to product-market fit.

It is also essential to analyze your competition to evaluate their performance before launching your selling app. Then, from your results, you can optimize your app to deliver a better customer experience.

  • Product road mapping

There is no successful product launch and development without clear plans and an implementation strategy. 

It is essential to create a roadmap of your product from concept to MVP and full-featured product. You can leverage this opportunity to get feedback and consensus on the product’s trajectory and regularly communicate progress. 

You develop top-level strategic goals that drive the primary product themes by synthesizing the stakeholders’ input data.

After creating the product roadmap, your product team can build consensus, outline product goals, and communicate critical needs every quarter.

Of course, this type of roadmap is suitable with the Agile method for product development.

  • Design sprint and prototyping

The design sprint is a seven-day process for designing, creating, and testing customer concepts to solve crucial business problems.

After this process, you will receive a clickable prototype of your product which will help you test your idea and save money on development expenses. You can demonstrate this prototype to your users, investors, and other stakeholders.

At Appvales, we’ve worked with top companies on sprints to help them break into new markets, design new products, and build new features for their users.

  1. UI/UX Design

A good user experience is critical, and your potential consumers will appreciate it. Therefore, as you create a selling app, it should have a simple and easy UI and UX so that users can spend more time on it.

  • UX research

The first impression when a user gets your app begins with the first click. So, you have to create a user experience for your app full of subtle nuances that will make your users fall in love with it. 

The primary purpose of UX research is to inform the design process from the end user’s point of view. 

It is only through this study that you can personalize your product design. Hence, this research tells you who your ideal users are, how they’ll use this product or service, and what they require from you.

Through various observation and feedback collection methods, you better know user behaviors, needs, and attitudes. 

This entire process covers extensive user research as well as basic app functionality. 

Overall, UX research helps you avoid biases because you have insight on how to build a buy and sell website for people who are not like you.

  • Prototyping and wireframing

Now that you’ve established the big picture of user flows and carried out proper UX research, it’s time to start prototyping and wireframing.

Of course, you can’t say whether the user experience is good before you feel it. That’s why you should design clickable prototypes and wireframes to have a clear picture of how the app will look and feel.

These prototypes allow you to test your hypotheses and proceed toward complete solutions.

Prototyping and wireframing follow the golden rule of failing early and cheaply. You can identify and resolve misunderstandings as early in the design process as possible via this process.

  • Brand Identity

Brand identity is what sparks in the mind of people when they think of your app. But it’s so much more than just a logo. 

So, as you create a selling app, go deep into emotions and psychology to deliver a unique brand’s identity that will be recognized and remembered.

  • UI design

After designing the UX, you can add a beautiful look to the functionality. Interface design will reflect your brand’s unique style and touch to stay in the app’s users’ minds and help them navigate intuitively.

In simpler terms, designing a user interface is like telling a joke. If you must explain it, then it’s not that good.

  1. Software development

Software development is one of the most crucial steps in developing that selling app. So, hiring an app development company is a no-brainer because a software company will provide the proper consulting and project management services to ensure you give life to your prototype. 

Below are the steps we follow during the development phase.

  • Mobile and web app development

This is the stage where our developers write code for your marketplace website, using technologies like React, Angular, and Node.js. We also have resources to create both native and hybrid mobile apps for your users to have your app one click away.

  • Quality assurance

This step gives quality attention to every stage of the app creation and delivery to stakeholders and end-users.

To provide a bug-free and seamless experience to your users, adopt the best practices of automated and manual testing. Quality assurance is crucial at every level of the product development process.

  • Security and regulations check

To preserve user trust and device integrity, you have to make your app secure. Therefore, it is essential to adopt best practices that have a significant, positive impact on your app’s security. 

Your app’s security practices should follow the app store regulations Guidelines and all applicable laws.

  • Deployment

Mobile app deployment refers to the process of making the application work on a target device, whether it be a test server, production environment, or a user’s computer or mobile device.

It is essential to start your selling app deployment by testing the waters with a small group of employees. This step allows you to fine-tune the selling app before launching into your entire market.

  • Maintenance

There is no secret to the success and growth of your software. You must always strive to improve your clients’ user experience. Users appreciate even the slightest upgrades. 

As a result, keeping your mobile application up to date is critical. You can keep your maintenance costs down and your customers pleased by incorporating a maintenance plan early in the process and prioritizing upgrades later.

Minimal Team Setup Needed

  • Project Manager

When you bring your app idea to a mobile app development company, you’ll be assigned a project manager (PM) who will act as your assistant and liaison with developers. 

A project manager is in charge of a project from inception to end, ensuring that it is completed according to the agreed-upon budget, timeline, and quality standards.

  • Front-end development team

The front-end web development team is in charge of implementing application designs through coding languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. 

They are responsible for transforming mockups and wireframes into high-quality, high-performance, and responsive mobile apps.

  • Back-end development team

The backend development team is in charge of keeping a server up and running and cloud storage and operational logic.

They also manage payment systems that have access to and securely store data for customers to make transactions in-app and develop the app framework and architecture.

  • Business analyst

Through data analysis, a business analyst will assist in enhancing the selling app development processes. These adaptable professionals help close the gap between IT and business and boost productivity through data-driven solutions.

These insights give you a better understanding of how to make a selling app.

  • DevOps engineer

DevOps engineers simplify the app development process by introducing processes, tools, and methodologies to balance the activities required to swiftly alter an application and the tasks needed to keep it reliable.

  • Quality assurance team

The quality assurance team’s primary responsibility is to monitor every stage of mobile app development to ensure that the design and software meet all criteria. The importance of this team in app development cannot be overstated. 

They perform manual and automated testing to identify app defects and bugs. This task helps the product team fulfill project release dates and stay within budget.

Create a Selling App With Appvales

With the popularity of smartphones, tablets, and improved mobile connectivity, many companies are considering developing an app to boost outreach.

Now that you have learned the intricacies of the selling app development process,  you understand how to make an app like OfferUp.

At Appvales we have talented developers who can create a selling app like OfferUp. Contact us to get a quote today.

Boutique App Development Company

Appvales is a mobile development partner that helps you design, build, test and deploy apps. We can handle end-to-end product development or collaborate with your product team with dedicated mobile developers.

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Written by:

Max Litvinov

CEO at Appvales

IT enthusiast, investor, entrepreneur. Bringing the offshore mobile development to the next level.

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