Tophatter is a free online auction where bids always start at $ 1 and last only 90 seconds, making bidding fast and fun. In this article we will tell you how to clone application, what is needed for this, and how much such development costs approximately.
Step 1: studying the features of Tophatter
When project founders Ashwin Kumar (CEO) and Chris Estreich (CTO) launched their online auction, they knew they needed to offer users something unique. Something that will allow a new startup to stand out from eBay, Amazon and other marketplaces. Ashwin Kumar and Chris Estreich decided to focus on the feeling of excitement and fun that arises when you place a bet on an auction lot in the last seconds of trading.
To give buyers this feeling on an ongoing basis, it was decided to make all auctions very fast, so they all last around 90 seconds. In addition, it was also decided to set a starting price of $ 1 for all lots to make the bidding attractively profitable: it's hard not to bet on a brand new PlayStation, iPhone or Porsche if it's only $ 1.
With what else does Tophatter stand out from the competition:
- Free bets. Buyers do not have to pay to place bids on the Tophatter website and app. They only need to register, select a lot and place a bet on it. Of course, in case of winning, you will need to pay for the lot won in a convenient way for the user.
- Target audience. The platform is mainly aimed at millennials, offering products in several categories: apparel, accessories, beauty items, jewelry, sporting goods and a variety of electronics.
- Advanced personalization. Tophatter uses an artificial intelligence and machine learning system to recommend the most interesting items to users. These recommendations are based on people's past activity and personal big data.
- Orientation to the mobile market. Despite the fact that Tophatter has its own website, the startup's marketing strategy is focused on selling through a mobile app. Therefore, the project team spends most of the development budget on improving the application and its advertising.
- Unique functionality. The app has a number of unique interactions with the user interface (such as auction rooms and the bidding process) that makes it unique and fun to use.
Step 2: define the service business model
According to Forbes, the Tophatter marketplace earns $ 300 million a year from auctions
thanks to a well-chosen niche and the right monetization model, which includes the following elements:
- As we already wrote, placing lots and betting on Tophatter is free. But at the same time, the site charges a commission from the final sale price. The commission is 10% and is charged from the seller's income.
- Planning commission. Sellers can also take advantage of the opportunity to promote the lot within Tophatter. This includes a Scheduling Fee Bidding (SFB) when an item is put up for auction, as well as a fee for displaying a lot in Buy Now or Reminder Campaign. In the case of SFB, the fee is $ 1 per placement. The fee per view depends on the number of these views in the respective sections.
- One-time fee. Tophatter also charges buyers with a 2.9% + $ 0.30 handling fee for each paid order. A handling fee is charged on the full sales price including shipping. This money goes to process payments through PayPal.
- Reserve fee. Sellers can set reserve prices (the minimum amount, only upon reaching which the lot will be sold) for certain goods for a fee of $ 2 per lot. This fee is charged even if the reserve price is not reached or if the lot was completed (won) but the seller then canceled the transaction. If the item is sold, then both the reserve fee and the scheduling fee and handling fees will be charged.
- Other fees. Along with the aforementioned, Tophatter also has incident fees that lead to worsened customer service, fees for return withholding, chargeback fees, payout fix fees, postage fix fees, policy violation fees, and postage usage and insurance fees (shipping labels).
When launching your own clone
of Tophatter, you can use the same online auction monetization model or use other approaches.
Step 3: defining the functionality of the Tophatter clone
Functionality for sellers:
Functionality for buyers
- Registration, login. Registration on Tophatter is done via email or Google and Facebook accounts. If the user wants to sell something, then he must fill out an appropriate application, where you need to indicate the name and surname, phone number, store name and payment information.
- Product download. To sell on an online auction, you need to upload product data to the platform, set an initial or reserve price, and add a category and product image. If you are creating a complete clone of Tophatter, then the starting price should always be at the level of 1 dollar or, for example, 1 euro if you are focused on the EU.
- Setting up the auction. As a paid functionality, you can give sellers the ability to customize some of the trading parameters. For example, set a reserve price, minimum/maximum bid step, bidding time, the ability to add the "Buy now" option, etc. It is easy to spy on Tophatter, eBay and other popular auctions what functions can be paid for.
- Automatic auctions. If the user wants to sell not a unique product (piece), but something serial, for example, a phone or a memory card of a certain model, then he needs the ability to automatically start auctions after the current lot is closed. This option may be a premium feature.
- Payments, payment acceptance. Your Tophatter clone needs integration with payment gateways like Stripe, 2CheckOut, PayPal Payments Pro, Braintree to enable sellers to pay for premium features and accept payments from buyers. The advantages, disadvantages, commissions and other important things are described in detail in the article: «How to choose and integrate a payment gateway?».
