Swapit Update: Feature Your Items

swapit-blog_downloadWe’ve just updated Swapit again and this time with a great new feature that gives you the power to feature any of your items all by yourself!

Get Your Swapit Update Today: http://get.swapit.la/now

 

After our last update with the brand new home of Swapit, we’ve now added a feature many of you have been asking us about: You can now feature your own items inside Swapit.

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Feature

Getting featured on Swapit is really easy. You can simply open any of the items you’ve posted and click the FEATURE button at the bottom of that screen. Follow the instructions and your item will be featured. At a rock bottom price of $1 per feature, your item will remain featured for a full week on the home screen of Swapit.

Here is how that looks like on the new Swapit home screen:

Large Profile Pictures

Again, due to our users’ great feedback, we’ve now made it possible to view the profile pictures of sellers in big format. That makes it easy for people who want to meet up, to know what the meeting partner looks like before they are at the spot.

Stay tuned for future updates. At our blog, you’re absolutely at the right place. Feel free to sign up by email to stay on top of the game.

Have you tried Swapit yet? It’s free. You can get it here: http://get.swapit.la/now

$1.5 Billion GMV on Swapit ↗️ 15x in 4 months

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Just a little over 4 months ago Swapit’s GMV posted on our marketplace had surpassed $100 million, but in early January we surpassed the $1.5 billion, which is $1,500 million! That’s an incredible growth if you consider that it took us 6 months to move from $0 to $1M,  11 months from $1M to $30M and just one month from $30M to $100M of GMV posted on Swapit.

That’s up +1,500% over just the last 4 months.

We’ve launched several an app updates in between, which made it easier to post items through our app, to promote it to your friends on social media and to discover new items (see Swapit AlertsMake an Offer, 60k Facebook Group, License to Kill, Best User Experience, My Likes, Swapit Referral, and more). At the same time, we’re adding more value for our users, which we prioritize mainly based on feedback we receive through surveys and direct conversations. It’s great so many reach out to me directly and that feedback makes it directly onto our feature list for upcoming releases.

So stay tuned for the next Swapit release. It’s just around the corner and will be launched soon!

Right, we’ve also given away a great prize to the winner of our POST+WIN campaign. Make sure you join!

You didn’t try Swapit yet? Download it for free at http://get.swapit.la

Swapit Traction Update – 160,000 Traders on Swapit

We are proud to announce that Swapit just recently exceeded 160,000 registered traders on our hyperlocal marketplace!

2016-12-17_traction-update_584x584

Over the past 12 months, that is an incredible increase of 2,105%! At the same time, all of our other metrics (listings, sold items, chat messages, comments, likes, etc) are growing at least at the same pace. This has a lot to do with our focus on marketplace liquidity and the growing and maturing environment of our still very young marketplace.

Have you tried Swapit yet? Go to: http://get.swapit.la/now

Want to check out our previous traction updates? Just go to the Traction category on our blog.

Does Facebook Marketplace want to be like Swapit?

Facebook just introduced Marketplace. They describe it as:

[…] today we’re introducing Marketplace, a convenient destination to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community.

facebook-group-settingFacebook has had Facebook groups for many years. People liked to meet up there, post their stuff for sale, arrange meetups and so on. We at Swapit have been using it and the experience was horrible to finally get to the point to buy what you really wanted. Facebook must have realized that a while ago and did start to introduce “buy and sell” features into Facebook groups. When operating a Facebook group, you could then choose the type of that group and as you can see in the screen shot, facebook-sell-postthe “Buy and Sell” type adds certain functionality to that group. In particular, this adds extra fields for people to enter, like “price”, “title” and “location” (e.g. city). It looks like on the screen shot on the right.

Yet, these were all Facebook groups, which you had to manually navigate to, or you would get to their listings if you’re a member of a group and other members of the same group post items — because it would show up in your Facebook feed.

In Facebook’s recent announcement they specifically mentioned this one improvement that will change the way people on Facebook will interact:

To visit Marketplace, just tap on the shop icon at the bottom of the Facebook app and start exploring.

So Facebook added a little icon at the bottom tab par of the app, so you can easily access such “marketplaces”. Of course, there are other improvements like categorization for example. Yet, it is nothing overly dramatic at this stage. Furthermore, they’re only launching in four countries at the moment (US, UK, Australia, New Zealand). More will launch soon, I am sure.

