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How to build trust into your marketplace

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Mar 21, 2023
Isabelle hahn
Isabelle Hahn
SBM blog CTA mobile 1

Drive growth and reduce costs with omnichannel business messaging

On This Page
SBM blog CTA mobile 1

Drive growth and reduce costs with omnichannel business messaging

Maybe you’re looking for a new couch. To save money, you decide to buy one second-hand and search “second-hand couch for sale” in your favorite marketplace app.

You find one that’s in pretty good condition, but this seller doesn’t deliver within your vicinity. As you’re about to click away, you notice that the platform suggests a similar couch, and this seller has a 5-star rating. After going through photographs and reviews, you message the seller using the platform’s built-in messaging service.

You use the marketplace chat to coordinate viewing, purchasing, and transporting your new couch to your home.

Satisfied, you leave a positive review of your experience.

Marketplaces and trust

Online marketplaces serve an essential purpose in today’s increasingly digital economy.

Online marketplaces can do all and more of the following:

For every thriving online marketplace, dozens don’t make it.

Building trust is one of the biggest challenges for online marketplaces to overcome. Even though we’re pretty used to buying and selling online – using a new marketplace can still feel risky. Users might feel the following:

  • Fear of paying for, but not receiving the product or service

  • Uncertainty as to whether or not the item description is misleading

  • Worried about phishing scams or other fraud

  • Anxiety over whether or not the marketplace will leak payment information

  • Fear of dangerous encounters with sellers, buyers, service providers, or customers

To alleviate these fears and build trust into your marketplace, you need to understand all the factors that influence perceived risk and address them.

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There are a variety of different approaches to building trust in online marketplaces. The option that’s best for you depends on what kind of marketplace you operate, what kind(s) of product(s) or service(s) are offered, and which market you’re operating in.

Factors that influence perceived risk

How many users do you have? How much money is involved in each sale? Many factors play a role in shaping a user’s impressions of the trustworthiness of your marketplace and its sellers.

Odds are, the bigger your marketplace, the more effort you typically need to invest in trust-building.

Here are some other factors that influence perceived risk from the buying perspective:

  • What’s the worst-case scenario? The more significant the potential negative impact of trusting the wrong person on your online marketplace, the harder you’ll have to work to build trust between users. For instance, people selling services that could risk a family member’s health and safety, cherished belongings, or privacy (childcare, house sitting, frail care, etc.) constitute a more considerable risk than purchasing a second-hand couch.

  • How much money is involved? When large sums of money are affected, the onus is on the platform to ensure neither party gets taken for a ride. For instance, Airbnb holds payment until 24 hours after check-in to allow both parties to ensure they’re satisfied that the arrangement meets their expectations before payment occurs.

  • How trusting are the users in your target market? Markets with a higher standard of living tend to have a much higher level of trust than places with big income disparities and higher levels of crime.

  • What are your user demographics? People from different backgrounds have varying inclinations to place trust in strangers online, and sometimes additional assurances are required to overcome fears resulting from a lifetime of lived experience. For instance, carpooling marketplace BlaBlaCar allows women to filter for ladies–only rides to help female users feel safe using the service.

For a marketplace to thrive, you need to ensure users are safe using it to conduct transactions, and this doesn’t end at ensuring that payment is secure. Marketplaces also need to make sure that users don’t encounter scams, sexual harassment, racism, homophobia, and other hate speech or violent content.

Sadly, scams and trolls are only too commonplace on peer-to-peer marketplaces and it takes a lot of concerted effort through flagging, filtering, moderating, reporting, blocking, and banning mechanisms to create a positive environment.

How to build trust in your marketplace

A successful marketplace is able to offer users assurances that they will not expose themselves to the risk of harm or economic loss if they use it.

There are two broad approaches to building trust on your marketplace, although many successful marketplaces use a combination of both.

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1. Build trust around the platform

Users want to know that the site itself is reliable and won’t endanger them by sharing their personal information or exposing them to fraud or other harm. The user wants to know that the platform is accountable, that claims are verified, and that the marketplace will protect the customer’s interests in the event of a dispute.

67% of consumers say they trust a purchase made through a familiar marketplace even if they’re not familiar with the retailer selling the product. Moreover, 54% say they will return to make purchases through a marketplace again if they had a previous satisfactory experience.

2. Build trust around individual sellers

Users also want to know whether individual users can be trusted – are their profiles real? Are their posts accurate depictions of their product or service? Can they be trusted?