- Ratings and reviews. They will give buyers the possibility to evaluate sellers by key parameters: reliability, sociability, delivery speed, compliance with the data in the trading card, etc.
- Statistics and reporting. Sellers also need a page to track the status of lots - current and past. This page should allow you to group lots by status, amount, result (sold or not sold), customers, etc. You can also add reporting for the month, six months and a year.
- Needed to inform the seller about the closing of the bid, payment for the goods, the end of the auction, reaching the reserve price, etc.
Functionality for the administrator
- Registration, login. The registration process for buyers is the same. Only, unlike sellers, they can immediately start buying, that is, participate in trading. They can also customize their user profile right away with their first and last name, country, phone number, billing information and other information.
- Search system, filters. Allows buyers to search for the lots they need using keywords and filters: category, price, country, seller, availability of a reserve price, seller rating, auction type, etc.
- View the lot card. It should be as simple and informative as possible so that the buyer can understand in one minute or even faster whether he needs this product or not, that is, to participate in the auction or not.
- Participate in the auction. This is not only the "Place a bet" button, but also the ability to enable an option that will automatically place a bet on the selected lot a second or a few seconds before the end of the auction.
- Buy out the lot now. Your Tophatter clone may allow buyers to buy the item straight away by paying the seller's preferred price. This function is essentially the same as buying a product in a store.
- Proxy bidding. Here the buyer sets the maximum amount he is willing to pay, together with the increment in the value of the bets. The system will automatically bid on the product at a predetermined incremental price to win the bid. Bids will not be visible to auction participants. In case of a tie, the earlier bet has priority.
- Closing a bet. If the user wins the bid, the service must direct the user to the payment gateway for further processing: payment and selection of delivery terms.
- Will inform the buyer about the bids won, the goods dispatched to the selected address, the goods arrived, etc.
- Control panel. Displays information about the current state of the platform: traffic, number of active lots, trading volume, problems, requests from users, planned actions, etc.
- Checking lots. After the seller has added the product to the site, it must be checked by the administrator for compliance with the legislation and the user's agreement. This is to prevent the sale of drugs, illegal services, etc. through your clone app. Verification can be carried out by a living person or specialized artificial intelligence and attract a person only when he cannot unambiguously determine what exactly is for sale.
- User management. Allows you to track data about all users of the application, edit data, freeze and ban accounts. There is usually an option here to reset the user's password.
- Listing management. Allows you to track data about all auctions, freeze and reject them if the rules of the site are violated.
- Content management. In this section, the administrator can track all content, edit and delete it, add something new.
- Payment management. Tracks transactions made within the application. Includes information about counterparties, timestamps, purpose of payment, amount, size, and more. The administrator can configure some options, for example, the amount of commissions and the account number of the application.
- They will inform the administrator about important events, such as the occurrence of problems, stoppage of payments, hosting failure, etc.
Step 4: choosing a technical stack and API for integration
A complete list of Tophatter technologies can be found at Stackshare.io
Step 5: start developing a clone of the Tophatter app
Online auctions are a highly competitive market where success can only be achieved with an application with a unique design and well-developed functionality. Such software can only be created through custom development within the state or by an outsourced full-cycle development company. Where to look and how to choose a technical partner is described in detail and with examples in our article: «How to choose a developer company?
After you choose a developer company, you can start directly implementing the Tophatter clone in code. This process usually consists of six steps:
- Signing a contract. At this stage, you (as a customer) discuss with the development company (executor) the terms of reference, development terms, payment method and cost of the project, KPI, etc., and then document the agreements reached in the contract.
- Prototyping the application. Then UX designers create a wireframe of the future Tophatter clone application, optimize user flows. Ready-made wireframes are sent for approval to the customer and focus groups if they are involved in the development of the application.
- Creation of interface design. At this stage, UI designers, based on wireframes and target audience analysis, create layouts and animated prototypes of the application interface design in the form in which they will be presented to end users. As with wireframes, ready-made solutions must be approved by the customer and the focus group.
- Directly coding. At this stage of development, the concept, design and functionality of the application are embodied in code. Front-end, back-end and mobile developers are responsible for this.
- Testing the application. Now QA engineers are at the wheel. Their task is to test the application in all possible use cases, as well as check how the platform operates under various loads.
- Release and support. Once the Tophatter clone app has been tested and cleaned of errors and bugs, it can be added to Google Play and the App Store, as well as to various business listings, directories and social networks. Further, the collection of feedback and the work of user support are being established.
The cost of creating a Tophatter clone