Freespee: Finalists For The ICMA Technology Award!

Happy days! Freespee was voted as a finalist for the Technology award at the ICMA (International Classified Marketplace Association) Innovation Award ceremony held in Vienna, Austria last week. 
Adrien De Malherbe, our VP for Marketplaces, presented on how the Freespee platform enables marketplaces to better serve their buyers and sellers. 
Notably, Freespee stood out as the only company out of twelve that was a provider (offering services to other marketplaces). It’s an honour to have been placed so highly next to in-house developed technologies!
More about the Technology award via ICMA’s website:
“Virtual insanity” – Technology award – for most revolutionary tech implementation
The award aims to highlight the key tech players in our industry. Advances in Technology that created more efficiency, cost effectivity and have provided firms with an invaluable reach to clients and customers is what the jury will be looking for. This section is also open for service providers.
Thank you to the ICMA judges for our award!

A Brief Look At Blockchain Tech And The Online Marketplace

blockchain and marketplaces

Oxford University, the esteemed British institution which has been in existence for over nine hundred years – now has a blockchain course. You know you’ve made it when Oxford takes notice. Bitcoin’s distributed ledger system has arguably become a standout result of the cryptocurrency craze (fans include notorious Bitcoin hater and J.P. Morgan CEO James Dimon) and is beginning to branch out, taking its talent for distributing data and funds, elsewhere.

Online marketplaces could be a good place to start, even with their reliable business models. Hubs like Amazon and eBay are full of data and online interactions that would work well with a blockchain system. Though both companies show a general distaste for the idea. Despite seeming impenetrability regarding efficiency – one pain point sticks out in even the largest of enterprises and that’s security concerns. 

Securing the market

Facebook faced pushback when its marketplace came under scrutiny in 2016 for lax security within seller and buyer relations. Mostly due to a lack of a built-in payment system and no record of interactions between parties, allowing those with unsavoury intentions to slip through the cracks. However, supporters of blockchain tech think the set-up could alleviate these woes in P2P networks like Facebook or Etsy.

With a blockchain powered marketplace, personal information isn’t required, claims Ruby Garage.

“Since a blockchain-based marketplace removes intermediaries, all transactions are traceable on a public ledger, demonstrating a high level of security and transparency.”

Banking with blockchain

Outside of the marketplace model, banks are also jumping aboard the blockchain train, seeing its potential for eliminating fraud issues. In 2015 Santander announced the launch of an app for transferring funds internationally, initially using staff as guinea pigs in the hope of releasing it into the world one day.

“This transition, if it finally happens, is going to take a long time, and the chief reason is simple: legacy bank infrastructure and the tens of billions of dollars that have already been spent on building that infrastructure,” wrote John Whelan, blockchain lab director at Banco Santander.

A decentralised marketplace presents the appearance of a good idea in theory but blockchain technology is still in the early stages of development, and like we mentioned, many significant influencers aren’t quite on board, despite enthusiasm from crypto-boosters like Ethereum cofounder Joseph Lubin.  “Apple seems to be largely uncaring and unaware. Google is making investments, but it’s not clear that they have a lot of activity going on. Amazon, we’ve not seen that much, so we’ll see.” Lubin told Fortune at an event in New York last year.

The Soma model

Still, smaller blockchain marketplaces are emerging. Soma, a Finnish-based digital platform using blockchain tech aims to create an online marketplace where users can buy and sell safely within a P2P network. Goods and services are represented by “cards” which allows for a totally transparent system.

“Users are encouraged to engage in actions that will benefit other members and the community as a whole by rewarding such actions with Soma Community (SCT), a cryptocurrency designed to incentivise the members of the decentralised community to perform value-adding services and act as a fast, secure and cost-effective way of compensation,” writes Soma on their website.

It seems that a move towards implementing blockchain into digital marketplaces is a definite possibility, regardless of big enterprises’ disinterest. Only time will tell how it grows but if the end goal is a safer and happier online community, then who can resist that?

Via: Fortune, Think Money, Coinbase, Ruby Garage, Forbes. 

This Is An Online Marketplace’s Biggest Challenge

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 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.

Via: Yapstone, Pipes to PlatformsVentureBeat, AdAge, Entrepreneur.