Welcome to Team Swapit: Lukas

lukasWe’re happy Lukas has joined us at Team Swapit about 2 weeks ago! Lukas is actually studying IT and Communication Technology at the Technical University of Denmark, so he will do a 5 month internship at Swapit.

Without spoiling too much of what’s to come, Lukas is working on some pretty exciting topic that will demonstrate the kind of innovation Swapit is bringing to the world of C2C marketplaces. While traditionally, C2C marketplaces come with a bit of dry sort of classifieds experience, we at Swapit know, we can provide a much more engaging experience for everyone.

I won’t tell you more about it right now, but we will definitely have another blog post about his work here on our Swapit blog. So better make sure you’re signed up for our email updates (select “follow by email”)!

Stay tuned! More info to come soon!

Have you tried Swapit yet? Give it a try, it’s free: http://get.swapit.la/now

 

 

Ah right, we also had some fun with animated GIFs. 🙂

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Swapit beta 7 – Launched – New Location Relevance

swapit-blog_beta-7Last week we launched swapit beta 7 on Google Play.

Download the latest swapit version from:

http://get.swapit.la

Location-Relevant New Items

While we are talking about this in every single pitch and to potential customers, we haven’t put very much emphasis on the location-relevance of our items, here on our blog – yet. From the onset, we have built swapit with a location-based core for each and every item. Read all about that in our very first blog post “The idea behind swapit”.

With this recently released beta 7 of swapit, we are taking the location-relevance one step further. While each and every item has always had a location associated to itself, and swapit’s listing of items is purely shown by distance from the user (i.e. potential buyer), we did not focus on the buyer’s location — until now.

Up until just before the launch of swapit beta 7, all new items that were posted on swapit, were broadcast to all users of swapit — all across our launch-market Hong Kong.

Nearby Buyer’s First

Swapit beta 7 now puts the buyers in full control. Every new item that is being posted on swapit now only triggers a notification to everyone who is nearby. In this sense, “nearby” is a rather arbitrary term which by default is set to 2 km (1.24 mi) for all users. That means, if you post an item at your home, only potential buyers within a 2 km radius are being notified. The proximity of 2 km is a default setting and users are free to adjust that setting to either of these: 500 m, 1 km, 2 km (default), 5 km, 8 km and all.

This strong focus on the location-relevance of new items is aimed at achieving several goals:

Goal 1: Less Notifications

Swapit was experiencing a fast growth in users and items being posted. Read all about it at “Coping with a Constantly Increasing Flow of Pre-Loved Items”. At the same time, all users of swapit were receiving notifications for every single item that was posted. While quite a number of people actually liked that, it was annoying to a larger number of people. Until beta 6, swapit only had the one master switch that allowed to turn such notifications either on or off. So many folks actually turned their notifications off, which was totally understandable. With our new proximity-based push notifications for new items, A LOT fewer new item notifications are now being dispatched to each user.

Goal 2: Higher Relevance

By combining each new item notification with the recipient’s (read “potential buyer’s”) location, each such notification has a much stronger relevance to the recipient. The idea is very simple: A potential buyer is more likely to buy an item when it is easy and fast for him or her to get it. In the online retail world, Amazon for example accomplishes that with it’s famous – and patented – one-click-ordering.

In the swapit world we believe, a potential buyer of a second hand item is much more likely to buy that item from his or her neighbor rather than from someone across town. There is also a higher sense of security for people that are based nearby. There is a psychological sense of ‘neighborhood’ and ‘community’, even if Hong Kong’s lifestyle is a rather anonymous one in that sense. Furthermore, there is an undoubtedly great advantage of saving time, when you can just go to the next building, buy the bar stool you always wanted and be back on your sofa and enjoy a fresh beer five minutes later.

An item that is being sold nearby, is much more relevant to the potential buyer than an item that is sold at the other end of town.

Goal 3: Higher Engagement

The result of achieving goals 1 and 2 above, leads to a much higher engagement with swapit in the long run. Every single app, software or even hardware product, is much more successful if it encourages a high engagement rate.

There are many metrics, we are using to measure the engagement of our swapit users with the app and all arrows are pointing up. In the short run, we expect the effect described in goal 1 to lead to a slightly lower engagement rate because all of a sudden, less people receive new item notifications. In the long run, however, this will be beneficial because we are engaging our users with the content in swapit in a much more relevant manner. We strongly believe this is the best way to provide the right content to the user at the right time. It is only one of our first steps into the right direction. Many more are on our roadmap and are aiming at increasing engagement by increasing the relevance content that is being presented to potential buyers.

Give it a try! Download swapit today and let us know if you like it: http://get.swapit.la

The idea behind swapit

Swapit is a mobile app that allows to easily buy and sell stuff nearby. Swapit’s core trading platform could be described as a cross-bred service of Craigslist, eBay, Google Maps, and the traditional concept of flea markets. Swapit initially launches in Hong Kong for individual consumers.

profile-screenshot_pk_cropped_smudgedMy name is Patrick Kosiol, I am the co-founder and CEO of S4BB Limited – a mobile app company – which created the swapit app and trading platform. I had been living in China (Kunming, Yunnan) for some years and moved to Hong Kong 2008. Besides S4BB Limited, I am also co-founder of Sky Drone – building civilian drone technology, co-founder of Slate Takes Limited – a boutique video production house, and Director at Skylab Mobilesystems Limited – a location-based services company.

