Get Ready for the Future: An Introduction to NFT Marketplace Development
NFT marketplace development can open the door to a lucrative market. There are just two detractors: expertise and competition. You need the expertise to build a user-centric, secure, and future-ready decentralized platform. And the competition only adds to the complexity.
We say jump on the bandwagon before it gets too fierce. After all, the NFT industry raised $8.32 billion and hit a $5.6 billion monthly trading volume in 2022 (both are all-time highs). And, according to the same report, platforms are actively competing for liquidity.
If that doesn’t make you want to invest in NFT marketplace development, mind that Statista predicts the NFT segment to keep growing with a 22.82% CAGR until 2027.
In any case, we wrote this article to outline the NFT marketplace development process and the key points of interest to show you how big the possibility is. Observe.
NFT Marketplace Development: Benefits & Features
An NFT marketplace lets creators, collectors, investors, and gamers trade digital art. It can contain vastly different features. Yet, most successful platforms share some capabilities:
- Asset minting. You can let users create, list, and sell NFTs without leaving your platform.
- Searchability. A robust engine, item categories, and filtering options make it easier for users to discover, trade, and rent digital assets.
- Data security. Transactions are stored on the blockchain — an unalterable, fault-tolerant database, while smart contracts process transactions without external parties to reduce the risk of fraud.
- Content moderation. A healthy trading environment helps users avoid fraudulent or illegally acquired digital assets.
- Reward systems. These incentivize users to hold NFTs within your platform by rewarding creators with tokens, introducing discounts, exclusive governance rights, and the ability to generate passive income by staking and renting assets.
- Transparent transactions. Activities on your NFT marketplace are publicly available. It allows anyone — traders, business stakeholders, and third-party auditors — to verify transactions.
- Your platform might require other functionality — that’s no problem. If you know what you need, a white-label NFT marketplace development company can create a pre-built platform for you with numerous customization elements.
Following us so far? Great. Allow us to walk you through the development process now.
NFT Marketplace Development Process: Step-by-Step Guide
Based on our experience in software development in general and this niche in particular, here are the fundamental stages of the NFT marketplace development process.
Research and Discovery
A well-rounded understanding of your target audience, competitors, and the digital asset market as a whole is essential for the platform’s success. During this stage, you should consider the following questions:
- Audience. Who will use your platform? Will you focus on NFT investors, digital art collectors, content creators, or gamers? Do you plan to fill a specific niche, like social metaverse users?
- Trends. What types of digital assets are currently trending? Which may gain popularity based on recent research?
- Focus. Do you want to develop an NFT marketplace for other companies, first-party content (NFTs for your products), or both?
- Guidelines. What copyright policies will you implement to prevent unauthorized use and distribution of original works? Will you regulate how outside actors (including NFT holders) use your IP for commercial purposes?
- Validation. What technologies should your marketplace incorporate to verify NFT items/collections?
- Competition. How can you set your marketplace apart from competitors? What functionality do they offer, and which technology stack did they use?
Next, you should identify what types of NFTs your platform should support. This could include art (regular and AI-generated), music, videos, access rights, game assets, or metaverse items (for online virtual worlds). With NFT ticketing marketplace development, companies provide unique digital tickets for exclusive events (online and offline).
You can also invest in physically backed tokens and scan-to-own technology that binds real-world items to NFTs. Developing an NFT sports marketplace lets users trade virtual autographs, player cards, and other digital collectibles. Allowing users to trade fractional NFTs (divided assets) will also create trading opportunities in your marketplace.
These basics lay the foundation for the rest of the NFT marketplace development process, including the blockchain network, consensus protocols, and front end.
Read more: ElifTech’s Research & Development Services
Decide on a Revenue Model
NFT marketplaces should balance profitability and user value. The main ways you can generate income are fees and advertisements. Niche platforms — like Sandbox virtual worlds — often charge higher fees. At the same time, according to the Block’s 2023 Digital Asset Outlook, 2022 saw the emergence of zero-fee platforms like Sudoswap.
