The right marketplace features allow you to support a growing buyer/seller community, promote a diversity of products or services, and drive sales. Since 2012, we’ve added several value-adding features to our clients’ marketplace platforms. Here’s a list of the most important ones.
Payment systems are a core feature of online marketplaces. Without it no transactions between buyers and sellers would be possible. Marketplace payment systems need to provide several key functionalities in order to be effective.
The ability to split and delay payments are two of the most important functionalities. Split payments are necessary if a cart has products from more than one seller and also to deduct your commission and sales tax. A hold function reduces the risk to buyers. That entails your marketplace first holding the funds once payment is made and only releasing them to sellers when the goods have been delivered.
Linking the payment system to your shipping infrastructure ensures that funds are automatically released once delivery has been made, thus limiting the risk to both buyers and sellers.
Your marketplace payment system also needs a robust refund mechanism, multiple payment methods, security protocols (including PCI-compliance), and the ability to generate sales receipts, tax invoices and reports.
As a third-party arbiter of the transactions that take place on your platform it is vitally important that you have the right payment system in place. An experienced payment integration partner can help you get it right and avoid expensive mistakes.
CobbleWeb has set up payment systems for several marketplace clients, such as a parking marketplace and an event ticket marketplace. Our experience with major marketplace payment systems like Stripe Connect, MangoPay marketplace, and PayPal marketplace will make sure we implement the right payment solution for your particular marketplace model.
Sometimes shoppers want to browse marketplace listings, unsure of what they want or need; they will know it when they see it. Other times shoppers know exactly what they want; they want to find it quickly and execute the sale. The best marketplace design will be able to accommodate both sets of customers. Achieving this requires the right site architecture and navigation tools based on user behaviour.
Your buyers want your sellers and their products to be organised in a logical structure. To ensure that, you need to provide your sellers with the means to organize their wares appropriately: categories, keywords, etc. Your logic must be clear and your tools for uploading and organising products must be intuitive to them.
Next, you need to provide the search tools that customers expect when they go to an online marketplace. That includes Boolean search, filter by type, and product tags. Custom search algorithms can ensure faster, more accurate on-platform search results. You should also consider providing different ways to view product lists so that buyers can customize their navigation experience.
Finally, your search and navigation features need to provide data that can help you improve the user experience. Which categories are clicked on most often in drop-down menus? Which filters are used most often? What are the top search terms?
Putting in place an effective search and navigation structure can be a complicated affair. Without proper guidance your users can get lost and lose interest. Make sure that does not happen – get in touch with us.
One of the drawbacks of internet marketplaces is that you can’t hold the product in your hand or see it in person before you buy from the seller. 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 help our clients develop templates that can accommodate multiple images of the product, information such as pricing, and even geolocation when relevant.
Once you have established your listing infrastructure, you need to protect the quality of listings and your marketplace reputation. You can do that by making sure only the best sellers are marketing their goods and services on your platform. Which means reviewing and approving each seller.
Approved sellers need to be able to quickly and efficiently list new products. You and your vendors should also be able to easily monitor inventory levels to ensure that when your buyers order something they will get it expeditiously.
The quality of your sellers and product pages, the variety of goods on offer, and consistent availability of products all speak to your marketplace’s reputation. You therefore need the right listing system in place to manage it properly.
While your buyers and sellers define your marketplace, you are ultimately responsible for it. You will need a set of tools in the shape of an administrative interface that allows you to monitor and make the necessary adjustments to support your customers.
An administrative interface should be able to monitor activity on your platform and issue alerts when for example your terms of service are being violated. We’ve built interfaces for our clients so that inappropriate actions such as derogatory language can be quickly discovered and censured.
Your administrative interface can also be used to approve vendors and products, create outreach materials for customers, run competitions and change marketplace settings. It helps you keep track of your key metrics, including which vendors are doing well and which could use some help.
In short, the administrative interface is your mission control. It’s your tool set for making the adjustments on a day-to-day basis to accommodate an ever-evolving market.
The standing of your marketplace is a composite of the reputations of your sellers and the marketplace itself. While your platform’s usability is important to its reputation, a suitable review mechanism for sellers and their products or services creates transparency and builds trust among users.
Additionally, sellers need feedback from their customers so that they can improve their offerings. They should also have the tools to respond to reviews to create a balanced picture. These feedback loops have the power to improve the quality of sellers on your platform.
