User onboarding

When a user first visits your site, their initial impressions and experience will play a large role in whether they join and engage with your platform. For marketplaces, the users are your product, so having a good signup and login experience is critical. You need to make sure that onboarding is easy and delightful for your best potential buyers and sellers, while robust enough to vet for high quality. Below are some considerations.

Who can access the platform?

The quality of your buyers and sellers has an important role in the success of your platform, especially as you’re getting started since you are still building trust in your platform. In some cases, you may want to consider limiting access to your platform or implementing an approval process to ensure your early users are legitimate. Here are three general approaches, which you can apply independently to buyer and seller roles:

Open

Anyone who finds the tool can self-initiate their onboarding process, whether by signing up or starting to browse and engage. This is most common for platforms serving broad public audiences such as Airbnb or Uber, and allows you to scale as quickly as your marketing efforts allow. It is, however, the least controlled option, so you need to stay on top of maintaining quality and the right balance between buyers/sellers as you scale.

Waitlist

Match rate, also known as utilization rate or success rate, refers to the rate at which buyers find sellers and vice versa. This is critical as it demonstrates how well your marketplace is connecting both sides for a transaction. One way to do this is to track the unsuccessful matches and look at how often someone comes to your platform and leaves without purchasing or engaging.

Invite-only

Some marketplaces require invitations to join. This decision may be temporary as a means of creating buzz (for example, Gmail and Clubhouse required an invitation from a friend to fuel excitement) or structural in order to maintain quality or integrity (industry-specific marketplaces connecting licensed professionals often need this approach). The peer-invite model is more scalable since the number of invites grows with the number of users, so the key here is knowing whether you want buzz or quality.

When is buyer signup required? 

Anytime you ask a user to do something, especially with entering personal information, you run the risk of them deciding it isn’t worth the effort and abandoning. Deciding what a visitor to your platform can see or do before they are asked to create an account is an important decision, especially for buyers. Sellers are usually more eager since they stand to make money from joining, and it’s generally important for them to sign up since they will be adding products or services and collecting payments. The key for buyers is to provide enough of a glimpse into the tool so they see the value of joining, but withhold enough to entice them to sign up. Below are three options for when to require a buyer to signup.

Never

For some platforms, capturing a buyer's profile isn’t really critical to the process. This is generally true when the service is more transactional and utilitarian, such as purchasing physical products. In these cases, providing the lowest-friction experience to buyers is key, so the platform can enable a guest checkout experience. The downside to this approach is failing to capture user data, and limiting your ability to provide smooth repeat transactions (e.g., remembering a buyer’s preferences and details).

To transact

A common approach for marketplaces is to allow buyers to browse inventory anonymously, but then require an account in order to make a purchase, or to view details that would lead to a purchase. This approach has the benefit of showing buyers the value of the platform and getting them excited about a purchase, so that they have a clear reason and benefit to signing up.

To enter

When the value of the platform is clear to the buyer, some sites require signup in order to enter the tool at all. This can also be a method to build anticipation, similar to the waitlist and invite-only options above. To make this successful, you will have to have a very strong value proposition to the buyers to get them to input their information before seeing the products.

How do users sign up and login? 

You almost certainly will have sellers create an account on your platform and could have buyers create accounts as well. The actual implementation of the sign up process can take different forms, and is about how people are proving they are who they say they are. This is a balance between ease of use and security. You’ll want to consider your users’ appetite for risk and the nature of the transaction. More expensive products or more personal services may lead you to implement stronger signup or authentication features to make users feel safer and reduce fraud risk. You may have a combination of the below options.

Email login

A simple email and password is the easiest way to have someone sign up for an account. This allows you to be able to send them emails related to their account, such as password reset emails or notifications.

Example Log In Page
This is a sample UI from our Canvas modular no-code design framework

Social authentication

Social logins such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Twitch, and more are convenient because you get all the personal info right away and people tend to trust them. It also can provide a streamlined signup process for new users. They can, however, take more effort since you need to create a developer account and abide by the social platform’s rules which can change. When thinking through which ones to offer, you’ll want the minimum amount that covers the most use cases for your audience. Auth0 is an aggregator that allows you to handle multiple.

SSO

Single-Sign-On (SSO) is a way for users with the same email domain to log in to your platform securely. This would be a good option if your marketplace was limited to employees at companies or organizations. Okta is a company you can integrate for this functionality.

Email verification

Sometimes you’ll want to ensure you have a working email before letting the user fully sign up. This helps prevent spam accounts from signing up or email typos that lead the user to not be able to get back into their account. This is generally done during initial signup, and you can either require the user to verify their email to continue, or let them proceed with limitations.

Domain validation

Domain validation is where you might require someone to have a certain email suffix (e.g., @airdev.co) to make sure they are from the same organization. This is used for closed community apps, and should typically go with either a SSO method or an email verification so someone doesn’t just put in that email.

