Marketplaces lose some of their seamless experience
Ebay was a real pioneer when it emerged on the scene in 1995. Not so much because it provided a platform for people to buy and sell goods but because of its ingenious ratings system. It’s clever and very simple self-policing mechanism for buyers and sellers to rate each other was the gem that eBay really gave to the world.
This concept is fundamental to so many disruptive businesses on the internet today. It has resulted in people being fine having strangers stay in their homes (through the likes of Airbnb), and have some random person drive them home when they’ve made contact via their mobile phone (on platforms such as Uber).
This has served everybody extremely well up until now but as online retail matures there is a growing need for a more sophisticated element to be added to the policing aspect. This is being driven by the increased value of some goods now sold on platforms like eBay and the risk therefore that people are buying counterfeit goods. Maybe the current fake news phenomenon simply follows the long tradition of fake retail.
To stymie this scenario eBay is about to launch what it calls an authentication programme whereby sellers can have their items verified as authentic by professionals and their goods are then marked as such on their listing online.
This follows similar mechanisms introduced by other retailers such as RealReal in the US that is a platform specialising in the resale of authenticated luxury goods. But most interesting is StockX that is a marketplace for training shoes (or sneakers as they call them in the US).
Actually, it is a bit more than a marketplace as it is nearer to a stock exchange because it not only verifies that all goods being sold are authentic but it also provides full transparency on pricing as buyers can view all the previous trades completed for each type of shoe and also view all the transaction details involving the sellers. This is certainly a step on from the simple marketplaces that we have become accustomed to.
While such moves are inevitable in a rapidly maturing market it is still something of a shame that – when physical authentication comes into play and we ultimately have a system that requires goods to be shipped around – the experience for shoppers is not half as seamless as that originally devised by eBay.
Glynn Davis, editor of Retail Insider
K3 Retail deliver multi-channel solutions that enable retailers to create joined up shopping experiences for their customers whether they choose to buy on-line, direct, in-store or via mobile. It has over 20 years’ experience delivering award winning solutions, to more than 175 internationally recognised retail brands.