Online Marketplace Design: UI/UX Best Practices and Key Features

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
December 29, 2021
Online Marketplace Design: UI/UX Best Practices and Key Features
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
December 29, 2021
Online Marketplace Design: UI/UX Best Practices and Key Features
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
December 29, 2021
  • /
  • /
PM and BA at Aspirity
Written by
This article was written
in collaboration with
Maria D.
UI/UX Designer at Aspirity
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Building a successful marketplace might be quite challenging due to tough competition and numerous factors that significantly impact the project's future. And UI/UX design is one of the most influential of them as well as a design brief. In particular, it should make your platform clear and accessible for all audience groups, including buyers and vendors.

Thus, even if your marketplace isn't likely to become the second Amazon or eBay, you have all chances to succeed with your idea. You should determine your business goals and follow the core marketplace UX guidelines to make it possible.

Aspirity has deep expertise in finding result-driven solutions thanks to in-depth analytics experience and an extensive understanding of marketplace UI/UX design specifics.

This post will explain the common marketplace features, widespread issues, and UI/UX design best practices.

Key Marketplace UX Design Features

Normally, a marketplace involves two sides of the users' interactions with the interface, depending on the audience's nature: the sellers' and the buyers' side.

The marketplace website design should serve these audiences equally well, being clear and intuitive for both.

Here are the most common marketplace features designed to meet the core users' needs.
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Sellers' Marketplace Design Features

Your marketplace's success directly depends on the number of engaged sellers and the tools they need for efficient management. Here are the essential features boosting vendors' capabilities.
Seller's Account and Product Management
Vendors need to have a personal account to access data concerning the products, manage warehouses, get timely notifications, etc. You may also grant different permission levels to provide multiple user roles.
Order Processing
Allow vendors to manage and process orders. They should be able to verify and change order statuses, specify tracking numbers, and instantly get corresponding notifications.
Marketing and Promotion
Promotions, discounts, and coupon codes are vital for marketing campaigns to increase revenue and boost customer loyalty. Enable vendors to use and manage personalized and customizable marketing tools.
Provide custom dashboards to display all the required information, deliver reports, and update statistics. The vendors should track key metrics regarding their sales, customer session time, etc. Data visualization will help instantly obtain and perceive this information.
Social Media Feedback
Involve social media integrations to collect and deliver the customers' feedback. Social networks help collect people's opinions about your marketplace. Also, they can increase your platform's popularity.

Buyers' Marketplace Design Features

The main goal of any marketplace is to attract more customers, provide them with a frictionless user experience, and enable them to pass all funnels with ease. The following features are essential for ensuring the buyers return to your platform.
Goods Comparison
Enable the customers to compare similar products and choose the preferable option based on its characteristics. An automated comparison feature will prevent the buyers from visiting multiple online stores to find what they need. We will reveal the right way to implement this feature further in this post.
Shopping Cart and Payment
A clear shopping cart is a must-have for any e-commerce platform. A customer should be capable of removing items, changing their number, verifying the shipping type, and adding notes. Also, provide a sufficient number of payment methods, including PayPal, Stripe, Braintree, etc. The payment system should work smoothly and clearly.
Delivery Tracking
To enhance customer service, provide users with timely order status updates, and send corresponding notifications to keep them informed. Allow them to track their delivery, see the parcel's arrival time, and monitor any changes.
Customer's Account
Customers should sign up and manage their accounts to view order history, create shopping lists, and streamline purchasing and order tracking. At the same time, signup can be simplified or even optional for making the first purchase.

General Marketplace Design Features

Both sellers and buyers will use numerous marketplace functions. The UX & UI eCommerce marketplace design benchmark is its overall intuitiveness and clarity equally important for all stakeholders. Here are the key features reflecting this idea.
Product Catalogs & Listings
Catalogs and product listings should be equally convenient for vendors and customers. For vendors, make them comprehensive and manageable. Sellers should change and organize them by type and category with a filtering system. In turn, the buyers need personalized and non-overwhelming catalogs with essential information only.
Advanced Search and Filters
A smart search engine will help users immediately find what they need. It would be great to provide advanced filtering options. They allow narrowing the search by categories, including price, color, size, and other custom characteristics.
Product Card
A product card should provide users with each item's comprehensive characteristics. In addition to the quality image, price, and detailed description, this page may also contain customers' reviews, product ratings, etc.
Chat and Support
Both sellers and buyers should send and get messages within the marketplace app. This feature will improve customer support quality. An FAQ page and clear onboarding for new users can also enhance the support system.
Payment Control
Prioritizing security is essential for a large platform that deals with multiple payments. Acquiring enables monitoring payments in real-time and preventing fraud risks. Having such a function ensures your marketplace's trust and reliability.
Return of the Goods
Provide customers with an option to return the goods and clarify under what terms they can do it. A transparent return policy leads to the users' trust and confidence.

