Swapit Updated: Edit Posts at Any Time

Swapit just got updated again! This entire release is based on customer feedback!

Get the latest update from your favorite app store: http://get.swapit.la

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Many of you have reached out to us and asked us to remove the 15 minute limit for editing items you’ve posted on Swapit. So we listened and this is now possible for everyone!

REASONS FOR THE 15 MINUTE LIMIT

edit-postEverything we do has a reason. Personally, I have been a very active trader on eBay in the early days of eBay. It is obvious that eBay has a hard time competing much more innovative mobile marketplaces – like Swapit, but eBay also has some processes worked out very well already. They’ve been customer-proven over many years.

In order protect both sides of our marketplace equation, we want to protect the buyers and sellers alike. One of such protection measures was to limit the editing of posted items. For the case of publishing items with typos, it was necessary to allow editing item posts. Yet, we wanted to make sure that sellers do not abuse such editing functions.

We have now come to the realization that such limit was more of a hinderance than a benefit. Quite a number of sellers was annoyed by not being able to edit their item once they discovered a typo. Often that happened long after the first 15 minutes had passed.

So for now, we have opened up the editing of item posts for everyone at any time.

In fact, the 15 minute edit limitation did not count for our Swapit Premium subscribers already.

SWAPIT PREMIUM – MORE DESCRIPTION INSTEAD OF EDIT ANYTIME

post-item_premium-categoriesThis recent change has obviously removed the edit benefit for our Premium customers. In order to compensate for such loss in benefit, Premium customers can now post item descriptions that are twice as long.

FREE ACCOUNT: 280 character item description
PREMIUM ACCOUNT: 560 character item description

We believe this new benefit in Swapit Premium is very attractive to our Premium customers and at the same time they still remain to be able to edit their posts at any time.

What do you think? Was that the right way to go?

We’d love to hear your feedback, because – as you can see – it has a direct impact on our decisions in terms of product changes.

Have you tried Swapit yet? Give it a try: http://get.swapit.la

Growing Buyer Liquidity for the Swapit Marketplace – Here is what we NOW focus on!

I just read this great article by David Norris titled “Online marketplaces: What kind of liquidity do you need to grow?” If you are building a marketplace like we do with swapit, I strongly suggest you reading David’s post.

The term of “liquidity” in a marketplace is to be understood as the critical mass any marketplace needs to self-sustain itself. Because swapit is a consumer-to-consumer (C2C) marketplace, we need to have enough sellers and enough buyers to create enough trading liquidity to make the marketplace attractive to both types of users. As a marketplace for pre-loved items we need consumers on both sides:

  1. Sellers to sell their pre-loved items, and
  2. Buyers to buy those items.

I totally agree with all of David’s points in terms of creating and sustaining such liquidity, but there are some points which I learnt from David’s great article. We at swapit have been very active to reach out to our target audience. We use various channels to do that: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, online forums, groups, live events, pitches, conferences, offline lead generation, guest columns / media, networking events, and so on.

Buyer Focus

Based on some examples and experiences David talked about, we will shift our targeting effort more towards the buyer-side of the equation. There is still the obvious situation that:

Buyers won’t visit a marketplace if there is nothing to buy. Sellers won’t sell at a marketplace unless there are buyers.

Yet, David correctly summarizes the actual situation which everyone of us realizes sooner or later:

One thing is for certain; having a large consumer base is a good reason for sellers to want to use the service. The other way around is less certain; just because you have a large number of products on the shelves doesn’t mean people will come.

So while we were going very directly after our target audience – we were always contemplating whether to focus more on the buyer or the seller-side of that audience. Having read through many of David’s examples, taking into account his experience, looking at our experience at S4BB Limited in terms of building mobile apps for over a decade; building, publishing and running mobile retail apps for over 3 years; we decided to shift our focus of outreach more strongly towards the buyer side.

Some changes in that respect, are very simple actually. In the end it is all about communication and how we present swapit to our target audience. So instead of using a phrase like “Buy and sell second hand items nearby!” we are now using something like “Find pre-loved quality products nearby!“. This addresses buyers directly and actually leaves sellers completely out. Again, I absolutely agree with David that we need to go after our buyer audience much more strongly than our sellers.

To be honest, we already have some rather active sellers on swapit. (If you’re a seller and read this post: Thanks a lot for your participation!) Every day we see new items being posted for sale. In the end we also need to keep in mind that people who are buyers on swapit are also potential sellers, and every so often, such buyers actually turn to sell some of their pre-loved items too. Sometimes that’s even an item they previously bought on swapit. So by attracting more and more buyers to swapit, we know for sure that we are also growing our seller-base. Hence, a strong focus on attracting more buyers makes a lot of sense and we will go after that even more refined target audience.

I will keep you posted here on how the results are.

Just as a quick sneak peek, this is how a “Twitter Card” looks like from that buyer-centric perspective:

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You want to give swapit a try? Just go to http://get.swapit.la and download the app.

