A Proven Business Model To Launch a High-Grade Local Buy And Sell App

14 NOV 2018
12 MIN


The connection between a seller and a customer has always been difficult before a mobile boom. Everything has changed since we've gotten used to having everything we need in a smartphone. Now, you can acquire users just by sitting at home or from any part of the world. Some customers prefer to order used things in their area instead of paying an arm and leg for long distance shipping. And if you are interested in a mobile solution development for local customers and sellers, well try to explain how to create such a solution the best possible way. 

We know that the leading applications to sell stuff locally are LetGo and OfferUp.

The OfferUp developers claim that their users spend approximately 25 minutes a day in their app, just like for Instagram and Snapchat. The use of mobile applications is growing in all business areas and it's a great opportunity for a P2P e-commerce market to create an app to sell products. The secret to success is simple. The easier and more comfortable the way you connect a customer and a seller is, the more successful your application will be.

How to create a buy and sell app

To understand how to build an app like LetGo or OfferUp, you should read about important steps.

    1. Conduct an analysis of the best selling apps
    1. Elaborate business model to create buy and sell app
    1. Choose a tech stack to build a buy and sell app
    1. Main basic features should be added
    1. Create a good brand name
    1. Build an attractive UI and UX of your buy and sell app
    1. Add a shopping cart
    1. Integrate a payment gateway you consider necessary
    1. Promote your product
    1. Consider fraud protection

Best local selling apps

The common feature of the apps like Offer Up and LetGo is that they allow a seller to give goods free of charge. It's a great way to get rid of some small items, which you cant sell on eBay because the service charges a commission for every transaction.

LetGo app allows you to sell stuff online in a particular area quickly and easily. The service is so easy to use you can sign up via a Facebook account. And because the system cares about the security of the platform, social registration gives an opportunity to check the data of all users. Customers and sellers communicate in the chat on the platform. And you can upload photos of the items you want to sell immediately using the built-in camera in the app. So if you create app like LetGo, you make use some of it's features.

build app like letgo

Let Go app

OfferUp app is the biggest marketplace for local customers and sellers. The app provides security because it allows every user to build their reputation on their profile page. Just like on eBay, users can rate a person after a deal. As well as that, customers can join their service TryYou and add their ID to prove the authenticity of a profile. The system provides a security chat but the deals are conducted personally.

how does offerup make money

Offer Up app

Business model of apps like Offer Up and LetGo

How does OfferUp work? These services have lots of things in common and work pretty similar. And one of these similarities is a business model which, as they claim, they don't have. These selling apps don't charge the commission for registration, profile creation, and not even for the number of ads. More than that, they don't take a commission for a deal. OfferUp developers intended to earn exclusively on advertising to keep the service free and available for everyone.

Don't understand what is wrong with your app? Learn how to use mobile app Analytics for your benefit and help your app survive on the market!

Yet, if you want to learn how to make an app like OfferUp or LetGo, we suggest you taking into consideration some of these monetization strategies.

how does offerup make money

Local buy and sell app monetization strategies

Online transactions

If customers can pay via your app, you can charge a fixed price or a percent of every deal. It's easy to do with some third-party services like Stripe, for instance.


What is meant here is the ability to buy some special offers, or sellers can pay to place their ads at the top.


Your service can also be a mediator allowing sellers to expand the trading territory.

Internal ads

An opportunity to publish action offers, special offers and a system of internal recommendations.

Tech stack to build a buy and sell app

Let’s define what tools and third-party services our marketplace app development company may use to create mobile buy and sell apps.

  • Server-side development: Express.js, Node.js.
  • Client-side development: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Bootstrap
  • Frameworks: Angular.js, Backbone.js, React.js
  • Languages: Swift/Objective-C (iOS apps), Kotlin/Java (Android apps)
  • Database: MongoDB, MySQL
  • Cloud architecture: AWS
  • Payment integration: Braintree, Stripe
  • Web server: Nginx
  • Other tools for monitoring, hosting etc: AWS S3, Confluence, Swagger, MailChimp, PostgreSQL

Of course, these tools are not the only ones we can use for the development of your buy and sell app, tech stack for your project will be selected according to specific requirements and particularities of the project.

