Mobile Apps For Both Sides Of The Market
In the web era, if you had a two sided marketplace, you had one app that served both sides of the market.
In the mobile era, it seems that it is better to have different native mobile apps for both sides of the market.
Ridesharing and delivery companies like our portfolio companies Hailo and Sidecar have apps for the rider/buyer and apps for the driver.
Etsy has the buyer focused Etsy app and the Sell On Etsy app.
And yesterday our portfolio company SoundCloud launched Pulse, their creator app, on Android.
This requires more development and marketing resources for each side of the market, yet another reason why building a business in the mobile era is harder, more complicated, and more expensive.
But it sure feels like this is how you have to do it. I’ve seen folks try to put both sides of the market in a single mobile app and it doesn’t work that well.
Getting both the demand and supply side on the same app will surely have some benefits. Airbnb comes to mind as one example. It’s definitely a huge design challenge to build one app that serves both sides (and perhaps the bigger reason for the two app approach).The other big problem that I see with the two app approach is that the quality suffers on the supply side app (team is not adequately staffed, app does not get design and product management love).
Agree re: supply. I have yet to talk to anyone or work on a marketplace thing that didn’t short shrift the supply side. And it hurts, maybe later in the game, but not adequately serving supply is a huge mistake.
Agreed. Supply side is hugely under-served in most marketplaces.
> have yet to talk to anyone or work on a marketplace thing that didn’t short shrift the supply side. And it hurts, maybe later in the game, but not adequately serving supply is a huge mistake.RIght, and I’ve experienced that in one of the apps I talked about in another comment here. Companies running such marketplaces need to realize that suppliers may quit if their needs are not met too.
Totally. I’ve seen that happen. It’s frustrating, though, because supply often bears a lot of the inefficiency that product should really be solving. I’ve worked a ton w/designers and while the rate is obviously important, the inefficiencies in how they’re served by existing design marketplaces is atrocious.
Ha! The situation will only change if companies realize they should be addressing the needs of all their stakeholders, not just some.Dov Seidman’s book “How” comes to mind.https://en.wikipedia.org/wi…
Interesting, putting on my list. Never heard of him, though I recognize the lawsuit he put up against Chobani and their agency=)
ebay does it – its ok
Doesn’t Airbnb do it really well?
Agreed. Airbnb does both well.
Just curious – has anyone aced at having both supply and consumer on mobile web?We tried doing this but it got really messed up and later decided to remove the supply side completely from mobile web and keep it just on desktop.
so the supply side app has a much higher unit cost to produce (if we want to isolate costs in that way).more expensive, so a barrier to entry for ankle biters.is there a screenshot of a driver app?
Is this another example of the advantage being given to the incumbent and well funded companies.Data science and the challenges of building new brands as the one we discussed recently which really resonated with me http://awe.sm/bMxdgNow this?
Makes sense to me when both sides are distinct from each other, have completely different use cases and there is little crossover. Few Hailo/Uber drivers are also riders etc.- Etsy historically made a big deal about the number of sellers who were also buyers.- Soundcloud at least initially wanted to be the youtube for audio.I think for classic consumer/prosumer plays – segmenting the sides are a big mistake. Kill chance of cross pollination to say nothing of dev/marketing costs to run separate apps.Armchair quarterback – granted, but to me, the ‘need’ to segregate comes about from design and UX shortcomings. I posit innovatively fixing them could obviate the need to create distinct apps.
I’m with you on this one, and segmenting also has implications for the way the data is treated and analyzed. I’ve only briefly worked on consumer internet, but w/2-sided marketplace I definitely saw a lot of variables that became more complex when separated. Though, I do agree w/@lauriekalmanson:disqus’s point about workflows. Merging separate apps into the same database and monitoring them is a tricky thing, not to mention having different teams working on them.
“I’ve seen folks try to put both sides of the market in a single mobile app and it doesn’t work that well.”Are there examples that you could name in this situation?
Well i did actually
And Foursquare used to have Foursquare for Business, but I can’t find it. Is it still available and marketed?
One app to write AVC.Another app to read AVC.Like babies, it’s all about managing the inputs and outputs.