The idea of creating the swapit app came to me when using local buy & sell Facebook groups swap-it-hk and baby-swap-it. That’s also where the name of the swapit app comes from. As I recently became a dad, friends had pointed me to those groups for great deals – especially for baby articles. I bought several items through those Facebook groups like an almost new baby cot, a cute playmat and some other items. Often those items were almost new, but cost half the price or even less of a new one. Besides saving money, reusing such pre-loved items saves the environment and helps the sellers to recover at least some money that they spent for those items before.

While it was great to be able get such items, I noticed several disadvantages those Facebook groups come with – just by the fact that they are Facebook groups. Having over a decade of experience in creating mobile apps, I immediately knew the whole process of buying and selling items on a consumer-to-consumer level can be done better, more streamlined and provide a superior user experience — if it’s done right. Our team believes swapit can provide exactly that, in terms of:

swapit-blog-immediacy1. IMMEDIACY
One of the great features Facebook provides through its groups are notifications. Whenever, a group member posts anything in a Facebook group, all members receive a notification. Unfortunately, that notification is often delayed by several minutes and with hundreds of items being published for sale on such groups every day, it is hard to keep track of new ones and act quickly enough. Because the sale works on the first-come-first-served principle: if you snooze you loose. So immediacy is very important.

Similarly to the Facebook groups, swapit had to provide notifications as well, but in a more immediate manner utilizing PUSH notifications to instantaneously alert users of new items and updates. That allows us to maintain the first-come-first-served principle for fast buying and selling of items with a much more immediate approach.

swapit-blog-location2. LOCATION-REFERENCE
When an item is posted in a Facebook group, information about the location of that item is usually mentioned in the description of the post along with a note of whether it’s a pickup-only, meet-up or send-by-post item. Just because swapit is an app that runs on a mobile phone or tablet, it is always aware of its own location and therefore, aware of the location of the seller. Most likely, that is also the location of the item that’s being sold.

As a seller it is great to let potential buyers know where you’re located. So in the best case scenario, you can sell an item to your neighbor. While that’s rather unlikely, a location reference on each sale allows buyers to gauge whether that’s a convenient location for them to pick up the item or there is a place nearby to meet and complete the sale. This prevents a lot of unnecessary communication that would be required if the buyer would not know where the item that’s being sold, is located at.

Furthermore, the pure fact that each and every item that is posted for sale has a location-reference allows features like sorting items by distance from my location, showing the item or a list of items on a map, getting navigated to a particular item by public transport, car or by foot; and there are a lot more use case we believe the item location can come in handy.

swapit-blog-interests3. SOCIAL INTERACTION
Another great thing about such Facebook group posts are their public comments. They allow some sort of public communication while providing information to the general public (i.e. other potential buyers). It is also important to note that the more comments an article has, the more often it is shown on top and therefore, the more likely is being sold quickly.

Swapit also provides a comment system in the same way. Combined with our more immediate PUSH notifications the expected time-to-sale should be less than the one through such Facebook groups.

swapit-blog-communication4. COMMUNICATION
If the seller posts an item for sale on one of the Facebook groups and someone who is not his or her ‘friend’ wants to buy it, that person can send the seller a private message to arrange the sale. That’s how it’s usually done. However, because they are not friends that message ends up in the “Other Messages” folder in the recipient’s Facebook messaging center. No notification is delivered to some mobile devices and the communication to actually arrange the sale does not happen as fast as it could.

Swapit will allow direct person-to-person messaging utlizing industry-standard PUSH notifications so a message is never missed to complete a sale.

swapit-blog-ease2use5. EASE OF USE
Selling items with a mobile phone or tablet can be done a lot easier than with a desktop computer – if it’s done right.

Swapit allows to easily take a photo (think built-in camera, photo gallery, etc), enter a title, description and price and publish the item. It can take less than 30 seconds the item you want to sell is listed online and potential buyers nearby are being notified instantaneously. Combined with the location-reference and immediate communication facilities, that sale can be closed quickly.

Why are these Facebook groups that inspired our swapit app so successful?

I believe their advantages lie in the fact that they are an easy to join group – even though the groups are private and members have to be approved by other members first. The size of such Facebook groups (swap-it-hk: 27,000+ members, baby-swap-it: 6,500+ members) has surpassed a critical mass with enough potential buyers and sellers to create a vivid marketplace.

Swapit is being created in collaboration with the founders of those Facebook groups to bring the success of those groups to the mobile world. More about our collaboration efforts will be covered in an upcoming post. We all share the common goal of a more sharing and more environmentally friendly society that tries to avoid unnecessary waste and the reuse of pre-loved items. At the same time swapit helps to recover some costs of items that were purchased before and are still perfectly good to use.

A private invite-only beta test will start soon. Head over to our website to request an invitation: swapit.la