Swapit Update: Sell with your iPhone (second hand and new)

swapit-blog_appleAfter launching our very first version of Swapit on the Apple App Store a while ago, and numerous updates and feature launches in between, today we launched the most wanted Swapit feature on iPhone: You can now Sell your items whether they’re new or pre-loved, you decide.

GET THE SWAPIT UPDATE NOW:
http://get.swapit.la/now

We’ve been working hard to get this feature out as quickly as possible. Sometimes it just takes a little longer than expected. In this particular release it’s not just about allowing people to post items for sale. You also need to be able to edit an item, take it offline, mark it as sold, manage your buyers and so on. There are all these little bits and pieces that take user experience to the next level and we are meticulously working on making them available to you in just the best way we can imagine.

swapit-ios_screenshots_1.0.10_1_collage

In fact, this update comes with over 30 changes. Here is a quick list of some of the most important changes:

  • Added SELL and GIVE AWAY of items (incl. edit, mark sold, active/inactive)
  • Added push notification handling for
    • incoming interested buyers of your items
    • reminder for posted items you sell or give away
    • new likes on items
    • new comments on items
  • Added “Notifications” section to the Inbox
  • Resolved an issue with “Open Chat” button in item details

Furthermore, we’ve put in some important performance enhancements and resolved several other minor bugs and issues.

IMPORTANT NOTICE to iPhone Users: Do Not Kill!

Swapit uses push notifications to deliver chat messages and notifications to your device. If you force-close Swapit you will not receive any such notifications until you restart Swapit or your device. We recommend not to force-close Swapit.

84% of iPhone users we asked, are force-closing their apps. That’s a surprise to me — especially as it does NOT save any battery, like it used to many years ago. So if you’re one of those 84%, you’re not making a difference in terms of battery savings by force-closing your apps, but some of those apps might actually stop receiving push notifications then. That’s also the case for Swapit. It’s nothing we can do about, it’s a special case defined by iOS and we have to abide by that. In short, force-closing apps just makes your phone’s performance worse rather than better – generally speaking.

Read more about this topic at: Apple’s software SVP says quitting multitasking apps not necessary, won’t offer improved battery life

 

ANDROID USERS

swapit-blog_android-1Your app has been updated too, earlier this week. You can head directly to Google Play and get the latest update too. Though, our changes weren’t as significant as on the iPhone, we’re always looking out for you and you got quite some nifty little tweaks and enhancements under-the-hood with the latest update.

Get the latest Swapit today from: http://get.swapit.la/now

 

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Swapit iOS App Launched on the Apple App Store

swapit-blog_appleHello iPhone Users!

We’ve just launched our first public version of Swapit on iOS. You can go directly to the App Store or download it from there.

Swapit Download: http://get.swapit.la

It is currently possible to browse the whole Swapit catalog of items, interact with sellers and actually buy items from sellers. It’s not possible to post items yourself yet, but we will be adding that capability soon. Stay tuned!

As an avid reader of our blog, you’ve probably been aware of our Swapit iOS beta, which we’ve been running for a while. We believe in building native apps with a native look and feel for users. In very simple terms: iPhone users who open Swapit on their iPhone for the first time, need to feel right at home. Without any need for a tutorial or instructions, they need to be able to navigate Swapit in the way they are used to navigate other apps. The same counts for Android users who also need to feel right at home, when they’re launching Swapit. Therefore, our iOS app and our Android app look a bit different in terms of user interface. We’ve been discussing a lot about that internally (read To Tab A Bar Or Not To Tab A Bar – on iOS for more).

We’ve also had to overcome many requirements imposed by Apple during the approval process of Swapit. Check out Getting Swapit approved on the Apple App Store is not that easy, for example. While that was only a first taste of their feedback, we’ve had many more conversations with the Apple Review team, but in the end we managed to launch Swapit on the App Store. Here is how it looks like:

So again, if you’re an iPhone user, feel free to download Swapit today: http://get.swapit.la

Getting Swapit approved on the Apple App Store is not that easy

swapit-blog_appleWe’ve been working hard on getting Swapit on iOS launched as soon as possible. Over the many years in the app business, we have some experience in launching apps into app stores — this includes the App Store, of course.