Creator royalties provide recurring income for artists on your platform. But this aspect also requires balance — higher royalties increase trading fees, which can deter users from your marketplace. The same report shows how Goblintown outpaces other projects due to low royalty fees.
Front-End and MVP Development
Decide on your marketplace’s key features, user interface elements, and functionality. Now, you should translate your concepts into a user-friendly platform. Remember that your design should be responsive and adaptable to different devices and screen sizes.
Read more: Guide to Digital E-Wallet App Development
Blockchain Network Integration
Blockchain provides the underlying infrastructure for transactions on your NFT marketplace. Integrating with an existing network lets you leverage established validation mechanisms and impacts how many digital assets your marketplace can support. Here are the things you should factor in:
- Gas costs — transaction fees that impact the prices of transactions. Ethereum, while being the most widely used network, usually has higher costs due to network congestion and demand. Less popular networks like Polygon and Solana have lower gas costs.
- Transaction throughput — the number of transactions the network can handle per second, which is crucial for efficient processing. Ethereum can handle around 35 transactions per second, whereas less popular Solana has a theoretical peak of around 750,000.
- Interoperability — lets your NFT marketplace work with other networks and tokens. For example, building on Ethereum Virtual Machine networks means you can support ERC-721 and ERC-1155 standards, which are used in most NFTs.
The designers must collaborate with developers when creating mockups for the layout, navigation, and UI elements. Your users might want to filter items based on asset type, author, rating, or cryptocurrency payment options. Ensure it’s easy to see information about an NFT’s origins and the owner’s previous activity.
Using the initial feedback, build a minimum viable product (MVP) — a barebone version of your NFT marketplace with basic features. This will help you cost-effectively validate your product: you’ll understand if there’s enough demand and whether your revenue model is viable.
- Consensus protocol — allows the network to validate transactions. These protocols have varying degrees of security and energy efficiency. The most popular options are Proof of Work (solving mathematical problems) and Proof of Stake (staking tokens).
The Digital Asset Outlook report shows a shift toward modularity. In a monolithic system, a single protocol handles all core functions: executing, settlement, consensus, and data availability checks. In the modular model, delegating protocols can handle different operations.
Example: Ethereum handles settlement and consensus tasks, while Celestia is responsible for data availability. Such architecture can increase your platform’s efficiency and shave off transaction costs.
Contract Layer Development
Smart contracts process transactions on your NFT marketplace without financial intermediaries. It’s their job to:
- Automate trading operations (like minting, bidding, buying, and selling)
- Manage creator royalties
- Maintain ownership history for each digital asset
- Grant access to exclusive content
- Hold NFTs and release them after specific conditions are met (escrow)
The contract layer follows a simple “if/when” + “then” formula: if or when some conditions are met, then specific actions should be taken.
This means a lot of work. Developers should consider all potential functionality, set governing rules, and define a dispute resolution framework. It’s also critical to select a programming language, development tools, and libraries compatible with your chosen blockchain.
Now that you’ve grasped the fundamentals, let’s prepare you for the challenges.
Overcoming the Challenges of NFT Marketplace Development
Even if you follow our guide closely, you’re guaranteed to run into blockchain limitations. Below, we name some of the most prominent challenges and ways you can solve them.
Contract Layer Risks
Smart contracts can introduce vulnerabilities into your NFT marketplace. For example, the incorrect implementation of signatures or asset transfer mechanisms may result in unintended behavior. Hackers can also exploit accepted algorithmic characteristics to change the desired behavior.
Even worse, you can’t change the contract layer after deployment. In other words, every potential vulnerability is there to last and, therefore, can lead to data breaches.
You need a systematic development methodology with rigorous testing, debugging, and verification to prevent errors and bugs. It’s best to hire an experienced NFT marketplace development company for an in-depth smart contract audit.
Blockchains face the "scalability trilemma,” where they can only accomplish two of the three goals — security, decentralization, or scalability — and sacrifice proficiency with at least one. You can tackle these issues with Layer-1 (blockchain protocols) and Layer-2 (the network operating atop the blockchain) solutions.
