Letgo is a peer-to-peer e-commerce marketplace platform that allows users to buy from, sell to and chat with others locally. It's an ambitious startup that broke into the market with the intention to become the largest second-hand marketplace in the world. Recently, it has raised $175 million to invest in growth plans and grab market share from Ebay and Craigslist. It is a perfect case of how a recently created startup has all chances to beat old players on the market.
In this article, we will review primary Letgo features and functions, its advantages over competitors and main techniques that will help you to build an mobile marketplace app like Letgo.
What Letgo is and why it is popular
Letgo is considered to be one of the main rivals of such large e-commerce corporations as eBay or Craigslist. The central concept of this app is to connect local people who want to sell or buy used stuff on the fly. It also allows users to communicate with each other and schedule a meeting. The application is completely free, and you don't have to pay any fee or cut of the sale price.
According to DMR statistics, 300,000 used items on Letgo are posted daily and 100,000 items are purchased. As we have found, the average price of an item on Letgo is ~$50. So, Letgo operates financial flows that total up to 5M USD on a daily basis (estimated cost of items that are being sold every day), and the potential volume of operations is 15M (total cost of items that are being added daily). Impressive, isn’t it? Especially, in a niche that is entirely taken by major players like eBay and Craigslist.
Letgo is also expanding geographically. As for now, it is available in more than 25 countries. Most of its users are in the USA and Canada. Besides, it is tested in Asia and Latin America.
How does Letgo work?
Letgo app is pretty simple to use. Let's discuss its main features.
After you have downloaded the app from Google Play Store, you can log in via Facebook or e-mail.
Congratulations, you are registered!
After the registration, it will bring you to the screen with a camera where you can take a photo of the product you need to sell. The system has a built-in artificial intelligence that automatically recognizes your product and the category it belongs to. Then, you have to write the price of your product or indicate that the item is free.
That`s all! Your product is published, and now you will receive messages and offers from buyers. If needed, you can edit your product's description or price later. You can also see how many people watched your product by tapping the item for sale in your profile, selecting the “more info” button and see the number of views near the eye symbol.
The app automatically shows you the items for sale in your area. When you open the drag down menu, you will see the options to filter the products according to location, category or posting date. By clicking on the photo, you get the description of the product and chat icon where you can write a message to the seller.
Letgo app doesn't handle payments - they happen outside the platform, and, as a result, the payment process is not protected (you can't receive a refund or make a complaint). That’s why it is recommended to give cash in person.
Main competitors of Letgo
Letgo is the only marketplace with image recognition and artificial intelligence. Up to this day, its main competitors according to CBInsights are Offerup, 5miles, and Carousell. These companies have recently picked up a lot of investments and have all chances to perform better than such old players as eBay and Craigslist. Let's review the main advantages of Letgo compared with these competitors.
Letgo vs Craigslist
LetGo is faster to use and users don't have to scan the product descriptions and spend a lot of time on finding the right product
There is no built-in chat in Craigslist whereas in LetGo people can communicate within the app
Descriptions of the product are optional
You don't have to confirm the listing on your e-mail, your product is published automatically
LetGo vs eBay
- eBay takes 10% cut of your sale
eBay has big competition so it is harder to sell something
LetGo is more local, so it is easier to find your customer
The main advantages of Letgo comparing to other online marketplaces:
mobile approach, modern and user -friendly interface;
geotagging and other localizing features that automatically list the products according to your location;
artificial intelligence and image recognition that saves time and makes buying and selling easy and fast;
ability to verify your account using Facebook profile;
active on some overseas markets including Turkey and Norway
Alec Oxford, the Letgo founder, said “Our competitors by now should probably know that we will do whatever it takes to win. It's not like we're operating under disguise. We're completely visible, and it's working, no?" And we should confirm, that it is definitely working.
Monetization of Letgo. How does Letgo make money?
Many people wonder how Letgo makes money. The answer is that at this stage the app doesn't make money from its services. In future, the founders of the app plan to monetize the platform by adding paid functions. Here are the ways how you can make a profit from the similar app:
integrate in-app payments and take a percentage of each sale
introduce paid visual ads with opportunity to promote your posts
charge for additional product description
limit a number of items that can be posted for free
How Letgo works:Technology stack
Now let's review what technologies are used in Letgo. We have monitored the open vacancies in Letgo and the Linkedin profiles of their developers to find out its tech stack.