Our initial plan was to bring the Swapit iOS app up to a point where buyers and sellers can trade and then publish the app on the App Store. So we looked at the app’s features, tried to break it down into as many small pieces as possible so we could define a MVP that we can hand out to our beta testers. In fact, we managed to launch that only 1 month after hiring our iOS developer.

We are running our beta test on Apple’s TestFlight for quite a while now. It’s not possible to buy or sell anything, but it is already possible to list items, view details, do spacial queries and interact with items – to some extend at least.

About a month ago we looked at our state of the iOS app and we realized that it’ll take at least another 1-2 months before we could launch a somewhat fully functional iOS app. Now, we’ve got the RISE conference coming up (more news on that here) and we are also constantly talking to investors and users alike, many of which have an iPhone. So we needed to be present on the App Store ASAP.

Landing App – A Crashlanding

Remember the landing app we built for Android? We figured, why not doing the same on iOS? We knew it would literally take us a day to build that; and so we went ahead and created it quickly. We uploaded the app to the App Store and submitted it for review.

Over a week later, we got a reply from the App Store review folks that they denied our app release for the following reason:

Apps that are “demo”, “trial”, or “test” versions will be rejected. Beta Apps may only be submitted through TestFlight and must follow the TestFlight guidelines.

Granted, our landing app was what it was: An app to leave your contact details, so we can reach out to you once the actual app is available. Hence, there was no “real” functionality provided in the app. I’ve argued our case and explained why we did what we did and that our only motivation was to make our (potential) users happy by allowing them to find us on the App Store. Many people I talk to, just go directly to the App Store, search for “Swapit” and want to download the app. At this moment, they can’t find it and that’s a bad experience for them. We merely tried to remedy that situation and make users happy.

That wasn’t enough for the App Store review team. But they did actually ask us to provide a contact number and they would call back. I was surprised. Thinking about the sheer amount of apps that are available on the App Store and all of those require reviewing, I am wondering how many people Apple employs for that — given that they also make phone calls in some cases.

So another 1-2 weeks later, I receive a phone call from the App Store Review Team. I explained everything again, in more detail now, more about our motivation, our background, our traction, and so on. It all didn’t help. The binary we submitted would just not be approved. Period.

Sometimes you just got to suck it up and get back to work. It sucks, but it’s the only way.

Landing App + Browsing Experience

Yet, I got some fruitful information out of the phone call. It would apparently be acceptable to submit an app that is like our landing app (i.e. it asks for the user’s contact information), but there has to be some kind of added value after that. In a very simple case, once it’s possible to actually browse content after leaving your contact details, we should be passing that single requirement, which the Swapit landing app failed during review. However, such a “forced-signup” process during the app start, does in our case create another hurdle. While there might be some apps that really have to require a log in before allowing the user to access any data, Swapit does also contain data, which should be accessible by anyone – no matter if he or she has left any contact information. So in short: It must be possible to skip the sign up process. We’ll make that possible.

No Betas

Furthermore, we are not allowed to mention anything about beta, pre-release, etc. anywhere in the app or the app’s description on the App Store. Well, fine. We can skip that, but yet it won’t present Swapit to potential users in the most transparent way. While we constantly do our best to make sure we don’t have any bugs in Swapit, we still wear the “beta” label. That’s important for us, because we know we are not perfect. Swapit is a work-in-progress app and platform, and we know we will have bugs from time to time. So well, now we just need to skip any notice about this in our iOS app. At the same time, we are working harder to make sure we deliver the best-in-class marketplace on your mobile.

Stay tuned. Keep your iPhones charged! We’ll soon be ready to announce the availability of Swapit on the App Store.

If you have an Android device too, go to http://get.swapit.la and download Swapit today.

Swapit is Featured as Recommended App on Google Play

swapit-google-play-featured_new-updatedSince last Friday Swapit has been featured in the “New and Updated Apps” category on Google Play. It is absolutely great to see Swapit in there, getting some recognition and coverage in our local home market.