Typical Marketplace UI/UX Design Issues

Marketplace web UX/UI design directly impacts the project's success, yet platform development is quite a complicated task. There are numerous challenges on the way. Each of them may lead to increased churn rates, poor customer service, and revenue loss.

Let's overlook the most critical issues one might face when designing a marketplace and suggest ways to address them.

No Informational Value

Providing customers with comprehensive and consistent product descriptions and characteristics is crucial.

The buyers prefer viewing complete product cards with informative descriptions, quality pictures or videos, characteristics, customers' feedback, etc. You can also use some less widespread yet efficient techniques like an item review provided by the merchant, 360-degree view, or AR technologies.

Also, if the goods' characteristics are incomplete or don't correspond to reality, the goods comparison feature won't work appropriately.

Lack of Clear Onboarding

Onboarding is aimed to help vendors and buyers understand how the service works. If a marketplace platform lacks a clear and comprehensive explanatory experience, it may confuse.

To provide a frictionless onboarding process, build Customer Journey Maps containing all user flows. They will serve as a basis for your marketplace design and onboarding.

Remember that the platform should meet the needs of two different audience types.

For a buyer, provide tooltips to help them navigate the interface and understand how to use the main functions.

The vendor's interface is similar to a dashboard or an admin panel containing sales analytics and other statistics. So this type of user will have a different customer journey and get another onboarding experience.

Poor Audience Personalization

Customers won't stay in your app and enjoy their shopping if you don't offer them a unique user experience tailored to their needs. The most common signs of poor personalization are overwhelming interface, unclear fonts, lack of customer support and onboarding, etc.

Here are a few marketplace design techniques that will make your e-commerce platform more engaging and closer to the audience.
Conduct in-depth user research to define and prioritize your users' needs.
Do not overestimate automated support solutions like chatbots that distance you from your audience.
Make your platform accessible to all audience groups, including visually-impaired people, with readable fonts, picture descriptions, etc.
Personalize the feed to deliver custom recommendations based on a certain user's preferences

Marketplace Design Best Practices

Keeping in mind the key functionality and the challenges mentioned above, let's look at best marketplace design practices. Following them with your audience's specifics taken into account, you can build an outstanding e-commerce platform.
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Start Designing a Marketplace from User Research

Initially, ensure the project is relevant and competitive. The marketplace concept isn't new, and with giants like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, there's a huge risk of creating a secondary product that won't find its audience.

User research is a great way to understand how to design a marketplace that will stand out. In particular, it's worth analyzing the competitors' users and learning which of their needs remain unmet.

There are multiple ways to conduct the research. Relying on your project's scope and goals, you can benefit from quantitative or qualitative findings. Consider A/B testing, usability tests, user interviews, and field studies.

Build an MVP

If you create a marketplace from scratch, it's a good idea to start with an MVP. This option will allow you to keep up with the competitors and verify your idea's viability. With an MVP, you will ensure you've got your audience, and there's room to expand.

Normally, a marketplace MVP contains a minimal set of features. It may look and feel like a half-baked solution. However, your MVP should contain the killer feature that makes your product stand out from the competition.

At this stage, it's important to realize whether this idea can become the core of your business and make it hit the target.

Workout Seller's Profile

The vendors' user journey is completely different from the customers' one as they have other goals and user flows. Ensure to provide the sellers with the following capabilities:
Powerful CMS and content editing.
Easy-to-use acquiring function.
Relevant integrations.
A simple way to fill product cards.
Instantly accessible statistics regarding sales and orders.
Alarms and notifications system.
Remember that the sellers' profiles should provide at-a-glance access to all required data, statistics, and notifications. The less time the vendors spend performing simple operations, the more satisfied they will be with their user experience.

Make On-page Messaging Helpful

Each page and flow in your marketplace should make sense for the users, be consistent, and cause no frustration. All features we mentioned above, including powerful search with filtering, payment gateways, shopping cart, support system, delivery tracking, etc., should reflect this idea.