Why did Facebook introduce Marketplace?

According to Facebook the launched Marketplace because they realized that:

More than 450 million people visit buy and sell groups each month[…]

My personal belief is, they’ve also realized the spam that was associated to those 450m people buying and sell. Let me explain.

All the traffic in those buy and sell groups, all the posts and comments, started to pile up and clog up each user’s Facebook feed. Personally, I am doing a lot of research in terms of trading on Facebook and for that purpose I am a member of 100 groups on Facebook – most of which are buy and sell groups. The sheer number of posts that are flowing through my Facebook feed daily is just way too much, and the vast majority of those are buy and sell posts. Almost all of those buy and sell posts are not relevant to me, nor are they anywhere near any location, and therefore, I personally consider them actually spam. To improve that experience and only present relevant sale posts to potential buyers, we have created the Swapit mobile app.

Facebook has been great over the years, to realize the pain points of their users and improve their product to remove friction. So I believe, by introducing “Marketplace”, Facebook wants to carve those massive amounts of buy and sell posts out of people’s ordinary Facebook feed and bundle them in a dedicated place just for trading.

As a Facebook user, I think this is a great step for Facebook to clean up my feed and make sure I only see relevant information from my friends and family, which is what I use Facebook for mainly.

What does Facebook’s Marketplace mean for the industry?

While all of that sounds very much like direct competition to Swapit, it is much more a direct competition to other players in the market. I particularly like TechInAsia’s take on this: Facebook’s Local Market could be Carousell and Tokopedia’s worst nightmare

And that might in fact become true.

Carousell, Tokopedia, Rakuten, Shopee, letgo, Shpock, OfferUp, you name it; are all traditional marketplaces operating on a traditional classified model. Their way of connecting buyers and sells with each other is rather passive and driven by buyer initiative and mostly actually by luck. Let me give you a quick example: As a buyer, you go onto Carousell and search for “Green Sofa”, but you don’t find one. Yet, you really want a green sofa! (who doesn’t want a green sofa?) So what do you need to do? You have to come back and search for it again — hoping that time you will find one. The Facebook Marketplace is not different. It’s basically, the Craigslist model brought into the mobile world with a beautiful layout and pretty pictures. For Facebook, though, it comes with very strong social connections as well.

So yes. Facebook Marketplace may be the biggest threat to our competition as there does not seem to be any key differentiator between them and Facebook Marketplace — except for the fact that Facebook has by far the largest active user base — in the world.

swapit_screenshots_1-13-2-3_4_map-distribution

Central Hong Kong

How is Swapit different?

In one word: hyperlocal. From the onset, Swapit has been built with the mindset to efficiently connect buyers and sellers, who are nearby each other in real-time. Every single item posted on Swapit has a highly precise location attached to it, which can be mapped precisely on a map.

Based on that small yet important piece of information, our Swapit trading platform looks for potential buyers who are nearby the seller’s location and are interested in the item you are selling. See Swapit Alerts for more on that.

As opposed to our competition (including Facebook Marketplace now), Swapit does 3 essential things better:

  1. Timely Sensitive
    Swapit reaches out to buyers in real-time, right when an item becomes available. It’s snappy, it’s quick, it happens when it needs to happen; right now. That’s exactly what our on-demand society wants today.
  2. Location Specific
    Swapit connects only people who are nearby each other. I am not talking about “same city” like Facebook mentions. I am talking about “within 500 meters” (approx. 5 minute foot walk). It’s truly nearby and the item can be reached right now.
  3. Contextually Relevant
    By only presenting items the buyer is really interested in, all of a sudden all automated communication from the Swapit trading platform to the buyer ends up to be contextually relevant. Swapit cuts through the clutter and provides only that kind of information buyers are really looking for.
swapit-blog-immediacy     swapit-blog-location    swapit-blog_request

 

Why being Hyperlocal is such an Advantage

The world is changing. Today, more than 50% of the world’s population lives in an urban environment and that number is projected to increase over the decades to come (according to the World Bank). As a result, more and more people are moving to cities, which as a result become more and more densely populated.

