What is an app marketplace?

June 10, 2024
What is an app marketplace?

What is an app marketplace and when do you need one for your SaaS product?

Integrations, apps, and partnerships are becoming increasingly popular and, in fact, essential for everyday SaaS users (which is basically everybody). Whether you use a particular software or app in your personal life or at work, you now expect it to connect with popular tools.

Could you go back to a time when Slack didn’t tell you about upcoming meetings? Or Zoom didn’t enable transcription tools? Or you had to manually add Gmail emails to your CRM? Me either.

Big SaaS players (and their tech partners) have been building awesome apps and integrations into their tools for decades – so we’re used to them. And since people find their apps and integrations on their app marketplace, they can be the highest-trafficked pages on their websites and dashboards. Driving awareness, integration installs, and new business. 

But niche applications and smaller software companies are getting wise. You no longer need deep pockets and a team of developers to build an app marketplace. You can use platforms like Partner Fleet to build out your marketplace and ipaas tools like Paragon to create applications within them.

Does this sound like you? If so, let’s dive into everything you need to know about B2B app marketplaces, why and how to build one, and what you need to make yours successful.

What are app marketplaces?

App marketplaces are digital platforms where developers can publish applications and integrations, allowing users to browse, purchase, and install these apps. These marketplaces serve as a hub for third-party developers to extend the functionality of a core product, offering users a seamless way to enhance their software experience.

An app marketplace is where you go to buy, download, install, and/or use an application or integration online. They largely fit into two categories.

  1. B2C: A store where people download apps they use for fun or in everyday life. Think about the Apple App Store, Google Play, and Nintendo eShop.
The Apple App Store
  1. B2B: A place online where people can download and install apps and integrations to use with their work tools. These app stores are generally software-specific. A place where you can find apps that connect with a certain tool you already use (or want to start using). Think HubSpot App Marketplace, Zoom App Marketplace, or ServiceNow Store.
HubSpot App Marketplace

There are dozens of names for app marketplaces – an app hub, integrations marketplace, partner marketplace, partner directory, even a partner locator. And although they may vary in functionality or serve different purposes, just about any of them can be built with a platform like Partner Fleet.

Note: We wanted to mention B2C app marketplaces since most people will encounter several in their life. But this post is largely about B2B app marketplaces, built to promote apps & integrations built onto a SaaS product.

Why create an app marketplace?

Why should software companies care about app marketplaces? Because building one of your own has become much more accessible and affordable in the last 5 years. And app marketplaces open up huge opportunities for revenue growth.

First of all, you need to be promoting any apps and integrations you already have like they’re core product.

If you have a features page on your website, you need an integrations page. Why? Your integrations are often just as important to buyers (or more important) and should be adequately promoted.

In fact, 84% of businesses say integrations are “very important” or a “key requirement” for their customers.

That means new prospects are looking for you to integrate with their systems in their decision making process. And these buyers are very far down-funnel – often looking to book a demo or start a free trial as soon as they learn that you have a particular integration.

In fact, one Partner Fleet customer sees a 30% click rate to their free trial flow from their marketplace (enormously better than the average CTR of 2-3% on B2B SaaS websites).

Do any of your other marketing pages have the same click through rate? Probably not.

What does that mean? You should give integrations the same visibility on your site and in your product as you do your most popular features.

See how HubSpot has featured integrations (their in-app marketplace) in the main sidebar of their dashboard:

HubSpot integrations on the dashboard.

HubSpot also has their ecosystem (which includes their app marketplace) in the main navigation on their homepage.

HubSpot ecosystem listed in the main nav on the homepage

For a CRM/marketing tool like HubSpot, integrations are crucial and they understand that. Their marketplace is one of the best because they’ve focused on building integrations and they make them easy to find.

Second, creating an app marketplace indicates both internally and externally that you are ecosystem-first: ie actively building connections to other companies in order to increase the value of your product.

Having an app marketplace is just the first step in a much bigger ecosystem strategy: but it is a crucial one. When you have an in-depth, searchable, high-quality app marketplace on your website and in your dashboard, it indicates that you are actively working on building a better product through tech partnerships, apps, and integrations.

You can use the app marketplace internally to show your executives how many customers are requesting new integrations. You can use the app marketplace to show traffic to these pages and conversion rates. And you can use the app marketplace data to pitch for partnerships budget (to continue building APIs & integrations).

Your sales and support teams can use the app marketplace to speak intelligently about the solutions you have and make recommendations. And it gives everyone the confidence to know your integrations are useful and regularly updated.

