How to Create a Better User Experience for Your Online Marketplace
Author: Kristina Proffitt
2nd April 2019
Global retail e-commerce sales for products and services will reach $4000 billion by 2020.
Online marketplaces are the main reason for this figure. They’re a way for vendors to meet customers in a trusted environment. Customers can also find out more about vendors before making a decision.
User experience plays a huge role in the success of any product, and online marketplaces are no different.
A poor user experience means losing vendors and their potential customers to other marketplaces.
A great user experience means more vendors and more potential customers.
The key step is to make it as simple as possible for customers to find the right vendor for them. The easier this is, the more likely they are to convert on your marketplace and recommend your marketplace to their network.
Other factors such as a user-friendly booking process and a reviewing system also play a part in how good your user experience is.
Let’s explore in more depth some key areas that can boost your user experience.
M-commerce will account for 45% of the US e-commerce market – for products and services – by 2020. It’s therefore crucial that businesses offer the best mobile experience possible.
A responsive website also helps with SEO, since Google favors websites that are mobile-friendly. Better SEO means more vendors and potential customers finding the site, which means you’ll attract more custom and generate more money.
You could also provide a better user experience by developing your own app. This is an expensive investment, but is a way to attract new and old customers. It also increases your reach as you can show up on two more search engines: the App Store and Google Play Store.
Customers and vendors want to be able to do as much in-app as possible. The more they can do, the less likely they are to take their conversation outside of the app and leave you losing revenue.
Ratings and reviews
Customers want to see what other customers think. They want to know what their experience was, and if they’d work with that vendor again. This helps future customers to form decisions about who they want to work with.
Adding a review tab to the vendor’s profile makes it easy for prospects to find reviews. Since they play such a huge part in decision making, it’s important to make reviews easily accessible.
Unfortunately, only 30% of us have left reviews online. This makes it harder for businesses to attract attention and gain the trust of people that haven’t heard of them before.
The easier it is for customers to leave reviews, the more likely they are to do so. A clear, simple reviewing interface encourages users to share their experiences. Some people prefer to only leave a star rating, so this could be an option. Others prefer to explain their rating, which is why you need to give them the option to write a review as well. To encourage users to leave a review, you can offer suggestions of what to write about, such as how responsive the vendor was or how efficiently they worked.
Email reminders are an effective way to encourage customers to leave reviews. These can be sent the day after an appointment, when the experience is fresh in their mind. If they don’t leave a review after that, you could send a reminder a week or so later to remind them.
Search is a huge part of online bookings. Failing to provide the right search criteria makes it harder for customers to find the right vendors for the job that they need. This means that they could end up hiring the wrong person, or that they don’t find anyone at all and take their custom elsewhere instead.
Customers should be able to search for as many criteria as possible when finding a vendor.
Location is a big part of this – if a vendor can’t travel to their location, there’s no point in that vendor being presented to them.
Likewise if they offer similar services but not exactly what someone wants, for instance, someone who maintains garden fences when you really need someone to manufacture a garden gate.
Other filter criteria could include: ratings, the number of reviews, how long the person has been in business, if they have a fixed address, if they have a website, if they do online quotes, if they offer online booking through calendar sync, or how long it takes them to respond to queries.
Easy quotes and communication
Communication between customers and vendors is crucial to the success of online marketplaces. The easier it is for them to communicate, the better the user experience is.
Pricing is a huge part of why we choose someone for a job. Offering customers to the ability to get quotes quickly helps to increase conversions because customers know what they’re going to get from the start. They won’t risk engaging with a vendor who’s out of their price range and risk wasting everyone’s time.
You could give vendors the ability to show their costs upfront for the services they provide. Another option is to have a brief template for customers to send to vendors so that they can provide a custom quote.
You could even give vendors the ability to create stock responses based on the cost of particular jobs. This makes it easier and faster for them to respond to customers.
Allowing prospects to book appointments with vendors through you means that they can get the job done faster. Customers get the services they need faster, vendors get more custom, and you get more conversions on your marketplace.
When customers can book appointments on your marketplace, they don’t need to take time out of their day to organize an appointment. They can book it at their own convenience. This makes a huge difference, since 58% of consumers shop online due to opening hours. Failing to offer this service means that vendors may miss out on custom, and you’ll miss out on it by association.
When vendors’ calendars sync automatically with your marketplace, it’s even easier. They don’t need to worry about double-bookings. Everything syncs in real-time, which means that even if they make a phone booking, they can see everything that’s been scheduled in, even if it was only done a few minutes ago.
Offering online booking means that vendors don’t need to take as many phone calls during the day. This gives them more time to spend with customers and on getting work done. They can then finish jobs sooner, giving them time to do more work and make more money.
Two-way calendar sync means that not only can potential customers see a vendor’s availability, but they can also book slots from within your software. These slots automatically sync to the vendor’s calendar, removing the risk of double-bookings.
Online booking interfaces should be clear and easy to use. Presenting a calendar interface that clearly shows when a vendor is free or busy is one way to do this. If a vendor is free, the slot can be presented as green. If they’re busy, it can be crossed out or shown as red. This makes it clear to potential customers which dates are available. They can then use this information to check their own schedule and pick a time that best suits them, even if they book in the middle of the night.
The simpler it is for a customer to book a time – and the fewer steps that are involved – the more likely they are to do so. Complicated booking processes lead to loss of custom because people don’t have the patience to sit through long-winded booking processes.
Providing a better user experience helps you to stand out from your competition. It also makes your customers happier, which means that you get better reviews. Better reviews and happier customers means that you can attract more clients, generate more money, and grow your business faster. So really, why wouldn’t you create a better user experience for your online marketplace?