Swapit Update: Follow Sellers and Build Your Social Graph for E-Commerce

swapit-blog_downloadWe’ve just updated Swapit with these key changes:

  1. FOLLOW sellers for new items they post
  2. User profile re-design
  3. Minor bug fixes and performance improvements

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

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While the “follow” feature sounds like an easy and simple addition at Swapit — and it was technically easy and simple for us — the following of other Swapit users catapults the Swapit platform into the universe of social media or more so, social e-commerce.

CREATING A NEW DISCOVERY CHANNEL

When buyers start following sellers, all of a sudden, a new channel for product discovery is created. Sellers with more followers will have a higher chance of selling their products faster.

BUILDING A SOCIAL GRAPH FOR E-COMMERCE

Swapit’s great and engaging community can now connect directly with each other and follow each other on a 1:1 social connection. Through that, Swapit will be able to build up a social graph based on the user to user following that allows us to better serve both our sellers and buyers on the Swapit platform. In the future, we will be able to provide more targeted content to buyers compiled from their following profile, combined with the items they like and the categories they have been posted in. Traditional classified media are not able to do this. They will lose in relevance over time because they can not provide targeted content to their users. This simple “Follow” feature is one key part to provide very targeted content to our Swapit users. Stay tuned for more changes on that front.

swapit_screenshot_beta_1-14-8-2_2_mockupMAKING IT DEAD SIMPLE

As always, we only add a new feature to Swapit if it is super easy to use. At Swapit, we aim for a “zero-learning-curve” product, which can be used out-of-the-box without the need for reading any user manual. Our latest “Follow” feature is no exception to that. In any user profile you can now easily hit the “Follow” button and you’ll be following that user from now until you unfollow that person. It’s really that simple.

LISTENING TO FEEDBACK

Besides the fact that we had this feature on our roadmap from the onset, the great feedback we collected from our loyal Swapit users via surveys and other channels, has led us to raise the priority for this feature. As a result, we’ve added this now and not at a later stage. Our roadmap for product improvements to make our marketplace even more efficient, is almost endless. We constantly receive feedback and suggestions from our user-base, which is extremely valuable to us and is always put into consideration when we make adjustments to our roadmap. Therefore, thanks a lot to everyone who has provided their feedback thus far. We trust you will keep it up and we love you for it!

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

Swapit is on Instagram now

Swapit just got on Instagram. You can follow us here: https://www.instagram.com/swapitla/

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We’ll be posting the “Swapit Item of the Week” on our @swapitla Instagram account as well as other interesting items and sellers on Swapit. Make sure to follow us on Instagram, there might even be some exclusive promotions popping up on Instagram — especially when you least expect it.

If you haven’t tried Swapit yet, you can get it from: http://get.swapit.la/now

Swapit for Social Good at So In So Good Impact 2 World Award

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-5-42-27-pmTwo weeks ago, I really sucked at pitching. Last week, I was invited to the So In So Good Impact 2 World Award pitch event.

This event was a bit different from the usual pitch events I go to. For once, I was able to pitch Swapit not just from the commercial angle, but from the social angle.

Social Innovation for Social Good.

Our initial idea of Swapit evolved around the aim of making it easier for people in densely populated places to buy pre-loved items. By making it easier for people to purchase pre-loved items and for sellers to sell (or give away) their used stuff, we always also wanted to contribute to the society in a whole. The whole process of re-cycling, up-cycling, re-using and re-purposing of existing things, has always fascinated me. If Swapit can just make a tiny difference to how people consume products and they re-use existing ones, just one more time, then we already made a positive impact on the world. Yes, it will be a tiny one, but it is a start. If there then is another person and another one and another one, then we might start to make actually a real impact in the long run.

Let’s be honest, waste production is a problem – worldwide. Especially in Hong Kong, where space is scarce, landfills are full and citizens are against incinerators,  we need to reduce the amount of waste we product.

Hong Kong produces 15,000 tons of waste every day. That equals the weight of 6,500 Mercedes S Class Cars.

So yes, if Swapit can provide a platform where people can trade their used stuff with others nearby and it removes the need for them to throw those things away, Swapit has a positive impact on our environment. In part, that was also one argument for having green as Swapit’s leading color scheme.

THE PITCH

This time, my pitch was different. Generally, though, it was definitely better than the week before at Cyberport. Perhaps because there weren’t many investors in the audience? Or perhaps it went better, because the great wine sponsor of the event (check out Luibao Wine Subscription) convinced me to try one of their Italian reds right as the first thing that night without having had dinner.

The audience was great and while speaking, I even heard someone launching Swapit for the first time. We’ve got this beautiful “Swapit la!” voice that plays the first time you launch the app, and that’s exactly what happened during the Q&A session afterwards.

