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The dawn of the Internet allowed for the rise of new marketplaces that could quickly disrupt inefficient and fragmented marketplaces. These became some of the fastest growing and most innovative companies out there.
However, mobile has allowed for the creation of marketplaces that have an even greater potential to impact established markets, with consumers connected 24/7. Building a sustainable and industry-leading marketplace is no easy task, though.
Vinted, YPlan, Onefinestay, and TUI Group caught up with us to explore how they are capitalising on the birth of new marketplaces thanks to mobile and re-engaging people so they keep coming back. They discuss how mobile has upended everything from social diary planning and event discovery to the traditional travel industry to selling online.
Andrius Baranauskas is head of product for Vinted, a community marketplace for 'pre-loved' fashion and lifestyle, and oversees the mobile development of the platform. It has 11 million users globally, he says, and about 80% of usage of the service now comes from mobile thanks to a younger savvy user base that was ready to embrace mobile.
“[Vinted] has lowered the barriers of entry for sellers and you can sell a lot easier and selling is available to much broader user base.”
With a user-friendly app that’s available any time, a platform like Vinted can exploit this mobile-first user base. “It’s available 24/7, not just when they’re next to a laptop or a desktop, and it improves communication and we’re closing transactions a lot,” says Baranauskas.
“Everyone has the ability to create supply. For example, in our case the camera in the phone creates access where you have super easy entry into the marketplace. Everyone can be a seller on mobile,” he explains.
Getting users on board is one thing, retaining them is another but Baranauskas adds that Vinted sees a lot of everyday usage of the app, mostly due to the content created and added regularly.
“Mobile has changed the way people consume many things - from cars to food to entertainment,” says Viktoras Jucikas, founder and CTO at event discovery and booking app YPlan, creating opportunities for selling that didn’t exist a couple of years ago.
“Mobile also reduces time necessary to purchase something you want - imagine seeing an ad for Apple Music festival on a London bus – you’d open up YPlan and could immediately book it there instead of having to call someone or to get back to your desktop to find it there.”
Meanwhile, Onefinestay, the luxury home rentals site that was acquired by AccorHotels last month for $240 million, has a very different mobile strategy and has built its product around a unique market for luxury rentals, targeting a niche audience.
“If you were to think of a company that caters to a very broad audience, they go out and target everybody to a certain degree. We need to be a lot smarter and refined and careful about how we approach people so that we make sure we do things efficiently and right,” says Eduardo Aguilar, mobile product manager.
Onefinestay’s app is focused more so on the guests’ stay (the website is responsible largely for the bookings), and creating a positive experience to bring them back, he adds.
“In a very different way to other mobile applications, our app for guests is intertwined with their stay,” he says. “So you can look around the area where the home is going to be, then you have some experience in-stay with all the recommendations for the city, and then post-stay so you’ll be able to reminisce on what you did and so on.”
The travel industry as a whole has felt quite a rush from mobile and is connecting travel companies with customers in entirely new ways, explains John Boughton, director of mobile at TUI Group.
“For the first time we have a platform that ties the entire holiday circle together. We’ve never had a channel that’s done that before,” he says. “When customers are on holiday with us, that’s generally been sort of a black box, we’ve never really been able to speak to our customers effectively once they’ve got on the aircraft.”
With the app in their hands, TUI has access to customers while on holiday, keeping them engaged with the stated aim of making the trip more memorable so that, crucially, they come back.
“The beauty is we can make it completely contextual and totally relevant to where they happen to be – what the weather is for example. In this case a new marketplace is the highly contextual sale of excursions, stuff to see, interesting things to do, cars to hire because you’re able to speak to those customers.”
Taking advantage of unique audiences and building these new marketplaces will be the theme of a panel discussion at the Open Mobile Summit Europe in London next month, with insights into overcoming the biggest challenges for buying and selling through mobile.
“I think the biggest challenge in the mobile space is the ever-growing costs of customer acquisition,” says Jucikas. “Meanwhile on the other hand, attention spans from the customer have been reducing given the abundance of apps and services.”
The key, adds Baranauskas, is understanding that mobile can no longer be considered an add-on, especially when aiming for every-day usage and creating a 24/7 presence: “Why would they use it every day? It’s because they’re hooked to the content.”
All of these mobile product experts and over 100 others will be sharing their mobile expertise at The Open Mobile Summit Europe (June 27-28th, London).
The two-day event delves into the mobile-first world of business from burgeoning startups that have built their model on mobile from the beginning to traditional brands that have successfully changed with the times.
Getting users to your mobile app has been the biggest challenge for brands and startups and they have seen a huge shift in how people consume their content. In 2015, there was a 58% growth on mobile app usage and much of this growth has come from existing users.
The next hurdle is retaining and re-engaging users, a challenge that Open Mobile Summit’s speakers are hoping to decipher.
Across the two days, panellists will be tackling different issues and challenges in the mobile space, from making sense of big data to integrating with new technologies like the Internet of Things. Tickets are still available for Open Mobile Summit Europe.