The "Surfing Effect" In Your Marketplace
What The Hell Are You Talking About?
Do you remember in the olden days when you would be at home trying to find something good to watch on TV? You'd be going up and down the available channels "surfing" cable until you found something of interest or simply settled for another infomercial. Fast forward to the modern age of Netflix and other streaming services, instead of doing it the old-school way on cable, you're now being guided or prompted into discovering new categories of shows or movies.
Netflix will of course learn the genres of shows or movies you typically watch from start to end or the titles you rate after completing them. How do they get you to see new content? Well, they do their best to showcase their trending flicks in certain sections of the home page, having auto-play to preview the content, or having different popular movies appear front and center when you open the streaming service.
Some may find it fun to discover new shows to watch or some browse out of pure boredom. Either way, Netflix is getting its desired User Journey. It is most likely going to suggest its best content first to set your position for the wave and then let you surf as you go deeper into the catalogs of forgotten titles until you find something you're satisfied with. This rises adoption and engagement but also "cross-pollination", meaning having Users use different product categories than what regular "personalization" would suggest to you.
The idea of course comes from the wonderful bees when they apply pollen from one flower to another which translates in "marketplace terms" as shopping in one category and discovering another to purchase from. This does a variety of things aside from the obvious increase in AOV (Average Order Value), etc.
There are many who call the process in which their Users find products or services to purchase on the marketplace a "Search" feature. There is certainly nothing wrong with this, however, it is only half of the desired outcome. Yes, you obviously need your Users to be able to search + find what they desire, but you also need to encourage Product Discovery. This is why at Marketplace Studio, we can this workflow, Discovery & Search.
It ties back into "Surfing" & "Cross-Pollination" because the goal of the Discovery workflow is to, well, discover new products or services they did not originally intend to purchase. This is most commonly done with Recommended Products on the Checkout page of e-Commerce sites or marketplaces.
What is your marketplace's Match Rate/Search-to-Fill Rate/Supply Density/etc? We would track a few metrics to calculate our marketplace's liquidity in certain geographies.
(Tracked by Location, Category, Subcategory, Date, and Search Term)
Number of searches in a subcategory by Demand
Number of results (supply) for each search
Number of successful purchases from a search
Number of abandoned carts from a search
These metrics would write a book with the information each holds and how they impacted decisions made for the Ops Team at our former marketplace. Cross-Pollination was being introduced because, at our rent-anything marketplace, we had hundreds of subcategories and limited supply in some, especially when broken down by zip code. We needed a way beyond regular personalization to achieve two outcomes; A. Demand to perform multiple searches and review at least 1 item in each search, and B. Have existing supply fill the "empty shelves" of certain zip codes or subcategories.
If you have a Personalized UX in your marketplace by simply asking your Users what categories and subcategories they're interested in, you can obviously promote related Supply to them. You can also take this a step further by correlating subcategories for the User. Say for a rent-anything marketplace, Demand shows interest in Video Games -> Sports -> Basketball, we could also recommend Outdoors -> Sports -> Basketball for the User to rent a real net & ball (this actually happened).
If you're interested in learning more about this or have a question about the product development process of your marketplace, please use the button below and schedule a consultation.