It was a good crowd, we could get some new users obviously and we’ve made it very clear that Swapit has a positive impact on the world. There were 10 other great teams and some of their projects where absolutely inspiring. Many had a purely social cause and an NGO / community / donation approach, which was a bit hard to compete to. From a social angle, there are a lot of problems that are being tackled and I am happy that So In So Good, which is actually supported by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, is covering the social innovation field in Hong Kong.

Thanks a lot to our friends at EasyCare, we also have a photo of me speaking:

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Have you tried Swapit yet? It’s free. Get it from: http://get.swapit.la/now

Swapit Updated: Post & Share to 710,000 Facebook Group Members

Swapit just got updated with incredible sharing features.

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

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Swapit has always had a tight integration into Facebook and now we’ve just lifted that to the next level. After posting an item for sale (or for free), you can easily share your item on Facebook. It only takes the flick of a button and your item will reach up to 710,000 people in various buy and sell Facebook groups.

Besides our loyal Swapit community of now 114,000 enthusiastic traders, we now increase your potential reach by 6-fold.

Of course, this feature is available to all of our users. This includes all of our great users who are on a free account right now, but also our Premium subscribers.

Have you tried Swapit yet? Get it from http://get.swapit.la/nowhttp://get.swapit.la/now

Swapit beta 8 – Launched – Facebook Sharing

swapit-blog_beta-8We have just launched the swapit beta 8 on Google Play. If you don’t have it yet, just go to http://get.swapit.la and download it now.

Facebook Sharing

The most important new feature in beta 8 is the ability of sharing your swapit posts on your Facebook timeline. This allows you to reach your social circle on the most popular social network out there. To date, Facebook has 1.23 billion monthly active users world-wide and 4.4 million users in Hong Kong alone.

3.1 million Hongkongers log on to Facebook every day, spending an average of 30 minutes during each visit.

That being said, Facebook was on our number #1 priority list of social networks to integrate with swapit. We have been working hard to get this done smoothly and in the most convenient, but non-distracting way. Let me demonstrate how it works.

Once you publish an item on swapit, you will be offered the option to post your item on your Facebook time as well. That can be done with a simple switch of a button. You can enter a custom message if you wish and simply hit the “Share” button to publish your item on Facebook. It takes only a few seconds to do that. Have a look of how easy that is:

The screen shot on the right shows how the posted item looks like on your timeline. It’s simple, but with all the important information you need to present. If a user has swapit installed on his or her device, a click on the link will open swapit and direct him or her to that particular item. If swapit is not installed yet, he or she will be prompted to download swapit.

Improved Post Details

We are constantly evaluating what to improve on swapit. Based on the vast amount of feedback we collect through our surveys and the direct feedback we receive from our awesome users (thank you!) by email, WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and other means; we have added some more information to our post details screen. This improved view makes it easier for potential buyers to make an informed decision on taking action on an item they are interested in. Let’s take a quick look and compare the old post details screen (on the left) with the new one (on the right):

As you can see, we have made it easier to identify the product’s condition as well as the product’s category. The “show interest” button has also been moved to a more prominent location, allowing interested users to easier identify the next action they can take.

Furthermore, the latest beta of swapit comes with many other small improvements and bug fixes that make the swapit experience more smooth. Stay tuned for the next beta coming your way this week!

Don’t have swapit yet? Go to http://get.swapit.la and download it now!

Data Source:

Coping with a Constantly Increasing Flow of Pre-Loved Items

Every day swapit receives many new items being posted all over Hong Kong. Here is a quick map that shows how these new item posts distribute across the main populated areas of Hong Kong:

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In simple numbers, swapit’s growth is now:

  • 0.7% new users per day (22.7% new users per month)
  • 3.5% new item posts per day (107% new item posts per month)

It is great to see that swapit is expanding its catalog of products and user base constantly. We had been actively reaching out our target audience over the past couple of months, but we have stopped doing that about two weeks ago. We wanted to see how our organic growth rates are performing without any additional effort through our outreach efforts. That seems to prove at least some stickiness and value of swapit with our existing user base who is passing information about swapit via word-of-mouth.

To cope with the ever constant increase in users, content and activity on our platform, we don’t actually have to do much additional work. In my previous blog post “Choosing a platform for swapit.” I explained how we considered different platforms and finally went to go ahead with the Google Cloud Platform in terms of backend. This now allows us to focus on the important (business) parts of swapit and not being stuck with technology challenges that many of our competitors are facing.

Swapit has built with hundreds of thousands of users in mind and on an extremely scalable platform that automatically adapts itself to a larger number of users and content.

Stay tuned for the next swapit beta 7 coming your way. We’re moving forward, step by step … sometimes with a jump in between!

Download swapit for free at 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