Google Play has been a great app store for us so far. We’ve been able to push out new updates quickly. While we only announce larger app updates here on our blog, we did actually publish over 30 app binaries on Google Play over the past year. That’s almost one app update every one and half weeks on average! Many of those updates are based on our user’s feedback — especially when we introduce new product features which require refinement after wards. Being able to launch app updates and new innovative features quickly, is essential for us to being at the vanguard of innovation.

We are currently working on a new update of Swapit and will launch it very soon, actually. If you want to check out the current list of all recommended apps on Google Play, you can go to: https://play.google.com/store/recommended
(only when opening that link in Hong Kong, you’ll see Swapit in that list)

At this point, I’d like to personally thank the Google developer relations and Google Play team who helped us a lot with their feedback on Swapit. Because of their honest feedback, we were able to identify crucial points for improvement on Swapit in terms of Material Design principles as well as user experience / onboarding workflow. We know Swapit is still not perfect, but we are on a very good track on getting there. Thanks a lot! We do very much appreciate your help.

Do you use Swapit it? You can download it right here: http://get.swapit.la

The Progression of the Swapit Feature Graphic on Google Play

We’re constantly iterating through our mobile app(s), backend, website, microsites, pitch deck, investor proposal and also the presentation of our app on the app store. So yesterday, we uploaded our third iteration of the “Feature Graphic” on Google Play.

swapit-google-play-feature-graphic-v3What is the Feature Graphic?

On the Swapit listing on Google Play, the Feature Graphic is the #1 item every user sees first. It is placed right at the very top of the screen and takes up the whole width. When you have a video for your app (like we do), then you’ll also have a grey / translucent play button that shows on top of the Feature Graphic. By clicking that play button the video starts playing. However, the Feature Graphic is still the most important image in the app store listing on Google Play. Therefore, we have now improved that Feature Graphic to properly communicate Swapit’s purpose and message we want to get across. Let me explain the contents of the image in detail.

1. Real Products

Showing real products people can connect with, was important to us. We needed to make sure we demonstrate to people that Swapit is an app for them. Thus, with just this one image, we show exactly what kind of products can be bought on Swapit and what kind of products are being sold on Swapit. I believe we were able to show that.

2. Popular Categories

We chose to show 5 products from our top 5 product categories which are either the most popular ones or the ones we believe have the most potential. So we cover:

  • Mobile Phones & Accessories
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Fashion
  • Jewellery & Watches
  • Properties

Those product categories also have a rather general appeal. Properties might not be so appealing in other countries, but in Hong Kong they’re one of the essential second-hand items everyone is trading in.

3. Cool Stuff Sells

The items we show on this Feature Graphic are carefully chosen and represent the best of the best of the kind of products we know, do sell quickly on Swapit. People’s desire for the right products is essential for closing a sale. The high heels for example, are just a stunning piece of footwear and it is obvious, that those sold really quickly. Thus, we do suggest, to download Swapit as quickly as possible to make sure you never miss a quality bargain!

4. Beautiful Photos

Each photo is a beautiful piece of art that sets the expectation for the kind of product photos we would like to see on Swapit. We know that all phones (especially the Android phones) vary in terms of picture taking quality. However, good framing and proper lighting can be easily achieved with just a bit of effort. It is that expectation bar, that we set by showing such beautiful images on the very first image people see about Swapit.

5. Low Prices

When looking at the Feature Graphic closely, you’ll notice that the price for each item is very affordable – yet, not unrealistic. Those are actual prices such items are or were trading for on Swapit, but it is clear that the items are being offered at a very attractive cost base. By using price tags we also suggest a price “taggable” product and the corresponding range of pricing. Thus, the image in its entirety suggests again to be able to get a quality bargain at a very attractive low price.

