If you're thinking of launching your own marketplace, you may have heard of Sharetribe.
Now, if you're on the fence about parting with your hard earned cash for this software, you're in the right place. This review tells you everything you need to know- so, let's dive in!
In short, Sharetribe offers its users an easy way of starting and customizing their own online marketplace.
You can craft a platform to:
- Sell products and services
- Sell or rent real estate
- Permit vendors to sell their own products and services
- Permit people to sell or lease their real estate
If you opt for one of Sharetribe's paid options (more on that later), it's safe to say they're an impressive example of Software as a Service (SaaS).
All Sharetribe buyers need to do is fill out a form, send their payment, and let Sharetribe do the rest.
How Did Sharetribe Come Around?
The story of how Sharetribe came to be is a cute one; the software was initially developed by two university friends in Finland- Juho Makkonen and Antti Virolainen.
This idea first stemmed from a vision to create a platform that enabled students to sell their old textbooks, find top-quality tutors, or get help moving out of their university digs.
Fast forward five years and Sharetribe now delivers almost every kind of feature you could want and need from a marketplace builder. They've successfully compiled all these tools into one easy to use solution- how awesome is that?
The best thing about this software is that you don't need to write a line of code or install anything. So, it's perfect for entrepreneurs who don't have any technical skills. Instead, Sharetribe handles all the web hosting and any online payments you receive- so rest assured, you don't have to deal with the techy side of things.
Design Your Marketplace with Sharetribe
You can use their tools to fully personalize your marketplace to ensure the aesthetic reflects your brand. For example:
- You can upload your logo
- Update your cover photos
- Select a color theme
- Make and use a custom domain
- Add a custom CSS
Consumers love online marketplaces; it's as simple as that. They often provide a more cost-effective way of purchasing products and services in a manner that's convenient for the user- so it's no wonder more, and more entrepreneurs are jumping on the bandwagon.
Before services like Sharetribe, you'd have to hire a web developer to work tirelessly on generating your marketplace before launching a demo.
Crafting a payment and internal messaging system is also complicated work which requires the expertise of a professional. Whereas with Sharetribe, the registration and setup process is incredibly fast- you can have your own fully customized marketplace up and running within minutes.
The Benefits of Using Sharetribe
If you're hoping to target an international demographic, then you'll be pleased to hear that Sharetribe can handle as many as 20 different languages and plenty of currencies.
Below is a list of just a few of the current languages Sharetribe accommodates:
According to Sharetribe, more languages will be added in due course, so if you don't see the one you need there- keep your eyes peeled for updates!
At present, Sharetribe marketplaces are fully functional in over 190 countries and can accept transactions in over 20 currencies.
The founders of Sharetribe have been launching online marketplaces since 2008- so with over a decade of experience behind them, you can be confident they've learned a thing or two on the subject. Needless to say, you're in the best of hands with Sharetribe.
On the whole, Sharetribe's usually updated once a month. This ensures buyers enjoy and benefit from all the latest security measures software updates.
For example, Sharetribe has recently modified their program to support Google's Tag Manager. This provides more flexibility for analyzing the performance and growth of your marketplace. Just use their Custom Script feature, and admins can add their own Tag Manager tracking code- how awesome is that?!
Plus, the fact Sharetribe's written in Ruby on Rails, only adds to the reliability of the software. Ruby on Rails is arguably the most popular and sturdy programming framework for entrepreneurs to grow their online business (quickly!).
You'll also be pleased to hear the Ruby on Rails community has developed tons of plugins. These may come in handy if you want to enhance the functionality of your marketplace. Some of the more popular solutions include adding blogging platforms and forums to your digital marketplace.
Monetize Your Platform
The marketplaces created on Sharetribe are very easy to monetize. For example, business owners have the option of charging a credit card fee for those using their platform. This is an incredibly easy way to make a little extra cash when you're first starting out.
It's Open Source
By this we mean, your data and coding are yours to keep and modify as you wish. So, if you have any coding or web development skills, you can produce a marketplace that resembles your specific vision.
They Help You Make The Most of Their Software
Although setting up your marketplace on Sharetribe is incredibly intuitive, they offer a resource called the ‘Marketplace Academy.' Here they offer a load of advice on how to build and launch your digital marketplace.
For example, setting up an account to accept global payments is straightforward and only takes a few mins. Their built-in payment system uses both Stripe and PayPal which enables your vendors to receive their funds directly into their bank accounts, rapidly.