For Layer-1 improvements, developers can change the consensus protocol and implement sharding. Sharding breaks transactions into smaller datasets — they are simultaneously processed by the network (in parallel). As for consensus protocol, NFT marketplaces can depart from Proof of Work to a less resource-intensive Proof of Stake or Proof of Burn mechanism.
Layer-2 solutions include sidechains, nested blockchains, and state channels. Sidechains are independent transactional protocols that use an independent consensus mechanism for large batch transactions. In a nested blockchain, a decentralized secondary chain executes some tasks to reduce the processing burden. Finally, the state channel improves communication between blockchain and off-chain transactional channels.
Throughput and Gas Fees
High transaction fees and low throughput can pose a challenge during NFT marketplace development. Platforms built on the Ethereum Virtual Machine may deter some users due to the fees alone.
To overcome this issue, you can go for alternative networks. For example, minting an NFT with Ethereum may cost up to $150 (based on the trading price). However, creating an asset on Solana or Polygon is only a few cents.
Again, Layer-2 solutions can increase the transaction throughput. Particularly, sidechains and state channels can offload operations for the main blockchain, improving processing time and lowering costs.
NFT Storage Limitations
Blockchain is suited to storing large media. A typical NFT contains metadata with a URL that points to the associated media (like a painting, photo, or video) hosted on a conventional web server.
These links are fragile. Should the website or domain become unavailable (due to server outage or data loss), the NFT owner may lose the ability to verify ownership of the digital item.
To address these risks, developers store larger files on decentralized storage networks like Filecoin. It’s also possible to use the Interplanetary File System (IPFS) hypermedia protocol to store files using content-addressing. IPFS uses cryptographic hashes based on the content instead of location-based links. Even if the file’s location changes, the hash remains immutable, meaning NFT owners retain their assets.
Overcoming most of the challenges requires first-hand experience and technical skills. Fortunately, that’s something we’re pretty good at.
Work with the Right NFT Marketplace Development Company
A trustworthy partner is critical for the success of your NFT marketplace. By working with ElifTech, you can take advantage of our expertise and experience to build a secure, scalable, and user-friendly marketplace that can compete with the industry’s best.
- Bespoke NFT marketplace development. We cover all stages of the software development life cycle. Our team emphasizes research to determine the optimal stack, architecture choices, and features for your platform.
- Client communications. A dedicated Delivery Manager provides clients with regular updates about the product’s status. This promotes transparency and ensures requirements are effectively implemented during development.
- Quality Assurance. Comprehensive planning, testing, and quality control let us remediate performance and security issues early on. This lets us deliver bug-free smart contract algorithms, resource-efficiency protocols, and a user-friendly UI.
- Prototypes and demos. We produce demos, prototypes, and MVPs to validate your NFT marketplace with minimal costs. If needed, we will reiterate and refine the designs until the client is satisfied.
- Security and compliance. Our company employs robust authorization mechanisms, role-based access, and a zero-trust policy. We protect your confidential data and ensure the safety of transactions on your marketplace.
Read more: Why You Need a Technology Delivery Manager
NFT marketplace development holds immense potential — if the development team knows what it’s doing. Our guide outlines the core steps and considerations, but blockchain-based projects depend on expertise.
Before the development begins, you should understand what NFT enthusiasts desire and have grown to expect from NFT marketplaces. You must delve into the inner workings of the underlying blockchain infrastructure, consensus mechanisms, and smart contract algorithms. Meanwhile, your team should be able to address the technological limitations.
A reliable partner can fill skill and knowledge gaps. We at ElifTech are well-versed in blockchain-based technologies. We strongly emphasize the discovery stage to ensure the platform meets your requirements and industry standards.
Whether you want to create a one-of-a-kind platform or a customizable white-label NFT marketplace — our development company can help. Join us for a conversation on how to build a future-proof product today.
Tailor the NFT platform for your audience. It should include expected features (search engine, listings, filters, bidding, ratings, and others) and prioritize user-friendly design. You should research the market to create a sustainable and competitive revenue model. Make sure your team has the technical expertise and follows the right methodology to ensure cost-efficient development.