How to build a marketplace like Airbnb using Webflow and Firebase [2022]

Build a marketplace with Webflow and Firebase. Learn how we’ve created a multi vendor marketplace like Airbnb using Webflow API and Firebase.

Introduction

Finding a camping space and booking a caravan online in Europe is a real hassle. There is almost no available information on the Internet which makes it really hard for people to find a reliable caravan for their holidays. In the meantime, the travel industry in 2022 is recovering slowly and the demand for sustainable, nature-based, low-impact and environmentally friendly vacations is booming across Europe. Millennials and Generation Y are looking for alternatives to hotel vacations and booking an online camping is a must have opportunity in 2022.  

To tackle this problem, Born Digital Studio has partnered with Karavani.bg to build the first marketplace platform for caravans and outdoor activities in Bulgaria. With Karavani, campers can find, book, and pay all in one place. Hosts can list their properties via the platform and manage all bookings and reservations easily online, giving them the chance to earn some extra money.

In this article, you will learn how Born Digital Studio has built a marketplace platform using Webflow API and Firebase. And how does Born Digital Studio can help you build a seamless marketplace as well.

What is a marketplace platform?

A marketplace is an online platform which connects buyers and sellers of goods or services and helps them process transactions. Some of the benefits using a marketplace is the broad range of products / services, convenience and easy of booking online. Examples of popular platforms nowadays are Uber, Airbnb, Etsy, Amazon and eBay.

In the case of Karavani, the buyers are the campers and the sellers are the hosts. Using the search engine, buyers can find caravans with ease, while hosts can manage all their reservations via the platform.

What features did we include in the marketplace?

We started the project with a discovery session to find out the main features we would have to include in the platform and map out the database architecture. The plan was divided into 3 milestones, starting with the most essential features wrapped in an MVP version. Our goal was to design and build a scalable platform from scratch that allows users find camping places, make payments and manage all reservations in a user portal with dashboard.

To accomplish that, we identified the following features and processes as a must have in the MVP:

  • Sign up / Log in authentication process
  • Create and showcase listing
  • Search and filter results
  • Booking system
  • Payment process using Stripe
  • Reservation management
  • User profiles

With these functionalities, the platform was able to close the sales process and provide all the necessary tools for hosts and campers to make a reservation.

After looking into the roadmap, we could identify potential bottlenecks and limitations to prevent the platform being able to scale in the long-term. Which is why, we came to the conclusion that for this project, we will use Webflow as a main CMS Website builder and Firebase for the back-end database processes.

Why did we choose Webflow?

Webflow is a revolutionary website development platform that creates powerful responsive websites with incredible animations, interactions, and integrations. It’s the new generation no-code platform that allows you to design, host, develop and manage modern website platforms with ease.

Here are the top 3 main reasons why we decided to use Webflow for this project:

  • Customization

One of the primary reasons that we decided to use Webflow is because we have a total design control. Every site we create is built from a completely blank canvas. No templates, no themes… 100% custom.

And because Karavani.bg must be represented as an innovative solution to the market, Webflow allows a fully customisable solution to build a branded website that showcases the listings exactly how we want.

  • Scalable content management system (CMS)

Having a marketplace with thousands of listings, blog articles, locations and services requires a scalable CMS database that can store information in an arranged matter. The ability to quickly add, remove and manage new items without the support of a development team is incredibly handy, especially for people who don’t know much about technologies. This allows the internal team of Karavani to have a full control over the content of the platform, what is displayed and what information should be hidden.

  • Webflow API

An API for "Application Programming Interface" is a set of protocols that allows you to connect and integrate software and applications in a fast and simple way. The Webflow API is a way to create, read, update, or delete any of the CMS items from another platform.

Using this method, it allows us to connect Webflow with 3rd party software and expand the functionalities for Karavani. In our case, we connected Webflow to Firebase, a platform developed by Google for creating mobile and web applications. To learn more about Webflow API, visit the documentation.

Resource: Webflow API

The power of Firebase and Webflow

When we first mapped out all functionalities we wanted to build within Karavani, we knew we needed to choose the right back-end software solution. And because Webflow is a great website development platform, it does come with its limitations when it comes to complex applications like Karavani.

Firebase is Google’s application development platform that helps you build, improve, and grow software apps. Within Firebase, we use Firestore product - a NoSQL document database built for automatic scaling, high performance, and ease of application development. This allows us to load data in Collections within the CMS of Webflow using Webflow API.

In short, here is what we used Firebase and Webflow API for:

  • Load data and display results on the listings page
  • Custom Search filters to display listings
  • Enable user authentication
  • Create a property/listing management admin panel
  • Realtime data synch between Firebase and Webflow
  • Enable users to manage their booking requests
  • Connect to 3rd party APIs for email and sms notifications

Тhe benefits

Building a marketplace like Airbnb has its challenges on the way because of all the workflows and processes you need to consider. At Born Digital Studio, we make sure we setup the foundation in such a way that it allows the platform to scale without limitations. In that way we can easily customize and add new functionalities on the top without disrupting the rest of the platform.

Choosing Webflow and Firebase for this project has allowed us to achieve the goals of the project and continue expanding its functionalities in a cost effective method. Here are the main benefits:

  • Full control over the platform
  • Serveless integration without limitations
  • Fast go-to-market. Ideal for startups.
  • Decrease the overall costs. Pay only for what you use
  • One source of truth of your database
  • Easy to use CMS and update information
  • Be able to make changes on the go without affecting the platform

Knowing more?

At Born Digital Studio, we see customers with complex projects coming to us for strategy and development support. Our strength is in custom software development and product design. We determine and validate your ideas and goals, after which we choose the future-proof technology that match your needs.

Do you want to build a marketplace? Or is your marketplace not performing well? Then Born Digital Studio will be happy to help you. We translate the power of technology into software that take your business to a higher level.

Curious about the possibilities?

Please feel free to contact us without obligation by emailing hello@borndigitalstudio.com.  You can also fill in the contact form on our website and we will get in touch with you.