2-factor authentication

2-factor authentication (2FA) is the idea that someone has to confirm their identity by receiving a code to a different device they own and entering it on the site. This can be required for each login, each new device logged in from,or logins after a certain time of inactivity. It is meant to prevent suspicious logins and add an extra layer of security. It is unlikely to be critical for an MVP unless your marketplace is handling sensitive information, but it is becoming more commonplace (2FA comes standard with all our apps). You can implement 2FA using email, an app like Google Authenticator, or using SMS (where you text a code to someone), which would likely use a service like Twilio.

How do users choose their roles? 

All marketplaces have buyers and sellers, and sometimes users will engage in both sides at different times. These roles will have different experiences, and you’ll have to think about how to designate whether a user is a buyer or seller. You may have a marketplace where you curate and invite sellers, essentially selecting their role for them, but it’s also common for users to select their roles themselves. There are two main ways to do this.

Users choose role at signup

You may want a user to select their role right away at signup. This can be an initial inboarding prompt, or can be two separate sections on your site that lead users into two different onboarding flows. This is for when roles are mutually exclusive or when it’s unlikely buyers will also be sellers, such as Fiverr or Uber. The uses can then have different experiences based on their role when engaging with your platform.

Everyone starts as a buyer, can upgrade to seller

If it’s common or possible for users to be both buyers and sellers, then having users sign up as a buyer with the option of upgrading to a seller may make sense. This works great for sites like eBay or Poshmark where users buying things likely have things they could sell as well. This lets you have a simple initial onboarding flow, and you can add a call-to-action (CTA) on the platform to start listing items. It also allows users to see all their purchases and sales in the same place.

What kind of onboarding experience do you design?

The onboarding experience for users is critical, as it is the first interaction with your platform and can set the stage for a user’s trust and excitement about joining. You’ll want to minimize the friction in getting a user to sign up, while maximizing information and value to the user. Sometimes the onboarding flow can double as a way to educate the user on how the platform works, while other times, you’ll just need it to capture information to get a user signed up. Below are some different onboarding styles you can consider. 

Simple account creation

For product marketplaces with straightforward transactions, you may just need one step for signup to just create an account whether with email and password or with a combination of other account creation options such as SSO or social auth.

One-page profile creation

If you need some basic profile information from users, you can create a single account profile page that a user is directed to complete after signing up. This works well when there is already trust in the platform, and simplifies things on one page so a user can enter everything at once and then save it.

Example One-Column Form Inputs Page
This is a sample UI from our Canvas modular no-code design framework

Multistep information gathering

If you need to collect a lot of information about a user, such as with service providers, a good strategy for collecting information is to break things into manageable chunks and walk users through entering their info in steps. Adding visual progress cues helps a user understand how much they have left and where they are at. You should capture their email in the beginning so you can save data as they go and re-engage them if they drop off during the process. Some ways to organize this flow include guiding users through the process in a linear way (great for simple flows) or a vertical way (helpful for more complex flows where users may want to jump around more).

Multistep personalization flow

Sometimes onboarding can be used to help educate and sell a potential user on the value of your marketplace, and is necessary to convince users to be comfortable entering in their account information and signing up. In this case, you will want to personalize the flow by asking things such as their zip code to make sure they are in the service area or other qualifying information if you serve a specific demographic. Here you want to leave the signup at the end and use the process to make them feel like you have an offering that fits their specific and unique needs.

Do users require additional approval or certification? 

For some marketplaces, ensuring sellers have the capabilities to deliver on their products or services is critical. This is mainly for service marketplaces where people are offering specific skillsets or expertise. You may want to consider adding some additional steps to make sure the sellers are legitimate or skilled before publishing them on your platform. You should weigh how important this is for your buyers and the trust of your platform, as it comes with user friction costs, but in some cases it is essential to maintaining a quality marketplace. There are a few potential options, including some for buyers. 

Training/tests

If you have a particularly complex platform or tool, sometimes users will need to go through training videos or materials and/or take quizzes to prove they have the right understanding of how to use the platform. You’ll want to automate these as much as possible, and employ them only when necessary. These are usually custom to the platform so involve both technical and creative work.

Proof of eligibility or identity

If your platform audience is limited to a specific group, you may need legal or technical proof to allow users to join. This could be proof of identity, confirming a disability, proof of age, proof of military service, proof of address, credit checks, or background checks. These are usually standard and automated, and you can use a third-party services to help manage. Checkr, Persona or Stripe Identity are common tools used for identity verification.

Manual or offline confirmation

If your marketplace helps connect people physically with things like ridesharing or with in-person services, you may have to introduce a manual or offline confirmation step. This could be video or in-person interviews, live tests such as a driving test, or authenticity checks. These are usually custom and not automated, and require manual labor. You can build a simple status tracker into your tool’s admin portal as a first step, as you’ll probably be doing the checking yourself initially. Afterward you may have a separate role for the checkers with notifications and tracking.


No items found.