How to start an app like Yelp

Checking reviews before buying products or using services has become a common trend among online users.

As per the report, around 97% of the population goes through online reviews before using the services of many businesses. 

Many start-ups, such as “Yelp”  and other apps, have found a way to make a profit by offering their local business platform. A platform where users can find local places and check reviews of the available services and products on the app. You can develop such apps and make profits as a commission on each sale. 

Check how to begin a Yelp clone. Cloning apps similar to popular local business apps can help you understand their business model and the features required for your app.

So, let’s first know the app “Yelp.”

What is the Yelp app?

It is a US-based company that offers a wide range of assistance services to find anything you need on the map. 

Be it a movie theater or a fine dining restaurant. This app helps users quickly search for businesses and places on their app. 

Also, the users can find ratings and reviews of different places such as restaurants, repair shops, stores, and others to pick the best one based on users requirements.

The app consists of three types of users:

  • Local businesses 
  • App users searching for services and checking their reviews 
  • Content creators or reviewers 

The app has improved continuously, allowing users to book a table or order food for takeout or delivery through an application. 

Also, the app offers third-party payment integrations that enable users to complete transactions straight from their platform. But what is the exact meaning of cloning small business apps? Understand in detail.

What do you mean by cloning an online marketplace app?

Cloning an online marketplace app means creating an app similar to top-listed apps dominating the local business niche. Creating similar apps will help you build your platform with your source code. 

Cloning will let you create a platform where anyone can find services on the map and share their experience with other app users.  

Why create a customized app instead of buying a Yelp clone script? 

Choosing a pocket-friendly option is not always a good option. To build your app similar to Yelp, you have two options, one is buying off-the-shelf solutions like SaaS, and the other one is building a custom software product. 

There are many benefits to building your customized app instead of buying a Yelp clone script. You can add features to your app anytime you want to your customized app, which is challenging to do the same when buying a clone script. 

Creating your customized app will help you establish a unique selling proposition for your business by adding out-of-the-box features and functionalities to your custom app.

Also, there are many reasons to consider building a customized app instead of buying a clone script, such as

  • You will be free to add new features and functionalities in a custom app.
  • More data security and privacy in building custom apps so no one can access your source code
  • Custom apps provide great support for 3rd party integration, which is not challenging when doing the same in clone scripts.
  • There are limited customization options in clone scripts

Check the top reasons why building apps that allow users to submit ratings and reviews is a good idea.

Why is creating an online marketplace app a profitable idea?

Unlike other business ideas, there is less competition in this market. Also, many people trust the reviews of other customers/app users when picking up services from other platforms.

Entering early in starting a local business platform can help you capture a significant market share and make incredible profits. Here are the top reasons that tell creating a small business app a profitable idea:

1. Nine out of ten read reviews before buying anything 

According to research by Business.trustpilot, 89% of consumers worldwide prefer reading online reviews and purchasing any product. The research indicates the importance of reviews that consumers prefer before buying any product or service. 

Also, this report indicates how it becomes necessary for online users to read reviews of the products they are going to buy.

2. Around 79% of shoppers prefer reviews over recommendations

According to a recent study, four in five online trust reviews rather than listening to personal recommendations. This report shows how the importance of online reviews is growing for online users over product and service recommendations.

3. Almost 47% of internet users leave reviews about products and services

Not just reading reviews, many consumers are sharing their products and service experiences by putting their reviews on small business apps. Also, many studies have shown that almost half of worldwide app users post their reviews on different platforms.

You can check some popular apps to help you get an idea about starting your local platform business.

Top apps similar to Yelp

Here is a list of some small business apps you can check for starting your local business: 

1. Foursquare

The platform offers local discovery and search services. Their app users can share their recommendations with others about their experiences where they visit. Foursquare offers their app users about places nearby to their location.

The app analyzes the browser history of app users, such as their geolocation, check-in history, and other recommendations. Users can find locations for drinking, eating, shopping, or other activities. 

Started in2009
HeadquartersNew York, USA
Available onWeb, Android, iOS   
App rating4.1
App downloads10M
Market valuation$390M

2. MerchantCircle

The app allows small-size and mid-size businesses to stay in touch with other businesses. MerchantCircle offers users to find deals and discounts nearby their locations. Also, users can read reviews or get assistance from other users on this platform.

Started in2005
HeadquartersCalifornia, USA
Available onWeb
App ratingN/A
App downloadsN/A
Market valuation$9B

3. TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor is the most popular travel service platform that allows users to go through generated information and comparisons with other app users.

The platform is famous for recommending many tourist attractions and opportunities that help app users find famous tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants, and others.

