Product Features

How to Build Your Marketplace Front-End (With Nautical)

headshot of Nautical Commerce team member Nicole Kahansky
Co-Founder and Lead Architect
cube representing the pieces of a front-end

In the competitive world of digital marketplaces, your marketplace front-end is much more than just an interface — it's the defining factor of your customer's experience and your brand's identity. 

Customer experience is central to success, and having a seamless front-end sets you apart from your competition.

This article reviews:

Understanding the marketplace: front-end vs back-end

The efficiency and effectiveness of a marketplace is driven by the synergy between its front-end and back-end. Your back-end, functioning behind the scenes, is where operators and sellers can manage their catalog, inventory, orders, and other back-office data. 

Your marketplace front-end is where customers and sellers often first discover your marketplace. It's the part of your marketplace that shoppers see and engage with, making it vital for driving user satisfaction and loyalty.

Both are important to get right. The major distinction is that most marketplace backends are very similar. Every marketplace, from Uber to Amazon, has the same fundamental requirements, including vendor onboarding, logistics, multi-order management, payouts, and more. 

The front end, on the other hand, is where you can differentiate your unique offering, tailored to your audience. Nautical’s primary focus is the backend of your marketplace, but we also give you options for how to build your storefront. This article reviews those options so you can decide what’s best for you. 

How to build a storefront with Nautical

An exceptional marketplace front-end is about more than just aesthetics— it's about creating an intuitive, user-friendly, and engaging shopping experience. Nautical’s headless, API-based architecture empowers operators to build a marketplace front-end that not only meets but exceeds customer expectations.

Nautical’s reference storefront: your marketplace front-end starting point

Nautical’s reference storefront is an ideal starting point for creating a compelling marketplace front-end. The template is designed for accessibility, responsiveness, and SEO optimization, addressing all the essentials of a successful marketplace front-end. 

This storefront is not just time-efficient but also offers a reliable structure specifically tailored for multi-vendor commerce. It comes pre-integrated with the Nautical API, facilitating essential ecommerce functions like product browsing, account management, and the checkout process. 

Example of a product listing on Nautical's storefront
Example of a product listing on Nautical's storefront

[Jump to key features available in Nautical’s reference storefront] 

Customizing Nautical’s reference storefront 

You don't need to take Nautical's reference storefront as is. In fact, we recommend that you customize it to make it your own. Built on a modern Next.js framework, it's the foundation for a customized and high-performing marketplace front-end. It serves as a foundational template that can be tailored to reflect your brand identity and meet specific business needs. 

Customization options are plentiful, thanks to its compatibility with various styling approaches like global CSS, CSS modules, or styled-components. 

Built using Tailwind.css and Headless UI components, it offers flexible UI elements. Note that to effectively modify the storefront, familiarity with technologies such as GraphQL API, Next.js, React, TypeScript, JavaScript, CSS, and Git is essential.

Developing a custom storefront: your vision, our technology

For a completely tailored marketplace front-end, Nautical’s headless platform allows the development of a custom marketplace front-end, powered by Nautical’s GraphQL API. 

This approach offers flexibility in displaying data through API calls, including product information, pricing, seller details, and checkout processes. We also offer comprehensive API documentation for our versatile GraphQL API. 

To support this endeavor, Nautical partners with various 3rd-party solution integrators familiar with our technology. Alternatively, your in-house development team can develop your marketplace front-end, focusing on skills in back-end and front-end development, particularly in React/NextJS, and a deep understanding of GraphQL APIs.

[Check out our GraphQL API reference]

Essential Frontend Features for Your Marketplace 

Below are some of the key features built into Nautical’s storefront to help your marketplace succeed. 

Optimizing SEO

Our reference storefront is designed to simplify the process of optimizing your site for search engines. The site is structured in a way that makes it easy for search engines to crawl and understand.

The reference storefront uses semantic HTML tagging across all product pages, enhancing search engine compatibility. Each page features a meta title, a description tag, and a user-friendly URL. These elements are filled in using the SEO fields linked to your marketplace's entities. 

Marketplace operators can easily customize the SEO tags without any manual coding, using the Search Engine Optimization fields, on the products, variants, collections, and categories in their marketplace. 

Example of SEO fields in Nautical
Customizing product SEO fields in the Nautical Dashboard 

Other SEO-friendly features in the reference storefront include:

  • Performance. Tailored for an excellent experience, focusing on responsiveness and performance optimization.
  • Logical layout. Logical, category-based layout ensures that every product falls under a category with a clear breadcrumb trail, enabling easy navigation from products to their parent category.
  • Structured content. Attributes and features present product or variant specifications in meaningful semantic HTML.
  • Social media sharing. Social media icons in the footer link to your social media pages. Also, each page features social media-specific meta tags to ensure shared content appears polished and professional.

Highlighting trending products 

Featured collections allow you to highlight a rotating collection of products on your home page. 

Marketplace operators can create product groupings using collections. If a marketplace operator activates the "Feature on Homepage" setting on a collection, the products within that collection will appear as featured products on the home page of the reference storefront.

This way you can always highlight seasonal products or popular picks, to help boost sales on your marketplace.

Example of featuring a collection in the Nautical dashboard
Featuring a collection in the Nautical dashboard
Example of the featured collection in the reference storefront
Viewing the featured collection in the reference storefront

Customizing navigation

Intuitive navigation is an essential part of the user journey. It simplifies the browsing experience, aiding users in finding what they need swiftly. 

The navigation elements in the reference storefront are integrated with your Nautical Dashboard configurations. This automation encompasses the main navigation menu and the footer links.

Marketplace staff can easily manage both the footer and main navigation menus directly from the Nautical Dashboard without touching any code. You can update, add, or rearrange menu items, ensuring your storefront’s navigation remains aligned with your current offerings and customer needs.

creating a navigation menu in the Nautical dashboard
Creating a navigation menu in the Nautical dashboard
Viewing the navigation menu in the reference storefront
Viewing the navigation menu in the reference storefront

Displaying payment options 

A frictionless checkout experience is critical to encourage conversion and foster customer loyalty. One of the key ways to remove friction is offering various payment options. 

Nautical’s reference storefront comes ready to integrate with popular payment solutions like Stripe and Braintree. 

The payment options that your customers see during checkout are based on the payment plugins that you have enabled in your app marketplace. 

Checking out with stripe in the reference storefront
Checking out with Stripe in the reference storefront

Build a customer experience that exceeds expectations

The marketplace front-end is the face of your digital commerce platform and the key to connecting with your audience. 

By leveraging Nautical’s GraphQL API and reference storefront, you can create a marketplace front-end that stands out in the competitive digital marketplace. 

Embrace the power of Nautical to revolutionize your marketplace front-end and pave the way for success.

🔵 Learn more about Nautical’s front-end capabilities with a free demo 🔵

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Nautical Commerce dashboard graphic