The Swapit team is based in Hong Kong – one of the most densely populated places on planet earth. We believe, to some extend, Hong Kong is some kind of blueprint for how metropolitan cities will look like in the future. More people will take public transport, or Uber their way without an own car. More and more people will live in smaller and smaller apartments to preserve space and costs in cities that have limited space. Socially, the way of life will become more and more anonymous, to the fact where you don’t know all of your neighbors or even in years of living in the same building, you’ve never even met each of them at least once.

Swapit has been built and is continuously being improved for that very way of life. We are building a product for the future that has already started to happen. We are not stuck in the traditional classifieds model, but we embrace the connectivity and on-demand culture of our time.

Swapit is hyperlocal and no one else is.

Do you want to trade hyperlocal too? Get Swapit from http://get.swapit.la/now

Hong Kong’s Unfair Advantage: How Pokémon Go helps Swapit – The Hyperlocal Marketplace

Screenshot_20160726-090257I admit, I am hooked to Pokémon Go. It launched yesterday in Hong Kong and some in the Swapit team went along and downloaded it. Personally, I really wanted to know what all the hype is all about. After all, I tried Ingress (from the same developer) and wasn’t particularly impressed by it. Yes, it looked nice and had some Augmented Reality (AR) components, but it just felt way too complex.

Pokémon Go on the other hand feels simple enough, so I can actually handle it. It’s not a game you have to play constantly, but it is one that pulls you back in and you want to play it constantly. You quickly feel that urge that you have to check if there’s a Pokémon nearby that you don’t have yet. It pulls you back into the app and I have utmost admiration for that. Creating such kind of addiction level for a game, is really hard to achieve.

Hyperlocal Awareness

Like Ingress, Pokémon Go is based around our real world. Items, monsters, Pokéstops, gyms are all placed at real locations. So you have to physically go there to get access to them. Only nearby Pokémon can be caught. So in the end, digital information that rests in your mobile device is being combined with your current physical location.

Perhaps that’s what it takes? Perhaps it takes a game like Pokémon Go, so people realize how important location is in our life. Through this game, people are sensibilized to the whole topic of location and what’s happening all around you. By playing Pokémon Go people become more and more aware of their surrounding and the place they are actually located in. It’s also a great way to teach you spatial understanding, which is something many people lack in.

Swapit Hyperlocal

Swapit has been built with the very same core idea of Pokémon Go or Ingress: Your location is at the heart of what you can do. When you post something for sale on Swapit, people nearby your location will receive an alert; i.e. potential buyers nearby will receive an alert. We connect buyers and sellers who are nearby each other right now.

This allows a trade to happen really quickly. People nearby can seamlessly communicate with each other and meet up within minutes to close a deal. That’s all made possible because they are closeby each other and Swapit connects them based on their locations.

Property is big business in Hong Kong and everyone in the property business knows:

It’s all about location, location, location!

That’s exactly what Pokémon Go is all about and that’s also what Swapit is all about.

Hong Kong’s Unfair Advantage

Hong Kong has an unfair advantage over most parts of the world.

Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

In the case of Pokémon Go, our players here have the advantage that they don’t have to leave their comfy office chair to catch new Pokémon, collect some new balls, fruits, accessories or go to the gym. I’m referring to the Pokémon Go gym here 🙂 All of these are nearby and because we have so many people in close proximity to each other, they put a Lure there and Pokémons just come by for us to throw some balls at them.

Here are some impressions of Pokémon addicts in Hong Kong:

You can read more about that on the Pokémon Blog: Pokemon GO arrives in Hong Kong, and it looks like everyone there is already playing it

What happens after the Pokémon Hype?

That’s a very good question. Firstly, I assume this game will take a lot of screen time away from other games in Hong Kong. In the long run, though, I believe it’s location aware aspects will educate people. It will make them more aware of the possibilities of using your location to your advantage. It will make them understand how powerful location and information combined in a smart way, can be.

Have you tried Swapit yet? Get it here: http://get.swapit.la

 

Photos of Pokémon Go players in Hong Kong by Nash Jenkins.

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.

