While doing marketing research for GarageDollar this week I visited several map based sale update sites and twitter accounts. Most were graveyards of activity, a sign that their creators gave up due to a lack of discovered/perceived market, or conceded the market to a few winners. This is par for the course with startups and new businesses. It takes concentrated effort, a super network, and fantastic luck (or timing) to successfully breathe life into a novel social pattern.
I came across a few high quality search sites. Some have developed complimentary apps or subscription tools (listed below*). But the finest interface site I came across has been around since 2007. Gsalr.com has a solid interface, a garage sale routing tool for directions, and specialized pins for large scale sales. The source of their listings was clearly Craigslist and back links to the original listings were included (pro move). Some of the addresses were scraped incorrectly which is a function of converting unformatted text to a mappable location. This high quality site has been around for 3 years in some form and has between 20-90k monthly visitors (seasonal) according to Alexa's analytics tools. Impressive for a new site, but far from a viral success 3 years in (not even ramen profitable).
Craigslist dominates classified listings, and combined with local papers and signs are the current market leaders in advertising local second hand sales. The transition from listings in papers to Craigslist is an easy one for sellers. It's time to introduce the market to even more efficient alternatives.
It's the buyers that benefit immediately from automatic mapping and quality listings. If active buyers can frictionlessly find a local sale, this will feedback to increased purchases from the sellers.
Lessons learned about the second hand local sales market:
- Having an offering in several markets is not enough (website plus iOS app) unless your target market is primarily an early adopter in that market or customer acquisition is net profitable
- The market leader determines current interfaces, which potential visitors are comfortable with (Craigslist)
- High quality dynamic listings isn't enough to ensure growth, even when combined with a well designed interface. Gsalr.com hasn't been embraced by the lions share of the second hand market
- The activity of submitting a quality sale needs tangible rewards, reviewing sales needs tangible rewards. Interaction between regular second hand buyers and periodic organized sellers needs to be addressed. Human connection and community recognized rewards are the path to adoption.
- Lowering second hand sale friction and improving location awareness may inspire the market to grow beyond it's current level. Making second hand sales hip and meaningful is a fantastic marketing challenge
* = List of Garage Sale Sites: Did I miss your high quality garage sale site? Please comment and I'll add your site to the list.
- gsalr.com. Nice interface, quality listings (fed by Craigslist)
- Yard Sale Search: great looking web site with an easy to use interface that combines map and text listings
- Garage sale tracker I've covered before. Older text only interface, but it also has a complimentary iPhone app.
- GarageSales.com. Great domain name, Facebook integration, thousands of fans. Interface takes some getting used (too many steps to find sales)
- Garage Sale Hunter older text based interface