What, no app to do semantic / structured journalism analysis and then provide us a recap of post + comments?
And ‘ye abandoned the app to comment on AVC.
Platform businesses, where both the ‘creator’ and ‘user’ are of equal importance, this makes complete sense. Tailoring the app and subsequent features for the creator would, conceivably, encourage more creators to join the platform. Likewise with the users. Ultimately, it sounds like a recipe for exponential growth of the network effect.
Interesting discussion. Seems to me it depends on the disparity level between consumer and professional/producer using the app.We currently have a Manhattan real estate app in dev with 3 main user personas – each has their own feature set and user task flows. So for us we feel its best to.combine these different personas into the same app. I’d love to hear examples of similar apps that took this road but failed or didn’t succeed as well due to this very reason.
Whatcha building? (and hi!)
Hey Drew!! Hope all is well and great to see you in this forum. Building something from the ground up that I think brokers & consumers alike will absolutely love. Hope at least! More to come soon
Nyc to start, then beyond!
Cool. Send me a note once you’re ready to share more details.
somewhat off-topic, but bitcoin is going crazy. glad I did not sell the coins I bought in 2013
what’s the analysis of why it’s happening?Gemini going live in the US?the EU tax ruling?Chinese citizens getting nervous?the mining pool cartel at work?
Same market different customer. Same market different needs. One app can’t be all things to all people….
It used to be – web for one side, and web for the other side. Yup, mobile messed this up, but not all mobile Apps should be mobile Apps.If you’re not really providing uniqueness on mobile & smartphone, then don’t do it. Actually, mobile Apps could be renamed as smartphone Apps, because you’re really building for the smartphone, instead of a larger screen.
What messed it up is how people work and how fast of a response they want.It is utterly amazing how much the work world changed for marketplaces.If you had something that needed to be in writing like an order for a sale you used to write a letter in Word Perfect take your disk to the one computer that had a printer, print it send it.Then we got faxesThen the wired internet changed that to being in your office from 9 to 5 and responding quickly during normal business hours.Now people expect that you will respond real time anytime, and because work and non-work blurred you don’t have to be at your desk. The only real way to achieve this is to have a way to do it on your smartphone. You are right it doesn’t have to be an app but it has to work on the device that you carry on your person. The needs are different for those buying and those selling hence to different approaches.
great point.apps make it easy to do stuff–order, schedule, whatever.really challenging to make this easy outside of an app on your phone.that is by definition the why of most apps to me.
Agreed, and that expectation is more intense as you look at younger workers. Consumer internet has trained people to expect real-time, which ironically has probably increased the demand for productivity apps that schedule and manage time.
i’ve long felt that productivity apps are just a procrastination tool
Laurie – that is a great reference, in the sense that email is treated as if you were writing something to somone….like a letter.
It really is hard to come to any other conclusion. I was talking w/a startup the other day that aims to make writing simpler for authors (kind of a niche market, to be honest) and they were sort of pivoting themselves towards productivity which to me is a huge red flag as a problem to solve.
medium did an awesome job of making writing and posting simpler.all the iworks tools; blogger, vine, periscope, all the social media self expression things; any good tools for creating things; awesomeproductivity apps: distractions from actually doing things, but people seem to like them, for a while.project management tracking, reminders, scheduling, that are streamlined and simple — your eight week project needs milestones, what are they, team things or your novel — of interestproductivity: mehplanning and managing: yes
Yeah, ultimately as someone who’s worked on platforms for creatives, the one thing I’ve really taken in is that each person has to have their own workflow and that’s a unique thing. There are building blocks, to be sure, but these things are tools not philosophical approaches that you can just plug into.
aaaah, but something that lets people do ***that*** would be usefuli’ve heard good things about these:http://www.finaldraft.com/https://www.literatureandla…
Oh interesting, I am familiar w/Scrivener but not Final Draft. I’m not sure why the problem is so hard to solve, except that maybe it’s not a billion dollar problem (?). Semi-related note: I noticed google doc’s voice / mic typing application and was kind of blown away. Imagine being able to pretty much dictate all written conversation, and then reshape it easily (gmail’s recently announced semantic autoreply technology comes to mind, although it’s still very early for that sort of thing).
early days, indeed: furby vs. siri https://youtu.be/qaH9Zj8qGOQ
i’ve heard people praise such things; they aren’t for me — i’m not the user. doesn’t mean there isn’t a market.
