Marketplace App: Features for Users' Needs

Online commerce is rightly seen as mainstream among current users. In the past few years eCommerce has changed the way we sell and buy online. These days it is one of the largest industries among web platforms and, meanwhile, it is constantly growing. Today such tendency is grounded on facts:

  • 53% of consumers shop online at least three times a month (Forrester)
  • According to Forrester US eCommerce sector will gain $373 billion in 2016

Such numbers make leading retailers invest in web app development, while global online giants are already moving to mobile spectrum following the trends and ensuring prompt interaction with clients. But what makes people opt for online marketplaces? According to Forrester Consulting the main reasons are:

  • Convenience – 89%
  • Wide range of products – 89%
  • Availability of rare items – 85%
  • Discovery of new retailers – 83%
  • Diversity of sellers – 81%

eCommerce platform for users needs

Building a two-sided marketplace is not a one-time event, even ignoring technical complexity. Struggling with chicken-and-egg problem is a number one task for the majority of startup owners: if there are enough consumers but few retailers –consumers leave; however, if you have no buyers yet, how to get sellers to sign on?

Providing sellers and buyers with necessary features you will not just deliver positive user experience, but also gain traction and give your peer-to-peer solution a competitive edge. Based on our vast experience in building two-sided marketplaces, we've defined 10 must-have features that you cannot afford to ignore:

1. Simple signup process (with social media)

Set out the user experience properly using Facebook, Google+ or any other social logins to sign into your marketplace app. Sign up process should be intuitive and transparent. Most websites offer at least two-three options, making logging process more enticing. Ask only for relevant information and let users retrieve name/password.

2. Vendor account page

Vendor page should be easily-manageable, from tuning the account settings to editing payment methods. Going into details we need to mention that vendor section should be highly-intuitive and UX focused. Meanwhile it should contain:

  • editable company name/phone/address/email/social media fields
  • customizable color themes/fonts/templates/styles/notifications
  • clear ratings/reviews/testimonials
  • comprehensive activity records, like type/date/status/duration, etc.

3. Buyer account page

Cart window should contain all price details, fees/discounts (if any), delivery/payment options, comments field, etc. Personalized pages can improve user engagement and help consumers to track their activities and purchases. Be sure to provide a clear and plain tuning of profiles and settings, like colors, font sizes, templates, privacy settings and so on. The more opportunities you offer to a user, the less likely you'll get something wrong. Even if you miss anything, it can be easily adjusted by a user. 

Important features for marketplace app

4. Payment process (gateway)

With payment gateway online transactions are secure and more convenient, however, opting for one of the options consider its compatibility with eCommerce platforms and worldwide coverage. For our projects we've used Telr Payment, Stripe, Braintree, but each project is unique and requires custom solutions. For Europe marketplace owners mainly prefer PayPal, PayMill or GoCardless (newer payment type with no credit cards, like Dwolla for the US), Pin Payments system is employed in Australia, though Braintree and Stripe are constantly expanding their boundaries.

5. Customer reviews and testimonials

Consumers want to know what others say about the product they are interested in. All the while review section is among the most crucial features of a service marketplace. User testimonials play an integral role in decision-making and have proven impact on sales.

6. Analytics

Tracking and identifying user experience, session time, behavior and actions is a beneficial choice for small business. Understanding consumers' performance and buying patterns are of great importance. Gathering data can encourage better updates and lead to higher revenue rates.  

7. Social media sharing

In the light of social media popularity this feature is a not-to-miss thing for start-ups. The more users share and talk about you, the greater chance of growing as a brand. It is recommended to use separate social buttons, like “Facebook Share”, “Tweet It”, “G+ Share”, they are proved to more convenient for users, than aggregate button.

8. Security

Security of consumers' and vendors' data is a number one priority, that's why “SSL certificates” and “PCI compliance” require thorough consideration. PCI Security Standards comprise 12 requirements to all website that accept/keep payment information. SSL certificates are also called digital certificates because they are applied while setting up a secure connection between browser and server.

Marketplace app for buyers and vendors

9. Smart notification system

Prompt notifications keep users engaged, promote personal interactions and guarantee smooth processing. Informing consumers/vendors about replies, messages, bids or other activities is quite important. Quick notifications make your digital marketplace more convenient and functional. Special offers, promotions or new products launches work well with this feature.

10. Communication is a two-way street

Online chat turns your shopping platform into a true peer-to-peer solution. Focusing on both buyers and vendors it is necessary to shape a transparent and personal way for them to interact. Immediate message-passing helps to build ongoing relationship and pave the way for loyalty, trust and regular customers. We've already implemented online communication with Mandrill and Twilio, but currently there is a great variety to choose from.  

Case stories of such giants as Amazon, Ebay, Airbnb, Etsy, Uber are inspiring, however getting to scale is a laborious task. These days' marketplaces are complex and high-load systems that sometimes have much in common with social networks. In the meanwhile, most P2P platforms can even build up mature communities.  
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