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Evolving Your Marketplace

  • Written by Mark Michalski
  • March 18, 2024
Shot of a young man using a laptop while having breakfast in the kitchen at home

Utility marketplaces have evolved from just a platform for product sales to facilitating the entire ecosystem of digital customer engagement. They now offer broader inventory with multiple distribution options, access to qualified contractors for installation, offer product or project financing for home improvement projects, provide diagnostic tools like virtual home audits to identify further home efficiency improvements, cross-market other relevant programs and initiatives, enroll in new programs, and other-relationship building services and activities.   

The utility marketplace has transformed into a powerful hub for facilitating portfolio delivery. 

Have it Your Way  

Your customers have so many options for where they spend their time online. For a utility marketplace to succeed, utilities need to give their customers immediate gratification and tangible value to meet their expectations.  

New Measures: Cost-effectiveness screening has reduced the number of measures programs can support with incentives. Identifying emerging measures (measures bolstered by industry tailwinds such as electric lawn equipment) and supporting tried-and-true products (like efficient appliances) broadens customer reach and engagement.  

Distribution Options: Thinking beyond shipping carriers and traditional E-Commerce distribution is a growing, essential need. Imagine selling E-bikes from your local bike shops and heat pump water heaters from local supply houses. Not only does it help overcome logistics issues with large items, which are cost-prohibitive if left up to USPS and FedEx, but it also supports local economies.  

Installation: Utility programs have long advocated and mandated the use of quality installation standards and practices for equipment. Now, they can utilize their carefully curated list of qualified trade allies, embed them within their marketplace, and give customers access to the most trusted contractors.  

Financing: Offsetting the cost of a product or a project bolsters customer adoption and participation probability. Offering multiple financing options (traditional, interest-rate buy-down, on-bill, buy now/pay later, etc.) gives customers the flexibility they need to engage.  

Diagnostic Tools & Resources: Virtual home assessments, behavior programs, and other similar customer engagement programs not only help customers improve home efficiency. You can now configure personalization if you aggregate and mine the data and use simple logic.   

Program Enrollment: Customers don’t understand what demand flexibility means; however, they may grasp how participating in their utility’s demand response program can mitigate the impacts extreme weather events can have on the power grid. Offering program enrollment paired with the product purchase continues as a best practice. Adding new programs to marketplaces (e.g., off-peak charging, time-of-use) should become a norm.  

Loyalty Programs: Who doesn’t like getting free coffee from Dunkin, Starbucks, or their local coffee shop? Using loyalty programs keeps customers engaged and aware of your offering, spurring the strongest form of marketing available—word-of-mouth.  

A comprehensive approach to a marketplace offers a multitude of benefits to all. By providing a single platform that gives customers access to all the incentives and discounts they qualify for, utilities can enhance their relationship with customers and build trust. Additionally, this approach allows for easy enrollment in various programs and seamless data capture. It also enables utilities to present additional offers and services, thereby turning the marketplace into a value-added platform that utilities can rely on to strengthen customer relationships. Visit our E-Commerce DSM Solutions page to learn how we can personalize an experience for your customers.