Scaling Product in a Two-Sided Marketplace

Maud Larpent posted December 20, 2017

In a two-sided marketplace, innovating and launching new and exciting features for your end users often means getting new content from your suppliers, getting it in a different format, or at a different speed, etc.

When your marketplace is the size of TripAdvisor’s, and connects to hundreds of partners that all have different means to connect their supply, this can lead to a very disparate content. In this context, providing your consumers / shoppers with a consistent experience that allows them to find the information they need to choose a particular offer and finalize their transaction can prove challenging. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learnt while leading the hotel supply product group at TA:

  1. Onboard fast-movers and put the feature in front of users quickly:
  • By making the functionality / feature / technology accessible to your most reactive partners you will be able to rapidly test the end-to-end integration and iron out kinks in the information flow. Iterate with pilot partners before scaling – and be open to making changes to your design based on their feedback! Incorporate supplier testing results in your roadmap the same way you would with user testing and front end design.
  • Having the feature “in the wild” early allows you to get feedback from your users early and iterate on the front end (e.g. merchandising) or identify gaps and correct them before you’ve rolled out an update to hundreds of suppliers.
  • This is also a great way to reward your more reactive and nimble suppliers by giving them access to new features early.
  1. Influence slower adopters in your supplier ecosystem:
  • With a limited set of suppliers participating in your new feature you’ll want to make sure the user experience remains graceful for offers provided by partners that are yet to participate – while also showcasing what their offers could look like… and potentially feed their competitive spirit!
  • Build a case anchored in the data collected from your limited-supply experiment to demonstrate the opportunity to all your suppliers.
  1. Build for the future:
  • These updates can be painful for your organisation and your external partners. You don’t want to have to overhaul your API or connectivity too often as this is costly and you risk facing upgrade fatigue within your network of suppliers. To ensure that every upgrade you release to your suppliers is built for the foreseeable future, it is critical for the Product Management team to partner with Engineering and have a shared vision of where the product is going.
  1. Build tools and design processes early
  • Once you have settled the design of your new feature and its supporting tech stack, immediately move to building the tools and processes that will make each additional partner’s update faster to build, test and add to the set of suppliers supporting your new feature. This has to be a key focus on your roadmap (and not an afterthought) which may impact, at first, the pace at which you’re able to add supply to your new feature but it will pay off down the line!

We constantly iterate and improve our processes for cross-functionally testing, launching and scaling new features at TripAdvisor, so if you have any tips or learnings of your own we’d love to hear them in the comments – Thanks in advance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maud is a longstanding member of the TripAdvisor team. She currently leads the Product team responsible for improving TripAdvisor hotel shoppers’ conversion by enabling customers to find the best prices and most engaging room content. She is passionate about identifying new business opportunities, taking them from ideation to execution and scaling,  and partnering with analytics, engineering, sales and marketing teams in the process.

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