How do I build a lead matching app with auto-matching of users & providers?

Based on the information you’ve provided, it looks like you’ve got two options when looking at pairing up designers with clients wanting design services through a lead matching app.

You mentioned that you’d like to sort the applicants by proximity to their designer so you may want to use a lead matching directory feature like what Brilliant Directory offers. This could be set up to be automated or set up to be verified by you on the way through.

If you’re looking for a more curated way of pairing providers with end-users, you could look to use a custom webform to collect details and then doa  filtered search on your users to find the designers that best suit the client needs. As most of the design work is being provided remotely, you might find that this provides mroe value to potential clients and could lead to higher service charges on your platform. If you wanted to facilitate the process through a custom CRM or PM software system, you could increase the service charge and control more of the client experience. This would also enable you to manage SLAs and ensure the best service possible, especially in the early stages of your marketplace.

Why are there so many new online marketplaces popping up?

One reason is because there are more tools available to create online marketplaces.

For single-sided marketplaces, people can use Shopify, BigCommerce or WordPress (with plugins).

For two-sided marketplaces, people can use Sharetribe, WordPress (with plugins) or hire developers to create their marketplace.

Other factors include:

  • The costs are getting lower
  • Shows like Shark Tank & The Profit are making it seem easier
  • People are now more used to having hundreds or thousands of followers. I feel this leads to the perception that they could attract this same amount of people to use their product.

As a beekeeper…would you use an online marketplace “for beekeepers” to buy/sell products, exchange information with other beekeepers?

It does sound like using a marketplace would work the best for what you’re looking to do.

If you’d said that you just wanted somewhere for beekeepers to exchange information then you could have looked at using the free Mighty Networks group or setting up a Facebook group.

As you’re looking to create a place where people can buy or sell, I’d look into either using WordPress with a marketplace theme or setting up a Sharetribe marketplace.

Using WordPress, you’d be looking to use the ecommerce features so that multiple beekeepers can sell to others whilst creating a forum/community so they could exchange information. I really like Discourse for forums so that could also be an option.

Using Sharetribe, I’d look to set up categories in the following way:

  • Honey Sales
  • Honey Products
  • Honey Information

You could change around the titles but this would split out the products to make it easy for people to view. Beekeepers could list their honey & other products for sale and could also add information as a type of “blog post”. Set up this section without the price setting and it will be treated differently.

How can my marketplace build trust when selling expensive services?

Great question. It can be hard to run a marketplace for expensive items as I feel like people have a threshold for the amount of money they’re comfortable risking online through payments. Most people started with buying books online then built up their tolerance to risk through more successful transactions. Credit card refunds and Paypal buyer protection helped but people still have a number of internal checkboxes that they need to check before parting with large sums of money online.

These include:

  • Cues and social proof from your marketplace website
  • Whether they read about the marketplace from a reputable news source or were referred from a trusted friend
  • Whether there are online reviews

These are some of the basic issues around trust and this ties into what people look for when they’re confronted with buying something expensive online.

To help alleviate these natural fears in people when buying expensive services, you could look to build a marketplace that uses Escrow as a means of payment. This could either be through a dedicated escrow provider like Escrow or could be a built-in feature of your marketplace. You could also look to link up provider’s social profiles as additional social proof but, depending on your % commission or fee, you may find some people looking to bypass your marketplace and deal directly with the provider.

These two features will go a long way to providing more surety when someone is buying through your marketplace.

Can Sharetribe be used to build something similar to Kijiji or as a platform for matchmaking? How can I monetise such a market?

If you’re looking to build a classifieds website like Kijiji (Canada) or a marketplace like Gumtree (Australia), you could potentially use Sharetribe to build it but you will come up against some limitations in managing listings.

Sharetribe is built more for, what I’ll call, persistent or permanent listings. These are marketplace listings where you list your product once and when it sells, the listing remains. This works really well for marketplaces like Airbnb or houseboat rentals or tours or anything where you don’t want to re-list the item each time it sells. It also works really well to have a single URL for a specific product or service so you can share that URL and not need to change it all the time. Sharetribe is definitely better for rental-type marketplaces.

If you’re looking for an easy way to build a low-cost classifieds website, I’d have to recommend installing WordPress on discount marketplace hosting (you can always switch it to more powerful marketplace hosting later) and then installing a theme that suits this type of marketplace.

What’s the best theme for building a marketplace or classifieds, you ask?

I’d recommend that you check out:

If you don’t want the hassle of hosting the theme or software yourself and would prefer a hosted classified software solution, you could check out:

As for your matchmaking website, you could look to create an open dating social network and perhaps look at having a pay-per-month option using a tool like MightyNetworks but, if you’re looking for a simple dating site builder, go for WordPress and check out the top dating website themes below:

Now for monetisation. Sharetribe works on a commission-model but you can set it up as a hosted membership website. Most WordPress themes take the easy way of having a pay-per-listing model whilst some of the other options mentioned above allow for commissions or a pay-per-month model.

I hope this helps.