Considering an online marketplace model for your new entrepreneurial business venture? We’ve been on that journey and it’s not easy!
An online marketplace is an e-commerce website or app where you can shop for products and services from third-parties. Think eBay or Etsy, platforms that connect retailers or service providers to a customer base. Service-based platforms such as the ride-share app Uber, and freelance platform Upwork, bridge supply to demand directly, and have grown immensely popular over the last few years.
AskforTask is an on-demand online marketplace, focused on the cleaning, handyman & furniture assembly verticals. We connect people looking for help around the house with reviewed, insured and verified local independent contractors, whom we call Taskers. As a service-based online marketplace, our greatest challenge is to maintain balance when managing growth in both supply and demand. Here, we offer 9 insights we’ve gleaned as a company, for building a thriving online marketplace business.
When Building Supply
Guarantee Service Quality
When your marketplace product is a service, trust, control and quality are paramount. Building a team of service providers who offer a consistent standard of skill sets and expertise can be challenging, but it is important to maintain a high quality of service because they represent your brand and can impact your credibility. Identify clear standards for what makes an ideal contractor. Vet for those standards with hiring procedures that include background checks, interviews, skill checks and tests.
Invest in your Contractors
Recognize that your contractors are valuable assets. Make them feel welcome, needed and appreciated, but also ensure they understand the company’s expectations for service quality, and are motivated and committed to providing the best service they can to customers. Nurture positive interactions by communicating clear expectations in all interactions with your contractors. Offer them good and constructive feedback for their work. Find ways to offer value that goes beyond bringing them a built in customer base—whether it’s community, or benefits they wouldn’t have access to as an independent contractor—we offer full insurance coverage for every task our Taskers perform on our platform!
Balance Supply Growth
An online marketplace services communities in many different cities. When expanding your business into a new city, be mindful of the ratio of demand to supply. The key to retaining quality contractors is to offer a steady stream of work that uses their skill set directly. Balance the number of job seekers you bring on to handle the demand, but not so many that they will become disengaged due to a lack of job opportunity and leave the platform.
When Growing Demand
Cultivate Customer Trust
Customers need to have more than one reason to trust you, and not some other company, or independent contractor with their needs. Develop a compelling and accessible first contact experience on your website. Be transparent about your contractor processes, and highlight insurance guarantees to strengthen your credibility. Familiarize customers with your service model and illustrate its benefits, then follow up with customer testimonials and reviews to build trust. At AskforTask, we strive to build customer trust through quality service calls during a customer’s first task posted, as well as asking them to review their Tasker. Our Taskers must maintain a high quality score to stay active on our platform.
Develop Customer Loyalty
The flexibility of an online marketplace allows you to offer a mix of services. The right combination can strengthen your customers’ dependency, but too many options can also dilute your service focus. Offer the right amount and mix of services by listening carefully to customers’ needs. Understand their shopping patterns and potential barriers to purchase, and look for ways to strengthen repeat purchasing.
Ensure Service Delivery
Breaking into a market and building clientele is every business’s challenge. But overpromising demand for service without a guaranteed supply is a common mistake. In short, deliver what you promise! When setting up your marketplace in a new city, ensure you are actively hiring quality contractors to service the area. This way, you will minimize the possibility of being unable to meet a customer’s demands. It is really disappointing for a customer trying out a new service to have their request cancelled due to lack of ability to find the right contractor to meet their needs.
When Creating A Marketplace
Share and Connect
Besides easy navigation and compelling copy, an essential element to a thriving online marketplace is building local community and connections. A service-based platform allows people from all walks of life to meet each other, and those encounters are dynamic stories you can share with potential customers. At AskforTask, we often hear interesting testimonials from satisfied customers and contractors and share them, showing customers that our service is also about making connections within the community.
Listen to Improve
Customer feedback is a valuable part of improving the service and structure of your online marketplace. This means opening avenues of communication with customers and contractors to co-create top notch experiences. Build a system of outbound customer servicing calls and surveys, and accessible channels for receiving feedback. Offer customers the option to rate and refer if they like your service, or leave personalized recommendations and reviews. Additionally, check in regularly with contractors about work experiences they enjoy or are challenged by through quarterly or biannual surveys.
Outreach through Content
Brand loyalty is built through a strong connection between your marketplace principles and customer values. Attract a community of customers who resonate with the values you hold by curating engaging content in relevant lifestyle conversations and local topics. Content can range from social media content for casual engagement, to long-form, industry-specific content for more educational purposes. At AskforTask we value trust and customer service. We try to cultivate those values with both our Taskers and Asker customers.
Building an online marketplace is a dynamic and exciting experience for any entrepreneur. It can definitely be a challenge to build supply and grow demand simultaneously to create a thriving marketplace platform, but achieving a healthy balance is possible with the help of some of these insights we’ve shared.
At AskforTask, we connect Askers with home service needs to Taskers with skills in the community for all their home cleaning and home maintenance needs!