The application for iOS and Android is developed on native technologies Swift, Objective-C, and Java.Here are the main advantages of these technologies:
Server Side: Express.js
Express.js is a fast and minimalist web framework for Node.js. Comparing with its competitor Django, Express is leading in top 10K sites, top 100K sites, top 1M sites and the entire web. Also, in comparison with Ruby on Rails, Express.js has faster server load and boot time. It also has the biggest community compared to all frameworks of Node.js. It is minimalist, flexible and easy to monitor. Express.js is a great choice for mobile apps, as it is fast on the server and, as a result, your app is more dynamic.
Client Side: React.js
Letgo uses native technologies Swift, Objective-C, and Java for its mobile application. Native mobile applications are developed specifically for each platform: Objective-C or Swift for iOS and Java for Android. If you want to save the development efforts, consider developing a hybrid app with the ReactNative framework like most of our clients do. One of its benefits is the reduction of development efforts. 70% of code written in ReactNative for Android version can be reused for iOS version. In contrast, when using native technologies, you have to write code from scratch for both platforms. Consequently, developing hybrid web application will simplify the maintenance of your project as you have to maintain only one ReactNative code.
How to create your own selling marketplace app like Letgo
The development of a Letgo exact clone can take a lot of time and money. And probably exact cloning is not reasonable. Letgo app is growing very rapidly with the expected amount of transactions facilitated on Letgo in 2017 of $23 billion. The estimated value of Letgo is $1.2. Billion. And this is definitely rewarding. According to the information on the official Linkedin page, Letgo team consists of 100 employees of different nationalities that continuously improve the application features.
The most important technical aspect of Letgo is its maintenance as it has a high server load. If you want to create the similar app, it is better to start with basic functionality and server load. Let's review how much will it cost to develop such app.
How much does it cost to develop an app like Letgo?
We outlined the main features of Letgo app and the number of hours needed for their realization and here is the result.List of features:
Register via Facebook or e-mail
View products for sale
Search products by category, price and location
Write messages to seller and buyer
View seller's profile
Buy the product
Sell the product
Edit your product for sale
Delete your product for sale
Receive in-app notifications about your listings
Invite friends from Facebook
According to our estimate, the time needed to build a similar app (both web and mobile) with these functions will range from 449 to 1019 hours, depending on the complexity of functions.
Let's review it in more detail. Below you will find the estimate of the web application. Its development will take between 98 and 231 hours.
If you decided to develop mobile application in React Native, the timeframe for will range from 150 to 340 hours. It includes hours needed both for Android and iOS platform.
Now let's consider the backend development. The backend of the application is responsible for data management, information exchange, performance, authorization, data security transfer and push notifications. The time for the development of the application's backend will take between 62 to 132 hours.
We also included hours needed for bug fixing, manual testing and management, as it also affects the price and timeline. Bug fixing was calculated by adding 25% to the total sum of hours and manual testing and management - by adding 10% to each.
The price depends on different factors as your service provider`s hourly rate and location. For example, in the US prices for app development range from $100 to $250 per hour, while in Eastern Europe where our development offices are located, you can hire a senior developer for $40-$70 per hour.
How to make your buy and sell mobile marketplace stand out
If you are set on creating the app similar to Letgo, don't make a copy of it. Create something unique and useful. Think about your potential customers and their demands. Here are some tips on how you can create unique value.
Think about narrowing your audience and making your app more specialized. For example, choose one category of products. This may be only sports products or toys for children. In such case, you will know what your target audience is and it will be easier for to create the marketing strategy.
LetGo is all about selling and buying locally and that is what makes it unique. Think about building the app for one city or country. As a result, you will have fewer competitors and more customers.
- Develop the app for one platform
You can develop an application only for iOS, see how it performs, listen to the feedback of users and then implement all the changes in the remaining platform. Also, you can use a cross-platform solution like ReactNative to build both iOS and Android.
- Plan your strategy
The most important aspect of creating any marketplace app is right planning. Before starting the development process, take your time and think about the needs of your future app users.
Outline the most important functions of your application that are essential for the beginning. Speak with your clients to learn what their needs are, and what problems they experience working with the products you are competing with.
To conclude, building a marketplace for local sellers and buyers is not difficult from the technical side. The most important thing is to spare enough time for planning and selecting the main features needed for the start. If you plan everything right, you are halfway to the success!