Then we got faxesTo this day I still find faxes valuable. For one thing getting something by fax gives you an immediate physical print (assuming you are using a legacy paper fax machine and not something going to a pdf) and it also stands out from the rest of the correspondence that I get. Likewise for sending you have confirmation that it was received by the other fax machine. You don’t have to wonder if it went to spam or was overlooked.Security wise, and even though in theory faxes can be intercepted, generally I feel it’s still better to send sensitive info by fax rather than email assuming there is no easy way to secure it. By “sensitive” I mean lightly sensitive not highly classified. (Noting that when faxes started out many had carbon rolls and you could get the contents of all faxes by picking the rolls out of the trash.)What is interesting is that customers who are told to fax info typically balk thinking it’s a big security risk. More than it actually is. As if it’s a regular practice of criminals to monitor and grab credit card info from faxes.  Or that employees are standing around and stealing the cc info from the fax bin before the intended recipient gets it. Amazing considering the multitude of other risks that they take on a daily basis. Back in the day I made a tape recording of a teletype printer exchange and it easily played back through the acoustic coupler on the tty giving me an exact print of the conversation.
Right. There was a time when we used to read and respond to all our email. Remember those days? 1995-1998 perhaps 🙂
you’ve got mail
horse, railroad, telegraph … and here we are.
app vs. works on a tablet. yes.
yup. I don’t take my Macbook with me as much anymore, because so much can be done on the smartphone (or tablet).
yes. viewports, use cases, personas, actions, customer journeys.”mobile first” has gotten smarter than the early rule that it has to do the same things everywhere. enterprise stuff can work great on the tablet as html5, no need to be an app; the phone can get a dashboard summary version of key metrics. responsive, breakpoints, etc.taxi apps make sense as phone apps; fit in your pocket.enterprise stuff: works on tablet, designed that way for the interaction design and the workflows / paths and ux/ui but easily the same experience as in the browser on a laptopmy oldest macbook has become a desktop.
We built an app for both sides but ultimately found it was just the sell side who needed the app functionality. So we repurposed the app for sellers and buyers just use a responsive website.
The app side is for winemakers to create offers, capture content, and do live streaming… and then we use web and email for consumer side. Currently mobile transactions are < 10% total. Avg order side is ~ $200 and apparently it’s just too hard to get the gestalt of the offer across on a phone.
sounds like those merchant usages could work on a tablet
They’re winemakers, not so much merchants… running around shooting videos in the vineyard, live streaming from winery, etc. We tried to get them to upload videos and respond to people on a website and it was a no-go. Anything that is > 1 step doesn’t work for farmers.
vine, periscope, 1:1 messaging, group messaging, offer creation & then integrating all that for a coherent end-user experience. Probably 4ish apps + custom app + server glue to bring it all together. Or just one custom app. I had zero interest building anything I didn’t need to.
With Chrome’s “Web Notifications” that landed in Android this year, the web is one step closer to competing with native apps. All that’s missing is access to the address book, for viral invitations.I totally agree that having different apps for different audiences is the way to go. These marketplaces are still very centralized, though. I wonder what would happen if every community hosted social apps themselves, the way they add wordpress or magento plugins. The marketplace would be decentralized, and then each community would have its own app/website, but also you’d have apps to do various things *across* communities.That’s probably a ways away though.
i miss android, that is brilliant
Old adagium from advertising: if you try to be everything for everybody, you’re usually nothing for nobody.
Strange. The number of upvotes for your comment shows as 2, but when I hover my mouse the 2, I see five names. Hope Disqus is reading this.
is there a black market for Disqus votes on the dark web? everything’s a commodity these days, even reputation it seems.
