Billed as the “anti-classifieds,” Los Angeles-based HipSwap is a visual online marketplace that allows people to shop for new and used goods in 16 categories, from items in local boutiques, to antiques, to used clothing. Today the company announced several new features aimed at personalizing the experience for buyers and sellers, as well as the launch of its door-to-door delivery service in New York City and Los Angeles, with more cities to follow. The company, which launched in March 2012 and is active in 144 cities in North America, is backed by investors including Founders Fund, Greycroft Partners, and several angel investors.
CEO Rob Kramer told BetaKit that HipSwap is what it would look like “if Craigslist and Pinterest had a baby.” “We’re bringing the oldest business model into the 21st century,” he said in an interview. The company has grown since its launch in March – at that point it had $2 million in inventory, and since then they’ve increased that to $22 million in inventory for sale on the site. While Kramer declined to share the size of HipSwap’s user base, he said they’re into the “six figures,” and that users are growing at a rate of two percent per day.
Today’s update introduces a “Hip or Skip” feature, which allows people to vote for items they like in order to tailor the items displayed to them. They’re also introducing featured sales, which will involve 24 curated items on sale every 72 hours. Kramer said that their home and fashion categories currently make up 65 percent of their marketplace, and that they’ll be launching sub-categories soon. The site also includes curated “shop my closet” collections from celebrities. Today they also launched the ability for sellers to add their listings to Craigslist. “Your HipSwap marketplace should be customized specifically for you,” Kramer said. “We’re going to get very deep in terms of what the marketplace looks like for each individual user.”
The launch of door-to-door delivery comes after a beta testing period in Los Angeles. Right now delivery costs $5, paid by the buyer during checkout. The company is currently using its own fleet of trucks, but said “all partnerships are on the table” when it comes to partnering with local courier or delivery companies in its base of cities. Kramer said they launched the delivery service for people who found meeting up with buyers/sellers “creepy,” or for people who didn’t want to wait days for local items to be delivered. Their new delivery service also includes their HipSwap Saturdays charitable program, which allows people to request Saturday pickup and delivery of their items to Goodwill for free.
Kramer said the idea for HipSwap was inspired by personal experiences selling items on classifieds sites like Craigslist, and on eBay. “There’s no reason to be on those sites other than to get in and get out,” he said. “We also believed that selling something should be incredibly visual, and that is should be as simple as taking a photo, pricing it, putting it in the marketplace, and seeing it there.”
Listing an item on HipSwap is similar to other online classifieds site – web users can attach a photo and fill in product details, and mobile users can snap a photo to attach to their listing using the iPhone and Android apps. Buyers can pay via PayPal or credit card, and and while listing an item is free, HipSwap charges sellers a 3.5 percent transaction fee per sale. Right now the company’s business model revolves around transaction fees and delivery charges, but Kramer said that the business model will evolve, but they will attempt to keep it as simple for users as possible.
Right now the only cities HipSwap has launched in outside the U.S. are Toronto and Vancouver, but he says Europe is a “huge market,” and they plan to expand there eventually. HipSwap is obviously trying to distance itself from fellow classifieds sites like Craigslist with its Pinterest-style visual design, and targeting eBay users with its local delivery service and lack of listing fees (eBay charges a listing fee for all Buy It Now items) and lower transaction fees (eBay charges at least seven percent per transaction at minimum). Craigslist has a firm hold on the online classifieds market, despite their lack of design or community. But since HipSwap is not just targeting consumers with used items to offload, but also local merchants, their simplified new and used marketplace might be better for the casual seller, and buyers who want a better browsing and buying experience.