Started in2000
HeadquartersMassachusetts, USA
Available onWeb, Android, iOS
App rating4.5
App downloads100M
Market valuation$2.79B

4. Urbanspoon

The platform is a restaurant finder app that helps users find restaurants randomly. Also, users can add filters like town, food types, budget, etc. 

Started in2015
HeadquartersWashington, USA
Available onWeb, Android, iOS
App rating3.2
App downloads5M
Market valuation$2.06B

5. Angi

Angi offers recommendations for local home services. The platform provides details of users’ nearby home service-related professionals such as plumbers to painters, house cleaners to contractors, etc.

How to start a Yelp clone?

To start building your small business app, you can follow the app development steps:

1. Research the local business market 

It would be best if you researched the local business industry. Also, you can check top local business apps to get an idea about features you can add to your app. 

Along with researching your app competitors, you can do audience research under the local business market, like 

  • What audience want from the local business app?
  • What features and services are lacking from your competitors? So, you can add to your app to gain a competitive advantage.
  • What are areas of improvement in the local business market, and how can you improve them?
  • What features and functionalities can you add to your small business application?

2. Find USP for your app

USP stands for unique selling proposition. Knowing USP for your local business app makes it stand out from the marketplace, and it can differentiate your app from competitors and help you attract a large audience. 

To get the USP for your local business app, consider adding app features that can solve challenges that are common in using local businesses app, like

  • The proper categorization of local business services 
  • Ease of accessing and submitting reviews, and other features
  • Giving precise information and location of all the listed local business services

Also, consider adding advanced technologies such as chatbots, 360-degree place views (like google maps), or other useful features that can help you enhance your local business platform experience.  

Find what unique app experience you can provide in your small business app. Are some features unavailable or fully developed on other local business apps? What UI/UX changes can you make in your app? 

3. Choose tech stack

A tech stack is a set of app-building tools and technologies that are needed for building your business app. Carefully selecting a tech stack can help you simplify your app-building process. Many factors decide the selection of the tech stack of your app, such as pricing, features, etc.

Contact an app development company that can help you select the suitable tech stack for your business app. 

4. Hire app developers 

You can hire app developers to start building your small business app easily. There are different ways to hire app developers, such as hiring freelancers, in-house app developers, or outsourcing your project to an app development company. 

Ensure your partnered app developers have experience in creating local business apps for their past clients. Create documentation where you can requirements for your local business projects, such as:

  • What features do you want to add to your local business app?
  • What local business apps inspired you to create the same app for your business?
  • How do you want to make money from your business review app? Mention app monetization models.

However, we suggest you outsource your app to agencies that can help you build and launch your local business app. Choose an app development team that already built small business apps for their past clients. 

The app development team can help you build features, functionalities, APIs, and UI for your business app.

5. Start UI/UX designing for your platform 

The user interface of your small business app is the app screen through which users interact with your app. Your app development team will build your business app’s user interface.

You can also go for a minimal app design, like the Yelp app, where all the essential features have been placed so precisely that anyone can easily find the required features in the app. 

It will be best if the app developer team consists of UX designers that can help you create the user interface for the entire platform of your local business app.

While developing the UI of your local business type, consider the following things:

  • Add all the highlighted features, such as local business search, submitting, accessing local business reviews, profile customization, and others, to your home screen at the bottom of your local business app.
  • Select color schemes and design patterns for your entire business rating platform.
  • Use a minimalistic design approach to improve the navigation of your business rating app.

You can provide screenshots of popular local business apps to UX designers, such as Yelp or others, that inspire you to have the same user interface for your app.

6. Build app features for your business app

You must add features in your business review app that is already available to your competitors’ apps. Try to offer multiple useful features, such as

  • Enabling users to submit local stores’ ratings and reviews
  • Geolocation to help users to know the business location
  • Social sign-in to help users quickly signUp
  • Home screen to access all the local businesses and their reviews 
  • 360-degree map view to get the idea of the location of local businesses and stores

After listing out all the required app features; the app development team will start working on building these app features to make your app fully functional. 

7. Cross-check your local business app

Before publishing your app, ensure your app has no technical issues or glitches. You can simplify the review and booking process by eliminating all the challenges your beta app users will face while using your app.

  • Check whether your beta app testers can easily submit their review and book available services in your app. 
  • Does your platform provide the precise location of all the listed local businesses and services?
  • How good is the responsiveness of your local business app?
  • Does your business platform provide location details of the specific stores when searched in your app?

Perform app testing multiple times till your small business app meets all the criteria of app testing.

8. Publish your app

Once you complete all the steps to build your app, publish your app to your targeted platform.

At the time of app publishing, you can perform some required practices such as 

  • App optimization on your targeted app stores 
  • Following app publishing guidelines of app distribution platforms where you will launch your local store review app.
  • Properly embedding your business rating app screenshots, etc.
  • Highlighting all the features and functionalities in the description section of your app stores for your business rating app. 