Wouldn’t know as I don’t frequent those areas.As for ‘everything’s a commodity …’, blame it on people, not tech.
delays via ajax
Not too sure about that. Ajax  was actually invented to improve performance vs. the earlier method of reloading whole web pages for just partial changes to the content. My guess is it may be either a bug or due to Disqus’s scale slowing down the system including the Ajax. Another possibility is the ‘eventually consistent’ issue  (exemplified by the 2 vs 5 votes point I mentioned above) of NoSQL if Disqus is using a NoSQL DB that has that issue.https://en.wikipedia.org/wi…https://en.wikipedia.org/wi…
I think this is a predominantly engineering driven decision, at least it is so at the factory where I work, so I am very interested to see inputs from engineers like LIAD and Paul Robert Cary below.(exception being the specific use cases that require different apps, as already mentioned below)
It’s very obvious w/ marketplaces that there are specialized needs for each side but less obvious for companies with large user bases who recognize the need to provide more dedicated functionality around a particular set of features. I’m thinking along the lines of the Foursquare/Swarm split here (which as a user made me stop using both apps – so it’s high risk). More companies should think of this strategy — for example, Twitter w/ a dedicated app fro real-time ‘what’s happening’ location- & topic-based news.
i still don’t fully get the why behind that split. in a way, it made ad space and types of things to do for foursquare much more complicated. And data
Yeah – it didn’t work for me as a user but looking back at it now it really was one of the first attempts to separate distinct use cases (and usage patterns) into separate apps across a very numerous and diverse user base. I don’t get why they also didn’t opt for a merchant version w/ some basic ‘who’s checking in at my store’ capabilities and a user version but it’s always easy to be a general after the battle is done. On the plus side I like what they’re doing w/ data sets now (looking at foot traffic and what impact it’ll have on financial results, like they recently did with McDonald’s) — it’s another side of their business that I wish they productized much, much sooner.
So this means startups working on 2-sided+ markets should be expected to need more capital to buildout competitive advantage?
Probably not, since there is one server side. Several clients access the same API
Not sure what the marginal cost is of shoveling multiple apps into one app is versus breaking them out. I’d imagine it’s not extreme if the trade off is merely where the features go. If the net result is more features in both apps then I’d imagine the answer is yes.
If people took their marketing money and used it to provide better costumer experience and develop costumer loyalty, quickly they will realize they wont need marketing budgets beyond new product announcements. Marketing/Ad money is vastly a waste of resources.I have yet to see a mobile service do anything with marketing that they could have not done leveraging their consumer base.
I think that the idea of a product taking off and winning merely on its merits is a little bit of a fantasy. There is lots of great stuff in the world and plenty of it I’ve probably never heard of. I think you’re right that it’s important and valuable to get fundamentals down before you market heavily. However even companies with nearly 100% brand recognition (Coca-Cola, Apple?) still market. Since it is Election Day I’d be remiss not to mention that people have similar fantasies about their politicians. The data is clear that the thing that definitely does not happen is people sit down and read the platforms of candidates and pick the one that best aligns with their ideas. Maybe there is a subset of people that do that, and we know there are plenty of single issue voters (i.e. gun rights people). However most people are looking at more than a politician’s policy proposals and ideas when picking who they vote for. In general they’re voting for your party and not for you as a candidate.
Apple falls under the new product announcement category.Coca-Cola has to, their product is the same as it was since invention.The consumer does not have the same relationship with a can of soda they people do with mobile products.A company (number 1 on it’s category) recently spent 25k advertising a small giveaway for tickets to NYC fashion week. 14 people registered for the giveaway. Do the math.
Never saw it before.
rabbit hole: mac/pc … “easy for me, and for you, it’s not.”https://youtu.be/0eEG5LVXdKo
Its value depends upon the product, the market and one’s place in it (e.g., lifestage, positioning and market share). If your product has a salient and meaningful point-of-diff, then marketing def has value. If you fundamentally have a parity product (too many out there), then marketing has no or very limited value. No question marketing has greater value at product launch when stimulating awareness and trial is paramount. The notion that you can build it and they will come is a fallacy, as is a lack of need for investing in retention and acquisition on an on-going basis. Only jets run on auto pilot.
What are you talking about? Where in my comment did I say that build it and they will come is better over marketing?As for the rest, you can build engagement loops within your app that can be triggered by a number of cues, the community or by the user themselves that will go ways on retention and on acquisition of new users by referral, not marketing money.
