Disrupt Marketplaces

Carmen Beissner
3 min readDec 8, 2018

Thinking back 20 years ago, customer’s satisfaction were the reason online marketplaces existed. But meanwhile many of them have become overly dependent upon conversion rates while their customers have taken a backseat.

Everything was easy, fun, transparent and comparable; from travel and books to clothing, food, and electronics to real estate. Quality and prices were carefully checked while the focus was on offering the best product for a particular vertical.

But now…phew!

Some marketplaces have become stressors. Customers search endlessly and spend their valuable time to find the right product or service. They have been robbed of their time, peace-of-mind, and they might even end up buying the wrong or overpriced item.

Online marketplaces have been there for so many years now. Some of them over 20 years. Their Product and IT departments became huge. But, do the companies still add value to customer experience over time? You rarely notice any change on the websites, services or apps. Real wow experiences are missing. No inspiration.

The New Order: Utter Chaos that can be sorted

In the beginning, every effort was induced to make online shopping easy for customers. However, now, the race to convert visitors into customers won. Companies are under immense pressure to perform, and competition is tough, time is tough either.

The result is that companies don’t invest time on customer-centric development anymore or maybe some of them just became lazy. However, something led to the tons of promotional gimmicks aka conversation elements on only 10cm of your desktop screen especially on travel marketplaces.

„Bestseller, 5 star rating, high demand, Great Bargain, Thumbs Up!, 12 times booked in the last 6 hours, just posted, only a few items left, 8.5 points, Top tip, Enter Coupon, sustainable, whatsoever.“

The entire screen is full of these kinds of attention seeking badges in different fonts, sizes, colors and even sometimes blinking. Does this work? For me not always! I am convinced that conversion drivers overload can become conversion killers. They want customers to take decisions quickly. But some marketplaces have become totally confusing.

I tried to surf through online travel pages and was completely lost. Even after hours, days, weeks I wasn’t able to decide. The collection of very long listings, filters, conversions elements inspired me to close the browser. And sometimes I even wanted to send a bill to these marketplaces for consuming hours of my life.

According to a recent German study called stress-shopping-report (Stressshoppingsbericht), about 1/5 of shoppers find online marketplaces stressing.

Marketplaces must make their way to their own disruption

The reason why they once started was that they claimed entire industries as too little digitized and the apt use of technology was lacking. They complained that established organizations have become inflexible over time and that they as emerging startups are über agile and customer-friendly instead.

Now they are no better.

We all want shopping online, yes. But it must be possible to book your travel in minutes without being excessively distracted by numerous offers and deals. A marketplace to which I give a briefing once, which makes suitable and individual offers for me, which I can then accept and buy. No filters, no lists. A choice of three offers. Only three. A place which I can trust to get always! the best price with best value and best quality. A place that inspires me.

Summary: I love Marketplaces and they will be again überamazing. But they must put their own house in order and disrupt themselves. Listings only are outdated and boring. No filters, no lists. Push, not pull. Minimalism.