Finally, clear call to action buttons, simplified navigation, and consistent interface architecture will keep your users in. Accessible on-page messaging will help you retain customers and increase the conversion rate.

Mobile-First Design

Modern smartphone users want to buy things online with instant transactions. So it's crucial to provide customers with a marketplace platform that fits all types of screens.

Your users will benefit even more if your marketplace has a responsive website and a mobile app.

The sellers may also take advantage of a mobile app. It should contain essential features like order status checks and customer chat.

Vendor Performance Rewards

Put famous brands' logos of famous brands of your clients or partners on the main page. It can attract more customers to your marketplace and enhance your visitors' trust.

The fact that you've been working with famous vendors can persuade your potential clients that your marketplace is a reliable and secure place.

Product Comparison

Comparing similar goods when making a choice is beneficial for the customers. It gives them a chance to see which option suits them best, according to the price, manufacturer, material, size, color, etc.

That's why the product comparison feature is an extremely important yet quite challenging one. When implementing it, you've got to be careful because certain complications may arise.

It will not work appropriately if a vendor doesn't standardize product descriptions within one category. To address this potential problem, you should define a particular set of fields in each product card. However, the vendors' custom editing feature may contradict this idea.

So before adding a product comparison function to your marketplace design, ensure you need it when conducting User Research.

Social Signup

Nowadays, users don't like to waste time on multiple-step registration forms. Most expect to make their first purchase without confirming their identity right away. Release them from the necessity to pass time-consuming registration by enabling simplified signup with their social media or Google account.

Provide the visitors with a guest checkout option to reduce churn rates significantly. You may also allow customers to pass registration when it doesn't distract them from their user experience. The users will be more likely to consider signing up after they buy something for the first time and realize your platform's value.
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Aspirity Experience in Designing Marketplaces

We at Aspirity have dealt with numerous projects, including web platforms and SaaS products. Many of them were related to e-commerce and sales. This case study may help you understand the core marketplace UX design principles and how they can lead to the product's success.

Helthjem Flash Sales

Working on the Helthjem, we built an e-commerce web service. Our client was a Norwegian company, specialized in the next-day home delivery of newspapers, magazines, books, and parcels. The main goal was to create a platform available for small organizations and charity projects.

We started with analytics to determine the project's key goals. Our client's management came out with an idea to build a micro-store service enabling small businesses to run e-commerce and increase the number of delivery requests. We also decided to make a return shop serving the customers who want to use delivery services to return unsuitable goods.

We needed to make the service convenient, intuitive, and straightforward, with a modular and editable interface.

We came out with the following solutions to meet our client's purpose.
High-fidelity wireframes. Prototyping reflects the app's concepts and features.
Mobile-friendly design. The marketplace design is adaptive and convenient to use from any device.
Intuitive shop constructor. The vendors can easily add products to the shop, write and edit descriptions, set parameters, etc.
Multiple shipping and payment methods. The customers can choose the most convenient shipping and payment options.
Editor and publish modes. We implemented a customizable solution enabling sellers to edit, publish, change, or remove products.

How to Avoid Online Marketplace UX/UI Design Mistakes

Building a successful marketplace may be a challenging goal. However, following marketplace UI/UX design best practices can bridge a great idea and the right implementation.

The core advice is not to get in over your head and realize all your ideas right away. The initial version of your marketplace should contain only must-have features to make your product useful and unique.

To achieve this goal, designers often closely collaborate with clients and developers. They create multiple wireframes, carefully thinking over each flow and feature. Also, it's not a good idea to come out with new features during the designing process. Rely on user research and the design brief prepared in advance. It's also crucial to test everything on any production stage.

Finally, prioritize clean UI and minimalistic interface. Don't overwhelm your marketplace with distracting elements and thus help the users recognize the most valuable functions.

If you have any questions about online marketplace UI/UX design or look for an experienced team to discuss your ideas, we at Aspirity are ready to help. Feel free to contact us now! Our experienced marketplace designers may consult you on your project and find the solutions perfectly tailored to your needs.
This article was written in collaboration with Maria D. UI/UX Designer at Aspirity
PM and BA at Aspirity
I've been working as a PM and BA at Aspirity for more than 2,5 years. I make sure that our customers receive exactly what they expect without spending their time managing the team.
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