Externally, your app marketplace indicates that you play well with others. Partner Fleet customers regularly get demo requests directly from their marketplace, indicating that a search for integrations means that prospect has a high intent to buy from you. So make them easy to find with your app marketplace SEO-optimized and linked from your homepage.

Related: No Budget, No Problem. How to Get Your Marketplace Paid For.

Which partners should be included in your app marketplace?

Your app marketplace should include the integrations and apps your customers may want to install. But it can also include non-tech partners to help with implementation, support, and strategy. Here are the most common partners included in app marketplaces:

  1. Integrations built by you
  2. Integrations built by partners
  3. Apps built by third-party developers
  4. Implementation partners
  5. SI partners
  6. Perks & discounts
  7. Any other partner your customers regularly use

Your app marketplace should separate service partners & integrations and include tags, filters, and other indicators to make finding integrations easy for your customers and prospects. But feel free to add as many partner types as you think your customers want to see. 

For example, SmartRecruiters (built on Partner Fleet) has Technology Partners and Service Partners listed on their marketplace, with dynamic filtering options depending on the partner type you’re looking for. 

SmartRecruiters Marketplace

What types of companies should have an app marketplace (with examples)?

Any company with apps, integrations, or partners should consider having an app marketplace to promote them. Here’s a quick rundown:

SaaS providers

SaaS companies like CRMs, project management tools, marketing automation, sales tech, email marketing, data tools, etc. are most likely to build an app marketplace to promote and allow customers to install apps and integrations. 

Here’s ZoomInfo’s marketplace for example:

ZoomInfo Marketplace

Platform companies

Businesses providing foundational technologies, like cloud infrastructure or content management systems (CMS), need an app marketplace to offer additional tools and features. This boosts user engagement and satisfaction by providing easy access to complementary applications. WordPress, for instance, has a marketplace full of plugins that enhance website functionality, from SEO tools to e-commerce capabilities.

Here’s WordPress’s marketplace for example:

Wordpress plugins

Consumer tech companies

Companies making consumer-facing products, like smartphones or smart home devices, depend on app marketplaces to sell the apps that make their products (and ecosystem) valuable. The Apple App Store and Google Play, for example, provide millions of apps that enhance device functionality.

Google Play store

Enterprise software

Large enterprise software providers, such as ERP or HR management systems, can benefit from an app marketplace by offering industry-specific solutions. SAP and Oracle have extensive marketplaces that cater to various business functions, enabling enterprises to integrate specialized tools seamlessly.

Here’s SAP’s marketplace for example:

SAP product marketplace

Niche software vendors

Smaller software companies with their own ecosystems should offer app marketplaces to showcase their integrations and offer partner solutions to customers. For example, Truckstop, a software specifically for trucking fleet management, offers an app marketplace where their customers can find partners and install integrations. Plus, prospective partners can apply and get access to their portal. 

Truckstop's partner marketplace

E-commerce Platforms

Online marketplaces and e-commerce platforms, like Shopify or Magento, benefit immensely from app marketplaces. They offer merchants various tools to optimize their stores, from marketing automation to inventory management and customer service enhancements.

Shopify App Store

By establishing an app marketplace, these companies can foster a vibrant ecosystem of third-party developers, enhance the functionality of their core products, and deliver greater value to their users. This strategy not only drives revenue growth but also builds a more robust and versatile platform that can adapt to users' evolving needs.

Related: Turn your marketplace into revenue.

Who builds the apps or integrations on a marketplace?

Apps and integrations on a marketplace are typically built by third-party developers, independent software vendors, and sometimes by the marketplace owner itself. Encouraging external developers to contribute brings diversity and innovation, while in-house development can ensure critical integrations are available from the start.

You build integrations

Companies early in their development or partnerships journey are likely to build most of the integrations themselves. They have more of an incentive than anyone else to connect with bigger players and get the subsequent value. If you're in this stage, you may only need a simple integrations directory, but you should still make sure you have all integrations listed on your public site for discoverability.

Independent developers build

Once you start to build out APIs, independent developers may start to be interested in building on your product. Initially, this will likely be a developer building a specific integration for just one customer.

But as time goes on and your brand and customer base grow, developers will start to create apps and integrations that anyone can use. At this point, you might want to have a system to allow app developers to be paid for their apps.

ISV partners build integrations on your product

If you're building onto bigger players initially, later other tech solutions may build a generic integration onto your platform. So your app marketplace could include integrations built by you or the other ISV. Most late-stage companies' app marketplaces will look like this.


App marketplaces are essential for driving integration awareness and adoption, and growing your tech ecosystem. Book time with our team to learn more about how you can launch yours in just a few weeks.

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