Chill, my friend. Didn’t attribute “build it and they will come to you,” although that’s the mindset of many start-ups that either don’t budget at all for marketing or underestimate it’s expense or value, particularly through a reasonable launch period.
In my personal opinion, it really is much better to have separated apps. Different needs – different apps.
YES. i would say this: not separated apps; separated workflows; easy switching. jump from one identity (buyer) to another identity (seller) easily — facebook lets you switch from “me” to “page i manage” with a tap.long, long time ago, i saw an app for musicians to post and sell their own music (pre itunes) — the traffic driver was assumed to be myspace or maybe facebook.some basic questions i asked:1. why limit it to serving traffic from elsewhere, why not make it a destination, with channels, front pages and showcases2. buyer and seller accounts; not everyone only wants to sell or only wants to buy.3. tools for discovery once someone finds what they came looking for and wants something else. obvious is a lot of what ux work is.ebay was just then in the process of making it easier to be both a buyer and a seller.
‘separated workflows’, I like that.
many simple, clear ways to do it: tab, pulldown, “Use as: “buyer” “seller”say you’re a talent agent, and you have 50 artists under management, and you need to deal with each one of their accounts for rights and royalties; you need to switch personas/identities from agent/artist 1 to agent/artist 50. make it easy; all your permissions and roles are grouped; pick one. with the artists, it gets complex because you can have different levels of permission for each. list them all out into “my account” artist 1, all levels, artist 50, levels 1 and 2 only; and you can switch with a tapor say you’re an online merchant and you have 5 storefrontsor you are living in the future and you have put together a business representing online merchants, and you need to toggle easily across your accounts/identities/permissions personaswe have the technology; it’s all in the ux and the workflows
Yes it is, and its hard to get it right and harder to get it beautifully done, and most of all.. coders usually suck at UX design, save rare exceptions.
users first, always
>not separated apps; separated workflowsGood point. I use a couple of (web) apps where you can switch between buyer / seller and client / consultant.As you said it another comment here, its the UX (and also the logic backing it, of course)
Fred, would love to hear your thoughts on why you think this is. The stories behind what led your portfolio companies to make the 2 app decision or why they may have made mistakes with the one app approach?
There is another dilemma faced by some mobile developers. The same app can be a consumer app but can also be a mobile platform for different application developers. In such cases one is tempted to launch a consumer version and a SDK based platform. Again a small startup has to worry about different markets and different software maintenance issues. And if the app happens to be in a popular application area, then you really have an interesting (!) problem.
Examples of marketplaces that seem to be doing it well or have been for years: Airbnb, Lyft, Ebay. Also craigslist is perhaps the best marketplace ever created and if they have an app nobody knows about it. Lastly, at what phase in the company lifecycle does it make sense to dedicate development and marketing resources to another side of the market? Maybe I’m not looking far enough into the future but liquidity > technology in marketplaces.
This requires more development and marketing resources for each side of the market, yet another reason why building a business in the mobile era is harder, more complicated, and more expensive.What’s interesting is how the ‘net has gotten to the point where a statement like that is being made. Prior to the net in business, things always were “hard, complicated and more expensive”. And of course as a result of the “expense” quite a bit more risky. And everything took more time. As a result you couldn’t iterate as easily or “pivot” to something else.For a business that I started in the early 90’s I had to get in a airplane and travel to different cities and small towns to be able to see equipment in operation and speak to people in order to make decisions. That was after taking considerable time to research (by traveling to trade shows) the things that I even needed. I think from memory the process took close to a year to do. Today the same process could have been done by videos, websites and video chats in perhaps a few weeks.  Likewise when I sold that business (in order to get into the Internet) the buyer of the equipment flew all the way from Beirut Lebanon with his son (with prayer beads and a bottle of really strong liquor as a gift) to inspect the equipment. Can’t imagine that happening today. A video easily viewed over the net would have sufficed not to mention perhaps someone else would have purchased it off ebay and I wouldn’t have had to pay 25% to a broker (or whatever the fee was don’t really remember).