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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

 

Total Cost Of Ownership Of A Marketplace App – A Case Study With Swapit

In some conversations with partners and investors, I get asked what our TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) is. For those who are not sure what TCO means, here is how Gartner defines it (Gartner popularized the term in the 1980s):

Gartner defines total cost of ownership (TCO) a comprehensive assessment of information technology (IT) or other costs across enterprise boundaries over time. For IT, TCO includes hardware and software acquisition, management and support, communications, end-user expenses and the opportunity cost of downtime, training and other productivity losses.

Source: http://www.gartner.com/it-glossary/total-cost-of-ownership-tco/

Total Cost of Ownership at Swapit

swapit_marketing-dollarIn the case of Swapit, we are investing a large amount of resources into our product creation, marketing and customer retention. However, in the long run and with increasing scale, some very few factors are essential to ensure our profitability and high margin compared to our competitors. While this might feel a bit oversimplified, but from a long term perspective, our real important cost factor will be hosting charges. Hosting in terms of: bandwidth, storage, computing power. Yes, there will also be HR costs in terms of customer support etc., but with the right product, those can be minimized tremendously (just look at how Google optimized their products). So the more items we have on the Swapit platform, the higher such total costs for those will be, while our mobile app development costs will not increase on a corresponding level.

Therefore, it was essential for us to keep a very close eye on our hosting costs in the long run. We’ve built Swapit to handle billions of transactions in very short periods of time, but definitely not to cost billions of Dollars at the same time.

As of the writing of this blog post, Swapit has 111,500 registered traders, about $10M GMV posted, handled tens of thousands of comments, chat message, likes; processed hundreds of thousands of spacial queries and database operations.

Yet, our last monthly bill from Google’s Cloud Platform Service was precisely $6.82 USD.

To give you a quick overview and to show that we are on a very affordable road, here are our cloud hosting charges over the past year in USD:swapit-blog_cloud-plateform

  • May 2016: $6,82
  • April 2016: $7.73
  • March 2016: $16.29
  • February 2016: -$39.14
  • January 2016: $8.80
  • December 2015: $16.23
  • November 2015: $15.14
  • October 2015: $0.60
  • September 2015: $0.23
  • August 2015: $0.06
  • July 2015: $0.01

The numbers above are a bit fluctuating, because Google did actually overcharge us a bit last year, due to some technical issue on their side. So they actually reimbursed us in February this year.

Furthermore, we have been adding new features and integrated some optimizations to our data models, which allow us to actually lower our cost on a database size that’s rapidly increasing. To be honest, we didn’t look at the monetary costs much when integration new optimizations at our backend. Those costs were just too low to justify work on that. However, we did most optimizations because we always look for new ways to improve our user experience. Part of that user experience improvement is to process queries much much faster. Often, this comes with data model optimization or just smarter queries, which lead to much faster loading times … and more often than not, also to lower processing cost, which in turn results in lower monetary cost for hosting.swapit_marketing-chart-grow

So in the end, optimizing your own backend is good in terms of costs for short term and margin in the long-term, but also to provide a superior user experience. We believe this is one very important piece of our puzzle to attract more users than our competition.

Cost Projections

Given we are at a roughly $7 cost at 111,500 users right now, which is about $0.000063 per user per month. Let’s assume in a year’s time we managed to increase our user base to 1 million users, we’d still be well below $100 of cost per month on our platform operation side. In fact, we believe in the long run there is a need for using Swapit in all urban areas in the world. Right now more than 50% of the world’s population are living in an urban area and that trend is accelerating. So let’s be absolutely crazy and assume Swapit can achieve such a global reach (which we definitely work towards) and we manage to engage all of our users at least once a month, we’d be looking at 3.6 billion users. At that point, our cost will sum at roughly $226,800 USD per month or $2.72 million per year. Given the incredible reach we would have, that’s a very affordable cost we’d be happy to cover every month.

In short: It was an absolutely great choice to use the Google Cloud Platform for our backend.

P.S.: In the past 11 years I have been using other hosting services and I am absolutely certain, they would all have been 10-100x more expensive than our current choice.

P.P.S.: Obviously, there are a lot more costs involved to running a business like Swapit. Investing in creating a liquid marketplace and salaries are actually our largest cost positions right now and will remain to be there for the foreseeable future. However, as mentioned above, in the long their share in terms of overall costs will come down significantly.

 

Have you tried Swapit yet? It’s free. You can download it here: http://get.swapit.la