How to Build an App Like LetGo and OfferUp: a Proven Business Models To Consider

Updated 28 Aug 2023

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 a leg for long-distance shipping. In this case, apps such as LetGo and OfferUp are good helpers.

If you are reading these lines, suppose you are interested in such mobile solution development. So, read on to find out more about how to make a marketplace the best possible way.

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.

  • Step#1. Conduct an analysis of the best selling apps.
  • Step#2. Elaborate business model to create buy and sell app.
  • Step#3. Choose a tech stack to build a buy and sell app.
  • Step#4. Main basic features should be added.
  • Step#5. Create a good brand name.
  • Step#6. Build an attractive UI and UX of your buy and sell app.
  • Step#7. Add a shopping cart.
  • Step#8. Integrate a payment gateway you consider necessary.
  • Step#9. Promote your product.
  • Step#10. Consider fraud protection.

Best Local Selling Apps

Mobile platforms for selling and buying are some of the most popular e-commerce software types worldwide. It includes not only in-app but via laptops and desktop purchases. Statista reports that by the end of 2021 the revenue of the e-commerce market will reach US$ 2,723,991 million. Furthermore, it's expected that its yearly growth rate will be 6.29% by 2025, and the size of the market will grow to US$ 3,477,296 million.

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 can't sell on eBay because the service charges a commission for every transaction. Let's take a closer look at these applications and try to understand the reason for such popularity.

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. Social registration allows checking the data of all users since the system cares about the platform's security. Customers and sellers communicate in the chat inside the app. You can upload photos of the items you want to sell immediately using the built-in camera in the app. So if you decide to create app like LetGo, you may use some of its features.

build app like letgo

LetGo 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 secure chat but the deals are conducted personally.

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 apps 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 of success is simple: the easier and more comfortable you connect a customer and a seller is, the more successful your app will be.

how does offerup make money

OfferUp app

What is worth mentioning is that OfferUp acquired LetGo in September 2020. As a result, the strengths of these marketplaces are merged, which allows buyers to make more deals and sellers to attract more customers and sell faster. There are other platforms on the sell and buy app market, such as ThredUp, Depop, Poshmark, Craigslist, Carousell, Mercari, Bookoo, and they function in much the same way.

The Business Model of Apps like LetGo and Offer Up

OfferUp and Letgo are aimed at selling and buying second-hand goods. These buy-and-sell apps have an identical business model focused on income generation from the advertisement. They don't take a fee for creating a profile, registration, and even a deal.

If you want to learn how to build an app like LetGo, we suggest you consider some of these monetization strategies.

Online transactions

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


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

It's a good 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: 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. You have to select the tech stack for your project according to its specific requirements and particularities, so it can differ from this one.

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!

Basic Features of a Buy-And-Sell Apps

To follow an existing LetGo model is undoubtedly the best way to create your mobile app. However, don't forget that it should be original and contain some particularities. Therefore, you need to analyze competitors from your domain and find uniqueness that will be your market advantage.

Now, when we know how local apps for buying and selling work, let's see what basic functionality we need to include in our own model.

Search engine

Bear in mind that the search should be conducted based on the customers' location. So, add an option to extend or constrict the search band. It’ll be easy to perform as almost all modern smartphones have a built-in GPS utility.

Registration via social network

All the best apps to sell stuff locally have this feature. It increases users’ reliance on your service and simplifies the identity verification process. Besides, they don’t need to enter their data manually because all information will be pulled automatically from a social network.

Profile creation

The personal data of sellers and buyers will be shown as well as all items for sale, a list of addresses and cards. Users also must be able to remove their profile and delete a card.

Advanced filters

Advanced filters are needed to make the search process easy and fast. You can divide all goods by categories, groups, price, size, location, and other criteria to minimize shoppers' search time.

Listing Items

Each listing can have two options: choose a good from the list (by color, smell, and other details) if the seller has some similar goods with different variations or enter one's own one. Also, it would be nice to add a size chart here.

Built-in camera

This feature allows taking photos in the app and uploading 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

This is one of the most popular and useful features for such apps. With it, it's much easier for users to discuss deals' details and communicate.

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'll allow your users to stay informed about all novelty, updates, changes and receive notifications of new messages in the chat.

features of apps to sell stuff locally

Basic features of apps to sell things

Additional Features to Build the Best Buy-And-Sell App

So, we’ve mentioned the basic features. However, to make your app special, you should take into account additional functionality that all users appreciate.

Compare the prices

It’s an excellent opportunity for users to choose the best items – quick and easy.

