How to improve the seller experience on any online marketplace.

Online marketplaces are transforming the way we transact commerce. The amount of aggregator markets occupying all the places that Amazon and eBay don’t yet reach. From the cab that we order to the food that’s delivered to us to to the restaurant that we book, our enthusiasm for the convenience of a marketplace is only matched by the VC money flooding in to find to the next Uber.

A key tenet that every marketplace holds dear is the User Experience. And rightly so – simplicity and lack of friction to the experience is elemental to success. And we see a lot of beautiful examples of this at Deliveroo, Foodpanda, Gumtree, eBay and, well, a thousand others.

The seller experience is different

Marketplaces work in two ways though; the buyer and the seller. One thing I have noticed though is that the drive to simplicity can come at the cost of education and this is especially true on the seller side. The seller side is after all putting their goods or services in the virtual shop window and they need to know how to do that in a way that gives them the best chance of success.

To give a really quick example I went to list an item on I should say that Listia is not a client and I am not aware that Nickelled has ever spoken to them. Also they provide a great service and deserve their success.

They do a great job of gamifying the education of listers, which we think is a super idea. Here for instance is a video about how to list on Listia

There are a lot of good reasons to have video resource. But would it not be better to educate the users at the point when they are creating their listing. With a video the marketplace has to rely on the user watching and then retaining the information in the video. Again – it helps, it’s a good thing to do but is it the most effective?

But’s let’s move on to the listing part. Here is a screen grab of the listing page on Listia. 

It’s simple enough, I think I could take a go at completing it. But would this not be a great point at which to educate the user on the best tips on how to list an item on Listia? I have take the liberty of creating a really short guide to Listia to demonstrate just how easy this is:

As you can see, you can enhance the value that you bring to the user right at the point where they can best understand it in context. Now this is a very simple example. For many online marketplaces there are numerous categories of people that list with varying computer and language skill levels. The barest of instructions will work fine for some. Other may need more help. If this help is not provided at the key point of interaction for the user the result is either abandonment or a call to the support centre. Neither are good in terms of bottom line or the customer experience.

Key signs your seller experience needs a guide

For any online marketplace therefore key things to watch for are

  • poor quality, incomplete or confusing listings
  • increasing support calls as the number of users grows
  • repetitive queries that often result in a support
  • executive walking the user through the site
  • creation of ‘how to’ PDFs documents or extensive and growing FAQs
  • poor uptake in non-native language groups
  • poor experience for certain user types (user with poor computing skills for instance)
  • high abandonment rates at point of listing

We would love to talk you through the work Nickelled has done at Gumtree and other online marketplaces on improving the seller experience and create a guide for your users to see the impact an interactive guide can make.