Coastal Media Brand

The success of your product in the marketplace depends upon user trust. The higher the trust in your platform, the more likely your customers are to choose your product over competitors.

After all, would you buy a car or a TV from a shady website that feels scammy? Most likely not.

In this article, you will learn the importance of trust in marketplaces, as well as tactics for building trust among your users.

Table of contents

The importance of trust in marketplaces

Although trust is essential regardless of your product type, it’s even more imperative for marketplaces.

Peer-to-peer trust is harder to establish compared to the trust that accompanies purchasing directly from an established business.

If you purchase something from an established company, even if you haven’t heard of it before, you have buyer protection rights and know that the business is registered under a particular name and tax code, which makes it easy to track. Alongside this, brand reputation is critical for businesses, so they may be more likely to try and resolve the problem.

It’s different when it comes to purchasing directly from other people or small, hardly recognized businesses. In these cases, you often can’t be sure if the person is real, it’s difficult to track them if they disappear, and there’s a lot of scammers.

Ultimately, the level of trust directly correlates with the gross merchandise value (GMV) you can generate from these marketplaces.

Tactics to build trust

In order to boost trust in your marketplace products, let’s explore a few tactics you can implement:

Supply verification

The most potent tactic, and often also the most expensive one, is verifying your supply side.

As we already covered, although people often have problems trusting other individuals and small businesses, they tend to have a higher trust towards corporations.

You can use the trust to vouch for the suppliers on your marketplace by verifying and vetting them.

Let’s look at a few examples:

Good Dog

Good Dog connects breeders with people wanting to buy puppies. As you can imagine, buying a pet online requires a high degree of trust.

To strengthen the supply side, Good Dog’s teams run a “responsible breeder” program, where they not only verify breeders and ensure they exist, but even cooperate with verified breeders, offering contract templates and legal support, as well as extra support to buyers who purchase from verified breeders:

Good Dog

Although users still purchase puppies from individual people/micro-companies, they feel like they’re purchasing from Good Dog directly.


Let’s also take a look at a less obvious example. Brainly is a schoolwork support product, and one of its core product offerings is Community Q&A.

Although I wouldn’t call it a marketplace, it does work similarly (demand side: people asking questions or looking for answers, supply side: people answering questions), so similar rules apply.

Brainly verifies supply quality by using AI and a team of subject matter experts who review answers and verify the correctness of the solutions:


Although answers are still provided by individuals, Brainly uses its brand to strengthen askers’ trust in the quality of answers they get.

Quantity of reviews

Most likely, the first thing you check when purchasing a product from another person is the number of reviews they get. A person with a thousand reviews usually seems more legit and reliable than someone with only one or two.

One of your key KPIs in building trust should be ensuring that sellers (and potentially, buyers) get those reviews.

You can do that by:

  • Reminding users about leaving the review
  • Incentivizing reviews
  • Making it mandatory to transact in the future

Now, let’s take a look at an example of two companies and how they handle reviews:


In the case of Airbnb, if you rent a place from someone and want to see the review the other person left, you also need to leave a review.

This is a powerful mechanic for two reasons:

  • People are usually curious about what the other side says about them, so they leave the review to satisfy their curiosity
  • Both sides want to strengthen their reputation by having as many reviews as possible, and they get more reviews by leaving more reviews


If you purchase something through Amazon, you can expect numerous emails reminding you that your opinion is valuable and encouraging you to leave a review. Although annoying at times, it does increase the likelihood of you leaving the review after the purchase.

If you have a loyalty program, consider giving extra points for each review a user leaves to further incentivize the action.

Quality of reviews

One high-quality review is worth more than ten poorly written “it was OK” reviews.

Encourage both sides to write detailed and valuable reviews. Some tactics for doing this include:

  • Recommendations
  • Pictures
  • Verified review


Guide users on what a good review should look like.

Text field size sets an expectation of how long the review should be, so if you expect longer reviews, give users a more extended text field, and the other way round.

You can also include a placeholder review to give an example for the users.

Consider bullet points explaining what information is the most valuable in the review.

