With the rise of e-commerce, the competition to create the best online marketplace app has become more intense than ever before. But what exactly makes a marketplace app stand out from the rest? Is it the latest features or the most innovative technology? Well, not necessarily. In fact, the best online marketplace app provides a seamless shopping experience by getting the fundamentals right. Many marketplaces ‘embellish’ the processes that should be easy and simple. We often see that marketplaces aren’t doing as well as they could. But also, adding one or two novelty features can work magic on top of lean and simple functionality. So, whether you want to improve your online marketplace app or create one from scratch, keep reading! In this article, we will tell you what features determine whether your marketplace succeeds and becomes the best.
- Landing page & SEO
- Walmart Marketplace Landing Page Example
- Bidding and Auctions
- Reason #1 Higher prices
- Reason #2 Customer excitement
- Reason #3 Marketing Insights
- Reason #4 Time-Sensitive Sales
- Reason #5 Attracting Customers
- Reason #6 Sell off idle inventory
- Buy + Sell + Create
- Why is ‘Buy + Sell + Create’ still a problem to solve?
- Statistics and Reports
- Transactions and Payments
- Refunding and Returns
- Catalogs and Categories
- Product and Service Details
- Role-Based Profile Management
- InApp Advertisement
- Rating and Feedback
- Final Words
Landing page & SEO
In the world of e-commerce marketplace apps, your revenues depend on the number of customers as much as the number of sellers. Sometimes, marketplace app owners forget that and focus their effort on getting the shoppers. Or it happens when you move from private-invite to open-access policy for sellers. Both cases lead to missing out on the crucial factor of catering to the sellers. To create the landing page for sellers, you will need to put yourself in their shoes. How much effort does it take to start selling online? What things do you need to know to start selling on a particular marketplace app? Then, you will also need to make it SEO-friendly.
The amount of effort and whether the seller chooses to sell on one e-commerce marketplace apps or many depend on various factors. They can be the quality and complexity of the product or service. For instance, think about the seller of T-shirts or cups VS custom furniture or tech products. The amount of detail involved in writing product descriptions varies greatly. In addition, the production and customer support are significantly different. Last but not least, consider quality control. T-shirt sellers need to spend much less effort on that compared to a seller of tech items. Let’s look at how one of the best online marketplaces app fulfills this functionality!
Walmart Marketplace Landing Page Example
You’d think they are pretty famous with millions of customers, so they have no need to advertise themselves for the sellers. However, the opposite is true. Walmart Marketplace takes good care of the process of attracting and signing up new sellers to join. Let’s look at the Walmart Marketplace Landing page.
First of all, the “Join Marketplace” button is clearly visible and placed three times throughout the page:
– top right corner in the navigation menu that is fixed on the page;
– on the banner outlining the order fulfillment benefits on the left of the page;
– under the video about the benefits of Walmart’s marketplace in the center of the page.
That demonstrates a user-friendly attitude. Sellers can spot this button wherever they are on the page. It is conveniently placed in different positioning: left, center, and right.
Second, the organization of the information about benefits is placed in a logical progression. The benefits are not jumbled up together and thrown at the visitor. They are presented in a clear, progressive, and concise way. First, we see one single main benefit and the join button. It might be enough for those who sell low-complexity items. Then, the page shows three other different benefits. It might be more appealing to sellers whose products take more effort to put into the marketplace. Thirdly, there is a video with a join button. And, finally, there is a list of 5 benefits with links to more detailed information and a “Get Started” link. It is as if the “Join marketplace app” buttons all over weren’t enough! So smart! This flow of reasons to sell on Walmart is designed to convince each sort of seller.
Keep in mind that the landing page should also be visually appealing. And just to recap, showcase information sellers will be interested in. Start with a concise benefit explaining it in more detail towards the end of the page. Present information clearly. The sellers should be able to grasp the value proposition and locate the target action ‘Join’ easily.
