4 Unexpected Ways Marketplace Apps Limit Growth

Whether you’re a newbie barber hustling to elevate your game or an established barbershop with a loyal customer base, there’s always a fear that you won’t stand out and people won’t discover your shop.

That’s when marketplace apps like Booksy and Vagaro start sounding like promising partners, right? However, what seems like an opportunity to grab some traffic, may actually be a roadblock to your growth.

Businesses everywhere lean on technology for just about everything from attracting customers, promoting the brand, and making sure the bills get paid. Some software works better for some types of businesses. Barbers may find less success with apps like marketplaces that are designed for many industries compared to barbershop-specific software which is built to be your goldmine.

What is a marketplace?

In simple terms, a marketplace app is a giant digital mall. It’s a space where consumers can window-shop, compare and nail down services from a broad range of businesses.

Take marketplace apps like Booksy, Vagaro, and Mindbody, they’re great for health and wellness businesses like tanning salons, yoga studios, spas, and eyelash extensions. But for barbers, things get a little tricky.

Marketplace apps might seem attractive to barbers trying to get more exposure for their business. Who wouldn’t want their services seen by more people? But remember, who are these marketplaces made for? Are people actually searching for barbers in these marketplaces? And how are shops able to stand out?

Let’s dive deeper into some surprising factors to consider when you’re deciding whether to pay for a marketplace.

Whether you’re a newbie barber hustling to elevate your game or an established barbershop with a loyal customer base, there’s always a fear that you won’t stand out and people won’t discover your shop. 

4 Ways Marketplace Apps Can Limit Your Shop’s Growth

     1. Marketplaces can hurt your customer experience

Providing a great client experience starts before they ever set foot in your shop. When clients search for a new barbershop, they start on Google. When a consumer finds a shop they like, they’ll go to book an appointment through the marketplace. 

When that shop’s on a marketplace app, customers will get flooded with other businesses and offers. Sure, your shop is there, but they’re also going to see offers from salons and nail parlors. It’s a frustrating start for clients who are just looking to book a quick appointment for an edge up. 

Marketplace apps are involved in some of the most crucial customer experiences outside the cut itself. 

  • First time seeing your brand
  • Booking an appointment at your shop
  • Payment transactions

With marketplace apps, your business has less control over that process. What happens when your client has a bad experience trying to book? That’s a reflection on your shop. But there’s little you can do to fix it, because the marketplace puts their brand first, not your shop’s brand.

     2. Marketplaces steal your clients

Remember what we said: marketplaces are looking out for number one–the marketplace itself. Many marketplaces encourage other businesses to try new barbers (AKA steal your clients), because those boosted shops pay a higher commission to the marketplace. 

One more time for the people in the back: every time the marketplace boosts a brand, they’re stealing clients from other shops. And they’ll do the same to you. 

In the marketplace, your clients are the marketplace’s customers first. Yours, second.

It’s tough to build client loyalty when you’re constantly sending your customers to a marketplace that encourages them to be disloyal. 

     3. Marketplace reviews don’t matter much

Reviews for your shop are a great thing. Google and Yelp reviews help the public discover your shop and provide some real credibility for your business. 

In a closed marketplace app, those reviews don’t help you beyond the marketplace. They’re not showing up in search results on Google. Once you leave the platform, those reviews are gone for good and you’re back to square one. Plus, those reviews only encourage clients to try other shops who might have a higher rating than you.

Besides, most people are probably on there to find a cheap Pilates class anyways.

     4. Marketplaces aren’t where customers search for you

Most people looking for haircuts aren’t starting in a marketplace app. They’re turning to Google or Yelp. By pouring your energy into getting reviews or promoting your shop in the marketplace, you’re missing out on all the people who don’t know about the marketplace. 

It comes back to the fact that the marketplace is there to promote the marketplace first and your business second.

Don’t confuse joining a marketplace with building your brand

For some businesses, there may be a good reason to use a marketplace app. But no matter what, every shop needs to remember one thing–joining a marketplace can’t take the place of building your brand.

Barbers at every stage of their careers will feel the impact of putting their business in the hands of a marketplace app. For new barbers, as your brand develops, you’ll want more control over the customer booking experience. For established shops, you’ll want more control of the entire customer experience and to stop relying on a third-party brand to control the experience. 

At the end of the day, marketplace apps can do online booking. But they can’t market your business for you when they’re busy marketing themselves. They can’t grow your brand when they’re busy growing their own brand. They can’t help you run a profitable business with ease when their business model is designed to take clients away from you.

If you’re going to grow your revenue and increase your loyal clients, you need to rely on technology that puts your business first.

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