Once you've got your online marketplace up and running, you can now manage and track your progress. From inside your admin dashboard, wire up your Google Analytics account- this is the best way of monitoring how your venture's doing.
Sharetribe's Best Features
Hold Back Vendor Funds
This is amazing for building trust with customers. You can ask Stripe to refuse to pay buyers until the merchandise has been safely delivered to the consumer.
If you want to avoid complications with chargebacks in the long run- this is the best thing to do.
User Friendliness (For Both Vendors and Customers)
Sharetribe also offers vendors a calendar management system. This comes in especially handy if you're allowing people to lease their properties on your platform. With this resource you can showcase the listing's availability by the:
This works wonders for avoiding the embarrassment of accidentally double booking and giving users a better all-around experience.
On the subject of user experience, you'll be pleased to hear customers can easily find listings that are relevant to them. All you have to do is utilize the advanced tools to categorize and sub-categorize your content.
When you do this, consumers can filter your listings with ease, either on a map or in listicle format- how neat is that? After all, when people can find what they're looking for quickly, they're far more likely to make a purchase. Period.
We also love that each vendor can create their own profile, which almost resembles a digital storefront. Here they can display all the following info:
- Their bio,
- Their listings (products, services, properties, etc.)
- Customer reviews- By enabling buyers to leave reviews it'll help keep your vendors accountable and build trust with consumers. If one of your vendors is consistently getting poor reviews, you can then take some kind of action.
In addition to all that, members can follow one another, which is terrific for building a sense of community. For example, they can opt to receive notifications when new content is published- a bit like on Facebook!
It's incredibly easy for vendors to get their listings up and running, and to start making sales. With just a few clicks of a button they can insert all the following info into their listings:
- Numerous product photos,
Just to name a few!
Sharetribe uses responsive designs to ensure your marketplace looks great on any size screen. More and more people are online shopping via their mobile devices, so providing mobile users with a top quality experience is of paramount importance.
Take Full Control of Your Marketplace
As a business owner, you'll want to keep an eye on quality control. This means the option to monitor who can: view, buy, and sell is essential.
In light of that, Sharetribe enables users to:
- Make their platform open and accessible to everyone,
- Restrict access to just those who get an invitation
- Only permit people who have specific email addresses.
You can also enable your team to help you manage, monitor, and modify your platform by upgrading them to the role of ‘administrator.'
So all in all, with Sharetribe you have a massive degree of control over who accesses your marketplace.
Grow Your Audience
Growing an audience is usually a number one priority for online businesses. This is why Sharetribe enables their customers to use ‘Facebook Connect' to get more signups.
They also provide features that enable vendors and customers to share content on their Facebook and Twitter handles with just a click of a button- this works wonders for getting the name out about your brand.
Last but not least, all Sharetribe marketplaces are fully SEO-optimized, to increase your visibility and exposure on search engine results.
Disadvantages of Using Sharetribe
As you browse through the different marketplace builders out there and weigh up your options, you'll quickly find they all offer something a bit different- which is good because most businesses vary from one another.
However, that also means there's a good chance Sharetribe won't provide you with all the features and functionalities you want for managing and scaling your business. This is somewhat of a shortcoming of the software.
With that being said, the Sharetribe team is continually updating their software, and as each month goes by, more and more of the gaps are filled.
For example, some marketplace owners said they'd like the option of offering their customers and vendors a discount code so they could run promotions on their marketplace with greater ease.
Who knows, maybe this update will get implemented in the near future? After all, Sharetribe has a good track record of listening and responding to the requests of their consumers.
Business owners who own larger businesses could also benefit from a feature enabling them to upload and customize products in bulk. This would make the handling of large inventories far more manageable and would save users a ton of time.
In addition to all the above, some of Sharetribe's customers have complained that the emails they send to their vendors and buyers via Sharetribe are often marked as spam- not cool!
This is particularly annoying if you're using Sharetribe to build your email list and generate a rapport with your audience! How are you supposed to do that if no-one's receiving your emails?!
Checking and re-inviting members can be a tedious and lengthy process- not to mention; it can result in entrepreneurs losing members because they're not receiving important e-mails keeping them up to date with everything their marketplace has to offer.
Plus, many of Sharetribe's consumers would like more options for personalizing the aesthetic of their marketplace. Presently, marketplace owners have very few options for customizing their branding- especially their email marketing campaigns delivered by Sharetribe's system.
