Online marketplaces are evolving. It’s true; they came out of the gates laser-focused on generating leads, but there’s no denying the fact that they’ve grown increasingly supportive of the full range of business and consumer interests. These days, online marketplaces are going beyond the basic leads-making model to help service providers win, and keep, customers in a progressively on-demand society.
According to a 2014 Google study, 84 percent of consumers turn to the Internet to gather information for the purchase of local goods and services – most using a smartphone or mobile device. Likewise, today’s homeowners — accustomed to the instantaneity afforded by Uber, ZocDoc and Web-enabled phones – expect immediate fulfillment when planning and hiring for home projects. More and more, online marketplaces are giving them exactly what they want. And they’re offering much-needed administrative assistance to home service providers too.
Here are three ways modern online marketplaces have evolved to meet the needs of homeowners and home service professionals:
They’re providing access to immediate, comprehensive information: When it comes to planning for projects, homeowners want to seek and find the information that is important to them on their own terms – at their own convenience — without having to pick up the phone. And they are 29 percent more likely to consider purchasing from businesses that offer such information in a comprehensive online listing, according to Google’s research. Online marketplaces allow professionals to submit detailed business profiles, photos of past work and other information relevant to homeowners seeking the services they provide. In essence, marketplace profiles allow homeowners to make informed decisions about which professionals to call for bids at the same time they allow service providers to enrich fundamental lead exposure and demonstrate why they should be on the call list.
They’re making it easy to find and submit dependable ratings and reviews: Homeowners seek and trust reviews from their peers. In fact, according to BrightLocal’s 2014 Local Consumer Review Survey, 88 percent of consumers have read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business — and the same percentage trusts online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Online marketplaces make it easy for homeowners to find and submit reviews about home service providers in their area, whether they’re using a desktop computer or a smartphone or mobile device. And they make it easy for professionals to respond to and actively engage with reviewers as well. When verified for authenticity by specialized marketplaces such as HomeAdvisor.com, online ratings and reviews offer a number of benefits to both homeowners and service providers – not the least of which is an enhanced business reputation for deserving professionals.
They’re booking appointments on demand: Perhaps the most remarkable way in which online marketplaces have evolved is that they are offering homeowners the opportunity to instantly connect or book appointments with a simple click, without requiring either party to make a phone call. And at the same time, they’re making things easy on service providers by taking lead chasing out of the equation – and by helping them update their calendars and remember appointments as well. Not surprisingly, on-demand booking is in high demand. In one week, upon the rollout of HomeAdvisor.com’s Instant Booking feature, 15 percent of homeowners accepted the offer to book an instant appointment with a service professional. What’s more is that both homeowners and participating professionals reported high satisfaction with their online booking experience. With services like instant booking successfully entering the fray, it’s easy to think that online marketplaces will stake a major claim in the future of the on-demand home services market. And it’s easy to think that they’ll continue to evolve beyond our expectations as well.