“Over the past few decades, marketplaces like eBay, Airbnb, Uber and Lyft, Alibaba, and Instacart have become some of the most impactful companies in the world economy.”
- Bennett Carroccio and Andrew Chen at a16z blog

As the investors at Andreessen Horowitz point out, marketplaces are disruptive and the number of new marketplaces continue to soar. If you are building a marketplace application this is a great place to learn how communication within marketplaces drives transactions and how the combination of Marketbase and TalkJS can help your team embed an in-app chat system and monitor these conversations at scale.

Let’s first take a step back to define what a ‘marketplace’ is – as the term can feel broad and confusing. A marketplace is simply a place where sellers and buyers (supply and demand) are connected to make a transaction. A simple example is eBay, where there is a seller that has an item for sale and is connected with a buyer that wants to purchase that item. This sale is conducted through the eBay platform (the marketplace) and the seller and buyer coordinate directly on the marketplace and finalize the transaction within the platform.

Marketplaces, however, can take many forms. Other examples that you may have run across include:

  • Airbnb (connecting homeowners to travelers)
  • Instacart (connecting drivers + grocery stores to customers)
  • SeatGeek (connecting ticket sellers to buyers)
  • Turo (connecting car owners to car renters)
  • GOAT (connecting rare apparel sellers to buyers)
  • Hipcamp (connecting landowners to campers)
  • Thumbtack (connecting home services businesses to homeowners)
  • Wag! (connecting dog walkers to dog owners)
  • Toptal (connecting vetted talent to businesses)
  • Patreon (connecting creators to subscribers)

One feature that all of these marketplaces have in common is the ability for a buyer and seller (or host/guest or any other supply/demand) to communicate with each other via an in-app chat system. This type of 1:1 real-time communication between buyers and sellers is essential since conversations are the core driver of a transaction process within marketplaces. These conversations may include negotiating prices, answering questions, providing shipping options, addressing real-time problems, or coordinating check-out.

If you are looking to add a chat system to your marketplace similar to the popular marketplaces above, know that this can now be done without an engineering team. Teams can take advantage of TalkJS and use pre-built UIs with minimal code as a starting point. Then, as the marketplace grows, teams can further customize and build deeper integrations using TalkJS APIs. This empowers marketplace companies to move faster and focus on building functionality that is unique to their business.

“First-time marketplace founders often underestimate how much ops & support is usually required to scale a marketplace.”
- Tweet from Mike Williams (@Yoroomie), Founder of Everything Marketplaces

As Mike Williams, the founder of the Everything Marketplaces community alludes to above, as marketplaces evolve into a growth stage, operations become a major challenge and tools to manage the volume become incredibly important.

One growth challenge in particular is keeping an eye on every conversation between sellers and buyers. Since the standard marketplace business model is to take a commission on each transaction, any sale that occurs outside of the platform means lost revenue. This means marketplace operators are incentivized to monitor conversations between buyers and sellers to ensure sales are not being coordinated off-platform (also known as ‘platform leakage’ or ‘disintermediation’).

Marketbase uses A.I. to auto-flag messages

In the early stages of a marketplace, this type of conversation monitoring is relatively simple, and TalkJS provides tools to drill down into conversations from an admin view. However, as a marketplace scales, operators become painfully aware of how time-consuming this process is. This is why it becomes necessary to automate this task and only notify operators when there might be an issue. This means if a buyer or seller sends a message sharing contact information or a message containing keywords like ‘PayPal’, ‘Venmo’, ‘cash’, etc. these would be flagged for team review. Marketbase is a tool that does exactly this by helping fast-growing marketplaces proactively monitor conversations to prevent users from going off-platform, and by identifying repeat problematic users. Marketbase uses AI and other tools to detect and auto-flag these types of messages for marketplace operators to review.

TalkJS Pre-built UI you can customize

Luckily, if you are a TalkJS customer it’s surprisingly easy to start using Marketbase to monitor and auto-flag messages being sent through TalkJS. This is done through a simple no-code integration and only takes a few minutes of configuration to get started.

Marketplaces are everywhere right now, and they can be an incredible business model due to the nature of their network effects. Communication is at the core of every marketplace. If you are building a marketplace be sure to consider TalkJS to add your in-app communication layer and Marketbase to proactively monitor conversations as your marketplace grows.

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