A marketplace platform is essentially an online software solution that lets vendors and consumers connect with one another to perform transactions. As such, there are several key features that every one of these platforms must have.
Secure User Authorization.
A marketplace platform must, of course, have a way of authenticating its users. This may seem like an overly basic step, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Hacks into user accounts have rocked even the most successful marketplaces, including Airbnb, Uber and others. While some big marketplaces have been able to survive massive authorization problems, a single scandal could devastate a less-established, smaller marketplace.
At a bare minimum, a marketplace must let both vendors and consumers log into their accounts securely and quickly. Users should also be able to adjust their account settings, and social logins (e.g. through Facebook or Twitter) are appreciated by some people.
Easy Listing Management.
Both vendors and consumers should easily be able to manage listings, which are the products and/or services offered. Vendors need to be able to quickly publish, remove and revise listings, and they may want options to manage multiple listings at once. Consumers expect to be able to browse, filter and search listings, and they need to see listing details before making a purchase. Some platforms are adding a “quick view” feature that makes it possible to view crucial listing details at a glance.
Efficient Purchasing Process.
Once consumers decide to make a purchase, the process should be seamless an efficient for both parties involved. For consumers, this means quickly entering delivery and payment details (and copying the shipping and payment address if they’re the same). Vendors want a fast way to view what listings have been purchased and where those listings need to be sent, so they can manage order fulfillment in a timely fashion.
Multiple (Secure) Payment Options.
Payment is the most crucial part of the purchasing process. Security is of the utmost importance here, and no security should be sacrificed in the name of convinced. Entering those security codes on credit cards is an additional, cumbersome step — but it’s required for a reason. Whenever possible, however, marketplace platforms should make paying as easy as it can be.
On the consumer side, this usually includes offering multiple (secure) payment options. For example, a platform might support PayPal in addition to credit cards.
On the vendor side, the platform should make payment details and policies transparent. Vendors should know how much they’re owed, how the platform arrived at that amount and when they’ll be paid. They should be reminded of any minimum payment threshold that must be met as well, even if it was already mentioned in the platform’s terms and conditions.
Ratings And Reviews.
Ratings and reviews largely become the lifeblood of marketplace platforms, for they are what fosters trust between vendors and users who are otherwise strangers.
At a bare minimum, a platform must have a way for customers to review vendors. In most situations, it’s also appropriate to let vendors review customers. More robust systems also include ways to respond to reviews and mechanisms to filter out fake reviews.
Most transactions on a marketplace platform will take place without any direct vendor-consumer communication, but there are some times when users will want to talk directly with each other. There may be questions about a listing, issues with an order or other items that come up. An on-platform messaging system will make it easy for users to discuss any matters they want to.
Users expect a marketplace platform to at least have a basic notification system, and more advanced systems are appreciated by some users.
A system should at least tell vendors when listing sell so they can fulfill orders, and then it should inform consumers when their purchases are shipped (for items) or will be available (for services). Including extra features, like notifications for reviews, available listings and price changes, can help foster more transactions. All of the options offered should be customizable so users get only the information they want.
These notifications have traditionally been sent via email, and that remains the industry standard. More and more platforms are offering other notification methods, such as SMS texts and social messages.
On top of all these features, a marketplace platform should also offer mobile functionality. Mobile internet usage eclipsed desktop usage a few years ago, making platform’s mobile usability even more important than its desktop usability. A platform that’s able to incorporate all of these features into both a desktop and mobile design will let users access listings and information when they need to, and the platform will be well poised for success.