Great marketplace website design allows you to support a buyer/seller community, promote a diversity of products; and manage and facilitate sales. Since 2012, we’ve built many features for our clients. The following marketplace features list represents the platform core that can help you achieve those goals.
As an online marketplace, it is crucial that your payment system is perfect. It is not merely about facilitating the transfer of money from buyers to sellers – although that is obviously key. In general, your buyers and sellers are not going to know each other and there will be a delay between when a person makes a purchase and when they receive the product. That means there is a HUGE risk placed on the buyer if the transaction is not handled correctly. The obvious way to handle this dilemma is through a hold funds function.
In this scenario, the buyer executes the sale but instead of the funds going directly to the seller, you as the marketplace platform hold the funds until the buyer signals that she has received the goods. Only then do you release the funds to the seller through a vendor payout order.
However, this shifts the risk from the buyer to the seller. The buyer can suggest they never got the good, when in fact they did, allowing the buyer to keep the asset and their money creating a loss for the seller. What you need to do is link your payment system to your shipping infrastructure so that when the delivery is made the release of funds is automatically executed, limiting the risk to both the buyer and seller.
Couple this with a robust refund policy and you have a professional payment system for your marketplace platform.
Acting as a third-party arbiter of exchange when it comes to payment is a complicated process you must habitually execute perfectly up if you are a marketplace. You need to do this right. We have set up these systems for our marketplace clients, such as this car park sharing marketplace and this online ticket marketplace for ticket resale, giving us the experience you need to avoid the obstacles prevalent in building a robust payment systems. We are familiar with Stripe connect, MangoPay marketplace and PayPal marketplace, so you can provide payment options that fits your clients’ preferences. Your marketplace payments are too important; let us be your experienced partner.
Sometimes a shopper wants to search marketplace listing, unsure of what she wants or needs; she will know it when she sees it. Sometimes a shopper knows exactly what she wants and wants to quickly find it and execute the sale. The best marketplace design will be able to accommodate both sets of customers. Achieving this requires having the right structure, tools, and partnerships with your vendors to create a system that makes it easy for your customer to navigate through your marketplace portal.
Browsing for your buyers is about a structure for your sellers. There must be an underlying logic to how your sellers organize what they are selling, and the more they sell the more important that logic is because there is more to peruse. If you go into any store, products are grouped by type and are distributed logically around the store. In a grocery store you won’t find steaks sitting next to avocados. In a clothing store you will not find athletic shorts right next to formal shirts. Similarly, you need provide a means to your vendors so that they can organize their wares appropriately.
Next, you need to provide the search tools that customers expect when they go to an internet marketplace. That includes a Boolean search, filters by types, and product tags. You should also consider providing a series of different ways to view the list of products so that buyers can customize their experience so that they can navigate easily.
Finally, you need to provide all these tools in a way that it is easy for your sellers to use. Your sellers are the ones who know their products best and are therefore going to be responsible for classifying them in such a way so that buyers can find them. Your logic must be apparent and your system for organising products must be intuitive to them.
The problem with internet marketplaces is that you can’t hold the product in your hand or see it in person before you buy from the vendor. Prior to the internet, buying and selling was very much a tangible thing. You could try on the clothes, smell the produce, flip through the pages of the book. Instinctively, buyers still want that experience so that they can feel comfortable about their purchase. Obviously, you cannot reproduce all those sensations, but you can help your buyers get as much information about any given product as possible. We helped our clients develop templates that can accommodate multiple images of the product, a variety of different information (such as pricing), and even geolocation if that is relevant.
Once you have established your listing infrastructure, it is about protecting your listings and your marketplace’s reputation. You need to make sure that only the best vendors are marketing their goods and services on your sight, so you need to review and approve each seller. You need to make sure that these approved vendors can quickly and efficiently post new product to their site. Also, your vendors and you must be able to easily monitor inventory levels to ensure that when your buyers order something they will get it expeditiously. The quality of your vendors, the variety of goods, and consistent availability of products all speak to your marketplace’s reputation. You need to get it right, and none of it is easy.
While your buyers and sellers define your market, you are ultimately responsible for it. It is your name that is on the line. This demands that you have a set of tools available that will allow you to monitor and make the necessary adjustments to support your customers. You need a solid administrative interface.
The first thing your administrative interface needs to do is monitor activity and warn you if things are going awry. You will have terms of service for your site and you need to know when those terms are being violated. We’ve built interfaces for our clients so that inappropriate actions such as derogatory language can be quickly discovered and censured. You can also use your administrative interface to approve vendors and products, create outreach materials for customers, run competitions and change marketplace settings. It is the place where you can keep track of your key metrics, including measuring which vendors are doing well and which could use some help.
In short, the administrative interface is your mission control; your toolset for making the adjustments on a day-to-day basis to accommodate the ever-evolving market.