Also, list all the features of your app, such as submitting ratings and reviews, suggesting nearby businesses, and other features on your app screenshot and description. 

9. Promote your local business app

To make your app more profitable, you can perform app marketing and other promotional activities to attract your targeted audience to your app. 

We advise you to promote local marketing practices in popular cities where you will launch your business rating app. 

Also, you can use social media marketing to showcase your platform ads in front of the audience living in your targeted market’s cities.

But what is the list of features you should add to your business app? Let’s check. 

Features you can add to your online marketplace app

Here is the list of features that must be on every small business app. 

1. Rating and review system 

The feature will help users submit their reviews and ratings for particular places and services. Also, the feature will let other users read reviews and ratings of other app users on your platform. 

2. Geo location-based search

This feature will help users find nearby places such as restaurants, shops, and other places details on your app

3. Social login

With social media log-in, the user can instantly join your platform by allowing your app to access their social media details such as e-mail address and name.

4. Push notifications

Providing the latest update to your app user through push notifications is the best way to let them avoid missing any important things regarding finding nearby places and other services that your app offers.

5. Analytics 

You can help your business partners get exact information about how your app users interact with their business page through the analytics feature of your app. 

6. User accounts 

You can divide the user accounts into two parts, one for the app user, who will access local business services. Another one is for businesses that can set up their business page on your app.

7. Photo/video uploading 

This feature benefits businesses and app users through which companies can upload photos and videos regarding their products and services. 

On the other side, app users can upload photos and videos relevant to their reviews and ratings for different businesses and places available on your app.

Also, you can add additional features to your app to provide a better experience for your app users and stay ahead of your competitor. 

You can do market research and take feedback from your users to know about the additional features you can add to your platform.

Now, let’s understand how small business apps make money. 

How do online marketplace apps make money?

Knowing how this platform app’s money can help you implement the right business model. These are the following ways that help small business apps to make money:

1. Branded profiles 

The app offers branded profiles with premium features, such as adding custom images and videos to personalize their profiles. The feature also offers CTA buttons to help them promote their business and services on their platform.

2. Enhanced profile 

The feature helps other businesses to prevent showing ads on their business pages from other companies. 

3. Verified license 

With this feature, companies can purchase a company’s verification license to make their brand more trustworthy on the rating and review platform.

4. Search advertisement

Companies can promote their profiles in the app search of this app. The app charges a cost-per-click fee for every user who clicks on their ad.

5. Online ordering

The platform charges a commission on every product ordered or bought through their platform. Many businesses registered with this platform pay a commission based on each product sale on this app.  

6. Store deals 

The platform offers deals for different products and services of the brands registered on their app. The app charges businesses additional fees whenever users purchase through their platform.

7. Gift certificates

Whenever businesses sell gift certificates and customers buy them, the app charges transaction fees from businesses depending on their total gifts.

8. Platform registration

Business registration is one of this platform’s most popular monetization models. The feature allows app users to make an online reservation where the app charges a fee as a commission on each booking. 

9. Wifi marketing

This paid service helps businesses advertise their pages via Wi-Fi login. The feature helps companies to get valuable insight about their customers such as how they interact with their business pages.

What is the best way to make an app like Yelp?

So if you want the best way to start a yelp clone, you can outsource your local business app to an app development company. However, other options also exist, such as hiring freelancers or in-house app developers.

Still, choosing an app development agency would be the best option as their team consists of all the professionals, such as programmers, project managers, and UI/UX designers.

All these can help you successfully build and launch your small business app.  

Also, many app development agencies have experience creating local business apps as they understand how to build and make them profitable.

How can Idea Usher help you?

If you decide to go for app development with the best app development agency, you can contact Idea Usher to build your small business app successfully.

Idea Usher is an app development company that creates apps and in digital platforms for its clients. Their team is experienced and skilled in building customized digital platforms for top-demanding niches. 

You can schedule a free consultation call where their team will properly understand your business needs and requirements to offer you the best business solution to help you start a Yelp clone. 


1. How does the Yelp app make money?

The Yelp app makes money in the following given ways:

  • Offering its branded and enhanced profiles
  • Selling verified licenses
  • Promoting search advertisements 
  • Taking commissions from online ordering
  • Offering Store deals and gift certificates
  • Platform registration 
  • Wifi marketing

2. How can I start a Yelp clone?

You can follow the given app development steps to start your small business app:

  • Do research in the local businesses market 
  • Find USP for your app
  • Select app-building tools
  • Hire app developers 
  • Start building UX/UI for your app
  • Build decided features for your local business app
  • Perform app testing 
  • Publish your app
  • Promote your local business app

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