Erick Jones

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Online marketplace communication system

In-app message system and its advantages

In this article I want to share some insight about the advantages of having a chat communication system in an Online Marketplace environment.

Chit Chat with coffee and Schinkengipfel

Reading my morning daily Design news I have stumbled last week on an article talking about how the messaging approach have changed and became the standard we have now. Whatsapp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger and so many other similar apps are leading the “Downloaded apps board 2016” and shapes the way people use to communicate nowadays. Even the old SMS has turned into a “chat style” interface that makes easy to track the conversation as a whole linear chit chat. The acceptance of the chat is unquestionable.

Since then I have made a little research and found some interesting articles about it and I would like to share some insight with you.

Why Marketplace?

After working for almost 2 years in a Marketplace, I developed an eye to spot potential improvements that can benefit not only the users but the marketplace platform as well. So I studied the impact of a message system in such environment as the online Marketplace.

If you don’t know what is an online Marketplace: Is a kind of e-commerce where the content(products/items) are generated by third parties that trade between themselves. In other words, is a place where you can sell and buy online.

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Conversation as a tool

The Marketplace business format relies on buyer/seller communication. The customer satisfaction will depend (among other important factors) on completing the buying/selling process. The only way to improve this connection is to provide an efficient way for these two profiles to communicate.

Currently the Marketplaces allow (mostly) e-mail and telephone number (when public/allowed to be displayed) as ways of contact between users. That is efficient, but some opportunities are are slipping through the fingers.

The communication flow and its flaws

Scenario #1 – The seller flow

1) The seller adds an item to be sold in the marketplace.
2) The seller expects to be contacted, so he/she provides the email address and telephone number.
3) The seller is contacted throug email or telephone and continues the selling process. The participation of the platform is finished.
4) The seller removes the item from the platform.

Scenario #2 – The buyer flow

1) The buyer navigate through the pages of the marketplace and find an interesting item.
2) The buyer send an email to the seller / call the seller.
3) The buyer continues the trade with the seller. The participation of the platform is finished.

In both cases the participation of the platform is finished without collecting any data about the transaction and if it was successful or not.

Sure, these scenarios are not present in every Online Marketplace, but in the ones where the platform doesn’t manage the payment process.

Chat as a tool for improving communication

With a chat tool the platform can keep all the conversation between buyer and seller “in-house” and provide support for both parts in handling their goods. Also the chat have some interesting points that helps the users to keep track of what have been agreed between them:

And the list could go further.

Chat as a tool for management and better tracking

The platforms can take advantage on the Chat tool in many different forms. I will try to list some of them:

Keeps track of every conversation between users – Instant feedback and “user research”;
Keeps the user in a controlled environment where is possible to intermediate in case of any problem, or when requested;
Makes possible to provide tools for detecting when a deal has been done. So all the steps from beginning to end on the process can be tracked.

Chat as a Notification Center tool

The chat tool can also be used by the platforms to provide a Notification center. A place where important announcements can be done easily and seamlessly. Also individual messages can be sent by the platform to each user in each specific case/need.

Chat as Customer Relationship Management tool

Besides of the notification center use, the Customer Relationship team can take advantage of the chat tool providing fast feedback and helping users with anything in a efficient, easy-to-use and trackable way.

Possible scenarios using the Chat “tool”

Scenario #1 – The seller flow

1) The seller adds an item to be sold in the marketplace.
2) The seller is contacted by chat and starts to deal with #buyer1.
3) The seller is contacted by chat and starts to deal with #buyer2.
4) The seller keeps track by every potential buyer and can compare their offers.
5) The seller decides on which buyer he will trade with and flag the item as sold by a possible in-chat interaction.
6) The seller removes the item from the platform. Or keeps the item in the sold items list (possible feature).

 

Scenario #2- The buyer flow

1) The buyer navigate through the pages of the marketplace and find an interesting item.
2) The buyer uses the chat to start a conversation with the seller.
3) The buyer decides to buy the item and flag the item as “bought” (possible interaction).

In both cases the platform was able to track every step of the process. There is some powerful data that can help constructing a better product and satisfying its users needs.

Conclusion

These interactions are just a first insight about it and can be extended and improved as users give their feedback and use the tool daily.

Leave your comment. All ideas can be shared and discussed. Let’s provide better tools for the users. Is a win-win case where users and platform can take enormous advantages and receive feedback in a real-time speed.

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