One of the great benefits of starting a marketplace over an online store is that there is no need for marketplace owners to invest in stock, since external vendors are responsible for upholding the inventory of their products. That is not to say that marketplace managers can wash their hands of all responsibility. Indeed, the quality of content sold on a platform — take Amazon as a prime example — is often attributed to the marketplace platform itself. In fact, their brand reputation often rests on their ability to offer the best quality, and widest variety, of the products their customers are interested in.
In this regard, content moderation is key. It helps to ensure that quality standards are met, it filters out scams and counterfeit products, and, ultimately, it boosts UX, customer loyalty and revenues. Content moderation becomes even more important as a marketplace business becomes more robust and feature a larger number of vendors and higher amount of products or services to moderate.
So how can these problems be avoided via careful content moderation? Today, we will take a look at why content moderation is crucial for marketplaces, as well as a few tips on implementing it for success.
Why Content Moderation Is Key
The key factor that makes content moderation important for a successful marketplace is trust. When a marketplace owner is first building up a user base for their platform, they make a promise to users about the quality and content of their marketplace - it is their main differentiator. With so many options at their disposal, it is easy for consumers to lose trust, or simply be turned away by poorly curated content.
Moderation is a form of quality control that can pay enormous dividends when implemented effectively. Indeed, many marketplaces have seen content curation as key to increasing the appeal of their products and services. A famous marketplace example is that of Airbnb’s first New York listings. The startup’s initial foray into the New York market was unsuccessful, an internal enquiry into the problem finding that the cause was very low-quality photos. They solved the problem by going door to door taking professional photographs of the listings themselves. In one month, Airbnb’s New York revenue doubled. While such an approach might not be scalable for most marketplaces, it highlights the immense importance of moderating content and making sure it matches the quality a marketplace owner wants consumers to see on their platform.
However, once users’ trust is earned, it also takes work to maintain it. This is important as customers are not lenient when it comes to experiencing fraud on a marketplace platform. In fact, a survey by Besedo shows that 54% of users who detected a counterfeit item on a marketplace platform would be unlikely to make a purchase there again. This shows that when a consumer has been duped, they feel the marketplace shares the blame with the fraudulent external vendor, and lose confidence in the marketplace as a whole.
Content moderation is vital for setting a tone for the marketplace and ensuring that all products available are up to a certain standard - both in terms of what they are selling and how they are presented. It also helps by detecting fraudulent or deceptive posting that can undo a lot of the good work a marketplace owner has put into creating a platform worth visiting, through quality content moderation.
Content Moderation Methods For Marketplaces
So, how does a marketplace get started with content moderation? In general, a new marketplace with a limited amount of vendors and products will generally opt for a manual approach, with automated moderation often playing a more important role for large, more mature marketplaces. Either way, there are several focus points that a marketplace needs to excel at when it comes to content moderation:
Clearly define user expectation
An important first step in content moderation is to clearly define user expectations with clear promises about quality of products or services provided. One example for this would be that a niche marketplace provides insight, and the best deals, only for the product it specialises in.
Guarantee genuine, quality products
Although marketplace should make sure they partner up with sellers who are able to source quality products in the first place, an ongoing review of existing products should be conducted. In new marketplaces, the operations or supply team is typically in charge for carrying out these checks. These moderators should be trained and have expertise in filtering out non-abiding or counterfeit items. This will ensure the marketplace delivers on its promise of only delivering the highest quality products. On the other hand, large marketplaces with bigger inventories may automate this process by implementing AI solutions.
Correct product/brand names and descriptions
With so many listings in a marketplace, several small inaccuracies or mistakes in product names or descriptions can put off a consumer from making a purchase. To tackle this, periodic checks should be made to make sure images, headings and description texts match. In this regard, technology such as AI-based computer vision software can be used to make sure headline listing prices match that of the actual description.
Additionally, for marketplaces who have a strong, close connection with sellers and who can rely on their ability to correctly upload this information, the marketplace may automate listings. On the other hand, marketplaces that have a smaller community of vendors who need to be educated, and where content needs to be curated, marketplace managers may prefer to opt for manual product moderation.
Provide a great browsing experience
Content moderation includes communication between consumers, sellers and the marketplace. The search experience can be optimised by making sure products and descriptions are accurate, categories are well defined and detailed and that the whole UX of the marketplace responds to the expected consumer journey. For marketplaces that allow sellers and consumers to communicate, discrimination, racism and harassment should be monitored and dealt with immediately.
Detect and prevent fraud
The best manual method for fighting fraud is prevention, and a timely response to complaints from users. Users should be able to report fraudulent content, and random manual checks should go alongside that. Marketplace owners could also consider running a buyer protection programme so that payment is held until the customer confirms they have received what they paid for.
Implementing a full content moderation strategy takes time and patience, and it is something that will invariably grow, and change, as a marketplace business expands. What is certain is that, with marketplace revenues expected to reach new heights by 2022, content moderation has never been more important. At Shopery, we provide a built-in moderation tool that simplifies seller and product moderation, allowing marketplace owners to make sure they are delivering the quality their consumers demand.