Maximizing User Experience: 3 Must-Haves for Building a Respected B2B Marketplace
Peer recommendations have been a trusted endorsement for products and services since the earliest days of commerce. However, in the “age of influence,” brands maximize this word-of-mouth endorsement and spread it far and wide through authentic and paid channels. This age-old practice of sharing advice transcends consumer markets. It's taking hold in the B2B space as marketplaces become increasingly respected for hosting and highlighting the best up-and-coming products.
They're growing so fast that Amazon.com reported a 13 percent increase in net sales generated through its third-party seller services in Q4 2022 over the same period a year prior, according to data from Shopify. But the space, primed only to continue its upward trajectory through 2030, is becoming saturated, leaving leaders questioning how they can help their marketplaces and the products featured within them stand out.
There are three key pillars to building and maintaining a strong app marketplace, and all are founded on the ability to offer the customer a top-quality product repeatedly. If you’re not sure where to start, focus on these three must-have areas:
Founded on Trust
First and foremost, the success of your marketplace hinges on the quality of your products. Any other improvements are secondary if your applications don't meet a high enough quality standard to satisfy your customers. Take TikTok Shop, for example, which has drawn media criticism.
TikTok Shop, which launched its e-commerce arm in September, has struggled to crack down on scammers in its early weeks, leaving users wondering if their products will arrive and questioning the platform's legitimacy. Problems maintaining a quality user experience (wholly dependent on the seller) can turn some consumers away from ever shopping on the platform.
The same is true for B2B marketplaces. An organization’s choice to include a company in its marketplace is an endorsement of the app and its usefulness to existing customers. To maintain — and eventually elevate — the quality of a marketplace, it’s essential that all apps are appropriately vetted before being included. Considerations should include whether an app is compatible with existing technology, if it’s priced in accordance with the audience, and whether the app is glitchy or buggy. Even an app from a well-established provider with a well-known brand with a reputation of solid products should be evaluated with a high degree of rigor. Decide internally what mandatory requirements potential apps must meet and maintain to be included in the marketplace.
Leverage prestige and the pedigree of the apps within your marketplace as a tool to differentiate yourself from similar marketplaces as the space continues to become more crowded.
Lean Into Co-Marketing
Part of the quality of your marketplace depends on the relationship you maintain with your partners. How easy do you make it for them to evangelize your platform? To incentivize new partners to promote your marketplace, make co-marketing natural and seamless.
Ready a media kit and encourage partners to announce when they joined your marketplace. A templated press release and sample social media posts make it a relatively low effort for both parties to create news around the coalition. Go a step further and commit to a webinar or other long-form video that touts the power of your two solutions together. Teams can also consider collaborating to offer free trials and product demos or set up a marketplace-specific email newsletter. Co-marketing allows you to reap the value of two engaged audiences.
Organize and Contextualize
Like any database, library or grocery store, the success of your marketplace depends on your customer’s ability to find what they’re looking for. For marketplaces, especially newly established ones, it’s essential not to neglect organization as a critical part of the user experience. Apple does this well by utilizing the “Top Charts” feature in its app store. Ranking not only helps your customers contextualize the value of an app, but it encourages engagement when rankings are tied to ratings.
User reviews are multipurpose as they can also ensure that your marketplace is relatively free of bias, again building consumer trust. To encourage user reviews, experiment with incentivization. Use charts and segmentation by maker, category or functionality to point your users toward the right app for their needs. Bottom line, do not disregard the app discovery experience as a key feature of your marketplace.
Marketplaces are exceptional channels for generating leads and building a community of loyal consumers, but when set up incorrectly, you risk turning away potential customers or foiling relationships with industry peers. Back up your marketplace with a strong customer support team that's familiar with each product and how it integrates with yours. Design your marketplace with collaboration in mind, and it will become an enduring revenue driver for your organization.