In 2018, at the marketing department of LDLC Group, we worked on the implementation of a marketplace service in the LDLC.com website. This new offer, complementary to the high-tech catalog of the e-commerce site aims to significantly expand the number of references offered to customers on categories of related products (computing, image and sound, telephony and car, games and entertainment, connected objects or stationery), on which a proprietary sourcing by the LDLC Group is not justified.
The goal for the company was to reach, by March 2020, more than 100 000 additional references, thanks to the controlled integration of catalogs of partner vendors. This new development should allow, with limited resources committed by the Group, to enrich its offer, attract new customers and generate additional revenue on its BtoC activities, while further improving customer satisfaction and retention rate.
Today’s marketplaces need to be more than just platforms for transactions. To build a successful marketplace like Amazon for exemple, you need an effective business strategy, thorough technical preparation, and of course quality UI/UX design. The complexity of building a marketplace stems from several factors : the difficulty of cooperating with two types of users (the vendor and the customer), the need to prove the trustworthiness of the website and sellers, and the demand for an optimized user journey and great customer service.
From the very beginning, we decided to take a look at the competitors to analyze what main issues they had but also to inspire us because there was obviously a lot of good ideas. So, we performed a competitive analysis of the big players in the market. Building such a service can be a bit of a challenge since this is not a common one everyone uses on a daily basis. A deep and proper research of the industry was needed to proceed with the design. So, we analyzed Amazon, Fnac, Priceminister and CDiscount to understand how they organized their product listings, product pages, vendor pages, shopping carts and the order process with different delivery possibilities.
To complete our study we also set up an online survey to collect data indicating the main obstacles to the use of marketplaces. We were able to conclude from that study that there are 2 major problems inherent in marketplaces :
Problem #1 : The lack of customer trust toward sellers
Building the trust of customers is essential to any online business. But today, it seems to be a big problem for marketplaces to establish credibility and make customers trust its sellers. Lack of trust between sellers and buyers decreases marketplace ratings and, as a result, decreases total revenue. Lack of trust can stem from several factors such as low quality product images, poor product descriptions, rare informations about sellers and even worse, no direct way to contact them, no clear shipping or return policies or no rating or user reviews.
Solution to this problem :
To make our customers feel confident, we decided to create for each seller, a dedicated page where all the practical informations (contact, ratings, comments, description of the main activity, additional services) are easily accessible. Every time a customer makes a purchase and is delivered, the site automatically offers him to rate the quality of service of the reseller. When acceeding to a vendor's page, the user can look at its average rating, the number of sales, the average response time, the acceptance rate of orders and he may also know in advance the available means of delivery.
Problem #2 : Sub-optimal user journey & lack of optimization for the target audience
Of course, people are all different and it’s difficult to predict what will create a positive experience for everyone. But we know for sure what makes customers unsatisfied with any online business. If a customer decides to purchase any product from a website, they want to complete this purchase with minimal effort as simply as if he was in a physical store.
Solution to this problem :
The most important thing to optimize customer journeys is to always have personas in mind. We used 2 main personas with very different levels of computer knowledge and purchasing on web habits.
We then used quick wireframes to illustrate the user flows and synthesize different ways of presenting information and we turned wireframes into lo-fi prototypes to test them on users.
I finally asked a dozen participants to test the prototypes by thinking aloud. This method allowed us to better understand the reasoning of the user in front of an interface, to identify the problems of use and to solve them by repeating this operation several times.