We often see how online marketplace app owners coming from the field of e-commerce keep focusing only on SEO for the items to attract the customer. They often overlook SEO to target the sellers. So just consider the same best practices that are applicable to both: customers and sellers. Here is the list:
1. Keyword Research. As usual, start by researching the keywords. What sellers are focusing on when selecting a marketplace to start selling on? These keywords then must be strategically placed throughout the landing page content and its headings.
2. Craft meta-tags: make sure that meta-title and meta-description represent effectively your marketplace’s value proposition. What does the seller get from selling on your online marketplace app? What will they not find on other marketplaces but yours? Is it the low commissions? Is it that your online marketplace app takes care of logistics? This is the key to improving the click-through rates.
3. Clear and focused content: highlight the unique value proposition of your online marketplace app in a clear, simple, and organized way. You can utilize Walmart’s formula “1-3-video-5”. Meaning “1 benefit per big banner, 3 benefits per 3 cards, and 5 benefits presented as a bulleted list”. State-of-the-art design! So, remember to make sure your page is structured and easy to read. Highlight the key information.
4. Optimize for mobile: your seller might be browsing the options on a mobile device first. It is likely that setting up the page and adding the products will be done later from the desktop. But make sure that the seller can access the landing page on mobile and join there. Ensure the lowest possible page loading time.
5. Link-building: you need to implement the same strategy you would for products. Improve your marketplace’s ranking and reputation with a strong link-building strategy targeted at sellers. You need to check that your backlinks are placed on reputable websites to drive higher-quality organic traffic.
Focusing on these key elements of your SEO strategy will ensure that your online marketplace app has a strong online presence for sellers. It also contributes to establishing your overall online credibility.
Bidding and Auctions
Not every online marketplace app will need this feature. However, there are many marketplaces that could have benefited from the many advantages this feature provides. How and what’s your gain in it as a marketplace app owner?
Reason #1 Higher prices
The essence of these features is to make customers compete by driving price up. It often results in higher prices which in turn it maximizes your profit.
Reason #2 Customer excitement
Whenever you get the chance to sell unique or high-value items, your customers will love it. If you create for them a bidding game or an auction, it creates a feeling of excitement and competition. Customers will appreciate spicing up their shopping experience once in a while.
Reason #3 Marketing Insights
When you have just a regular price and casually sell items, it is hard to spot fluctuations in demand. Maybe this kind of item becomes rarer on the market? Maybe the customers will be willing to pay more for it? Or, in reverse, this kind of item is on the way out from the market? Auctions help evaluate the demand and market value of a particular offering. It reveals the price customers are prepared to pay. It allows sellers to adjust pricing according to the perceived value of their offerings. As a result, they don’t end up losing profits or being left with idle inventory.
Reason #4 Time-Sensitive Sales
It has been observed that when you create a sense of urgency from time to time – sales go up. So whenever you go for regular “limited-time” promotions or clearances, auctioning might be a better option.
Reason #5 Attracting Customers
Some customers are fans of this feature. They just love the thrill of auctioning and bidding. Shopping is to a large extent an emotional experience. So adding this feature will widen your customer base.
Reason #6 Sell off idle inventory
There are always deadweight goods appearing on marketplaces as time goes by. Whatever has been challenging to sell in a regular way on your marketplace can be put up for an auction. It can stimulate interest and potentially sell off this kind of inventory.
Ultimately, the decision to include this functionality must be checked against specific goals. Assess the costs of implementing this feature. Then, weigh them against the potential revenues. If the results are promising – go for it. Also, if you start with an MVP and focus on premium goods, auctioning and bidding are great ways to go. Just remember about the lean principles – do what is needed when it is needed.
Buy + Sell + Create
It goes without saying that any online marketplace app must ensure its basic functionalities to enable buying, selling, and creating items. However, the specific features can vary greatly depending on the marketplace. For example:
• Buying features may include search filters, product reviews, and secure payment options.
• Selling features may include the ability to manage inventory, set prices, and communicate with buyers.
• Creating product features may include the ability to upload images, add descriptions, and set shipping options.
Some e-commerce marketplace apps may offer additional features such as social media integration, advertising options, and analytics tools. The level of customization and control given to sellers may also vary between e-commerce marketplace apps.
