Marketplace UX: Why It's So Important and What You Need to Know

Evolving technology has now made building an online marketplace within reach for many companies. With a variety of strong marketplace solutions available, many are no longer joining them but working towards creating their own.

Online marketplace:  A type of eCommerce website where products or services are provided by multiple third parties. The marketplace serves to connect buyers and sellers.

In order to create a successful marketplace, it needs to be more than transactional. The foundation of a strong business strategy, technical know-how, and a good mix of quality UI/UX design all help lead to future growth. In particular, marketplace UX design is so critical because it can be directly linked to the top reasons marketplaces fail- lack of technical expertise, effective strategy, and product-market fit. 

What valuable UX lessons can be learned from top marketplaces? There is a good reason Amazon, AirBNB, and Etsy credit much of their success due to focusing on a user-centered design approach. It is key to differentiating their offerings and building loyalty in an increasingly saturated and competitive online marketplace environment.

Key UX Features to Build Marketplace Trust

Creating a beneficial relationship between the merchant and consumer is where you’ll find the marketplace UX. Within the heart of that is building trust for both of those parties. It has become critical for the marketplace to establish trust in every stage of the user journey, whether that be the merchant or consumer. 

There are several ways UX will help accomplish this:

Grow Awareness

Bottom line, people are more willing to enter if they know others are already in. Building awareness starts with creating trust in the platform. Consider things like complete transparency in site policies and contact information and leveraging testimonials, security badges, and user-friendly social sharing.  

Create Consistency

In order to keep users coming back, you need to make them feel comfortable. Part of that is creating a consistent environment that they can rely on each time they visit. This can be done in many ways- brand elements, a clear value proposition that is in effect, and an easy navigation structure.

Easy Searchability & Refinement

We touched on how having an easy navigation system helps to create a feeling of comfort and consistency that keeps customers coming back, but product discovery goes beyond that. Make sure your marketplace has features like an easy-to-find search bar with advanced filtering, strong product descriptions, and high-quality images. 

Reviews & Seller Profiles

Make reviews easy to find and promote seller profiles that keep their listings clean and accurate. This will not only help in your journey to gain visibility and build credibility but will get buyers and sellers onboard. 

92% of consumers turn to reviews before making a purchase.

Having feedback that is prominently displayed with the product/service for sale, but also a tool that is easy to enter in reviews for products purchased will be vastly important for your marketplace. It shows others trust in you, trust in that seller, and support that product- making the consumer feel a lot better about completing their purchase. 

In addition, requiring sellers to create profiles and having them easily accessible can be a great way to help close the deal. With no face-to-face interaction, seller profiles make buyers feel more comfortable about the people or brands they are giving their money to. Within them, allow sellers to put things like their brand story, top-selling products, contact information, etc. These profiles offer customers transparency and allow them to make a more informed decisions.


If you have provided a clear user journey up until this point your customer is likely on the side of trusting you more than not. This is the moment you want to shine as you are dealing with sensitive personal data and they want to feel confident in their purchase with your marketplace. It also gives you a moment to offer them upsells, cross-sells, and add-ons they might not otherwise be aware of- if done correctly.

Make sure your checkout process reflects the simplicity and security customers have hopefully grown to love throughout the rest of the marketplace experience. Accomplish this with items like easy interaction throughout the process (chat feature or otherwise), personalized up-sells, easy-to-locate information on shipping, insurance, guarantees, and a simple and straightforward checkout in as few clicks as possible. 

Post-Sale Considerations

After the initial sale, the fun has just begun. You want to keep the customer (and merchant!) coming back, but how? First, make sure your user can easily track important information. For sellers, this could be a dashboard to manage reviews, show sales, and easily add new products. Consumers should have easy access to things like tracking shipments, returning items, and providing reviews.

Merchant Administration 

While the majority of these points have focused on the customer experience, the merchant experience is just as important. Without the merchants, you’d have no products to sell after all! Making sure onboarding to the marketplace is straightforward and ensuring they can effectively manage their business is important. You want to be easy to work with and serve as a good source of sales to keep merchants engaged. This includes ensuring they can efficiently upload product data and resource information, making it easy to pivot on pricing/sales, creating a branded page (seller profile), and have easy access to data on all their products (the dashboard mentioned earlier). 

UX Expertise Matters

While it might be tempting to go in on your marketplace UX solo, partnering with experts in the space will actually save you a lot of money down the line.  Roger Pressman, who wrote Software Engineering: A Practitioner’s Approach, states that “fixing issues during development costs ten times as much as sorting it out during the design stage. The costs escalate 100 times if the site is live.” And according to Forrester, every $1 that’s being invested in UX returns at least $100. This is largely due to better conversion rates, customer retention, and customer loyalty.

If you are looking for guidance in marketplace UX contact our team at Echidna to start a conversation.

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Client Spotlight: How HorecaHub Launched An Easy to Use Marketplace

HorecaHub is an innovative leader in selling, marketing, and distributing products to hotels, restaurants, and cafes; providing top-quality food and catering supplies to the foodservice industry.

Echidna partnered with HorecaHub to build their B2B eMarketplace solution that connects buyers to a variety of options. The user experience was key, making sure it was easy for buyers to find, filter, and put products in their shopping cart together as quickly as possible with a smooth checkout process. Technically, being able to communicate with their ERP system to immediately pull stock and also offering a responsive solution for users visiting from various devices was important. Now buyers can enjoy one order, one delivery, one invoice, and one payment- something this easy was not possible before the HorecaHub eMarketplace launched.

Take a quick tour of a buyer-sided view of the HorecaHub eMarketplace: