The state of online marketplaces during COVID-19 – interview with Marketplace Risk on their Masters Program

Friday 26 June 2020 07:55 CET | Editor: Anda Kania | Interview

Jeremy Gottschalk from Marketplace Risk shares the way online marketplaces thrive and survive during the pandemic, and they way they adapted to the ‘new normal’

You moved your yearly offline conference to the online space. How did you cater for the needs of your community: in which ways did you reshape the educational, networking, and exhibiting activities of a normal conference?

When we were forced to cancel the in-person conference, we decided to rethink the entire experience and the goal of the conference. So we went back to the basics – our mission is to be the most comprehensive source of education, networking and information sharing for startups focused on risk management, trust & safety and legal strategy. And we knew that simply bringing the conference online would not be sufficient. So, we leveraged the conference content in development to form the Masters Program, and organized the content among 12 tracks delivered over five weeks (with more content to follow). On May 11th, we launched the Masters Program with a library of recorded content that played throughout the day on Monday and Friday each week. Then, we offered one or two live events each week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the form of webinars, masters classes, interviews, and fireside chats. So far, the Masters Program has presented 65 sessions. In order to encourage engagement among participants, speakers, and sponsors, we offered a mobile and web application that facilitates one-to-one connections, discussion boards, group chats, virtual meet-ups, and more. The mobile and web app have really increased engagement and enhanced the experience for all stakeholders. Beyond that, we created a Sponsor Center that features each sponsor’s contributions to the Masters Program and allows for participants to connect directly with each sponsor through a direct contact form. Now that the five weeks of daily content has concluded, we launched a podcast that drills down into the live events and recorded sessions, with more to come!

How did COVID-19 impact the marketplace/gig economy industry? Which segments were most impacted, either positively or negatively?

It is safe to say that every single vertical has been impacted by the pandemic because people are working from home, staying in, and venturing out less. For some, that has resulted in an increase in business, including grocery, restaurant, and general retail delivery platforms, virtual education and tutoring services, and retail and resale goods marketplaces, among others. The increase in volume, particularly on delivery platforms and retail marketplaces, has created opportunities for hundreds of thousands of gig-, part-time, and full-time workers (e.g., Amazon and Instacart). Unfortunately, a majority of verticals have experienced a significant downturn, most notably platforms in the travel and accommodation sector, in-home services, dog walking and pet care, etc. It has been fascinating to see some in-home services platforms pivot to virtual offerings as well (e.g., Sittercity).

Can you tell us about some of the initiatives taken by those platforms to support their sellers/gig workers during the crisis?

Platforms have responded in a variety of ways to benefit their stakeholders. For example, delivery companies have introduced options that encourage distancing during delivery, such as leaving groceries, restaurant orders, and merchandise at customers’ doors. Ride share companies have begun providing personal protective equipment for drivers, such as face masks and gloves, and they are requiring customers to wear face masks and leave windows open where possible. As mentioned above, Sittercity has been recognized for their virtual sitter program that supports parents working from home by engaging with children virtually. As everyone has probably received by now, most platforms have sent emails detailing how their operations and experience is augmented in response to COVID-19. This demonstrates where platforms understood the situation and reacted quickly.

Did you see any interesting new platforms blossoming during the pandemic?

There has definitely been an uptick in virtual workouts and personal training, do-it-yourself home projects and crafts, e-learning and virtual training around just about every topic and subject, and almost every in-person event has gone virtual, creating a ton of virtual content that did not exist before. As a part of COVID-19 testing, we have seen a huge increase in virtual medical services due to the need of a doctor’s order in many jurisdictions. 

What were the key themes during the conference? What is driving the agenda?

The conference is focused on risk management, trust and safety, and legal strategy for the sharing economy and marketplace startups. Traditionally, we have offered four tracks where all the content was organized. Due to the limitless space and time of the Masters Program, we were able to expand the content into 12 distinct tracks and drill down deeper into the content, with many more live events, recorded sessions and follow-on podcasts.

About Jeremy Gottschalk

Jeremy Gottschalk is an expert in risk management for marketplaces. He founded the Marketplace Risk platform as an industry networking and knowledge-sharing platform.




About Markeplace Risk

Marketplace Risk is the most comprehensive source of education, networking and information sharing for the sharing economy and marketplace startup ecosystem to learn risk management, trust and safety and legal strategy. From our blog, e-newsletter, Platform Podcast, Slack Forum and Webinar Series, to the Marketplace Risk Management Conference, Masters Program, Road Shows and Sharing Economy Global Summit, Marketplace Risk is the most trusted resource for startups taking their businesses to the next level.

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Keywords: Marketplace risk, online marketplaces, gig economy, COVID-19, Master Program
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce