Digital marketplaces, both big and small, face a common problem – the chicken and egg quandary that comes with high demand from both buyers and sellers. Behemoths like eBay, Facebook and Fiverr each tackle their own challenges when it came to both inciting and maintaining activity on their forums. In fact, a few well-known brands even faked it till they made it.
“Services marketplaces put up fake projects to show activity. Steve Sammartino talks of how he seeded Rentoid.com by essentially buying the initial items himself and renting them out (though he refers to it as “Inventing Demand”, when actually he was seeding supply,” writes Pipes to Platforms.
However, once the deception springs a significant audience of both buyers and sellers, segmenting and maintaining a smooth purchase process to meet revenue targets takes a certain level of finesse.
The problem with having too much of a good thing is that it is very easy to tip the scales, especially on the buyer side of the agreement. “Buyers who are unhappy with the product or service one of the sellers provides will typically direct their ire toward the marketplace, instead of the respective seller,” claims Entrepreneur.
Sometimes its the seller who causes the ripple, if a once-faithful seller leaves a marketplace, the vast buyer base they accumulated is then left aimless without a place to land.
No marketplace wants to leave their brand at the mercy of their seller’s reputation.
A Few Solutions
The common denominator in every instance usually involves balancing the ecosystem by taking a closer look at CX for both buyers and sellers. Automotive marketplace TrueCar saw a share price “nosedive from $24 in August 2014 to $4 in 2015,” due to an alienation of their sellers according to Yapstone. “Losing dealerships meant fewer choices for the consumer and higher prices for car buyers in the TrueCar network. Ultimately everyone in TrueCar’s marketplace ecosystem – buyer and seller – felt the burn.”
Fortunately, TrueCar learned from this slip-up and introduced changes to their seller relationships, including dealerships in their advertising. Their share price rose back to $21USD in 2017.
Buyer-wise, CX is more multifaceted and involves building both trust and expectation. Both of these facets can be improved through reliable communication. If a buyer knows that their queries will be received and dealt with in a personal manner, it reflects their overall ethos which can lead to iron-clad loyalty.
Giant marketplace eBay found a way to fix this issue by igniting a 7-day call service for top buyers and sellers in 2009. According to AdAge, the brand saw an increased net promoter score and more activity from top buyers than ever.
Today, eBay has found a way to maintain expectations. “Companies like Alibaba and eBay are successful because they have been able to communicate to buyers that when a product or service defect exists, it is the factory or seller, not the platform, that is responsible,” writes Entrepreneur.
Overall, the chicken and egg problem will always be a bee in the bonnet of marketplace growth, but the evidence suggests there are innovative ways around it, sometimes all it requires is a bit of synergy.