Basic buy and sell app features

To copy an existing LetGo business model is certainly the best way to create your own mobile app. However, don't forget that your should have originality and it should contain some unique particularities. Firstly, you can take into account your competitors drawbacks. Secondly, you can publish an app and scale if it's needed.

Now, when we know how local online buy and sell apps work, let's see what functionality we need to include into our own model. We will consider an MVP development model because it gives more opportunities for startups, as well as saves money and time for development.

Thus, your mobile app has to include such features:

features of apps to sell stuff locally

Basic features of apps to sell things

Social network registration

All best apps to sell stuff locally have social registration feature. The feature will not only increase the users reliance towards your service but also will simplify the process of proof of identity. Moreover, a user doesn't need to enter his data manually because all information will be pulled automatically from a social network.

Profile creation

Personal data of a seller or a buyer will be shown as well as all items for sale.

Search engine

Bear in mind that the search should be conducted on the basis of the customers location. What you need to add here is an option to extend or narrow the search band. It will be easy to perform as almost all modern smartphones have built-in GPS utility.

Advanced filters

Advanced filters are needed to make the search process easy and fast. You can divide all goods into categories, groups and subgroups to minimize search time.

if you have a brilliant app idea but little budget, then this article is for you! Find out how to save on the development of an MVP app

Listing Items

Each listing can have two options. For instance, choose colour, necklace chain length, smell and other details for in case a seller has some similar goods with different variations. A user can choose an option from a list or enter his own. Here it would also be great to add a size chart.

Built-in camera

The ability to take photos in the app and upload them immediately. A pleasant addition that the sellers would appreciate is the opportunity to edit photos, cut them down, adjust brightness and contrast.

Built-in chat

It would be highly inconvenient to have an app without the ability to talk about the details of the deal, so the option for chat is really needed.

Comments and rating

The feature helps build the reputation of customers. And soft articles according to a sellers rating. At the same time, the feature protects customers from unreliable merchants.

Multiple language support

The feature allows the expansion of the audience of users.

Additional features to build the best buy and sell app

The features we've mentioned are basic. So to make your app special, you should take additional functionality, that all users appreciate, Into account.

create app like letgo

Secondary features for the buy & sell nearby app

Compare the prices

It is a great opportunity for a user to choose the best items.

Offer hot deals

The ability for a seller to offer hot deals, discounts or coupons is great. If you make this feature one that has to be paid for, it can bring you some extra income.

Add categories

Add categories like best deals and recent offers. This is a great way to motivate sellers to play fair and improve their rating.

Scan photo feature

With the help of this feature, your app can give recommendations about how to fill in article descriptions and article categorizations. You can also track the quality of the uploaded photos. On various forums customers complain about the quality of photos or that they are fake. Some services solve such issues by the deactivation of a deal and ask a seller to add at least one live photo of an item.

Built-in payment solution

A service like Stripe can be used, for instance. When a customer uses it for the first time, the service asks for his or her credit card information and phone number. After that, the user just enters his or her email and a special code is sent to their phone number. The code confirms all the customers' data, so they don't need to enter it every time they use the service.

Delivery feature

Make an agreement with outside delivery services to provide your customers with the best experience.

Steps on how to make a buy and sell app

Check out main steps you should undertake to understand on how to make an app to sell things effectively.

  1. Think about a crowd-pleasing name

Your buy and sell app first should be attractive with it's name. Users see the name first, and it should be short and topical. There are different brand name generators, and they can help you choose a really good name for your future app. But there are other important tips you should follow when choosing a name like it's size, semantic load, and expectations of a target audience.

  1. Engaging UI/UX is a must

Ok, now your app has a really perfect name, and you want to go on. The next thing you shouldn’t ignore is a good-looking UI/UX. Of course, you should know that good images and convenient user experience mean a lot, and your potential users will appreciate it. As you create a buy and sell an app, it should have a simple and intuitive UI and UX, as users want to see a habitual model of an app like this.

  1. Add a shopping cart

People can buy various products using your app, and they should have an opportunity to add products they chose to a virtual shopping cart. When buyers made a list of products they needed, they can go to the shopping cart and proceed to the payment page or choose payment on delivery, according to their requirements. Shopping cart makes it possible to sort all products wisely.