This software could benefit from a broader list of custom theme templates and third-party plugins.
How Much Will Sharetribe Set Me Back?
Sharetribe works on a subscription-style basis, which you can cancel at any time. So, if you decide after the first month of using the software it's not for you, you're not locked into a lengthy and expensive contract.
You also won't be hit with any setup and transaction fees- win-win!
The biggest gripe with this pricing structure is that it's based on the number of users registered with the platform, not the value or quantity of transactions. Consequently, marketplace owners can potentially pay for an expensive subscription without enjoying a return on their investment.
So, we thoroughly recommend having a digital marketing plan in place before setting up your marketplace. This undoubtedly helps entrepreneurs get quicker results and a faster return on their investment.
Sharetribe does also offer a free version of their software- this is the open source version. You can download it via GitHub. However, you'll need coding and web development skills to make the most of this resource. Alternatively, you'll need to hire a pro to do the job for you.
Although you'll need a higher degree of technical knowledge to access this software, you'll also enjoy limitless possibilities where design and functionality are concerned. However, it almost goes without saying if you go down this road, it'll take you much longer to get your marketplace up and running.
The Hobby Package
Priced at $79 per month, you'll be billed once every six months (however, you can switch to monthly billing if you like). This package entitles you to:
- A limit of 100 users
- Unlimited traffic, listings & images
- Uncapped transactions
- Convenient access to their customer support team (open seven days a week).
The Pro Package
Priced at $119 per month, just like the ‘Hobby' package you can opt for either monthly or six-monthly billing schedules.
You'll enjoy access to all the following features:
- An allowance of up to 1,000 users
- Your own web domain and email address
- All Sharetribe branding is removed from your marketplace
- You can edit your footer
- Unlimited transactions, traffic, listings & images
- Access to customer support every day of the week.
The Growth Package
Retailed at $159 per month, you'll have all the benefits of the previous two bundles. However, you're given a higher limit of users, in fact, you can register as many as 10,000!
The Scale Package
This is the most expensive of all the bundles and will set you back a whopping $239 per month. Just like before, you're entitled to all the features and benefits listed in the previous packages. However, you can register up to 100,000 users on your marketplace!
Top Tip: If you require more features and integrations you're better off with ‘Sharetribe Flex.' Presently, this service is in a closed preview, but if you could benefit from this software, get in touch with Sharetribe and request access.
In addition to all the above bundles, you can also purchase a custom landing page for an additional $99 per month. Sharetribe is more than happy to create a customized landing page for you- this is amazing for generating qualified leads.
You should note: all of the above prices don't include VAT, so factor this into your budget.
What's a User?
Now we've gone through all the bundles; you're probably wondering what constitutes as a ‘user.' Well, anyone can peruse your marketplace without creating a user account, i.e., window shoppers and potential vendors.
However, if someone then decides they want to purchase something or sell goods on your marketplace, they'll then need to register a user account.
What's Your ‘Own Web Domain'?
With the Hobby plan, the URL address of your marketplace will end in; “yourmarketplace.sharetribe.com.” However, when you upgrade your package you can enjoy the use of your own domain name, i.e., (www.[insert brand name here].com) instead- this works wonders for creating a stronger brand.
The same is true of your outgoing e-mail address. By default, your emails will be sent from firstname.lastname@example.org. Whereas if you opt for a pro plan or more, you can use your own email address- which follows something similar to this format- email@example.com.
Who's Has Success with ShareTribe?
You might be interested to know that ‘Studiotime' found their success via Sharetribe. They've cultivated a reputation as the Airbnb for music studios.
Studiotime is a marketplace that enables people to rent recording studios from all around the world. They managed to get their platform up and running in the space of one night's work! Within 24 hours, Studiotime acquired over 1,000 registered users!
Sharetribe was also instrumental in the creation of AMusicPlace- this is another successful marketplace but, this platform enables you to rent musical instruments and book music lessons.
Have You Got Any Experience Using Sharetribe?
Like all marketplace builders, Sharetribe isn’t free of flaws. It'll require entrepreneurs to take time to test and tweak things and gradually scale their business.
One of the best things about Sharetribe is that in addition to the many benefits and features they provide, their team is more than aware of their shortcomings, and work continuously to update and improve the quality of their software.
Do you or anyone else you know have any experience using Sharetribe? If so, we'd love to hear your thoughts, concerns, and questions in the comment box below. We always enjoy hearing from our readers- so let's get the conversation flowing!