It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of making bank when starting a marketplace. You’ll most likely be going at full speed and doing everything you can to make sure your business is profitable. That’s great, but the truth is there’s one thing you should think about seriously: the community. Here’s why community matters to your marketplace:
The heart and soul of a marketplace is the people behind it. Your initial idea was to connect people — buyers and sellers in one platform to perform commercial transactions. You offered a solution to an existing problem in the community where your marketplace operates.
Whether it’s the need for dog sitters or freelance writers, your marketplace makes it easier for the community to discover what they need in a single platform. It also serves as a channel for aspiring entrepreneurs, artists, teachers, and literally anyone who wants to offer their gifts and talents in exchange for extra income on the side. Your marketplace exists because you want to facilitate connections within the community that results in economic and social advantages.
It’s really exciting to see positive growth in your business. After all, you want your countless hours of hard work and investments from VCs paid off. But the key to a successful marketplace lies in trust within the community itself. If the majority of your merchants have bad reviews on their profiles or there are a lot of unverified users on your marketplace, credibility is threatened.
To build trust within the marketplace is to create transparency and a good reputation. Having a dedicated team to guide both merchants and customers to build trust can be the game changer for your marketplace. Address their needs and concerns, come alongside them and offer tangible steps to better their experience—as you would to your own family.
There’s no better way to explain how a marketplace works best than this African proverb. Many young entrepreneurs think it’s a good idea to progress things fast — launch fast, grow and expand as quickly as possible — to avoid other competitors that may arise, especially if it’s in a trending industry.
While there’s logic and benefit in that mindset, it’s also important to think about this other goal: sustainability. Your marketplace’s longevity depends how many active transactions your merchants and customers make. The more users you can get on your marketplace, the higher the chance you can make money—thus keeping your business alive.
Through your devoted efforts in creating a sense of togetherness in your marketplace community, credibility will increase and your marketplace will attract even more customers in the long run. But such success takes a lot of effort and sometimes more time to achieve.
Indeed, it is easier to focus on and manage a small batch of users, hence quicker product development and innovations. But then again, you’re entering an ecosystem where you need enough people to make transactions that result in revenues, and you need to nurture and keep them together.
Although it’s true that making profit is the aim in running a business, there should be other goals involved, especially in a marketplace business where it concerns people and the way they live their lives — creating a robust and positive community is crucial.
It should be one of your aims to create that community within your marketplace. People who signed up to use your marketplace do it more than just for the economic advantages; they want to create social impact as well. People want to be a part of something that can change the world for the better, and your marketplace can be the vehicle to make that happen.