Over that past decade there have been many innovations to the online marketplace model. These innovations have made online marketplaces more transparent, safe, and efficient for users to buy and sell goods and services. But before talking about what happens next, it’s worth noting the major innovations that have brought us here.
In 1997 eBay introduced the “seller feedback” feature, allowing customers to review sellers. For the first time, ratings and reviews were available publicly, forcing sellers to be honest. It is now standard practice for marketplaces to implement reviews on both the buyer and sellers in order to ensure honesty and trust.
With the introduction of online payments and money transfer services such as PayPal, people can efficiently transfer money for goods and services. This, along with escrow, prevented a great deal of potential marketplace fraud.
Driven by the introduction of smartphones, what I’ve deemed Supply-Side Innovation has occurred. With global accessibility and powerful mobile devices in many people’s hands, managing the supply of labor, services, and goods is easier than ever. This has enabled countless on-demand companies, from the likes of Uber to Instacart, to emerge.
The Next Marketplace Innovation
What’s coming next in the marketplace? I’m foreseeing the increase in assisted discovery of products and services enabled by the application of complex algorithms and A.I. There are already early applications of this with Magic and M by Facebook. Uber also uses an assisted search when finding you the most conveniently-located driver.
You can expect to see assisted search thrive where there are many parameters to search and filter – such as housing, talent, professional services, and travel.
There’s no doubt that we will continue to see more innovation and the continued evolution of marketplaces, starting with the increased efficiency in how we find and obtain goods and services. This is only the beginning of a more honest, secure, intuitive, and convenient marketplace.