How to build trust in your marketplace

  1. How many users do you have? As Boris Wertz and Angela Tran Kingyensnote in their marketplace handbook, the need for trust-building typically grows with the size of your marketplace. Bigger platforms are more likely to attract bad actors.
  2. What is the worst-case scenario? What is the worst thing that can happen? Losing 15 minutes of your life because you got stood up by a random person from a Facebook flea market is not a big problem. Hiring an incompetent caretaker, which may result in your loved one dying, is.
  3. How much money is involved in an average transaction? This is related to the previous point. If you buy a used t-shirt online and never receive it, the situation is annoying, but not as bad as if you buy a used car that you never receive.
  4. How trusting are your target users? Our non-scientific hypothesis is that people in Western countries are, in general, more eager to trust their peers, while older people or people in emerging markets are warier. The Sharetribe founders learned this first-hand when they launched a campus sharing marketplace in Finland and then tried to do the same in Chile. In the former, the response was excited and free of trust issues. In the latter, people responded with: “Are you crazy? I can’t trust my peers enough to share with them.”

Build trust between your users

  • Code of conduct – Create rules
  • Declaration – Get users to talk about themselves
  • Communication – Help users talk to each other
  • Social dimension – Show users how they are connected
  • Verification – Improve the quality of users
  • Reputation – Punish bad behavior


Build trust in your platform

  • A good first impression
  • Content curation
  • Deliver what you promise
  • Address issues quickly and transparently


Reduce the risk

  • Frictionless payments, escrow, insurance and deposits
  • The blockchain and “trustless trust”


Learn why building trust is vital in order to grow your marketplace business. You need to build trust between your customers and providers, and also help your users trust the platform itself. You are aware of methods to reduce the perceived risk of a marketplace without having to build trust.

The most important ways to build trust between your users are by creating rules, encouraging users to tell more about themselves, providing a messaging system between users, showing users how they are connected to each other, verifying their identities and backgrounds, and by using a reputation system.

To encourage your users to trust your platform, you should offer a good first impression, curate your content, deliver what you promise, and address issues quickly and transparently.

You can reduce the perceived risks of your marketplace with frictionless online payments, insurance and other provider protection measures, escrow, and other customer protection measures. In the future, blockchain technology can play a big part in creating “trustless trust”.

Now that you have a growing base of users who trust each other, you are all set to scale.


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