A review mechanism can also drive traffic to your platform. If you work with your sellers 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 sellers, which will lead to more sellers, which will lead to more customers.
We have a long history of helping online marketplaces build trust within communities of buyers and sellers. We’ve done it for this parking sharing marketplace and this real estate e-commerce site; we can do it for you too.
Shopping has always been a communal experience and social media can replicate that feeling 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 products they came across.
Social media offers an easy way spread the word about your sellers’ products and your marketplace in general. Coupling products with personal endorsements by friends drives traffic to your platform and increases the likelihood of sales.
We can hook your marketplace up to Facebook, Twitter and more, ensuring that your customers can share with their friends on the platform of their choice. We make it easy for your customers to post details (like images and prices) of items they are interested in on their personal feeds.
We have added social media features to many of our clients’ platforms. Let us do the same for you.
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 offer, 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 or order 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.
Online shopping is increasingly moving from desktops and laptops to smart phones and tablets. According to a 2016 survey, only 27% of people used a laptop or desktop to connect to the internet away from work. In contrast, 56% used portable handheld devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to access the internet.
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 easy to use on any type of device or screen size. Responsive web design can help your marketplace site automatically adjust to whatever screen it is being viewed on.
Your marketplace should also load quickly on any device, since 53% of mobile visitors will leave a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Google has now officially made mobile page speed a search ranking factor. Faster loading marketplaces tend to see better traffic and sales results.
CobbleWeb has plenty of experience with all the technical aspects required to achieve mobile friendliness. We make sure that each marketplace we develop is 100% responsive and optimised for speed – 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 sellers want to be paid in their home currency.
Your marketplace 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 marketplace prepared for that?
Search engine optimisation can be a great source of traffic for your marketplace. Making sure that your marketplace, its sellers, products and services rank high in search results will have more potential customers clicking through to your platform.
SEO has technical, off-page, and on-page components. While off-page SEO mostly concerns content marketing efforts like backlink building, you as the marketplace owner should take responsibility for the other two.
Technical SEO concerns the structure of your platform. By using HTML elements like meta data you can make your sellers and their products more discoverable, readable, and shareable. For example, using meta data means your seller’s product will appear in search results with star ratings and pricing. These rich snippets are proven to increase click-through-rates and conversions. Technical SEO also means making sure your platform is fast, secure, and boasts user-friendly site architecture and navigation.
On-page SEO entails creating an optimised framework for your sellers’ content. By taking care of things like heading tags in listing form fields you can help their content stand out.
With organic search still making up 46% of e-commerce traffic, you cannot dismiss this important growth driver. CobbleWeb has some serious expertise when it comes to implementing SEO structures, with traffic increases of 100x and more. We can do the same for your marketplace.
All the effort that goes into creating a great user experience is wasted if you cannot guarantee the delivery of goods or services. There are additional challenges when it comes to marketplace shipping.
In general, 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 they want a customised experience and want to minimise their expenses. As a marketplace owner, you want to minimise shipping fees because it does not benefit your bottom-line and can alienate customers.
We have analysed 200 different marketplace platforms to determine how each handled shipping. This has taught us how to build a simple, clean interface that allows buyers to choose the shipping method best for them. The buyer is informed 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 ensures perfect delivery every time. Our experience includes building interfaces that work directly with shipping companies, such as UPS, to automate the delivery process.
We have helped several companies (read this client case study) to automate and customise their shipping process while keeping costs low for their customers. Let’s do the same for yours.
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.
Some things are important to measure, regardless of what niche you are in. E.g. which vendors are selling the most, or which products are not selling. 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 ones that are important to your customers and your market segment.
For example, consider the work we did for this client. They manage properties and rent them to tenants. Of course, the client wanted to make sure that occupation rates were high. But they also needed to monitor the popularity of properties in different locations, so they could adjust rental rates to mirror market demand.
They were not just concerned about increasing revenues, but also about decreasing costs. For that, they needed to monitor legal fees associated with rental agreements as well as maintenance costs. Very important metrics for our client, but probably not things a marketplace for designer footwear would need to worry about.
We first helped our client discover the right metrics they needed to monitor. Then we then built a dashboard so they could easily monitor those aspects of their business. The result was that 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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