The quality of implementing these basic features has a fundamental impact on online marketplace app performance. That’s why the best online marketplace apps take good care of this functionality. For instance:
– Buying options directly influence customer satisfaction and willingness to make a purchase.
– Selling features empower sellers to effectively list and manage the products. In turn, it translates into the quantity and quality of offerings on your online marketplace app. It also impacts your seller’s revenues and satisfaction.
– Creating product features facilitates the diversity of offerings. It also impacts the speed of introducing and trying out newer products. Overall, it curates the competitiveness of offerings.
Why is ‘Buy + Sell + Create’ still a problem to solve?
All of the above seems like an obvious thing. However, it never ceases to amaze how this functionality can go wrong. Here we mean the amount of embellishment, redundancy, or, conversely, lack of disclosing the essential information.
So, let’s give you a real-world experience that had all of the things mentioned above.
“This e-commerce marketplace app was recommended to me by a friend and I quickly made my first purchase there. It was a whopping 35k for home items. I paid everything in full and entered all the details for delivery. But then, the next day the nightmare had begun. Every seller started calling me to confirm the purchase. Not just like a one-sentence confirmation. It was a full-blown quiz on every detail I entered for each seller.
Later my friend who recommended this e-commerce marketplace app shared that if you go to the order list, and click on each order, there is a checkbox to opt out of the confirmation calls. But how should I have known this?!
I loved that they seemed to have everything I needed. Yet, the next time I made a purchase was 5 years later. To my “surprise”, they also updated their cart functionality. For some items, they did not have the on-site payment anymore. So during the checkout, they would add the fees of paying through the delivery company – about 2.5%. Also, some items had only premium delivery available while others could be picked up for free at the branded delivery station. And there was no indication of any of that when I was browsing items! So I ended up deleting the majority of items during the checkout. Having spent a considerable time selecting them, I ended up buying 1 item.”
So you see how easy it can be to mess up each element of basic functionality. Mind you, the items on this e-commerce marketplace app are of excellent quality, and the sellers are trustworthy. So much work went into getting those sellers with good quality items, and for what: just to make it impossible to shop?
Just to reiterate, simplicity and ease of shopping are important. Smooth buying is one of the features you need to create the best online marketplace app. The reason is simple: if you make it hard for customers to spend money, they won’t. Also, if your sellers find it difficult to add new items, or there will be no way of indicating some of the features that influence the final price: your revenues will suffer. And of course, if you make selling extra hard – that won’t be a hit with either: customers or sellers.
Statistics and Reports
Another feature for the best online marketplace app is the ability to provide data for your sellers. You can enhance the potential of your e-commerce marketplace app by providing statistical tools for your sellers. You can form this data into reports. This will enable them to excel in your e-commerce marketplace app and, consequently, improve overall profitability.
So here, you might want to enable your sellers to get the following data:
1. Sales Reports. Make sure your sellers can see sales data conveniently. It can be the numbers of items sold, revenue generated, or sales trends. Reports should be customized for different time lengths (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.). It may also be good if these reports included the sales by customers. Or even report on the most frequent shoppers. It will allow sending some personalized offers or reminders. For example, if it is a cosmetics marketplace app, mascara has normally a shelf life of 3-6 months. It will be a good promotional tool and a sign of care if your seller sends a reminder. Sellers often know this, and successful ones do this religiously. So your reporting tool might as well aid them in this process.
2. Inventory Data. Sellers should be able to maintain a fully functional shop. This includes knowing how many items left, stockouts, and replenishment requirements. It will be great if your website could calculate the average rate of selling by item, and display the time it takes to replenish it. This way, sellers can maintain availability effectively.
3. Financial Statistics. Sellers often need to track a variety of fees related to the selling process. It can be a commission charged by the e-commerce marketplace or transaction fees. It can also be data on refunds or delivery fees and whatnot. By analyzing this data, sellers can spot areas for improvement in their activity. For example, they might bundle up some items to lower delivery fees. Conversely, they might want to unbundle some packages because refunds occur due to one of the items.
