A slew of Craigslist alternatives have emerged this year, as well as a number of one-click selling startups trying to give people a way to sell their items online without having to set up storefronts using a tool like Shopify. Miami-based Sellies is trying to provide the best of both worlds, by giving people a way to sell their items online without listing fees, while also automatically creating online shops for sellers so they can promote their wares and embed them around the web. Launched in July 2012, the site currently has over 500 items listed for sale.
Founder Orlando de Frias was originally working on Rehash Clothes, a website that allowed people to swap their clothes and books. Over time people started selling items on the site, and he decided to build a new website where users could sell any item they wanted online as an alternative to the big existing marketplaces.
“eBay was much too expensive, and Etsy, the other large marketplace, only allows you to sell handmade stuff,” he said in an interview. He also said many Rehash users would post an item for sale, then write a blog post about the item and link to it. “That’s a little convoluted, so I figured what if I make a way to streamline this and actually sell it in a way that lets them get paid directly and lets them market it the right way by putting it on their website or their blog or their Facebook,” he explained.
Users can sell their items on Sellies by specifying a category (clothes, electronics, etc), adding a photo, title, cost, shipping cost, condition, and description, and adding optional details like sizing. Once an item is posted, a shop is instantly created, so buyers can see all items being sold by that user, and sellers can promote their shop instead of just individual items. Sellers can embed their products or shop using the Sellies widgets, or post directly to Facebook or Pinterest, and de Frias said Twitter integration is planned soon. Buyers can also browse through items for sale on the Sellies marketplace.
Sellers collect money directly through PayPal, and are then responsible for shipping the item to buyers, the same way it works on eBay (they can include a tracking number when they notify the buyer that an item has shipped). The company takes a 2.5 percent transaction fee for every item sold, which is less than similar eBay alternative Hipswap‘s 3.5 percent transaction fee, and lower than eBay’s minimum seven percent transaction fee (eBay also charges a listing fee for all Buy It Now items).
Part of eBay and Etsy’s appeal is their built-in ratings systems which allow buyers to see a seller’s history, and get an idea of whether they’re reputable or not. Sellies has a built-in feedback system, which allows people to leave comments about a seller after the fact, but de Frias said that doesn’t help someone who doesn’t receive an item or receives an item that isn’t what was promised. He said they use PayPal direct payments so that buyers can dispute charges if they receive the wrong item.
De Frias doesn’t view eBay as a competitor, since it’s so large and is focused on sellers with several items, though it also targets single-item sellers. He also said he doesn’t see Craigslist as a competitor because it’s focused exclusively on local sellers, though Sellies isn’t focused exclusively on users selling internationally. There are also several other sites that are tackling easy online selling, from eBay-style sites like Hipswap, to one-click selling sites like ShopLocket and Gumroad. De Frias said Sellies is different because they provide a marketplace where sellers can get more exposure and buyers can browse, and unlike Gumroad they don’t focus on digital goods. “There is competition with eBay to an extent, but not that much. They’re a global empire when it comes to selling,” he said. “[Sites like Shoplocket] are more direct competition.”
De Frias said right now the most popular categories are clothing and art, and that while some items are new, the majority are used. Other than Twitter integration, which will be added soon, he’s looking to find a way to integrate with Craigslist. Right now he’s self-funding the product, and has no plans to raise external funding, though he is looking to add to his team. While Sellies is trying to bring together the best of eBay and sites like ShopLocket, the startup doesn’t yet have the advantage of having an established brand or a solid base of buyers and sellers. Building up the marketplace, while also making sure sellers are providing what they promise to buyers, will be the biggest challenge for this ecommerce upstart.