How Shopaholics Can Become Swapaholics: App Lets Users Trade
Swap.com, a startup that reinvented bartering for digital consumers, has launched the first mobile swapping market app for the iPhone. Before handing over their credit cards to retailers, savvy swappers can check to see if the items they want are available to swap from Swap.com's inventory of nearly 13 million books, movies, music and video games.
Since its launch last year (the swapping site Swaptree.com officially acquired Swap.com in July 2010), the site has signed up more than 1 million members who have collectively saved more than $11.9 million, CEO Jeff Bennett told TechNewsDaily.
His timing couldn't be better: eco-conscious living combined with tough economic times, especially for young people, have created a swap-happy environment. According to a recent American Express consumer survey, 75 percent of young people aged 18 to 24 prefer renting, loaning and swapping over owning because it’s more affordable.
"After all, do we really need 40 million printed copies of the latest Harry Potter on this earth?" Bennett said.
He has high hopes for the site's mobile app.
"We need to serve swappers wherever they are — whenever they want to swap," Bennett said. "Kind of hard to carry your Mac around, but people do have their trusty smartphones with them just about all the time."
How to swap instead of shop
Instead of spending hours combing through eBay or Craigslist, Swap presents possible swaps to members based on their lists of "haves" ― items they own and want to trade ― and "wants" ― the entertainment they want. It works the same way on an iPhone as it does on the site, but with one advantage.
"Barcode scanning technology on an iPhone makes it easy to enter your "haves" and "wants" directly into Swap.com in a flash," Bennett said. Users will be instantly matched up and see a list of possible trades on their phones.
If both parties accept a trade, each can send an email to themselves containing prepaid shipping labels that are paid for through the app's PayPal integration.
The system makes the magic of three-way trading possible as well, multiplying the possible trades. For instance, if you want a movie that Sally has, Sally wants a CD that Dave has and Dave wants a video game that you have, Swap takes care of the logistics and all three can get what they want.
Users pay a small swap fee for each trade. Lower value items cost $.50 and higher ones are charged $1.00 each. Swappers also pay for shipping on the item they're sending (but not the item they receive), which averages around $3.20.
By and large, the items available for swapping are very much current.
While Swap contains some "retro" video games for platforms from the early '90s such as Sega , the most swapped items on the site correspond to what's hot in local bookstores and other retailers.
For instance, top-swapped include "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen, "Call of Duty: Black Ops," "Glee: The Music, Volume 1" and the movie "Twilight."
Future of swapping
Bennett said there's room to add features to the Swap app, including tapping into the camera for photos, enhancing location options for swap deliveries and adding messaging options.
The company recently released its Shopaholics team, who run real world events in the Boston area and launched Swap in a Box, a kit for swappers to host their own local events.
"In order to serve swappers, we need to be an effective online-to-offline company and enable swapping both on the Web as well as offline," Bennett said.
When asked whether swappers will be able to trade electronic gadgets in the future, Bennett said, "We will have you covered on the iPod and more ... online and offline.”
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