6. Hinting at Features

We’ve also snuck in a “featured item” ribbon, which is one of our Premium Features. This lightens up the symmetry of the image a bit and helps to create a bit more of comfortable feel — at least to me that is. The size and alignment of the images is also important, as it resembles our standard list view which the user will see as soon as (s)he starts Swapit for the first time. Thus, the Feature Graphic already sets some expectation as to how the app will look like inside. Thus, I believe, it will emphasize the effect of the user feeling more familiar with the app when opening it for the first time.

CONCLUSION

Perhaps, I am interpreting too much into this one single graphic, but sometimes you got to go the long way and make sure you communicate the whole message you want to get across.

What do you think?

Visit Swapit on your Android phone or tablet to see the Feature Graphic in action: http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=la.swapit

 

The History of the Swapit Featured Graphic – thus far…

1st Feature Graphic (April 2015)

swapit_feature-1

2nd Feature Graphic (November 2015)

swapit_feature_v2

swapit_feature_v2_zh

3rd Feature Graphic (March 2016)

swapit_playstore_feature_v3

 

Have you tried Swapit yet? You can download it at: http://get.swapit.la

How we got our swapit app to the #1 search result on Google Play

When searching for “swapit” on Google Play, our swapit app is now the #1 search result. Have a look at that:

2015-06-08_google-play-search-result

It wasn’t always like that. Let me go back in time a bit.

December 2014 – March 2015 (no Google Play rank)
We started working on swapit back in mid-December last year and launched our very first private beta in January. Our hand-picked crowd of swapit beta testers was awesome to collect first-hand feedback from, and to see if we’re on the right track. That helped us a lot to validate our approach, but it didn’t do much to get the word out about swapit through app store distribution channels.

swapit-bannerApril 2015 (#50+ Google Play rank for “swapit”)
On April 2nd, we launched our “swapit landing app” on Google Play which allowed users to easily request an invite to our private beta. One of the main reasons why we created the landing app for swapit, was feedback and experiences we had during the CoCoon Pitch Semi-Finals (which we rocked, by the way!). We noticed how some folks saw our awesomely green pull up banner who then went straight to Google Play or the iTunes App Store to download swapit. As there wasn’t any app available there, they either stopped right at that moment, or downloaded some other app with a similar name, or they asked us why they can not find the app. Those were all valid responses and we needed to act. Besides making it easier for everyone to get access to swapit – or in this case, to our invite-only beta program – we could also get our foot into the door and secure our spot in the Google Play search index. Once we launched our swapit landing app, swapit could be found on Google Play. Yet, it was ranked very far down the list and one had to actually scroll down quite a bit to download the app.

May 2015 (#3 Google Play rank for “swapit”)
On May 12th, we then pushed swapit out into the wild – we went public beta on Google Play which came with the switch from beta testers to beta users. That means, we now started to encourage people to post real trades on swapit. At the same time, we directed all of our private beta testers to the Google Play store to download the latest version from there. That diversion of traffic obviously pushed our download numbers on Google Play up and swapit made a significant jump up to the #3 spot for the “swapit” search term.

June 2015 (#1 Google Play rank for “swapit”)
Over the past weeks, we have been rather quiet on our blog while we were focusing all of our efforts to spread the word about swapit all across the territory. We had been attending events & exhibitions, we were actively involved in social media, ran some advertising campaigns, reached out to upcoming events, set up a micro site to download swapit at http://get.swapit.la, talked to more and more of our users and were in general engaged in the swapit community. All these efforts have proven to be successful approaches to drive the adoption of swapit in Hong Kong. Some were more and others were less effective, but that’s something for another blog post. Since about June 7th, we noticed that swapit now ranks #1 when searching for “swapit” on Google Play.

There are many factors as to why swapit is now ranking higher up than other apps, but in general – and that’s common sense actually – the more traffic & engagement you’re getting on your app on Google Play, the higher it will rank in the end.

Swapit is still ranking only #66 for “hong kong second hand” right now. Next step: improve that ranking and push swapit up into the top ten of those search results. We’re working hard on that and perhaps I will find some time to blog about the results of that too.

If you don’t know what swapit is all about – you better check it out right now la!

Just go to: http://swapit.la it’s free and awesome!