There is a variety of data you can allow your sellers to track. However, remember the golden rule: only around 20% of data ensures 80% of the result. Though, real numbers might vary: rarely sellers would be able to process the entirety of all available statistics. Under the lean methodology, you would select key metrics that matter for your specific e-commerce marketplace app.
Transactions and Payments
In the way of payments, there are a few options available. Some marketplaces offer options like ‘pay on delivery’ or even enable payment with cryptocurrency. However, these kinds of features are not suitable for every e-commerce marketplace. They might be an absolute must for one type of marketplace. While for the other, it will be a confusing redundancy. For instance, if it is a marketplace for software licenses or digital art, then a cryptocurrency payment option is an essential one. But for a regular home goods marketplace, it will be a bit of a stretch.
Refunding and Returns
Returns and refunds are inevitable no matter how good your marketplace is. Sometimes, it is just because the customer bought something by mistake or didn’t realize the dimensions of it. In any case, you need to have policies, procedures, and tools established in your marketplace.
1) Policies: is the item eligible for a refund? Your marketplace should state it clearly. You should also include timelines and acceptable reasons for returns. In addition, you may want to specify conditions for accepting the return (e.g. in the original packaging, etc.)
2) Tools/ procedures: where does the customer have to press to start the return? How does the seller get notified? They are some basic tools to process a return. You should also think about whether to freeze the seller’s balance until the time for return expires. Also, think about the initiation tool: does it require the customer to write a message or attach a photo? Or maybe is it accepted without a question?
3) Return shipping: how does the e-commerce marketplace app facilitate the logistics of returning the product to the seller? Does the customer have to keep the sender’s address? Will the marketplace provide the address? Does the seller do that? Whose balance will be charged for the return shipping?
4) Refund Processing: Does the customer get the money back within some time frame (e.g. 31 business days)? Or is it released upon the seller’s receiving the item and inspecting it? Will it be issued through the original payment used or other options are possible? Is store credit available as a refund method? Are there any law requirements that need to be handled?
5) Dispute Resolution: Not all returns go smoothly. Sometimes, there is a disagreement between a buyer and a seller. So how does your e-commerce marketplace app facilitate dispute resolution?
These functionalities are a must when it comes to a trustworthy marketplace. By implementing all the bits of the returns and refund process, you can make sure that your customers are happy and potential conflicts are minimized.
Catalogs and Categories
The ability of the buyers to locate the product is what is at stake with this functionality. The groundwork for it is done with the product being created. Then, based on this, hashtags or labels will be assigned. Afterwards, product categorization functionality produces categories and subcategories. A lot of it is managed through carefully crafted databases and efficient UI/UX for displaying. It’s also important to regularly update and refine categories based on user feedback and sales data.
One of the key benefits of implementing catalogs and categories is that it helps to improve the overall user experience. By providing clear and concise categories, buyers can quickly find what they are looking for without having to search through irrelevant products. This can lead to increased sales. The reason is that buyers are more likely to make a purchase if they can easily find what they are looking for. And, of course, they will buy less if they get tired searching for a particular product.
This functionality is yet another point that helps to build trust and credibility in an e-commerce marketplace app. By providing a structured and organized platform for buying and selling, buyers are more likely to trust the marketplace and feel confident in their purchases.
Product and Service Details
Perhaps, the best thing you can do to boost sales on your multi-vendor marketplace is product details. Neilsen Norman Group released interesting statistics on that matter. It appears that 20% of customers who did not complete the purchase said that it occurred due to unclear/incomplete product descriptions. So, the quality of the product/service descriptions really matters.
You can manage this process with a variety of tools. You cannot physically check every added product onto your marketplace. So how do you monitor the quality?
The common way to do it on a multi-vendor marketplace is to just give your sellers pointers on what to include. In addition, you can incentivize them by showing them how it impacts their sales. Include the questions which will inspire the sellers to write interesting, key-word rich, and complete product descriptions. Connect the filling out form to potential sales metrics. For example, you can add a tooltip with the following content “Writing a product description between 100-150 words increases the sales by 20%”. And guide your sellers with the following prompt questions:
– What is the key functionality of the product?
