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How Can Design-Thinking Promote Consumer Trust In The Digital World

By adopting design thinking as a practice, platforms can keep themselves grounded on their users and fulfil their users’ needs for trust.

Some turned from selling items at home to decluttering. Others turned to buy secondhand items for their temporary home offices, gaming, exercise, baking, and anything to make their stay home more pleasant.

According to a McKinsey survey, transaction volumes of secondhand goods on both horizontal and vertical C2C marketplaces worldwide climbed in 2020, with some sites seeing more than 50 per cent growth between 2020 and 2021.

This is not a short-term trend. Transactions on C2C marketplaces will continue to grow with consumers’ growing concerns about climate change. Gen Z, especially, is growing up to be more environmentally conscious than all previous generations and advocating for a more circular economy.

To facilitate this rise, C2C marketplaces must build trust between the consumer, the platform, and the people making the transaction. Design is an important tool in this complex trust-cultivation exercise.

In this context, ‘design’ stretches beyond execution to something more strategic.

Before designers bustle over the right colours, layouts, graphics and user experiences, they go out to understand people and their needs and work with their teams to channel this understanding into solutions.

This is part of design thinking, a methodology many companies, including online marketplaces, leverage to solve users’ problems and drive innovation.

One in three people in Singapore are users of our online marketplace Carousell. Design thinking is integral to building our product and marketplace and helping our community feel safe when they buy and sell secondhand items through us.

As the broader C2C environment evolves in the years ahead, the exact problems to solve may change, but trust will always be a fundamental need. It is thus important that the solutions we design for trust remain effective and seamless.

Design from the inside out

Many components are needed to ensure the trust is cultivated and resilient, and designing for trust is much more than the visual cues we place in the user interface. It begins with designing how the platform should work based on research into the users and their needs, as much as the needs of the business.

Having an identity verification process to know about the platform’s user is a good first step toward cultivating trust. This could be through account verification via SMS, email or social media, and in Singapore, we have SingPass, our national digital identity. The knowledge that the platform is aware of its users goes a long way towards reassurance.

The reviews feature key too. Platforms like Airbnb and Uber have two-sided reviews where service providers and users rate each other after their transactions.

This way, both parties know they have a reputation to maintain on the platform and would act in a prosocial manner to earn positive reviews.

The caveat to this is that the review system cannot be too easy to game or too punishing when recovering from a negative rating. For instance, it could be reset regularly, similar to seasonal competitions for video gaming or the demerit point system for vehicle drivers.

Safety nets matter

A third feature that helps cultivate trust is the chat function. This is the space for people to understand and get to know each other before deciding on the next steps.

At Carousell, users tell us that they pick up cues on the kind of person on the other end, like how fast the other party responds, how many details they offer, etc.

We also have technology that detects patterns that might raise a red flag. A system message is auto-generated to warn either party to beware when this happens.

Should an unpleasant experience occur, the platform needs to be counted on for users to fall back onto through its policies.

For instance, Airbnb has host damage insurance and host liability insurance to insure against the event that their property is damaged by their guest and the event that they are liable for a guest injury on their property.

Carousell Protection is an escrow payment service offered in Singapore and Malaysia so that if any disputes occur, the platform can facilitate a resolution. It comes in handy, especially when users cannot meet up and transact via shipping.

Finally, the platform needs to clearly state its values, such as anti-discrimination, and encourage community policing.

An incident happened on Airbnb where an Asian American guest showed up at a host’s house and was rejected based on her ethnicity. Airbnb went on to remove the host from its platform and, in doing so, proved that it stood firmly for inclusion.

Similar incidents have happened in Singapore where landlords indicate race preferences in rental listings or sellers display offensive behaviours.

When we receive such reports on Carousell, we impose an account restriction on the user such that they are not able to start new chats or list new items until they amend their listings or agree to refrain from offensive behaviours.

The design should be intuitive enough for users to report offensive behaviour or material. This is a way to demonstrate to the online community that they can also help to regulate the marketplace and prevent others from encountering unpleasant experiences.

Trust in the design process

Ultimately, what matters most is that time and money are continually invested in research to understand a platform’s users and their needs. This will then inform what features it will have and how they can be helpful to the users.

These steps: identity verification, reviews, chat function, policies and stated values, are just five areas to consider before creating the interface and working on the experience design.

There is no one size fits all solution. At the end of the day, trust can only be successfully cultivated if the user feels the platform has created a safe, reliable and useful space for transactions to take place.

C2C marketplaces started as a place for anyone to sell secondhand items but are growing rapidly to include sought after items such as luxury bags and collectibles and digital goods such as in-game items and NFTs.

As more people come online to sell more goods, and as technology supporting marketplaces evolves, we will have new opportunities to cultivate trust around the item, the people, and the marketplace.

By adopting design thinking as a practice, platforms can keep themselves grounded on their users and fulfil their users’ needs for trust

Source: e27


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