Online commerce is one of the most popular areas of the modern business. Acting as a mediator, they facilitate communication between buyers and sellers. It is no longer necessary to browse across the net in order to find essential items or a specialist for completing a particular job. The sellers no longer need to attract buyers across different platforms.
Virtualization and globalization open numerous opportunities for communication with subject matter experts. If one needs professional adviсe, he or she no longer needs to visit the office of the specialist. The consultation can be handled by a phone call or a video conference on an online consulting marketplace.
One of the platforms connecting people seeking professional advice from experts is Clarity.fm. It gives clients the possibility of having a phone conversation with an expert. Having launched in 2012, it is currently the most trusted marketplace for consulting services in the US.
In this article, you will learn about the peculiarities of the advisory platforms using Clarity.fm as an example. We will also tell you how to develop a consulting marketplace with video conference functionality.
Types of marketplaces
A marketplace is an universal platform that is suitable for any type of business, and in any area of commerce. The marketplaces are different by the type of participants, their offers, and the way that communication is handled.
- B2B (Alibaba, Amazon Business) – the marketplace unites the entrepreneurs selling the bulk supply of goods or completing long-term work.
- B2C (Booking, Aliexpress) – the marketplace for the entrepreneurs selling goods to private customers at retail.
- C2C (Ebay, BlaBlaCar) – the marketplace establishes the business relationship between the private people.
By the offer
- E-commerce marketplaces (Amazon, Aliexpress, Etsy) – the suppliers sell the physical goods that are delivered to the customer’s home.
- Shared economy marketplaces (Airbnb, Uber, Upwork) – the suppliers sell the services or rent some object to the customers. The customer does not acquire the property rights for the object of negotiation.
- Online to offline – the communication ends up in the delivery of the item or obtaining the service in person.
- For example: having purchased the item on Aliexpress, the buyer receives it at the business’ physical address. Having paid the rent on Airbnb, the renter lives in a physical apartment.
- Online commerce – the communication is handled online
- For Example: having received the order on Upwork, the freelancer completes the work and sends it to the customer’s email. Having the work completed, the client pays the freelancer’s work.
What is Clarity.fm?
Clarity.fm is a marketplace for consulting businesses that give entrepreneurs the opportunity to receive online consulting services from experts in their area. By means of a phone call, the client can learn new skills, receive a professional consultation, and receive guidance on business development.
The platform was launched in 2012 starting with SCO marketing advisory (Searchable Content Optimization). Gradually, they expanded their area of expertise to the different types of marketing, including promotion on Facebook, growth and content marketing.
Currently, their expertise covers:
- Business advisory
- Sales & marketing
- Funding & finance
- Design & technology
- Personal skills development
- Consultation in different industries
The functionality of the marketplace
Written on Ruby, Clarity.fm is convenient both for the experts and the clients. Let’s see how the workflow of the marketplace is organized:
- Upon registration on the website, the consultants provide information about their areas of expertise, achievements, set their hourly rate, etc. From then on, the expert is listed in the corresponding category.
- Having chosen the category, the client sees the catalog of the experts with their hourly rates. The client can view the expert’s profile, see the reviews, and bookmark the profile.
- Having chosen the expert, the client submits a call request providing the relevant information:
- Description of the issue
- Phone number
- Time of call: 3 time slots so the experts can choose the most convenient one
- Duration of call: 15, 30 or 60 minutes
- The expert has 72 hours to respond to the request before it expires. The platform has a messaging system for discussing the issue before the call.
- The client is charged according to the call length and the expert’s rate per minute. If the call goes over the agreed time, the client is charged the additional amount. If the call goes under the agreed, the money is refunded.
- Having completed the call, both parties can leave feedback about the cooperation.
The other marketplaces of this type
Consulting platforms are quite a popular type of marketplace, and Clarity.fm is not a unique project in this area. There are a number of online platforms matching clients with advisors:
- 24sessions.com – a consulting marketplace focusing on the European market. The experts provide financial, recruitment, sales, and account management consultations. The communication is handled via a video conference (in Clarity there is only the option to book a phone call)
- Zeqr.com – this marketplace provides clients access to video classes and live consultations in any area of knowledge: from dancing to personal health. The client and the expert communicate via video chat.
How to build an online consulting platform on Ruby
In order to build a marketplace for consultants, it is possible to choose a ready-made template and customize it according to your needs. The second option is to consider the services of a web development company and create the platform from scratch.
What is important to consider when starting consultation on platform development? Let’s see the basic features of the consultation application:
The platform allows creating 2 types of profiles with different settings and functionality: expert and client. On Ruby on Rails, this can be implemented by Devise and CanCanCan gems.
- Search System
For the client to find a suitable specialist, a search system with various filters is necessary. This feature can be introduced by ElasticSearch.
- Payment Integration
Both parties need a guarantee that they will receive the service or the payment. Acting as a mediator, the marketplace regulates the transaction. When the consultation is booked, the fee is frozen in the client’s balance. When the consultation is completed, the money is transferred to the expert’s account. If the consultation does not take place, the fee is refunded to the client. The payment process can be managed by Stripe.
- Calendar & Notifications
In order to ensure efficient time management of both parties, the platform should have a built-in calendar. It will help specialists manage their load, and clients will be able to see when the expert is available. The calendar also gives the possibility to cancel or to rearrange the session. This can be introduced by integrating the existing calendar to the platform (e.g. Google one).
The consulting platform should also be able to send the email and SMS-notifications with reminders and alerts about the calendar changes. This can be implemented by MailChimp and Twilio integration.
- File & Screen sharing
In order to give clients and experts the possibility of exchanging educational and confidential documents, the marketplace should provide the possibility of secure file exchange. Screen Sharing will also be useful for consulting.
- Audio & Video Conference
For a consulting marketplace, it is essential to provide the possibility of live communication between the client and the advisor. Generally, this is implemented with the help of WebRTC – an open-source solution for real-time communication in the browser.
Our experience in expert marketplace development
Sloboda Studio has extensive experience in marketplace development. Among our projects is a platform for consulting business written on Ruby. The platform unites the clients and the expert providing them with the possibility of knowledge exchange via a phone call. The feature of the phone call was introduced by Twilio API.
After the expert’s profile is created, it needs to be approved by the administrators. Once the approval is received, the expert will be listed in the corresponding category.
If the client wants to arrange a call with the expert, he sends a call request specifying the convenient time. The expert can accept or decline the request, or even offer a different time slot. Correcting the time is only possible 3 times for each party. If the parties fail to set the time, the request is canceled.
Having agreed on the time of the meeting, the parties receive the instructions on how to connect with each other. The paid time of a call starts when both the expert and the client are connected. After the call, the client is charged according to its duration and the expert’s rate.
How we implemented video conference in TikkTalk
TikkTalk is a Norwegian marketplace for the interpreters (the full case study is available here). The client will book the services of a specialist, and the interpretation session is handled via the video call between them.
We implemented this option with the help of Pexip – an application based on WebRTC. It allows handling the call with several participants, to add new members during the session, and to access the call from a third-party platform, like Skype.
Later, Pexip was substituted with VideoNor. It is an easy-to-use tool fully compatible with WebRTC and all existing video chat solutions. It also allows customizing the video frame by adding new buttons and creating branded meeting rooms that help the participants to feel like they are attending the meeting in their own office.
The marketplaces with video conference offer big opportunities for knowledge exchange between people all over the world. For you, it is a great opportunity to start a profitable business. If you are eager to establish your marketplace business, feel free to contact us – we will offer our best developers who will create a consultation marketplace on Ruby that will meet all your requirements.