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Sharetribe Review: Why You Should Use Sharetribe for Your Business

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Maryna Z.

Copywriter

Vlad V.

Chief Executive Officer

Today, there’s nothing surprising about taking a ride with Uber or carpooling with your neighbours; people prefer Couchsurfing and Airbnb to traditional hotels; developers collaborate on open-source software and, as a rule, distribute it for free. These are just a few examples of the amazing things that have become possible thanks to the sharing economy – a market model for exchanging and selling goods and services.

The sharing economy, or collaborative economy, has created new opportunities – even for non-tech people – with expertise in many different fields, from cooking to playing musical instruments. Many entrepreneurs are now building their own marketplaces where people can sell and exchange specialized goods and services.

If you’ve ever wondered how to build a web marketplace, we’re glad to inform you that there are various platforms that can help you build one quickly. You don’t need to do everything from scratch. In this article, we’re going to talk about one of the most advanced and popular web marketplace platforms available – Sharetribe.

What is Sharetribe?

Sharetribe is a marketplace platform developed by two Finnish university friends, Juho Makkonen and Antti Virolainen. Initially, their idea was to help other students sell old textbooks, find a tutor, or get help moving out. But after five years of development, Sharetribe now delivers most features you would want from a marketplace platform right out of the box. Sharetribe’s solution:

  • supports all types of marketplaces
  • provides a built-in payment system
  • includes tools for generating, categorizing, and filtering content
  • allows custom branding
  • works perfectly on mobile devices
  • includes an advanced payment system that supports 25+ currencies and 190+ countries

You can read about Sharetribe’s features in more detail on the platform’s site, but the idea here is that Sharetribe has everything our clients typically ask for.

Sharetribe can also be seen as a successful startup: since its founding in 2011, the company was funded three times amounting to $1.2 million.

What marketplaces work on ShareTribe?

Sharetribe became a platform for many other successful startups. For example, Studiotime, which calls itself Airbnb for music studios, is a marketplace that allows you to rent a recording studio anywhere in the world. Interestingly, Studiotime’s creator, Mike Williams, came up with the idea and implemented it literally in one night thanks to Sharetribe. Over the next 24 hours, the project gained more than one thousand users on Product Hunt: it was obviously a success. Now, according to Williams, Studiotime offers about one thousand studios, which makes it one of the largest and most recognizable marketplace for music studio rentals.

AMusicPlace is another music marketplace that’s built on Sharetribe. With AMusicPlace, you can rent musical instruments and equipment and even arrange music lessons on their marketplace. AMusicalPlace is an Italian startup which has been introduced in the competitive New York market. Today, AMusicalPlace shows positive growth and is expanding their offerings.

Besides music marketplaces, Sharetribe has also become the platform of choice for surfboard rental service The Quiver, second-hand goods for children’s store Second Cry, and the pre-owned wedding dresses and accessories store Häätorii. And, of course, many more.

How much does it cost to build a marketplace with ShareTribe?

Sharetribe offers two versions: one paid and one free.

For the paid option, Sharetribe is distributed as Software as a Service (SaaS). How does it work? All you need to do is fill out a form and install your marketplace on Sharetribe’s servers. The pros: you don’t need developers and you can set up a marketplace on your own relatively easy and quickly. The cons: you need to pay $40–$240 per month, and you are also constrained to the functionality Sharetribe offers; you can’t extend the platform.

For the free option, you can use the open source version. Sharetribe’s open source version is available for download on GitHub. RubyGarage’s team can install Sharetribe on your server, set it up, and customize it however you want. The pros: it’s completely free, you have endless possibilities to add additional functionality, and you only need to pay developers once to implement it. The cons: building a customized marketplace takes more time and requires more initial investment in development.

The bottom line: If your marketplace is going to be your core business, your best choice is to use an open source solution running on your server that you can customize however you want. We’ll now explain the top 5 reasons why we use and recommend the open source version of Sharetribe to build online marketplaces.

5 Reasons to Use Open Source Sharetribe for Your Marketplace

1. It’s Ruby on Rails!

Sharetribe is written in Ruby on Rails, the most popular programming framework for rapid and reliable development. We’re Ruby experts, so we understand how Sharetribe is built and can efficiently customize the core code to suit your needs.

Additionally, the Ruby on Rails community has developed lots of plugins and solutions that can add functionality to your marketplace such as blogging platforms or forums.

2. It’s Testable

Sharetribe follows a behavior-driven development approach. This means that when we change any code in the platform, we can immediately test it and see that it doesn’t break any existing functionality.

Moreover, such testing is already supported: Sharetribe comes with built-in Cucumber and Rspec support. These are excellent tools for running automated acceptance and unit tests respectively. We know they’re great because we also use Cucumber and Rspec in most other our projects.

3. It’s Developing Fast

Sharetribe gets updated every month to provide the latest security measures for your marketplace and to support the latest versions of the tools and technologies it runs on, allowing developers to implement cutting-edge functionality.

The current version of Sharetribe is 6.1.0. The next version will probably support Google Tag Manager instead of Google Analytics and Kissmetrics to provide even more flexibility in analyzing your site performance and effectiveness.

4. It’s Promising

The technical roadmap provided by Sharetribe contributors reveals that soon Sharetribe will boast Elasticsearch-based search functionality, which will directly affect how easily your visitors can find products they’re looking for, how quickly your marketplace can show relevant items, provide similar positions and so on.

Sharetribe’s contributors learn from user feedback and plan to simplify purchasing processes, increase the number of payment options, and even add an API for mobile devices to help access your marketplace data more efficiently.

5. It’s Supported!

We like open source solutions with strong communities built around them. Should we have any questions about the architectural or other tech-related aspects of such a platform, we can always ask its contributors and fellow developers for advice. And Sharetribe’s community forum is alive and well. This also suggests that Sharetribe will continue to be supported and evolve in future.

Why we recommend Sharetribe for your project

Naturally, Sharetribe isn’t perfect. Since the platform is monolithic, it takes time to test it, investigate bugs, and scale. Fortunately, the creators of Sharetribe already know about these shortcomings, however, and are constantly working to update the service and fix or prevent any possible issues.

If you decide to create your marketplace with Sharetribe, we highly recommend opting for the open-source version.

Our RubyGarage team can help you out with this, as we have extensive experience building large-scale marketplace platforms using Sharetribe. We work with Sharetribe from the very start of projects, add all the functionality you need, carry out quality assurance testing, and then provide ongoing support.

Feel free to contact us if you have an idea for a marketplace and want our experienced experts to help you develop it from the ground up.

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