The standing of your marketplace is the composite of the reputations of your buyers and sellers. If your seller care about their reputation (and if they are on your marketplace, they should) they are going to want feedback from their customers on how they are doing. Your sellers should want to know when something goes wrong so they can go out of their way to fix it. You need to empower your sellers to monitor how their customers view them, because if you do not things will be missed. Customers will develop bad feelings for your sellers and word will spread. Fewer customer will come to your marketplace, leading to fewer sellers, and that is how a marketplace platform goes into a death spiral.
We have a long history of helping online marketplaces build trust communities of buyers and sellers. It is not just about letting customers vent about bad experiences, but giving sellers the tools to respond. If you work with your vendors to generate positive reviews and improve their reputation, studies show that you will get more customers who are willing to pay a higher price. That translates to greater profit margins for you and your vendors, which will lead to more vendors, which will lead to more customers. That is how a marketplace platform goes into a growth spiral. We’ve done it for this car park sharing marketplace and this real estate e-commerce; we can do it for you too.
Shopping is historically a communal experience and with social media it still can be on your marketplace platform. People like showing off what they bought, asking for opinions on what they might buy, and just generally talking about cool things they have come across. Social media is a natural means for advertising your buyers’ products and getting the word out about your marketplace generally. The best part about it is that by people posting on social media, you get the personal touch. Coupling products with personal endorsements by friends increase the likelihood of sales, turning one sale into multiple within a group of friends. Social media is a true economic force multiplier.
We can hook your marketplace up to Facebook and Twitter, ensuring that your customers can connect with their friends on the platform of their choice. We can make it easy for your customer to post the complete listing of the items they are interested onto their personal feeds. Pictures, prices, and particulars, all posted at your buyers’ convenience and by their choice. These are marketplace website features that we have added to our other clients’ platforms, and we can add it into your next generation system. You can’t afford to miss out on the benefits of social.
If done correctly, an online marketplace is not just a collection of software and tools that facilitates exchange; it is a community, and community requires communication. Vendors have to be able to communicate with buyers, buyers with each other, and all of them need to be able to communicate with you. That is why we offer multiple possible methods of communication for your marketplace.
For some, an inter-marketplace messaging system makes the most amount of sense. Each seller and buyer have their own inbox, which allows them to communicate freely without administrative intervention. Further it provides another means for buyer and sellers to contact you, the administrator of the marketplace, providing you with timely and responsive feedback. Part of the benefit of an internal communication system is that it keeps your clients on the platform instead of having to go to a different system to contact you. The greater the time spent on the site, the greater the likelihood of vendors listing more products and customers making a purchase. Further, a platform-centric communication system increases the likelihood of an immediate response. If a customer sends a question to a vendor who is currently working on the platform, the seller is more likely to quickly respond. Quick responses to questions increases the likelihood of a sale as it decreases the amount of time between when a buyer becomes interested in a product and when she makes a purchasing choice.
The second communication system we can provides the ability to reach out to your buyers and sellers via email. This is an excellent tool to help you bring customers back to your platform when they are not on it. You can this email outreach tool to notify customers of sales, inform them of orders being shipped, and even provide them with a newsletter of upcoming events.
We take communication seriously, and you should too. We have helped our clients include communication systems into their platforms, which has led to increased performance and revenues. Let us help you better connect to your clients.
Once a buyer decides on a purchase, the goal of any marketplace site is to make the process of check-out as efficient, intuitive, and painless as possible. Buyers needs to know that their financial information is secure and that they can confirm that what they are purchasing is what they selected. You need to minimise the steps in the check-out process to avoid frustrating your customers, but you also need to provide enough structure to mitigate fraud risk. Fail to achieve any of these elements, and buyers will drop out and not complete the transaction. The loss of sales dues to customer concerns about financial security or procedural frustration can kill any marketplace. Don’t let it kill yours.
The solution is to put in place booking systems designed to minimise frustration and maximise security; it’s important to know how to strike the right balance. Besides, we can create an intuitive check-out that is effortless for the buyer while still providing the necessary security features. By connecting check-out to your sellers’ inventory system and listing calendar, you can prevent the possibility of long delays in shipping or double booking. We can also help you institute a “double check” to make sure that the product your customers are paying for is the product they want.
More online shopping is moving from desktops and laptops to smart phones and tablets. Your online marketplace needs to be where your potential buyers are, because that is where your sellers want to be. This means that your marketplace must be friendly for every type of screen so that it can be accessed by customers no matter what type of device they are using.
However online shopping is especially important because that is what people are migrating towards. According to a 2016 survey, only 27% of people used a laptop or desktop to connect to the internet away from work. However, 56% used a smartphone and 59% used a portable handheld device, such as a tablet, to access the internet. This shows that many of your customers have already moved on to mobile, and more will join them.
