One of the main reasons that users and suppliers opt out of a marketplace website is poor communication. With the rise of in-house user to user chat features, similar to those used on Air BnB and Uber, users and suppliers now have a raft of benefits when communicating with each other. In this article I’m going to look at how bad communication can negatively amplify through the marketplace eco system, the reasons behind the bad communication, and how to tackle potential blockers when trying to implement a buyer to seller chat functionality.
In a digital marketplace environment, there needs to be a balance of supply and demand in order to deliver a great experience for the supplier of the service and the user demanding it. Per user, there will often need to be a higher number of suppliers bidding for their patronage in order for the user to get the best possible experience. From the marketplace’s perspective, a complete failure would result in a user not choosing any of the suppliers and leaving the marketplace entirely. This would be a lose-lose-lose situation where the marketplace couldn’t secure business for its suppliers, the supplier therefore wouldn’t win a new customer, and the user would also leave unfulfilled. Surprisingly, this kind of situation is more common than it sounds, In a recent survey on user conversion conducted by a European marketplace website, just under 30% of users left the marketplace due to bad communication or a lack thereof.
Diving deeper into why communication issues can arise, it is in my personal experience that businesses will blame users for not answering phone calls or emails. On the flip side, users will often defend this by arguing that they do not want to put down personal contact information until they are sure that the marketplace and the supplier are legitimate. This mindset starts a negative cycle of distrust and interrupts the flow of communication. It’s a catch 22 and, if enough time passes without meaningful engagement, the user will likely drop out by turning to a competing website or using a personal recommendation from friends or family.
When tackling this issue, we must first find out how to keep both parties open, engaged, and communicating for as long as possible in order to keep the user onboard. One solution which can keep users from leaving and spur quality communication is to have them actively engaged through a third party communication tool, i.e a buyer to seller chat. There are some big advantages to this kind of added service, so let’s go through them:
- Personal details uncompromised
- Personal and engaging
- Faster than email and recorded unlike phone conversations
- Reduced time to wow moment
Supplier / Service Providers
- One more contact method
- Proof of no contact for reclaiming a lead
- Can be done on the go
- Higher user retention and engagement
- Reduction in short and long term supplier churn
- Higher perceived quality of service
- Data insights from chat
- Possible additional revenue stream
Online platforms, marketplaces, and other digital based services are already rushing to add realtime user-to-user messaging to their sites. Users more than ever are expecting communication to be fast, direct, and on demand. Historically, this kind of service has been very costly to implement, resulting in only the largest players able to provide it. With the development of out of the box chat solutions, companies such as TalkJS, Layer, and Sendbird are opening up access to much smaller platforms looking to increase their value for their users and suppliers.
With the introduction of any new feature, potential blockers should always be scoped in order to mitigate any possible issues. Below, I have outlined some of the problems which can arise from implementing a two-way buyer and seller chat to your platform.
|Login details needed||passwordless authentication with OAuth2.0|
|Getting a conversation started||Ice breakers and preloaded questions|
|Answer delay||Prompts and push notifications|
|Multiple decision makers||Add a second user (E.g. Send itinerary through Air Bnb)|
|Time consuming for supplier||Add templates feature, push informal language style in communication|
Finally, if you are looking for some working examples of marketplaces that have already implemented a buyer to seller chat, you can find a few examples below:
- Handy – Cleaning marketplace
- Sittercity – Baby sitting marketplace
- Monster Jobs – Employment marketplace
- Shift – New and used car marketplace
- Eden – Workplace servicing and management marketplace
- Wagstays – Pet Accommodation marketplace
2 thoughts on “Understanding direct buyer to seller chat communication in online marketplaces.”
Henry, a very timely article. Thanks for sharing.
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