Who doesn’t love the concept of a Marketplace? As consumers, marketplaces allow us to make a dinner reservation, order food or even get a ride to the airport. They connect us with providers, reduce the friction of buying and selling, and help us navigate through a very complex ecosystem of providers.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of marketplaces in HCM technology. Providers such as ADP, SmartRecruiters, iCIMS and Newton Software now offer valuable marketplaces to help their customers make better decisions. Even emerging providers recognize the value of linking customers with the right providers. In fact, nearly half of the 169 recruiting startups on the AngelList from August-September of last year were marketplaces (analysis from Ray Tenenbaum, CEO of Great Hires).

While the concept of a marketplace in HCM makes sense, the reality is that not all marketplaces are created the same. Many providers that have announced a “marketplace” are offering nothing more than a list of partners and an open API. How can companies decipher between a true marketplace and market hype?

Below are three ways companies can tell the difference:

  1. Customer Experience is The Priority: In order to be a true marketplace, you can’t just categorize or aggregate the market, you need to enhance it. Providers have to create value for their customers and improve their experience. An HCM marketplace should allow customers to easily search for providers, view ratings or feedback and easily make purchases. Users should not have to leave the marketplace to do any research on providers.
  2. Certification Is a Critical Part of the Process: The marketplace should be selective about who is and who is not included. Some marketplace providers are so eager to include as many companies as possible (remember- most get money from the providers they include) that they lose their value. A certification process allows a marketplace provider to set the criteria for who can be included and let the customer know that “This is who we trust. So, you can trust them too.”
  3. Insights Instead of Information: A marketplace should provide insights about the providers included so customers can make better decisions. Some marketplaces simply list providers under categories and include a brief description that can be found on their website. The HCM ecosystem is complex and the marketplace should help companies determine what providers can help meet their needs.

The concept of a marketplace can provide tremendous value to both providers and customers when it focuses on the experience. If we think about how marketplaces help us as consumers to make quick and educated decisions, the same should be true in the world of HCM.