  1. Payment gateway integration

You can decide what payment gateway your buy and sell app should contain. PayPal, Braintree, Stripe - which one is good in your specific case? If you don’t know what is better to choose, you can study how competitors work and what they use. Also, pay your attention to local governmental requirements. So check out the main important factors to choose the right payment gateway.

  1. Think about adequate promotion

If nobody knows that your product exists, you will gain nothing. That is why you should create a promotional plan to let everybody know about your app. You should use Google ads on different websites, although it is a rather expensive service, you will be able to increase the interest of potential customers. Also, influencer marketing can be used as an effective way of app promotion.

If you apply a serious approach, you will be able to achieve good results. Your buy and sell app will become competitive and it will quickly gain the lead.

Fraud protection in local buy and sell apps

If you want to gain customers loyalty and trust, when you found out how to create a local buying and selling app, make sure you did your best to protect them from fraud. OfferUp recently claimed that they are going to invest in customer protection reinforcement and use fraud detection algorithms. eBay and Craigslist confirm that fraud protection is key to a steady market.

Fraud protection is an important factor while working with merchants, who are used to a partnership with highly-regulated payment processing networks in buy and sell apps. Investing into fraud protection now, targeting the cooperation with merchants and mobile network providers is a well-considered step for long-term market growth in future.

Don't make a huge mistake while building your mobile app strategy. Here's an article for you to avoid mistakes

Customers comments can also be used as great preventive measures against fraud. Be ready to lose a lot of customers if you don't regulate the issues connected with the trade of substandard goods. In the case of a big number of negative comments about unscrupulous sellers or customers, inform users about measures you will assume if someone violates the rules of your app for selling things.

To create your own marketplace for local sellers and customers you need to attract as much attention to your app as possible because no one would place their goods in an app with only a few visitors. The most effective way is an advertisement. When developing your app think about a business model which will dictate the functionality needed the most. For instance, if you want to charge a commission for a deal you will need a` built-in payment gateway. And the most important thing is to make your app user-friendly and convenient for a customer. Transparency for each party gives users a chance to see the item they are interested in and discuss all the details with the seller.

Want to build an app like LetGo?

We offer consultation on product engineering and a free of charge project cost estimation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the basic steps:

  1. Conduct an analysis of the best selling apps.
  2. Create a business model of your future app.
  3. Choose a tech stack.
  4. Make a list of basic app features.
  5. Create the right brand name.
  6. Build an attractive UI and UX of your buy and sell app.
  7. Integrate a payment gateway (PayPal, Stripe).
  8. Consider fraud protection
  9. Promote your product

OfferUp developers intended to earn exclusively on advertising to keep the service free and available for everyone.

You need to use programming experience in Swift (Apple devices), Kotlin or Java (Android-based devices), Node.js for back-end development, and some frameworks and integrations.

If you're an experienced developer and have a limited budget, it's better to contact an outsourcing development company.

The leading applications to sell stuff locally are LetGo and OfferUp.

Rate this article!
8329 ratings, average: 4.83 out of 5


22.04.2020 at 03:26

Best advice...and knowledge gained...you the best and beneficial to human society only with your kindness and humanity

Ahmed obaidi
13.05.2020 at 06:05

Is it possible to create an app that works in the Middle East?

Vitaly Kuprenko
20.05.2020 at 02:17

Hi, Ahmed! Yes, it's possible. Please, contact us to discuss details.

16.05.2020 at 08:57

Very informative, really appreciate all the effort you have put in this

Michael Scaduto
02.09.2020 at 01:27

Offer-up buys let-go but snubs all of its let-go users Offer up purchases let go but then provides no mechanism for let-go users to transfer advertisements from their old selling app to the new one. Hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of advertisements would have to be completely retyped and reposted And rephotographed in order to use the new OfferUp app. Even though many users have asked for some transfer mechanism to transfer their ads the company refuses to accommodate the users it just purchased in this merger. A group of users is considering getting together and writing a new app with the ability to copy all of the ads off both let-go and OfferUp and import them into a new selling app which has not yet been named

Olalere isreal
10.02.2021 at 10:23

Wow, this is one of the best tutorial article I am really pleased to find many useful help here. Thank you very much.

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