Don’t leave users with a generic, empty text box.


A picture tells more than a thousand words. Make it easy to add them and encourage users to do so.

You can even take it further and automatically add pictures of the ordered items.

That’s how Shef, a food ordering app, boosts the quality of their reviews:


When a user leaves a review, Shef automatically attaches pictures of the food ordered by the user.

It makes it easier for potential customers to understand the review and strengthens their trust in the quality of a particular dish they are ordering.

Verified review

Ensuring that only people who actually shopped with a given seller can leave a review limits the chance of fake reviews and improves their trustworthiness.

However, keep the verification criteria to the bare minimum. If potential buyers start feeling that the review must be “approved” to appear on the portal, the trust might actually decrease, as it can be easy to game the system.

Promise of protection

Promising the protection of peer-to-peer transactions is a great step toward building trust.

Without that, some buyers might fear that if they’re scammed, they’ll have to deal with it on their own. If they feel that the whole platform will be on their side and support them, the fear of scams will be lower.

Now let’s look at an example of two companies who have a promise of protection:


Allegro is a European peer-to-peer marketplace similar to eBay.

Although most transactions are on a peer-to-peer basis, Allegro is explicit that if you don’t receive what you ordered, they’ll give you your money back instantly and deal with the seller on their own.

That gives buyers peace of mind that someone else will handle the issue and their money won’t be at risk:



Pets4Home is a UK pet marketplace.

To improve the sense of safety for users, all payments first land in the deposit, and only a few days after the transaction, they reach the seller:


There’s a big psychological difference between transferring money to a trusted intermediary deposit versus paying the seller upfront.

Marketplace reputation

Apart from the reputation of the supply side itself, you also need to ensure your marketplace has recognition and a healthy reputation.

A strong reputation helps you in two ways:

  • The reputation of the marketplace as a whole establishes trust in the supply it provides
  • A strong reputation makes your other tactics, such as verifying the supply side and buyer protection programs, more effective

You can start by getting verified on external rating platforms like Trustpilot. This simple step already makes you more credible.

Then, ensure high-quality reviews on that platform.

The most basic approach would be to nudge your users to leave a review. To improve the rating, you can reach out to users who you are confident had an excellent experience and personally ask them to leave a review. For example, Trustpilot lets you directly invite specific users to leave a review.

High-quality listings

Finally, the quality of your listing speaks for the quality of the seller.

Ensure the listings on your marketplace are well-crafted and don’t seem shady.

To this end you can:

  • Optimize the page layout — Experiment regularly with how listings are designed and showcased to users to boost trust and overall user experience. Your listing page is one of the most critical parts of your product, so optimize it often
  • Guide sellers — Give your sellers tips and hints on what to include in the listing to boost its attractiveness. Not everyone is a professional seller, so do your best to educate them and help them craft proper descriptions. It’ll benefit both sides of the marketplace
  • Offer services to improve the listing quality — In some cases, it might make sense to support sellers by optimizing the listing as an extra service or even for free. For example, when Airbnb was starting, they offered hosts a free-of-charge photoshoot service to boost the image quality on the listing, thus also making it more attractive and trustworthy to guests
  • Verify listings — Although a bit extreme, verifying high-ticket listings might be a sound practice. Say your marketplace focuses on selling used cars. You could offer an extra service to the seller to have a subject matter expert visit, look at the vehicle and confirm the accuracy of the listing


Building trust is one of the most important goals you should have when it comes to growing marketplaces. It leads to more clients, which leads to more sellers, and so on.

Some of the main tactics for growing trust in the marketplace include:

  • Verifying supply
  • Maximizing the number of reviews
  • Ensuring quality of review
  • Providing protection and support in case of issues
  • Building a brand reputation for the marketplace as a whole
  • Improving the quality of listings

The best part is that these tactics not only improve trust, but also tend to directly impact the number of transactions you receive.

Ultimately, as an intermediary marketplace, ensuring the safety of the exchange is the main value that you can deliver to buyers and sellers.

Featured image source: IconScout

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