July 2, 2012
Established online marketplaces (veterans like eBay, newer outfits like Zaarly) know the key ingredients to effectiveness are simplicity in buying and selling – if it’s a pain, people just aren’t going to do it.
When you have a specialized marketplace, such as for parents, add one more ingredient – security. Trading emails with a stranger is essentially the same as sending them all your information – and more, really. When you put your email in a search engine, all sorts of personal information can pop up.
OfferUp has just launched an mobile marketplace that delivers both: a simplicity and security.
We originally covered the team in October, as part of our Tech Cocktail Seattle Mixer. Since then, they have been working on a mobile application that launched last week in the iTunes store, as well as expanded their audience and focus to gently-used household goods, electronics, sporting goods and more.
OfferUp started as a marketplace to buy and sell used baby items, in part to satisfy a need founder Nick Huzar found missing in other online markets.
As a new father of a 12 month-old baby girl, my wife and I soon discovered that many items had to come and go into our home or else we’d wind up on a TV episode of Hoarders. Like many growing families, we turned to Craigslist but found it very time consuming, and there were times when I was a little fearful or guarded about closing a transaction in person – especially if my wife and child were with me or if my wife wanted to do it alone.
And unlike Craigslist’s multi-step posting process (or the planning and muscle involved in its offline counterpart – a yard sale), OfferUp only requires the seller to take a photo of the item through the iPhone app, and poof – it’s in the marketplace. Kudos to the design team here – the website and iPhone app have a sophistication that makes it actually fun to “window shop” and see what’s being offered. Buyers and sellers also have the option to easily share the listing on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or send an email to individuals or groups. An in-app location-based service alerts buyers to nearby and accepted deals. In-app private messaging allows buyers and sellers to remain anonymous until the point of transaction.
(Note – make sure you hit reply to any transactions IN APP – when I was testing, I clicked ‘BUY’ to see what would happen, and yikes, it was *that* easy and my offer was accepted. I got a response from the seller via my inbox, and hit reply – and promptly identified myself to a seller in Seattle who thought I want to buy a jogging stroller.)
For ultra-security, OfferUp has created a member program called OfferUp TruYou™, which allows both buyers and sellers to scan their driver’s license information in order to verify identity and allow OfferUp to cross reference that information with public records.
OfferUp wants your stuff – from June 27th to July 18th, the first 10 people to post $3,000 worth of gently-used items will win a $100 VISA gift card. For those in the greater Seattle and Bellevue areas, OfferUp is organizing a citywide Flash Mob garage sale on July 21. People can list an unlimited number of items on OfferUp for free and have people pick up their merchandise at the garage sale.
Interested? Download the app in the iTunes store.
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