You need to make your marketplace responsive, on many levels. But in this context, responsive means that your marketplace’s display needs to automatically adjust to whatever screen it is being viewed on. Your marketplace must also be built so that it can load quickly on any device, because no one in this era of high speed connections has the patience to wait for a page to display.
There is a lot of technical components to navigate to achieve these ends, and we have navigated them all. We optimise every marketplace we build, making them responsive and quick to load – traits that your platform can not do without.
Markets are defined by a shared frame of reference; if buyers and sellers cannot clearly negotiate using similar terms, a deal won’t be made. The internet was created to ignore boundaries and divisions, but if you compel people to speak your language and pay in the currency you are comfortable with, you are going to lose customers. Competing and working on a global scale means being able to communicate in multiple languages, selling in multiple currencies. Obviously, this poses challenges.
For language, you don’t want to lose anything in translation. It is unlikely many of your sellers will write product and service descriptions in multiple languages. They are probably going to write just one version, and it will be up to your platform to translate it to other languages. Is your marketplace prepared to meet that challenge?
In terms of currency, exchange rates can make things real complicated, real fast. Currencies do not have a one-to-one equivalency and the exchange rate can vary minute to minute. Your buyers want one price stated in their own denomination, while your buyers want to be paid in their home currency. Your marketing platform needs to be tracking different exchange rates and make updates to the relevant prices in real-time so you can secure an accurate, fair price for your buyers and sellers despite the two of them using different mediums of exchange. Is your market platform prepared for that?
We are prepared for these challenges because it has met them before – and we can do it for you too. Reach out and contact us today and become a truly international marketplace.
One of the greatest sources for customer leads for online marketplaces is through search engines. People go online, search of something, and discover a product being sold on your marketplace. They follow the link, discover the product, but more importantly to you, discover your marketplace. A successful sale that sprung from a Google search opens the possibility for repeat customers who share their experiences with their friends who come and visit the marketplace and make purchases of their own. But for that to work, search engines must be able to find your products.
It’s important to create product display templates that emphasises the addition of metadata, which makes it easy for engines like Google and Bing to discover your sellers’ products organically. All of our clients marketplaces are SEO optimised, and your needs to be as well.
All the negotiation, all of the product displays, all of the attention paid on the user experience is wasted if you can not guarantee the delivery of the good or service. That is the basic interpretation of shipping with a digital marketplace, but there are bigger challenges than that. In general, the sellers are not going to want to pay for shipping to the customer; that is a standard that Amazon has set, and the general public seems to have embraced that. Buyers are generally willing to pay for shipping but want a customised experience and wants to minimise its expenses. As a marketplace owner, you want to minimise shipping fees because that transaction does not benefit you and can alienate customers.
We have analysed 200 different marketplace sites to determine how each handled the shipping question and learned how to build a simple, clean interface that would allow buyers to choose the shipping method best for them. The interface informs the buyer how much each shipping option costs and when they would receive their product. While it appears simple to the buyer, the complex, but well-controlled workflow underneath the interface assures that every quote will be right every time. We have experience building interfaces that work directly with shipping companies, such as UPS, to automate the delivery process.
We have helped companies (read this client case study) to automate and customise their shipping process while keeping costs low for their customers. You don’t want customers to comment on the shipping process for your marketplace; you want it to be seamless and unremarkable because it is so easy. Make shipping easy; partner with us.
Peter Drucker once said, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” The best online marketplaces aren’t static; they evolve. The only way markets can evolve is in response to customer feedback and real-time data on the most important aspects of your marketplace. If you, as the marketplace’s administrator, are not getting that data and seeing the important trends, you cannot make the changes to evolve your marketplace.
Some things are important to measure, regardless of what niche you are in, if you are a marketplace. Which vendors are selling the most, which products are not. However, each niche demands a specific focus and customized metric. To take your marketplace to the next level you need to monitor, not just the common metrics, but the one that are important to your customers and your market segment.
For example, consider the work we did for this client. They manage properties and rents them to willing tenants. Of course, the client wanted to make sure that it had high occupation rates. But they also needed to monitor the popularity of properties in different locations, so it could adjust its rental rates to mirror market demand. They was not just concerned about increasing revenues, but in decreasing the costs. They needed to monitor legal fees associated with closing rental agreements as well as maintenance costs. Very important metrics for our client, but probably not things a marketplace focused on plush toys or books would need to worry about.
We helped our client discover the metrics it needed to monitor to be successful. We then built a dashboard so it could easily monitor those aspects of their business. The result was that the time spent on administrative tasks decreased by 200%, maintenance efficiency doubled, and conversion improved by 30%. We helped build a better platform by helping our client measure the right things. Let us help your marketplace do the same thing.
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