3 challenges marketplaces must face to have a scalable customer service

The UK marketplace sector is competitive, customer-oriented and has huge buying power, especially in eCommerce with marketplaces such as eBay or Amazon. With catalogues which reference millions of products and an intense competition, the challenge for businesses is to differentiate themselves with a strong brand image. But having a strong brand image implies carefully selecting third party vendors and offering a high level of service. In this article, you are about to learn more about the 3 major challenges experienced by marketplaces online. 

Challenge #1 – Reassure customers about the quality of third party offers on the marketplace

On a marketplace, just like on any other eCommerce website, it’s essential to create a seamless shopping experience. That’s why eCommerce websites are advised to integrate the offer of third party sellers in their own catalog in order to extend the brand universe. The aim is to offer the same quality of service on all pages of the website.

“We’re trying to simplify as much as possible the experience throughout the customer journey. A satisfied buyer represents a dozen of customers recruited. Besides, our biggest marketing investment is dedicated to customer satisfaction” explained the president of Amazon.fr in 2014.

To reassure customers about the quality of third party vendors in pre-sales, marketplaces must meet tree requirements:

  • commit to the regulation of third party vendors;
  • rely on customer reviews;
  • deliver the same level of quality in customer service for their own offer and the vendors they host.

Customer recommendations and advice have become essential in the buying journey. 75% of consumers trust their peers’ opinions and knowledge of products more than those of retailer staff. On a marketplace, customer feedback play an even greater role: they allow marketplaces to regulate third party vendors according to the ratings and feedback given by customers.

Read more: Customer reviews and conversational commerce make your brand customer-centric

Challenge #2 – Master a gigantic and technical product catalog

The pre-sales customer service of a marketplace must address three challenges:

  • master the image and values of the brand, including questions about the offer of third party vendors;
  • be able to give expert and engaging advice about the products;
  • remain scalable, that is to say multiply its capacity to offer the best response to a maximum of visitors while maintaining profitability.

The example of ManoMano

Chloé Martinot, Head of Product at ManoMano, has faced these challenges when the marketplace implemented its pre-sales customer service. “We don’t focus on the cost of technologies because in our industry, advice is key. We also need to uberize the technical advice because we sell 1,4 million products. It’s unthinkable for internal customer service agents to master such a catalog, whereas savvy enthusiasts will have a more thorough expertise” she said to the French magazine Relation Client Magazine in February 2017.

ManoMano has decided to mobilize its customer service on after-sales issues and externalize the customer service by messaging in pre-sales with savvy enthusiasts experts in DIY. They are freelancers, members of the ibbü community. “DIY is such a highly specialized industry that, without any advice, it’s very complicated to choose the right product, especially when you are looking at a gigantic catalog”.

Read more: Read the Mano Mano success story with ibbü

A dozen experts guide about 11,000 customers each month and get paid according to the percentage of sales generated thanks to the advice they gave. The experts have been selected by ibbü for their enthusiasm and cutting-edge knowledge about DIY and gardening.

Choosing to allow enthusiastic and expert customers to advise other customers in pre-sales allow marketplaces to extend the impact of customer reviews. Because experts are independent, both vis-à-vis the website and third party vendors, advice remain authentic and strengthen the impact of customer reviews.

Challenge #3 – Maximize the potential of contacts with added value

Whether a marketplace only references products offered by third party vendors or integrates its own product offers, it relies on an enormous product catalogue which allows it to generate a high traffic. But as the catalogue contains so many products it then makes it difficult for a visitor to choose what they want, which inevitably impacts the abandonment rate. To be profitable, the marketplace must control the number of contacts it handles and maximise the potential of contacts on which it focuses. Here are 4 tips to achieve this goal:

  1. Implement a targeting strategy to only offer pre-sales advice to qualified visitors or visitors who have reached an ROI-oriented scoring (number of visits, pages viewed, basket amount, etc.);
  2. Entrust recurring questions with low added value to chatbots, connect them to your customer service for human agents to take over if requests become more complex;
  3. Offer independent advice to convince visitors, by bringing vendors’ offers into competition based on an authentic experience or a cutting-edge expertise, to increase the conversion rate;
  4. Give ergonomic features to customer service agents to enhance the products recommended. iAdvize has developed a connector with Lengow, an eCommerce automation solution which allows agents to have access to product catalogs directly from their chat bar and send their selection to customers in the form of a card.


Read more: Lengow connector: send products to online visitors from the discussion panel!

Sources: Mirakl/IBM  Barometer 2015, Two-way street, creating conversational customer journeys that drive online conversions, Relation Client Magazine, iAdvize data.

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