As a tech company, launching an online marketplace for services can help you stay relevant in an increasingly competitive digital environment.
Building your own marketplace for services allows you to give your customers easy access to the best quality services provided by your accredited partners. Even if you choose not to monetize your marketplace, you still benefit; helping your customers find complimentary services from accredited providers allows them to get the most out of your own software product and increases their overall customer satisfaction and lifetime value.
With your own services marketplace, you’re able to sell services in the way that modern customers are accustomed to making purchases. The right marketplace for services provides a fast, frictionless sales process and gives you the ability to sell pre-packaged service bundles through your website 24/7. As an added bonus, your marketplace can generate additional traffic to your site and result in new sales opportunities.
A marketplace for services requires some features that marketplaces for apps or products don’t.
We’re all familiar with online marketplaces. Your customers likely buy anything from their weekly groceries to tech products, to one-of-a-kind handmade crafts, to vacations and getaways online. Of course, they also buy all of the apps and software they use in their personal and professional lives from app stores.
While a good online marketplace for apps for products has many key features in common with a good online marketplace for services, there are some key differences that make a services marketplace better suited to selling services in particular.
First, let’s have a look at some of the key similarities:
1. Self-service is vitally important.
Self-service refers to a customer’s ability to independently browse, find, and compare different products, apps, or services on a marketplace. We’ve written before about how important self-service is to modern customers here. The gist of the matter is that customers today – both B2C and B2B – don’t want to speak to a service provider directly until very late in the sales process; they prefer to research their options under their own steam and choose their products and service providers independently. For this reason, self-service is just as important for a marketplace for services as it is for any other.
2. Listings need to include as much information as possible.
This point follows from the last, in that one of the hallmarks of self-service is providing as much information upfront as possible. This allows customers to make decisions without having to get in touch with a provider directly. Service listings should contain information including the scope of work, estimated timelines, pricing structures, provider details, video demos, and so on.
3. Ratings and reviews benefit both buyers and sellers.
Just as with product and app marketplaces, it can be useful to have a rating and review section for service providers or listings. Good ratings and reviews provide social proof, attract new customers, and encourage sales. From the customer’s perspective, ratings and reviews help customers compare providers and make purchase decisions.
To sell services effectively, however, a marketplace for services needs to have a few key differences:
1. Services marketplaces need to be equipped to facilitate a smooth, fast quotation process.
Although services marketplaces can and should list ready-to-go, pre-packaged service bundles that customers can purchase as-is, in reality, many deals will require custom quotations. Any services marketplace worth its salt needs to provide a streamlined process for handling RFPs, quotations, briefs, and deal finalization.
For example, Morphed’s ‘Submit a Brief’ function streamlines the proposal process by providing customers with a digital briefing template that the provider can then transform into a finalized proposal. Once the customer clicks ‘Accept Payment’, they’re immediately directed to make a secure Stripe payment. (Find out more about this function and watch a full demo here.)
2. Services marketplaces need to facilitate the client relationship long after a deal has been made.
Unlike marketplaces for apps and products, a marketplace for services needs to continue the client relationship after the deal has been agreed or the initial payment has been made. For example, Morphed’s eCommerce services marketplace infrastructure includes an easy-to-navigate Customer Portal designed to facilitate customer communication from the first touch, all the way through the entire project lifecycle, and even beyond, even allowing for customers to rate and review work delivered.
3. Milestone payments can be game-changers.
App or product marketplaces usually require only one single payment per sale or the payment of a recurring monthly/yearly fixed subscription fee. A marketplace for services, however, can benefit hugely from offering milestone payments. Milestone payments can be based on project goals, and benefit and protect both the service provider and the customer. Providers won’t find themselves chasing late payment of a lump sum long after a project has been completed, and customers won’t find themselves paying for promises that haven’t yet been delivered.