Building a global marketplace for recyclable materials

Usoa
magnet.coop
Published in
4 min readMay 12, 2022

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Scrapad Marketplace screenshot
Scrapad marketplace

Building a marketplace platform is fun because you need to bring the best of both the consumer and enterprise worlds: friendly, attractive, easy to use tools as well as solid tooling and resources for the back-office of the enterprise. And even more stimulating when it contributes to the sustainability of the planet as it is the case of ScrapAd, a global marketplace for recyclable materials we have recently helped build.

Marketplace platforms consist of different layers and every layer is important. In this post I would like to dig in and explain some of these layers. We have built a complete and fully integrated marketplace and we want to share this success story with you.

Infrastructure

The underlying tech has been, as always is in our projects, HOP.

HOP provides a great boost for productivity when starting new projects. It automates the deployment to a cloud infrastructure (AWS) with a CI/CD pipeline, it sets up a system’s boilerplate and prepares the development environment for the developers. This automation allows developers to get to the business logic as fast as possible and removes all the complexity of setting up all the development environment details.

Automation is not the only cool thing about HOP; there is also a collection of modules and libraries to satisfy different projects’ requirements. These include authentication, payment gateways, digital signature, object storage, scheduling, and many more.

Application

As I mentioned above, marketplaces require building functionality for both the final end-user and a complete back-office for the enterprise.

The functional scope of ScrapAd is quite vast so I will only mention what I consider the most relevant ones.

End-user functionality:

  • Two-factor authentication for better security.
  • Ability to upload/edit the products they want to buy/sell.
  • Real-time negotiation tool. A whatsapp-like chat for buyers and sellers negotiation.
  • Automatic negotiation-based contract creation and signature.
  • Web and email notifications.
  • Payment management: money-ins from organization banks to the payment system, transparent money transactions and availability of your money to money-out
  • Favorite ads functionality to group and track ads.

Back-office functionality:

  • Automatic KYC process to ensure only verified customers can trade in the marketplace.
  • Automatic translation of items from the original language.
  • Automatic and personalizable SEO settings per ad and language.
  • Enterprise-style back office to manage all the main entities of the marketplace.
  • Automatic and manual logistics for rates and quotes.
  • A notification machinery that covers the whole registration and negotiation flows for the administrator to be informed and in total control of the business process.
  • Total integration of the payment system with the selected payment platform where all transactions are monitored.

As you can see, many features and processes behind the simple UI users interact with.

Scrapad marketplace back office dashboard screenshot
Scrapad marketplace back office dashboard

SEO

Search Engine Optimization plays an important role in Marketplaces. We want final users to come from search engines and that is why we need to pay special attention to SEO related aspects.

On the one hand we have served the public pages of the application with SSR (Server-Side Rendering) using Isomorphic rendering approach. This way we achieve a modern and reactive SEO-friendly web application.

On the other hand we created SEO-related editable tags for the back-office team and also improved the generation of URL slugs to optimize for SEO as well as sitemaps, and more.

In short. Fully featured SEO capabilities integrated in the solution.

Payments — Lemonway

We also developed a module to integrate with the Lemonway payment system.

At Magnet, we had experience with two payment systems before we started this project: Stripe and Redsys. We’ve mostly used credit card payments before, but the requirements for the ScrapAd marketplace were more complex:

  • They need to work with large amounts of money.
  • Bank transfers as well as credit card payments.
  • Fractionated payments from buyers.
  • Wallet for every customer.
  • The need for an intermediary instead of making payments directly between the buyer and the seller. That is, the money had to be stored on the platform until the conditions for sending it to the seller were met.
  • Possibility of charging commissions and other expenses together with the above. That is, the need for total control over money.
  • Total and programmatic integration of the functionality in our web application.

The integration with Lemonway was smooth, implementing a total of 16 API calls and 4 webhooks. We have now entered a partnership with Lemonway to be able to collaborate in new projects in the future.

Summary

Marketplaces are complex systems that manage critical business processes for different stakeholders. They require subsuming different tech ingredients and functionality into a single place and must guarantee a smooth user experience, great performance and business scalability.

It’s been professionally and technically both exciting and challenging to be a critical part of a new ambitious venture that will play an important role in the global supply chain and circular economy of recyclable materials.

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