As a marketplace or aspiring owner, the ideas you have are endless and the only limitation is your own self when it comes to achieving them. Although this does not come without the external factors that may test your patience and adaptability. There are some universal hurdles that every marketplace goes through. We’re going to cover the top four problems marketplaces face and suggest solutions for smoother sailing!
1. Product Presentation
In a traditional marketplace or brick and mortar the business owner has complete control over the placement and visual aspects of their products. Peer-to-peer (p2p) marketplace owners have to relinquish some of that control over to the suppliers for their business. This may lead to inconsistent product descriptions and photo quality, both which are extremely important in the buyer’s journey.
The more cohesive the aesthetic of your overall marketplace, the more users/buyers deem it a reliable source for what you may be providing. So the question arises: How do we present a consistent presentation to so many different individual users? This doesn’t go down with a little premeditated training. Nothing too crazy, no 3-day retreat or team building is necessary. Just a notice or example of expectations and suggestions should do the trick. Airbnb for example sends photographers to rental spaces per the owner’s request. This allows the site to have photos with consistent lighting and angles. Having a fill in portion for the product description also helps with creating a consistent product description. Going with the Airbnb example, there is a streamlined amenities and local attraction portion on each listing because renters are provided those required fields by Airbnb. While it may be a bit more time consuming, this can be easily applied to your marketplace and well worth it.
2. Customer Service
Similar to presentation, marketplaces are also faced with a more complex way of handling customer service. In a traditional business, issues are voiced and the vendor is hopefully thoughtful enough to hear the customer out and offer a solution aiming to neutralize the situation. Through this small interaction a business owner is able to connect with a customer, resolve the situation, and maintain a relationship for the customer to return happily.
For a p2p again that control is forfeited. Not only that but the customer will tend to blame the overall marketplace instead of the individual vendor. Multiply that by the dozens of vendors in your network and you’ve got yourself a sticky situation. To minimize the amount of dissatisfied customers, there are ground rules you can apply to your marketplace in regards to cancellations, defective goods, etc… Be sure to communicate that if defects exist that it is the responsibility of the vendor and not the marketplace itself (Alibaba and eBay does a great job of this). Even though you’re rooting for the vendors to do great, think of them as your employees that are accountable for their own shortcomings.
Related: Why Customer Loyalty is Crucial For Your Marketplace
3. Marketplace Liquidity
The concept of marketplaces is complex yet simple. You are the core in which the vendors and customers are able to make a variety of transactions, a small co-dependent community if you will. So what happens when there is a surplus of vendors and not enough customers? We get unhappy vendors which may turn your competitors for more business. Vice versa, if you have more customers seeking your service or product but not enough vendors to provide, you’re missing out on precious business and growth.
To balance the these two as much as possible relies on the core, you! This may come in different forms depending on your specific issue. If you’re lacking vendors, reach out into the community and make connections with those that are leaders and trend starters, hopefully you already have a few of these individuals in mind. Immersing your marketplace more in the community your marketing towards can only do good. If it’s customers you’re missing, it might be time to increase your marketing efforts. Expand your target market or make a new campaign! Be creative with this part and get your marketplace noticed.
Marketplace relationships tend to make strangers interact and have monetary transactions 99% of the time. With higher stakes on all three sides, trust is an important value to implement into your business.
On the host and vendor side there should be a contract that includes all risks and securities you and the vendor should be aware of to make everything as transparent as possible. When it comes to vendors and customers, it’s a little more risky. To help any apprehensive customers, offer a reviews section so previous customers are able to make an informed decision when it comes to their purchase. This will also help the vendor know what going well and what they can work on!
Related: How to Improve Your Odds of Marketplace Success
Marketplaces are complex hives that are constantly building. Don’t worry if you’re feeling a bit under pressure now, your host and teammates are there to help. Build on these four common problems and you’re going to be off to a great start. Good luck!