rental marketplace multivendor sharing swapping p2p spree commerce

A rental marketplace is a multi-vendor E-commerce platform connecting people or parties who want to use the equipment, sports gear, vehicles or real estate owned by some other people. Sometimes called a P2P marketplace, it allows for renting, loaning, sharing, swapping. Spree Commerce may be customized for such a purpose.

There are several exciting rental marketplace business models in a sharing economy. Spree was intended for selling products but it may be also customized to a rental, sharing or a swapping business model.

P2P rental and sharing marketplace

As we accumulate unused DIY hardware, forgotten sports gear, used tires and unwanted gifts in our basements and garages, it makes sense to make some money off them. Renting stuff is an interesting prospect for both the owners and potential users. The owners can maximize their investment by renting their property and maybe even finding a buyer. The latter may use stuff without any long term commitment and if they like what they use, maybe even make a buy offer.

Multi-vendor rental marketplace for tourists

Areas frequented by tourists usually have a number of rental shops with various sports gear and tourist equipment. Centralizing those shops within a multi-vendor rental marketplace makes sense as they would get more clients and be able to manage their bookings online. Every mountain town has ski rentals, every lake has a boat and kayak rentals, there are so many bike rentals, electric bike rentals, and many other such establishments. Spree could be easily tweaked for such a rental marketplace.

Vintage fashion sharing or swapping marketplace

We all have closets full of clothes we don’t wear anymore. Sometimes these are clothes that our parents or even grandparents used to wear. Some of these items are eternal classics and one in a million. No other like it available anywhere anymore. Some others come into fashion as the trends cycle back through time. In any case, Spree could easily support a fashion sharing or swapping marketplace.

Second-hand games P2P swapping marketplace

Check out this interview with Damian Legawiec, Spree Commerce open-source tech lead, who talks about his experiences from building and running a successful P2P marketplace for pre-owned games (Xbox, Play Station, Nintendo, PC, others retro platforms). In the words of its founding father, it was “like a transactional Facebook + Messenger and people were spending quite a lot of time there every single day.”

Local community sharing and support marketplace

Renting or sharing stuff comes easier when there is a relationship built on trust, such as in a local community. Neighbors can help each other by sharing everyday items or swapping favors. Running low on kitchen supplies in a critical moment? Ask your local community for help! Can’t pick up that shipment today? Just ask your neighbor. Can’t walk the dog? Ask your friendly dog walker. Need a power tool for a weekend? No problem, rent it for the whole week. Need a bigger car for tomorrow? Just ask your neighbors.

Example rental marketplace functional specification

As a User I can:

  • set my location and desired item pickup radius
  • review the item listing page – either by
    • browsing the items category tree to find the item I need
    • using the search box to browse a list of items matching my query to find the item I need
  • review the item details page
    • photos, description, detailed parameters
    • availability timeslots
    • pickup and return details
    • pricing
  • make a booking for an item by:
    • picking a timeslot – from & to dates
    • providing credit card details so the rental fee may be frozen until the order is confirmed
  • receive an order confirmation from the Owner
    • my frozen (authorized) funds will be captured
  • communicate with the Owner regarding pickup and return
  • pick up the item as agreed and confirm item pickup
  • return the item as agreed and confirm item return
  • indicate to the Owner other scenarios (malfunction, earlier return, later return)
  • rate the item
  • rate the Owner
  • review deal history

As an Owner I can:

  • set my pickup location(s)
  • set my return location(s)
  • add items including their pricing and possible pickup and return location(s)
  • set item’s availability
  • confirm item orders for a specific timeslot
  • refuse item orders for a specific timeslot and specify a reason
  • communicate with the User regarding pickup and return
  • confirm a pickup
  • confirm a return
  • rate the User
  • review deal history

This approach saves everyone around 2.9% credit card commission as we’re only capturing the funds once the deal has been confirmed. Of course, there’s an authorization window of (usually) 7 days within which time the Owner should confirm the deal and possibly the User should pick up the item. After that authorization amount expires and it’s getting tricky to re-authorize the funds.

Some additional business model questions to answer:

  • when is the payout to the Owner made – on order confirmation by the Owner or on item pickup confirmation by the User
  • how to handle dispute resolution scenarios – item malfunctions, item theft, pickup, and return delays
    • what is the workflow for handling such cases?
    • who owes who money? who pays the extra costs incurred by the marketplace when transferring funds?
  • the marketplace commission
    • could be either a percentage for all item categories or it would vary per category but
    • it could be deducted from the Owner payout or added to the User’s bill on top of the Owner’s rental rates
Spree Commerce may be customized to any rental, sharing or a swapping business model. Feel free to reach out to learn more.