What are the key features of a marketplace?

We’re all using marketplace websites more and more, enjoying the breadth of choice from different vendors in one place. In fact, it’s never been quicker, easier or cheaper to buy things online. Equally, it’s never been easier for businesses to reach a wider audience.

While most people enter into a marketplace business thinking they have a brilliant idea, in reality about 70% of marketplace start-ups subsequently disappear without a trace. So let’s take a look at what will make your business stand out from the crowd, and keep it there.

At the risk of repeating ourselves, the key is to create an easy-to-use, straightforward user experience geared towards fulfilling customer needs. But let’s look at some of the key features of a marketplace.

Account creation

Make sure that joining your marketplace platform is as quick and easy as possible by offering multiple sign-up options. This is important because 30% of users give up before completing the registration process online.

Also ensure customers find it easy to locate what they’re looking for, if it’s too painful they’ll simply move on to another site. That’s why, as already discussed in ‘How can I ensure users find what they’re looking for on my marketplace?’, your marketplace needs a fast and convenient search function which is clearly visible on every page (apart from the checkout page), works quickly, and ideally has predictive text input technology.

Product information and images

Obviously potential customers can’t see and touch the products on your multi vendor marketplace so you need to make it a great experience with precise, detailed information with quality images where possible, and very importantly, endorsements from other customers through product reviews.

Product reviews

A huge 92% of online consumers look at product reviews, not a figure that you’ll want to ignore when scoping out your marketplace features. They help build trust and positively impact consumer behaviour. What’s more, having the marketplace functionality to allow customers to leave product reviews helps promote a community feel and generates loyalty.

Abandoned carts

Another surprising figure – 76% of online shoppers abandon their shopping baskets without checking out. You’ll want to do everything you can to avoid that happening and there are things you could, and should, do to increase the likelihood of your customers completing their purchases. This includes:

  1. Establishing trust by displaying widely-recognised security logos (such as Verified by Visa) in a prominent position
  2. Guiding consumers through the process by including a progress indicator so they understand how long it takes to check out
  3. Keeping users focussed on why they came to your site by including thumbnail images of their selected products on your checkout page.


Different customers want different things and will not only look for them in different ways, but expect different results. Sounds like a complicated thing to get right doesn’t it? The best way to set up your search is for results to Contactless payment has become the norm, and online users aren’t going to hang around on a marketplace website that makes it hard and time-consuming to pay. Include this in your research, investigating your users’ most popular payment methods. Being flexible with your payment gateways with multiple options makes checking out straightforward and painless, making a repeat visit and purchase more likely.

Of course, you also need to take into account your vendors as well as your customers, and you’ll want to make using your marketplace platform a pleasant experience for them too.

Vendor registration

Consider your registration page and how you can make it quick and easy. Vendors are likely strapped for time and have more choice than ever when it comes to selling online, so if you make signing up to your marketplace platform straightforward, they are more likely to sell their products with you.

Vendor dashboards

Vendors don’t want to have to click through numerous pages to find out what products they’ve sold, read the reviews they’ve received and what the customer shipping details are. Provide an at-a-glance dashboard so vendors can see everything they need to know in one handy place. If they have a great experience on your online marketplace they won’t be so tempted to look elsewhere.

Inventory management

Don’t forget that, even though you don’t have your own stock as such, you’ll potentially still need marketplace functionality to keep track of your current stock levels. To do this you’ll want to utilise inventory management software (IMS), a brilliant tool to check stock levels and manage sales. Some have extra features designed to make your life easier such as automatically raising purchase orders or reordering stock from suppliers if that’s relevant.

Reporting and analytics

Collecting data on your customers can improve relationships, improve retention, and improve the results from each interaction they have with your marketplace. Implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) marketplace feature can help with this and assist you in boosting sales and customer service levels. Why is it important to track your customers? The figures may surprise you… returning customers convert about 82.5% more than new visitors and provide more than 60% of the revenues for the top 25% of eCommerce companies.

That’s important information to bear in mind. Always be aware of who your customers are and what they like and you can keep tweaking your marketplace platform accordingly if you need to.