Spotlight on how to create a successful professional services marketplace
Professional services marketplaces are one of the fastest growing and most lucrative types of multi-vendor marketplace business models. Research from 2017 indicate that the market was slated to grow by 5.4% YoY, reaching almost $5 trillion globally, by 2020. This rise can be attributed to several key factors including:
- Increased trust and quality of providers on professional service marketplaces
- An open and transparent review and recognition mechanism that rewards performance and highlights poor quality work, enabling the cream to rise to the top
- Increase in professionals working remotely.
- Finding the best person at the best rate rather than having to rely on someone locally, especially for highly specialised workloads including development, design, content production, research services, tax services, accounting etc.
For anyone looking to either offer or obtain specialized services, marketplaces provide a great opportunity to find the best person for the job, at a price point that the customer can afford. In addition to connecting professionals and businesses, these platforms also allow for secure payment transactions, where funds are held in an escrow facility and only released when the service is delivered or the work has been completed to a satisfactory level of quality.
This way, service providers have peace of mind knowing they’ll receive payment for the work they’ve done. From the buyer’s perspective, marketplaces allow businesses to reduce risks of online scams, especially after receiving a subpar service.
According to Forbes, the value of the B2B marketplace commerce in the U.S. alone will be worth of $1.2Tn. With that in mind, demand for having a specialized marketplace is higher than ever. This provides a great opportunity for anyone who plans to launch such a platform.
Types of professional services marketplaces
Services Marketplaces include a range of sectors and levels of jobs, from trades jobs such as finding electricians and plumbers or locksmiths through to high-end professional services such as developers, accountants, legal practitioners or conveyancers.
There’s generally two paths that can be take by professional services marketplaces, depending on how sophisticated or accessible the supply side (online sellers) can be:
Generic professional service marketplaces land up becoming listing sites or directories. Apart from providing the contact details of the provider and behaving as a low-quality lead generation mechanism, these marketplaces do not usually offer any additional value. Directories such as Yellow Pages, fall into this category. View this video to see how marketplaces have evolved, especially with professional service marketplaces.
Generally speaking there are two three types of functional marketplaces that you can create when considering a professional service marketplace.
- One way is to allow professionals to create their own profile and state what kind of services they’re able to offer. Businesses can then search your marketplace and look for people who are able to provide the exact service they need.
- The other solution is to build a platform that goes allows businesses to request services they need. By looking at the job description, professionals can see what kind of work the business requires and in what time frame. If they think they’re able to fulfill such a request, a professional can then submit their proposal and wait for the feedback.
- Of course, there’s a third option to consider as well, which combines both of these models. Although this can make your marketplace pretty versatile, it can also increase its complexity. Naturally, you can solve this by optimizing the user experience for your marketplace, making it a breeze to work with.
The 5 Most Important Features Your Marketplace Should Have
1) Advanced Search Options
The ability to quickly and easily find a service provider online is key to developing a winning professional services marketplace. When looking for a specific service for your business needs, it would be quite inconvenient to have to scroll through all the service listings.
To provide a good user experience, having a powerful search engine is a must. Besides that, it also needs to have various filters which can include service categories, subcategories, and specializations, for example. It’s also important to be able to search listings by other criteria, such as charge per hour, availability, location, language, etc.
Wizard type searches such as those used on Serviceseeking.com.au are a great way to guide your users in making selections, leading them to a search outcome.
2) Payment Processing
Once you enable professionals and businesses to connect with each other, the next step is to provide secure payment processing. By allowing your users to charge and pay for the services directly through your marketplace, you eliminate any additional work they’d have otherwise. This creates a stress-free environment, both for those paying for services and those that charge for providing them. Of course, this directly feeds to your business case as well, since you’ll collect a marketplace fee from these transactions.
Service marketplace billing is the next most important feature to look for. Billing for service marketplace must a range of billing options including fixed price billing, hourly based billing and billing on quote.
Payment processing on a marketplace involves holding the funds in escrow until the service is delivered. This offers confidence to both seller and buyer, that their funds are being held and will be released once both parties are satisfied with the service delivery.
3) Service and product listing
The Service or Product listing page is the page that customers use to make their decision on whether or not to engage with the provider..
Service listing should be a top consideration and must allow service providers to clearly showcase their offering. The page should include a detailed description of the service, examples of previous work, display of past reviews and tagging with a range of attributes that are used by customers when conducting searches.
