What you need to know about selling your app on a marketplace (and an alternative)

A graphic of people pointing at a futuristic user interface

If you identify as an ‘app vendor’ (aka a dev who built an app and now sells it), you’re in today's SaaS economy. This means you’ve already done the hard bit; created something good that someone else wants to buy. You’ve probably already built in a way to receive payment and manage your customers*. And you’ve also maybe decided on where you’re going to sell it. Just in case you’re undecided, here we look at digital marketplaces from your PoV (a small SaaS business).

(*If you haven't, or you’re thinking about making some money from an app, skip to ‘Salable can help you’)

Get to your customers

So you’ve got your app and you want to make some money from it. Using a SaaS subscription model, you can generate recurring revenue by charging monthly, for example. (Or you could look at offering usage-based billing). But how to ‘get it out there’? It may be challenging for you to generate the necessary interest to make some money - no matter how fantastic your app is.


So digital marketplaces are a good option; an existing ecosystem where apps enhance the platform (like Atlassian or Microsoft) or the apps enhance the device (more like Apple App Store or Google Play). Marketplaces provide smaller vendors with the opportunity to sell their products alongside more established developers, they give you a route-to-market.

They make good business sense; launch to a large pool of customers already seeking out SaaS solutions (e.g. an app to solve a problem or desire). You don’t have to worry about customer/end-user management and payment processors. You may also get to work or develop with other creators - and that’s great for product development, learning, and revenue.

Any downsides?

Of course…there’s a lot to get to grips with... Any marketplace has rules (and in some cases) restrictions. For example, you may not get access to your end-user information or any kind of analysis. So customer insight could be a challenge. And the fees (or revenue share) to be part of that marketplace will vary.

Some will favour larger vendors simply because they generate more income. And you’ll see this in the search results - getting to the top is tricky if you have competition (in your category) or can't afford to get your app up there through ads or sponsoring.

If your app is only intended to work with one platform (an eggs-all-in-one-basket scenario), you are at the discretion of that platform…what if the architecture changes? Can you react and remain viable? And if users experience problems, you may need to build workarounds.

Marketplaces take care of billing and payments, but they also dictate the pricing model. Per-seat pricing might work for some apps, but it might be better for you to bill by a different metric. You may have to choose between a unique pricing model and marketplace entry.

If a marketplace is not your thing

There are alternatives; you could join an app listing where they act more like a catalogue. If someone wants the app, the link can take them to your domain (e.g. Trello integrations). However, they tend to be affiliated with a platform owner (e.g. Miro) and therefore you’re creating for that platform. 

Or you can set-up your own site or page, add a payment processing account and sell through that. Even if you offer your app for free, you’ll need a way to provide it to users. It's not surprising that many potential businesses (or even side-hustles) with excellent ideas give up on entering the SaaS market.

Meanwhile, popular vendors, who’ve previously had success in established marketplaces, are starting to take a step back. They recognise that some platforms provide limited opportunities for them to expand and grow. They’re actively looking for simpler, more flexible alternatives.

Salable can help you

(If you skipped forward, here’s what you need to know;) We’ve developed a SaaS business tool for app creators, vendors and startups. Payment processing (with Stripe and Paddle) and user management is included. You choose the types of plans to create (freemium, premium etc.) and their features. The options you want to give your customers, like a payment Grace Period or upgrading/downgrading their subscription (which they’ll love you for). And you can embed the pricing table on your page or site. 

We’re expanding the Salable capability, more features are being added and it’s currently free to use. If you’re an app creator; it may be just what you need.

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