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Principle #5: Optimize the Shopping Experience

In addition to having the right products and the right guidance, a benefits marketplace should have an optimal design to make it easy and familiar for people to shop for and buy products. What optimizes shopping in a store? For one thing, support. Zappos offers free returns on all shoe purchases, so users are free to try a few different sizes, knowing they can send back whatever doesn’t fit. Trader Joe’s has plenty of “crew members” around its grocery stores to return something to the shelf while you’re shopping or get something you may have forgotten in a different aisle. Having a sharp focus on the customer experience in a benefits marketplace is essential because the process is new, and product knowledge is often limited.

Just as in a retail environment, optimal experiences in an online benefits marketplace can be made smart, simple, and relevant when the needs of the customer (or employee) are prioritized.

Whether your favorite store is Trader Joe’s, Zappos, or Home Depot, you know what a great customer and transactional experience feels like. These markets work because their fundamentals are sound. Private exchanges have the potential to provide such experiences as well.

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