4) Notifications and Messaging
Performing highly-skilled tasks requires seamless communication between two parties. That is why your marketplace must include an internal messaging system to keep all the communication on your platform. This will allow for proper business communication between users, eliminating the need to use e-mail or any other form of communication.
Besides being able to chat between each other, your users also need to exchange documents and files. Another feature worth pointing out is the chat history, which serves as proof of any previous conversations.
5) User Profiles
Along with job postings or service offers, each user in your marketplace needs their own profile page. For professionals, this will allow them to provide information about the services they offer. This is also the place where they can show their previous experience, special skills, and how much they charge per hour. For businesses, a profile page can allow professionals to understand what their company works on, what kind of services they require, and how often they hire professionals.
6) Scoring System
Reviews and ratings are an important part of any marketplace. This allows the users to provide relevant feedback about their partners, as well as choose a professional or company that’s in good standing. Although you can rely solely on the feedback and comments, it’s best to introduce some kind of a scoring system as well. One of the most common examples is star rating, which goes from one to five stars, with the latter being the highest mark.
Learn from the Existing Examples
With so many online marketplaces already in place, it’s essential to use this opportunity and learn from the best. Two of the most popular platforms that provide all kinds of services are Upwork and Freelancer.
Both cover a wide range of professions and mostly focus on businesses posting job offers. This allows service providers to pick and choose jobs they’d like to work on. Of course, once they submit their proposals, it’s on the business owner to decide who they’ll hire.
If you’re planning to create a specialized marketplace for high-end services, you can check out some of the top online marketplaces for professional services below.
To get a better insight into how this works for particular professions, the list below features examples for Legal, Accounting, and Web Development services.
UpCounsel enables entrepreneurs and businesses to locate and hire attorneys. Depending on the business’ requirements and their budget, the platform will provide three to four attorneys that look like the best fit.
After attorneys send their proposals, the business owner can select one to work with. The main benefit of this system is that businesses don’t have to sign expensive contracts with law firms. Instead, they can choose an attorney for a single task if they want, without wasting time on complex paperwork, meetings, and negotiations.
With Avvo, things work a little differently. First of all, the main component of their marketplace model is scraping the internet to find licensed attorneys and include them in their listings. Creating a huge number of lawyer profiles this way, they can easily service any kind of legal need for businesses. Avvo boasts that their marketplace includes over 97% of all licensed attorneys in the U.S.
Providing on-demand services in the accounting profession, this platform connects independent accountants with businesses that require such services. The process is quite simple.
First, an accountant creates a profile and enters their accounting and software skills, as well as the licenses they have. Next, a company defines their project by entering its scope, deliverables, and deadline.
They may also require a specific skill set or a license. Finally, the platform matches accountants with the existing projects, allowing everyone an equal chance to bid for the job.
Being another accounting marketplace, Shngli approaches the game differently to others. In order to provide the best accounting services on their platform, they go the extra mile in their process. Focusing only on southern Florida for now, Shngli interviews and validates each accountant they bring to their platform. Although not a world-wide marketplace at the moment, this is a great example of how to think out of the box and approach your niche directly with an added value.
Working in one of the most sought-after professions at the moment, web developers can use Toptal to easily connect with businesses. Thanks to the online tests, Toptal is able to initially screen developers that come to their platform. Using skill, personality, and language testing, businesses can be sure they’re looking at the prime selection of online talent. Especially since Toptal chooses only around 3% of the several thousand applications they receive each month.
Based in Australia, this global marketplace provides an opportunity for a large number of highly-skilled developers to find remote work. Just like Toptal, Expert360 has a rigorous screening process, making sure their talent pool is at the highest level. This goes as far as organizing interviews with their applicants.
The best marketplace platform for launching a professional services marketplace
Omnyfy provides a comprehensive marketplace platform on which to build and launch your professional services marketplace vision.
With a comprehensive suite of functionality our PaaS Marketplace Platform delivers everything you need and is backed by our amazing customer service.
If you choose the Omnyfy platform, you’ll receive a host of specialized features that cater to the requirements of a professional services marketplace. It provides a flexible payment system which covers all types of payments, be it fixed, milestone based, or anything in between. To allow your users to properly plan their work time, Omnyfy provides the booking and appointments feature as well.
Besides these options, Omnyfy marketplaces include many others, all essential for the success of your endeavour. You can check out the full list of features specifically for professional services marketplace here.