Zaarly 2.0: Stirring Up the Marketplace Social Style – Interview with CMO, Eric Koester

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Andre is a Social Media Marketing and Inbound Marketing Specialist. He is a frequent blogger on social media marketing trends, technologies and events in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Article first written for and published as Zaarly 2.0: Interview with Eric Koester, CMO on Technorati.

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Zaarly is a proximity based, real-time buyer powered market or as I’ve read one analyst call it, a “virtual bazaar.” Requesters make an offer for a service or product need, and providers are able to sell their items and services. Because the marketplace is location-based, these transactions can quickly take place and lasting business relationships can be fostered. In many ways, I like to think of Zaarly as an “almost-instant gratifier. Think of it as the old-school PennySaver getting much cooler with the help of social media tools and mobile technology.

Let’s have a look here to see what I’m talking about. First thing’s first, I need to have an account. Establishing a Zaarly account is easy; users can authenticate through their Twitter or Facebook profiles for extremely quick access. I’ve done all this before, so I log into my account, and am immediately presented with some recommended “requests” (note: requests in this marketplace are tantamount to “bids” or “offers” elsewhere).

This is a new feature, part of Zaarly’s 2.0 release. As Eric Koester, CMO of Zaarly explains, this “Recommendation Engine” was developed, in part, from user feedback. Users were coming to the site, saying, “I know I want something, I’m just not sure what.” At the moment, “bring me some ice cream for $10” sounds appealing. An hour after that impulsive moment of gluttony, the “Looking for someone to teach me how to eat healthy” gig might be in order.

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Another newly launched feature is the introduction of Zaarly Profiles. For business owners and freelancers in particular, it’s important to have a way to build your credibility within the community. These users were coming to Zaarly saying, “I’m a pretty good user and I’d like people to know that about my reputation,” Eric explained. Now, Zaarly users can establish profiles for themselves, and even have them validated by their existing social networks, for further credibility.

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The profiles are critical to the success of the platform. From the beginning, the Zaarly team has modeled the tool’s development on three pillars they’ve found to be common in other successful online marketplaces, continues to build upon each of these:

  1. Transparency
  2. Communication
  3. Trust

User profiles enable better buyer-seller matching, as well. At a glance, for example, Maria over here to the right might be great for a photography gig, but a little too high-strung for pet sitting (I’m just sayin’). And, since many of these transactions are done in person, having a user profile helps build the relationship between people before, then after the transaction.

So, what can we expect to see in the future? Eric says the team is adding more social elements. Additionally, the recommendation tool will be localized. For example, just recently in the downtown neighborhood in Austin, Texas, the Zaarly team was able to test out localized recommendations and offer umbrellas, scarves and hats for sale in the midst of a seasonal downpour.

The ability to localize recommendations will be a tremendous benefit to local merchants who are adopting the tool into their marketing mix. Each of these local environments effectively amount to hundreds of thousands of mini-market places, and Zaarly aims to socialize them in this whole new way.

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