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Classifieds Go Mobile

Mobile isn’t a trend. It’s a structural change in the way people access information. And it’s having massive implications for classifieds. All over the world, the smartest and hungriest marketplaces are taking notice. 

 We’ve all heard how mobile is taking over the world. Stats like these support that theory:

But here’s some nuggets you likely haven’t come across:

Mobile isn’t a trend. It’s a structural change in the way people access information. And it’s having massive implications for classifieds. All over the world, the smartest and hungriest marketplaces are taking notice. 

The classifieds sector is huge, and ever growing. Big players like Ebay and Craigslist sit alongside smaller fish like OfferUp, LetGo, 5miles and of course, Facebook’s Marketplace. Regardless of size, all are jostling for market share of the thriving C2C space.

In a ruthlessly competitive world with low barriers to entry (if you exclude the huge investment required to unseat entrenched incumbents), user experience has come to be a key differentiator. The most successful platforms are those that pair effortless usability with the marketing spend and operational expertise required to build out both sides of the C2C equation. 

Mobile is key, on both fronts. It enables classifieds platforms to ‘surprise and delight’ users with gorgeous and easy-to-use interfaces that make it easy to buy and sell. And it expands addressable audiences, bringing billions of potential users into the picture. 

Little wonder that savvy platforms are leveraging mobile. The end game is ultimately revenue, growth, but building for mobile demands investment up front. Money and time are expensive commodities, but so too are the operational focus and expertise required to create seamless cross-platform experiences across desktop, mobile and tablet. 

At the forefront of this movement are nascent platforms that are choosing to concentrate their resources on doing one thing very well. That one thing is mobile.

Yes, mobile-first classifieds are a thing, and you can expect these apps to only get bigger in 2018, disrupting the classifieds market by outclassing incumbents when it comes to accessibility and usability. 

Take one of the world’s largest classifieds sites, Craigslist. When launched in 1995, it was hugely innovative, light years ahead of its time. Now, the company seems to prides itself on a luddite-esque resistance to change. The experience of buying and selling items on the platform hasn’t evolved in decades and yet, users are now accustomed to awesome desktop and mobile experiences when using other products developed by the likes of Apple, Google and Facebook. 

Compare that to a site like OfferUp, a mobile-centric local classifieds app that’s making inroads in the US. At the very top of its mission statement is a question: 

“Could value exchange start with something as simple as a photo from a smartphone?” 

The app now has over 30 million downloads and raised $119 million in late 2016 to fuel growth. Similarly, LetGo, a mobile a marketplace for people to buy and sell used goods, recently raised another  $100 million in funding, at a valuation of over $1 billion. It’s one of the fastest growing apps in the US, with some 75 million downloads, “tens of millions” of active users, and 200 million listings in the last two years. These are just two examples of a host of challenger brands that are taking on incumbents. 

These apps are succeeding because they are bringing something fresh and exciting to an industry that, until recently, hadn’t changed in years. If horizontally orientated incumbents don’t adapt fast, they may find their twenty-year headstart eroded pretty quickly, as network effects kick in, particularly if vertically-orientated challengers can build engaging user experiences around niche classified sectors. Or offer better payment tools.

Change is good. Perhaps it’s time the virtual monopoly of the big fish was broken? Or perhaps the rise of mobile-first classifieds will encourage the likes of Craigslist and Ebay to up their game and protect their lead for another 20 years.

Building for mobile is one way classifieds can grow market share, or maintain their dominance. Another is offering better, more secure payment options. Shieldpay can help here. Our mission is to eliminate peer-peer fraud and enable everyone, everywhere to transact with each other in total confidence. Get in touch to find out how we can help you!



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