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Developing a “Reverse Marketplace” Software from the Idea of a Founder

Branding, design and development for a consumer-centric platform that looked to put the power of asking with the individual.

Zeonite is an online platform that acts as a reverse marketplace for everyday consumer products. It puts the power back in the buyer’s hands and allows them to be as specific or general as necessary in order to have their needs connected with local retailers. Built on the premise that the current search and scroll method afforded to most consumers is far too difficult and confusing, it aims to leverage tech-nology to put the buyer back in the drivers’ seat.

THE OPPORTUNITY

How a doctor re-invented the wheelThe founder came to us with an idea. After building a renowned, long-standing career as a doctor in his non-startup life, the founder of Zeonite had always had a great passion for connecting with and serving individuals. He had a simple idea that had been growing inside him for over two years, so he brought this idea to LLT. The idea was to create an easy way for consumers to search for products from businesses they could trust since the process of finding a product online was often far too time intensive for a consumer.

There were already dozens of existing marketplaces and communities where consumers could find products for sale (including Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, etc) but all of these sites put the onus to search on the consumer. It required a major effort on the part of individuals to understand what products they were actually looking for, find a platform that would likely have these products listed, and then spend the necessary time searching to see if these products were actually available in their desired state.

Client Type

Startup

Headquarters

Naperville, IL

Solutions

Strategy, Experience, Development

Services

Workshop, User Experience, Branding, User Interface, Web Design, Software

This paved the way to disrupt this market and flip this cumbersome concept on its head by providing the consumer with an easy way to specify what they were looking for and in turn have businesses absorb the responsibility of sending a response. This would place the burden of work back on the retailer, thus creating a better experience for consumers.

The opportunity for LLT was to take that seedling of an idea and develop it into a viable MVP (Minimum Viable Product) software that could validate the client’s proof of concept.

THE APPROACH

How workshops built trust with a founder

In order for LLT to transform this idea into a functionable software they needed to kick off the project by successfully building a relationship of trust with Zeonite. Working with someone new to This presented some challenges as Zeonite was new to the software field and required a laundry list of outputs to be built, including operations, brand, experience, and platform. This allowed LLT to demonstrate their unique ability to offer guidance and consultation to the founder throughout the entire process.

Since the founder had never attempted a project of this magnitude, much LLT’s focus in the beginning was centered around thoroughly explaining the nuances of software and brand development. In the case of most startups, development always presents a higher potential risk of miscommunication, so LLT leveraged workshops throughout the initial discovery phase of the project. This ensured that expectations were clearly set and adjusted immediately if either party started to drift away from the agreed-upon strategy.

Risk mitigation, strategy, and the legality of it all

The single largest risk to any project that is sparked from a mere idea (and not existing infrastructure or framework) is that features originally intended to be developed into the software are missed along the way. Since there is almost always a naturally occurring gap in how this idea is communicated in technical terms, LLT has learned that implementing and building that trusting relationship from the start ensures a greater chance of success.

Have an idea of a software platform to build, but don’t know where to start? Let us help by doing a workshop in order to identify the needs, the cost and the business value.

To counteract this risk, LLT took the primary approach to simplify by working to cut out features and functions that did not add to the overall business ROI. This helped in one major area: Payment. In any system that processes payments there is not only a need to develop inside a series of systems, but particularly in marketplace platforms there is a potential liability risk consideration. LLT worked with both the client and legal to confirm that while accepting payments on the platform may offer convenience to consumers, it was a potentially large risk to absorb for a market launch.

Training the brand to the user journey

After addressing the relationship aspect and confirming development scope based on a feature-driven approach, the experience team at LLT began surveying consumers to build a case for what the brand and UX/UI of the platform should cater towards.

With Zeonite, the platform was pretty abstract, so the logo needed to handle some of that heavy lifting. Making sure the concept of connecting consumers to retailers was relevant and clear in Zeonite’s mark was crucial, so further exploration centered around how the “Z” could represent this connection. Beyond just the brand component, LLT focused on creating guided flows for users of this new app, helping to border on similar experiences certain user groups would be familiar with having already interacted with complementary brands.

 

THE RESULTS

Impressing users since day one

The platform launched in 2017 and immediately gained traction with the businesses and users that the founder was able to get in front of. Zeonite continues to add users and businesses in ever-expanding local areas pursuant to the slow, but steady grassroots marketing approach the founder has adopted.

From a feature results standpoint there was a barrage of user-centric development that to this day continues to impress users of the system, including:

Customer Requests: Decision paths that are fully editable from an admin perspective to help guide users through question paths that ultimately feed into what businesses their product requests go to

Accounts: Sign up, sign in, and management of customer accounts and requests

Retailer Sign Up: Automated onboarding of retailers looking to receive requests in specific product categories

Retailer Offer Selection: Dashboard allowing retailers to review all customer requests, allowing for not only the singular selection but also bulk management of whether to accept and respond or decline the request

Built-In Expiration Notices: Time is of the essence within the platform so retailers have a limited amount of time to respond to customer requests. This feature helps keep content fresh and customers happy with the speed to which responses come in

Offer Detail Chat: A full, in-app chat feature that allows the customer and retailer to “talk turkey” over the details of the product and corresponding offer

Double-side Review System: Community platforms often don’t get very far without some moderation component. Zeonite was no different in that it was important to have a system that allowed customers to both privately and publicly submit information about offers they were getting and the businesses they were working with, as well as vice versa for retailers with consumers

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