This is a topic my co-founder and I have been talking about recently. We’re working on a marketplace for hospitality exchange with friends, friends of friends, and communities (private couchsurfing/airbnb) – http://www.horizonapp.co – where every user is both a traveler and a host. To date, everything is within one app…definitely a challenge to not add too much complexity to the experience for one side or the other.
Twitter: stay ahead of the hacks that spoils UX
Success can be had with two-way apps; and not to get ahead of myself, but “three-way” apps as well. In the case of SocialChange, that would be the introduction of a charitable component. I’m developing the idea via my company SocialChange, Inc. with our first iOS app called SocialChange. The idea is that brand advertising dollars are spent on incentivized hashtags that consumers (users, members) use in social media posts, thus earning a pre-determined amount that will be spent on charitable donations. Part advertising, part social networking, part Non-Profit platform, SocialChange aims to bridge the relationship between brand, consumer, and charity.I believe there will inevitably be a consolidation of apps to serve the purpose of becoming two-way, or even three-way, vehicles. It’s about striking a chord between the intended parties that serves and benefits each, equally and [email protected]
Lyft does a good job with a single application for both driver and passenger, this may make more sense for them as I believe a higher percentage of drivers are also passengers compared to other, similar services.
Also true for Deliveroo. Consumer app and Restaurant app
>This requires more development and marketing resources for each side of the market, yet another reason why building a business in the mobile era is harder, more complicated, and more expensive.Some of that cost can be reduced by building common components and reusing them across both apps – either on client (mobile), server (backend), or both. Standard technique (and even a tech buzzword and sort of holy grail of the industry – i.e. “software reuse”), but not used as much as it should be, even in large enterprises. Seen it happen, or rather, not happen, even in cases where it was an obvious thing to do.
Buyers and sellers have different mentalities and needsThe only app that I see trying to be both is ebay. and it doesn’t do both well
Separation of apps actually pokes a hole in the concept of “sharing” economy and exposes it as rent economy. To be sure, nothing wrong with rent economy. Supply side and demand side are two entirely separate classes of people
This was one of my key learnings from investing in DoorDash 2 years ago: http://blog.semilshah.com/2…
This is why we built Onfleet. We noticed a common, core feature set needed by drivers on the road: starting delivery or pick-up tasks, real-time GPS tracking, navigation, communication, and proof of delivery (the supply side app). We built this and allow our customers to focus on their resources on their core product and consumer experience. Of course, this is all specific to the local delivery economy. (Disclosure: I’m one of the cofounders @ Onfleet)
Solving business problems with consumer apps is $. At least we’re betting it will be. And we’re definitely all in with creating two separate apps. Thanks for this post
complexity or unique use cases
curiosity. why did you switch back?
Did you get a watch?
you would have dictated or penned a letter that would have taken months to get to the other side of the world, at which point any number of conditions may have changed.Well actually you would send a cable or a telex typically. My dad did that in his business I remember this quite well.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wi…
It is wise to treat your customers as if they care and respect their intelligence.It is a bit insane to expect them to be patient 😉
I’m not really lamenting, just staying my point of view, and amazement that I have seen all of this in my business career which is only been 25 years. You have to optimize for phone and that means optimizing for screen size which really means minimizing the number of things that you can do, which means separating the buy sell side of the application (web or app).I travel a ton (always have), I do not long for the days of calling someone to buy a ticket, arranging for a rental car, buying maps, getting lost, using payphones, checking into a hotel and being held hostage to the places to eat that were willing to pay the concierge.I get frustrated when my Uber ride takes more than 5 minutes to arrive.
the etymology of” red tape” — the ribbons tied around legal papershttps://en.wikipedia.org/wi… https://uploads.disquscdn.c…
Good points. The smartphone real estate is sacred, and there are many icons that should go to website. At least that’s what I have in 1/3 of mine.
this assume you can get people to adopt a mobile bookmark – we’ve trained people to the app experience, and in many cases, it is better quality
i like moto phones. an almost stock Android experience, but still too many wasting space Google apps installed that i can’t remove.still driving a Tesla? Elon doesn’t love CarPlay. i’m not sure about Android Auto.Networks!
I really want to use T Mobile but their service doesn’t work at my house.
i noticed Dennis Crowley wearing one in Saturday’s video. a white strap. what a pimpster 🙂