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

Adding categories like best deals and recent offers is a perfect way to motivate sellers to play fair and improve their ratings.

Scan photo feature

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

Delivery feature

Agree with outside delivery services to provide your users with the best UX and save transaction time.

Comments and rating

The feature helps build the reputation of customers and soft articles according to a seller's rating. At the same time, the feature protects customers from unreliable merchants.

Inbuilt payment solution

When customers use your service for the first time, it asks for credit card information and phone number. After that, the users enter an email, and a unique code is sent to it to confirm all their data. So it isn't necessary to enter it every time using the service.

Steps on How to Make a Buy-And-Sell App

Here are the main steps you should undertake to understand how to make an app to sell things effectively.

1. Think about a crowd-pleasing name

Your app first should be attractive with its name. Users see the title first, and it should be short and topical. There are different brand name generators, and they can help you choose a perfect name for your future app. Other essential tips you should follow are app’s title size, semantic load, and expectations of a target audience.

2. Engaging UI/UX is a must

Good-looking UI/UX isn't a thing you can ignore. Indeed, beautiful images and a convenient user experience mean a lot, and your potential consumers will appreciate it. As you create a buy-and-sell app, it should have a simple and intuitive UI and UX, as users want to see a familiar model of an app like this.

3. Add a shopping cart

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

4. Payment gateway integration

Choose the most appropriate payment gateway for your buy-and-sell app – whether it’s PayPal, Braintree, Stripe, or another payment system. If you have difficulties choosing the suitest one, study the market and your competitors, review successful solutions, etc. Also, pay attention to local governmental requirements and don't forget about payment processing safety.

5. Think about an adequate promotion

If nobody knows that your product exists, you’ll gain nothing. That is why you should create a promotional plan to let everybody know about your app. For example, use Google ads on different websites, although it is a rather expensive service, you’ll be able to increase the interest of potential customers. Also, personalized bussiness apps can be used as an effective way of app promotion. If you apply a serious approach, you’ll achieve good results. Your app for buying and selling will become competitive and quickly gain the lead.

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

Fraud Protection in Local Buy-And-Sell Apps

If you want to gain customers' loyalty and trust, when you discover how to create apps like Letgo and OfferUp, make sure you do your best to protect them from fraud. For instance, 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 used to a partnership with highly regulated payment processing networks in buy-and-sell apps. Investing in it now, targeting the cooperation with merchants and mobile network providers is a well-considered step for long-term market growth in the future.

Our Expertise

Creating a marketplace platform for local customers and sellers is doubtless a good idea and affordable enough from a technical side. However, when you start to build your own app for selling and buying, remember the essential flow. Define its core and distinctive features, correctly design the MVP model, and find a qualified development team – and then you’ll succeed.

Cleveroad is a professional web and mobile software development company with headquarters in Estonia, Central Europe. For over 10+ years of experience, we have been helping businesses of various industries deliver custom software solutions that boost their overall performance and customer experience. And if you already have a marketplace idea, we will gladly help you infuse life into it.

By cooperating with us, you'll ensured with the following benefits:

  • Expertise in various domains, such as retail software development services, education, healthcare, media, etc.
  • All required specialists available — mobile and web developers, DevOps, designers, PMs, QA engineers, analysts.
  • Full-cycle software development and guaranteed product quality.
  • A complimentary consultation with our Business Analysts about your project.
  • Non-disclosure agreement (NDA) signing per request.
  • Innovative development approaches and cutting-edge tech stack.

Our portfolio includes a bunch of software development projects in different domains. And we would like to tell you about our recent case — Trading app, available on iOS and Android.

The platform matches people who are buying the products with those who are selling them. It allows user to create supply and demand ads, showing full information about the item and its owner. Our team of 8 members was challenged to create a high-performance application with a matching system and sophisticated filtering system. as a result, we’ve built iOS and Android apps from scratch, created two separate UI for English and Arabic users, and developed complex search and matching systems.

Want to build an app like LetGo?

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Frequently Asked Questions
How do you make an app like LetGo?

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
How does OfferUp make money?

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

How do I make an app to sell things?

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.

What are popular selling apps?

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

Author avatar...
About author

Evgeniy Altynpara is a CTO and member of the Forbes Councils’ community of tech professionals. He is an expert in software development and technological entrepreneurship and has 10+years of experience in digital transformation consulting in Healthcare, FinTech, Supply Chain and Logistics

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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.

Michael Scaduto
02.09.2020 at 13:27

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

16.05.2020 at 20:57

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

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 14:17

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

22.04.2020 at 15:26

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

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