Recap: Tech in Asia Tour 2015 HK Event & British Chamber Business Angel Programme Vetting

Yesterday was a busy day. The swapit team attended the Tech in Asia Tour 2015 event and I presented to the vetting committee of the British Chamber of Commerce’s Business Angel Programme. Let’s reflect a bit on the experience of those events and especially the feedback we received about swapit.

Tech in Asia Tour 2015 HK Event

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Tech in Asia is a media, event, and startup platform company. They host an annual event in Singapore that used to be called “Startups Asia” and has now been re-branded to Tech in Asia Conference. As it’s a startup event, they are having startups presenting themselves there. The event was split up into two parts:

(1) Investor Panel

Comprised of some of Hong Kong’s most active investors (Tytus from Fresco Capital and Simon from Nest.vc, for example) as well as Asia-based investors (Vinnie from Golden Gate Ventures), their panel discussion was interesting.

swapit-blog_hkThe most interesting part in that panel discussion was the point of: start locally, but expand globally. That’s exactly what we are planning with swapit. We are absolutely aware of the fact that launching swapit in Hong Kong will not be enough in the long run. However, it is important to get our home market right and be the absolute market leader in this field here.

(2) Startup Pitches

It was great to see some established startups like Notey as well as brand new ones to pitch their ideas to the panel of judges. Some pitches were great, others were hard to listen to could improve their pitch, but even others started slow and then peeked my interest during their pitch. Like Cafe X for example. While I personally believe their approach might be challenging to turn into a profitable and widespread business, I still find the combination between hardware & software, and the goal of making our lives more efficient, very interesting.

This Hong Kong “Tech in Asia Tour” event was one of several all across Asia to gather startups to join the main conference in Singapore in early May this year. I just wonder why startups from other countries, like Japan for example, were pitching there even though they have their very own Tour event in Tokyo. Of course we had applied to pitch at the event as well, but we were not accepted. I am still trying to get feedback as to why we had not been accepted, but haven’t received any such yet. Perhaps we should apply for the Tokyo event?

Anyhow, at the same time, we took this opportunity to talk to other guests at the event. We were interested in people’s first reaction to swapit and our approach to buying and selling pre-loved items. Furthermore, we were looking to recruit more beta testers for our beta 3 of swapit which will launch soon! Remember: After the beta is before the beta!

British Chamber of Commerce Business Angel Programme – Vetting

Earlier that day, I was invited to pitch swapit to the vetting committee of the British Chamber of Commerce’s Business Angel Programme. That was a very interesting experience.

I believe the pitch went considerably well – especially as I finalized the pitch deck two hours before the pitch. As with most pitches, there are always two parts to it: the pitch itself and usually a Q&A session afterwards. That Q&A is often being used to “grill” the person pitching on inaccuracies of the pitch or points that were not very clear. To sum it up, we have two crucial points that we need to work on until the next pitch:

swapit_marketing-dollar(1) Make Money

I really can’t emphasize this enough: MAKE MONEY. Obviously, we have a plan moving forward in how we want to recover our development costs and build a profitable business out of swapit. We are absolutely sure that monetization is an important part of our business. At the moment, though, we are focusing on creating the best user experience for our users. Thus, we have not finalized any monetization plans yet, but we have ideas around 4 different ways of monetizing swapit – eventually. The one main approach that I find most interesting is to charge a commission on higher priced items.

Especially, as we are not looking at integrating any payment solutions into our app — in the foreseeable future — we don’t have a transaction occurring inside our app and therefore, it is hard to charge that commission to the user. In the end, we are only in beta 2 of swapit and our plan going forward in the near future contains analysis and feedback from our beta testers in terms of how they are comfortable with paying for our service.

That was obviously, a point the vetting committee grilled me on. And they are right! We need to find a way to monetize swapit and lock down a commercialization model that is predictable and scalable. Otherwise, we won’t be able to convince any investor to trust us with their money and generate value for them.

(2) Value Proposition to Convert Users of Free Services

The second point the vetting committee pointed out is: How can we convince users of other free services (Facebook groups, Asiaxpat, Geoexpat, Yahooo! forums, Craigslist etc.) to move away from what they are using right now and use swapit instead.

It’s a valid question. I thought, I had pointed this out in my presentation already, but obviously, our value proposition was not clear enough on that. Especially, when you combine this question with the commercialization ‘in-limbo’ question earlier — it becomes a challenging issue to tackle.

While I believe that our location-based capabilities (find nearby items, navigate to far away ones), immediacy in communication (instant messaging) and ease of use (post just with your phone, incl. taking photos) are some very valid arguments for using swapit instead of old-school forums — they might not be compelling enough to convert those users over to swapit.

We do obviously have to work on this value proposition and we will do that.

Let’s see what comes out of the vetting process and if we will be invited to the main event that allows us to pitch to the members of the Business Angel Programme of the British Chamber of Commerce in two weeks time. If the issues the vetting committee has pointed out were too much of a concern for them, we are happy to re-apply in their next round.

In any case, we will work on those points and we will nail them down to provide a compelling pitch to potential investors.


Signed up for the swapit beta yet? Request your invite here: http://swapit.la