– What are its main characteristics?
– What are the advantages of using this product?
– What is special about this product?
– Is there anything else that would make customers love using/having the product?
Not only does it impact sales, but quality descriptions also decrease the rates of returns. So, by fostering effective product descriptions, your e-commerce marketplace app will have yet one more feature to ensure it thrives. Remember, with product and service descriptions your marketplace:
– gains in trustworthiness;
– increases sales;
– decreases returns.
Role-Based Profile Management
If you aim for the best e-commerce marketplace app, then you should be able to customize the functionality and how your site looks for different users. Role-based profile management basically means that, depending on the assigned roles, the permissions and functionality will be different. If you log in as a customer, you will have a particular set of pages you can go to. The displayed options will be customized to this role. If you log in as a seller, you would see completely different functionality and a set of pages. So, the following roles are what you want for the best e-commerce marketplace app:
– Administrator (or Platform Owner): this role has the highest level of access and control over what is happening in the marketplace. For example, if you want to change commission fees, you should be able to do it. Administrator often has access to ‘global parameters’. If you want, you can delete or edit some other user accounts.
– Seller: This role needs a specific functionality such as creating products, managing lists, and customer list, etc. This is what specifically sellers need and others don’t. Sellers typically have access to tools and features to manage their stores.
– Customer: for the customer, you will also have specific customized features. In addition, security protocols will need to be adjusted as you will be storing sensitive data about your customers.
In addition, you might have separate roles for content manager, customer support, and affiliate partners. These are the roles that are commonly used but you might come up with specified roles. It depends on the requirements of your marketplace.
I am sure you as a user not fond of advertising when you are using an app. But as a marketplace owner, you will be thrilled to see the data:
When you only start to create an online marketplace app, you might not make much money on the primary services. However, in-app advertising is often a critical and stable source of revenue. For e-commerce marketplace apps, in-app advertising is often as important a source of revenue as sales. For instance, let’s look at Walmart’s landing page for sellers:
You can see that it offers some initial ad credit for sellers. Sellers are likely to be the major source of ad revenue. Moreover, you can enable other kinds of advertisement on your marketplace. It is especially good if you have a kind of “social” multi vendor marketplace, and you can benefit more from advertising other services. For example, if you have a marketplace for insurance services and consultations, you might enable advertising for cars or real estate. They will be a good supplementary source of revenue.
Rating and Feedback
This functionality refers to the features that allow your users to provide ratings and reviews. Implementation of this functionality is good for these reasons:
1. increase trust and transparency of your marketplace. Users rely on other users’ reviews to assess how safe shopping is. It allows feeling safe shopping on the marketplace and from a particular seller. If there are no reviews, they will consider the purchase risky.
2. improve the quality of the products. Reviews are the best system of quality assurance. Simply knowing that customers can write about the quality of the product makes the sellers conscious. It forces sellers to take care of the quality and by extension future sales and reputation. Reputation translates into money too – the more reliable the sellers are, the more they can charge for their items.
3. enables user engagement. Socializing around trade has always been an important part of the experience. You go to the market and ask a person next to you if they tried it, how good was it. Or someone can ask you. The same can be modeled in an online marketplace app. People feel they contribute and that they are a part of the community.
When you strive to create an online marketplace app of the best kind, it is essential to build a marketplace with a solid foundation. Getting the key functionality right influences a variety of points and saves trouble down the road. It increases your sales, improves the credibility of your marketplace, enhances trustworthiness, ensures a smoother user experience, and decreases returns. Basically, the features described here are of the “make it or break it” kind. They define the viability and longevity of your marketplace.
Though the list of features is pretty solid and not comprehensive, there is always a way to narrow it down and make cuts. Don’t skip the product discovery phase, it will point to the exact features that will bring the most revenue. Use a vendor who follows the lean methodology – they will surely utilize APIs to save the development of some of these key features. You can read more about this in our api integrations article.