3. Marketplace trust mechanisms

Here are some specific measures you can implement to build trust in your platform and among users.

4. Thoughtful user experience design

Don’t underestimate the importance user experience design (UX) plays in establishing marketplace trust. Everything from the layout of the page to the number of clicks required to access important information, impacts the user’s perception of your marketplace.

User-friendliness, accessibility, and familiarity all help to reassure users that they’ve made the right decision – at every point in their journey. If your platform is less intuitive and doesn’t feel as easy to use as your competitor’s, they’ll go to your competitor.

First impressions matter, so an intuitive onboarding experience is a good idea as it shows users that you’re invested in their experience.

5. Frictionless & safe payment experience

Most marketplace users have transacted online before and have certain expectations when it comes to the payment experience. They expect various payment options that align with their personal payment preferences want to know that their payment details are securely encrypted.

It’s important to strike the right balance between payment convenience and payment security: while some users prefer the reassurance of two-factor authentication, others prefer the speed of one-tap authentication. Giving users options – such as allowing them to pay using their Apple or Google Pay or Stripe account – puts the choice in their hands.

Some marketplaces give users a cash-on-delivery option, appealing to users that don’t trust online payments. Remember that payment preferences (and vendors) will vary dramatically according to geography, so be sure to accommodate local preferences.

6. User verification & vetting

Encouraging or requiring users to create personal profiles featuring a photograph and short bio can help buyers trust sellers, as it gives users some insight into who they’re interacting with.

Verifying users’ identification, payment method, email, phone number, and/or social media account and displaying badges that testify to this is a highly effective way of distinguishing trusted users.

Showing the users’ join date and a history of past posts is another way of giving users information about individual users’ potential trustworthiness or risk.

For marketplaces that involve higher stakes, vetting users through thorough background checks and interviews can make all the difference. For instance, TaskRabbit checks each Tasker’s background and holds one-on-one orientation sessions. Similarly, Upwork has mechanisms in place to ensure that freelancers actually possess the skills they’re advertising.

7. Ratings & Reviews

Encouraging users to rate and review their interactions with other users is a vital part of building marketplace trust. 88% of consumers look for ratings and reviews before making an online purchase, and 41% will only make a purchase if they are available.

Remember that the user might give different ratings or reviews for the platform, the product quality, the seller’s professionalism, the shipping experience, and any number of other factors. Keep these ratings separate to allow other users to differentiate between an unreliable retailer/product and an unsatisfactory marketplace. It’s all too common for products to receive bad ratings because the shipping took longer than anticipated, and vice versa.

Actively removing users that consistently receive bad reviews is another way you can raise the bar and build trust among users.

8. Policies and guarantees

Having clear policies and guarantees – such as no-questions-asked returns and money-back guarantees – goes a long way toward fostering user trust. It’s also a good idea to have documentation of your security protocols available for user perusal.

9. User guidelines, content curation, & moderation

Active content curation and moderation as well as tools like automated spam filtering, reporting, and blocking features can help to prevent unwanted activity and even improve “site hygiene” by ensuring that listings are in the right category and follow posting guidelines.

Having clear user guidelines in place can help govern the kind of content users post, as well as interactions stemming from your marketplace. BlaBlaCar has extensive guidelines in place for drivers and passengers alike, helping to create a standard of behavior and encouraging users to report other users that break these rules of engagement.

Build marketplace trust with Sendbird’s in-app messaging API

Implementing in-app messaging is a tried and tested method of facilitating communication between buyers and sellers to build trust and drive transactions in your marketplace app.

Real-time conversations allow users to interact when it’s most critical. Messing also allows them to interact safely by sidestepping the need to exchange private information such as email addresses or phone numbers.

In-app conversations are contextualized, helping users to keep track of conversations with multiple potential buyers or sellers without getting their wires crossed, and notifications help to keep the conversation going so that potential transactions are completed.

Join global marketplaces including Chegg, Paytm, Carousell, and Dubizzle in using Sendbird’s best-in-class in-app messaging SDK and API to integrate chat capabilities into your online marketplace today.

Sendbird offers advanced privacy and security compliance as well as moderation and safety tools to help you protect your users and earn their trust.

Sendbird allows you to build, customize, and scale your in-app chat with ease, bringing users together while freeing up your engineers to focus on the rest of your user experience.

If you’d like to learn more about how Sendbird can help you, read our ebook about implementing in-app chat.

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