Next-Generation Composable Marketplaces: Build, Buy or Blended



Jul 13th, 2023

Decisions, Decisions

As any CTO will know, the decision to build a custom software stack in-house or purchase a SaaS subscription is not to be taken lightly. A thorough investigation of all relevant factors must be considered. Organizational size, available resources, business objectives, and go-to-market timelines must be accounted for when deciding which route to take.

The primary reason for opting for an in-house build is customization and ownership, that in theory, sets the company apart from the competition. However, the reality is rarely so straightforward, with numerous factors to consider. Research commissioned by Harvard Business Review, looking at issues surrounding internal IT projects, found that “one in six IT projects experienced a cost overrun of 200%, on average, and a schedule overrun of almost 70%.”

Why Buying SaaS Looks Like To Be The Easiest Option

There are numerous reasons, outlined below, why you should avoid building a marketplace system in-house. Here are a few factors that you should consider before you begin.

Time to Market

Self-builds are notoriously tricky, absorbing much of the company’s available resources, and can often take in the region of 12 - 36 months before becoming fully operational. This is a significant investment in time and money, to get your project off the ground. Even after all this time, your self-build may fail to achieve your intended aims or operate as planned.

Why SaaS Makes Sense

However, by opting for a SaaS subscription, you will have access to a robust documentation and support network, which can guide you through the process of getting your business up and running, creating reducing your time to market.

Maintenance & Integrations

Creating a system is one task; maintaining it is another. Considering that the average marketplace can have up to 3k API endpoints, these will not only need to be built in the first place but regularly monitored and updated. You will likely require a developer for this sole task alone and often, such a task can turn out to be far more extensive than originally anticipated.


Building out integrations and connectors to 3rd party systems may also prove problematic as they may not be compatible with your one-off system or, at least, not without significant effort. This can cause friction with vendors who may be faced with extra labor on their side to make your partnership viable and may ultimately deter them.

Why SaaS Makes Sense

One of the key advantages of a SaaS system is that many integrations will have already been prebuilt, allowing for faster development with a proven track record of success. Vendors will recognize these systems and be more willing to work alongside them, saving you headaches later.

Labor Costs

Considering that the average salary for software engineers can vary from 75k - 150k USD per year across most markets, that is another cost you may have to pay to bring your self-build to life. Your project will likely require the input of several developers, greatly expanding the cost of your project and possibly far beyond what you may have originally anticipated. Should these employees leave your company, you may find it difficult or costly to get new joiners up to speed on a one-off setup.

labour 1

Why SaaS Makes Sense

As mentioned above, having access to detailed developer documentation can drastically reduce your labor costs, as much of what you need is already built and ready to be implemented. Alongside this point, using a well-known platform may make it easier to attract new vendors as they may have previously worked with it.

Scaling Up & Changing Direction

As mentioned above, building the core infrastructure and then managing maintenance can prove challenging, but it is essential to remember the scalability issue regarding expanding all of your operations.

5 product pillars

At some point, you may wish to change how you operate and explore new verticals, go upmarket, or experiment with new business models. In a custom system, this will mean building everything from scratch, again costing valuable time and money. Without assets such as developer documentation or a support channel, this can often absorb an organization's available resources.

Why SaaS Makes Sense

Access to a support network that can guide you through projects such as expansion or new verticals can be crucial to the project's success. Your provider can give you advice as to the best course of action to take and prevent you from making common mistakes.

labour 2

The Blended Approach

While the traditional narrative surrounding the Build vs. Buy debate presents it as a binary dilemma, there is a 3rd, previously unexplored perspective - The Blended Approach.

3 approaches

Instead of building an entire software solution from scratch, platforms such as Onport offer a solid base infrastructure that these companies can then build upon, sculpting their system unique to their particular needs and wants. With this approach, companies can launch faster and divert more of their resources to their business objectives, such as scale or revenue stream expansion.

Leveraging Composable Technology with Onport

Onport is an E-commerce Marketplace and Dropshipping Platform enabling companies to centralize the core areas of backend marketplace dropshipping operations, such as inventory syncing, order routing, shipping workflows, payment automation, and returns management, using next-generation composable technology.

Built upon the principle of MACH, the composable architecture of the Onport Platform is designed to provide our users with best-of-breed pre-built partner integrations which allow them to construct their stack as they see fit.

On average, it can take as little as 1 - 3 months for a customer to onboard with Onport and have their marketplace live, depending on the complexity of their requirements. Thanks to our robust and varied partner ecosystem, our customers can access various integrations, giving their marketplace the agility to achieve their unique goals. One key advantage of Onport from a customization standpoint is that the Onport API can be used to build bespoke implementations for various systems.

Maavee Gifting & Wellness

An example of one of our customers who came to us, faced with the build or buy dilemma, was the LA-based Wellness marketplace Maavee. Here’s what they had to say about their experience opting for a custom solution built via Onport.

Since we knew we needed MACH Architecture from the start and didn’t have the resources in-house to build what we needed, we decided to look for paid solutions. With Onport, we were able to launch in less than three months, which we just couldn’t have done, had we built the system ourselves.” -

Frank A. Ricciardi. CEO & Founder of Maavee.

Onport - Intuitive, Scalable, and Reliable

The Onport Platform empowers the Marketplace & Dropshipping ecosystem to thrive through connectivity with future-proof automation. It allows Retailers and Brands to create, set up, launch, and scale their online businesses. Designed to be flexible, it can accommodate both those seeking an out-the-box solution and, through an API with +3.000 endpoints, those who require a more flexible implementation.

From growing SMBs to well-established Enterprise level companies, its composable and adaptive infrastructure was designed to be a reliable partner for the growth of any ecommerce company. 200+ companies in the ecommerce space are future-proofing their business with a solution trusted by brands such as Stadium Goods, Cupra, Air Stream, Ivalo, &Open, Naduvi and Cariuma.

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