While talking about e-commerce, the first thing that comes to mind is online shopping of products. But if, Manish Bhalla, the brains behind a service marketplace software, Yo!Gigs, is to be believed then this notion will change in the coming years. According to him, "service marketplaces will play a huge role in redefining online economy".

The fact remains that e-commerce industry till date has purely been driven by online retail of products, but the changing market dynamics has brought in a new wave of business models.

Online service market is expected to reach $5 billion by 2018. However, this does not mean, that every other startup catering to service industry will be able to capture the predicted market share. New service marketplaces based on various jobs are likely to come across in coming years due to this growing demand but only those will make a name for themselves, which will see beyond conventional design structure and take cognizance of features that are imperative for establishing trust. Following are five such features that no service marketplace can afford to ignore:

1. Reviews and testimonials

User reviews have proven capacity to drive sales. An online review is something that most of the consumers see before making an online purchase. The same holds true for service marketplace. Reviews and testimonials are by far one of the most essential features of a service marketplace and play a pivotal role in decision-making. On the other hand, the absence of reviews/testimonials can easily deviate the target customers to other options.

Another aspect to keep in mind is the implementation of these reviews and testimonials. Just having the option to add reviews or testimonials on a service search platform will not suffice its purpose. You need to motivate users as well as service professionals to rate each other and share their experience. This subsequently can help in the improvement of the experience delivery.

2. P2P communication Features

Open Communication can put an end to the queries and inhibitions of users and help a business deliver comfort and build trust. Buying products online is one thing, buthiring some services involves careful exploration. There are several queries in the mind of the consumers before hiring someone. The same goes for the service providers who want to fetch all the necessary details before making a pitch for the job. Therefore, it is critical that a service marketplace has a proper messaging option, where consumers can easily communicate with service providers and vice versa. The important point to note is that the communication should be in the real time messaging form, making it quicker and effective.

3. Fortified Verification Process

Nobody would hire, let alone welcome someone into his or her home, without verifying the credentials of a service provider. Consumers usually keep their privacy and security at the highest priority, which is why every service marketplace must have robust verification mechanism in place. It includes online submission of identity proofs, verification forms (to be filled up by user while signing up) and manual verification by staff via social networks as well as phone/email. Social Security Verification or any other practice of authorizing credentials should also be followed to ensure that information on profiles of clients or service professional is real and trustable.

4. Location Based Task Discovery

While you can deliver products anywhere across the globe, when it comes to service marketplace, there are certain limitations as it involves location constraints. This is why you need to have right functionality in place to let service professionals select the job locations easily. For a more conducive user experience, service marketplaces should have Google map functionality in the portal/app to display the nearby locations where jobs are available.

5. Convincing Service Portfolios

When you buy a product online, you extensively go through its features. However, when it comes to hiring some service, it becomes quite difficult to assess the credence, skills and ability of the provider. The only solution to such a situation is having a substantial profile page and that can't be accomplished without impressive portfolio. Consider a case of freelance writers' marketplace; one can make the right choice while hiring a writer only after looking at bidders' skills, past work, and understanding their capabilities. Having a dedicated profile/portfolio section in the service marketplace, which can highlight all the services, previous work and skill set is the first thing. Second is to educate users about the importance of adding portfolios and guiding them about making their portfolios impressive and presentable.

The future of service marketplaces is bright, provided one is able to deliver value. Remember, innovation is the key to deliver services that act as a benchmark and win a loyal user base. Stick to innovative approach to bring value to a service marketplace and develop a successful niche business.

Published on: Jan 25, 2016