May 15 2011
Spekios, donning only a small shield and wooden sword charged Craigslist with all its might. “Aye-yay!” they said. Craigslist lazily rolled over and squashed the poor little guy.
The world of online classifieds is dominated by just one company- Craigslist. Yes, I’ve often bemoaned its persistence as a website and called for its downfall. They’ve had a great run and made a substantial mark on the web and the world as we know it. But in my view they’ve overstayed their welcome and are now the most unexceptional site on the internet. At this point people go there simply because there’s no other useful classifieds site. It’s the one diner in town and we’re all forced to eat the over cooked chicken.
Many contenders have attempted to challenge them head on. They build their newer and better version of online classifieds and wait for the masses to come. The trouble is that no single site can generate enough classifieds for buyers to come check out. It’s a tough road for those sites.
Taking a different approach to the online classifieds paradigm is Spekios. Rather than trying to recreate a new and improved version of the current online classifieds model they came up with something new. With Spekios buyers post what they’re looking for and then sellers come to them. It’s online classifieds upside down.
The way it works is pretty straightforward. Let’s say I decide I’d like a new drum set. I can post it on Spekios, include my price range, and potential sellers will bid on it. From there the buyer can review all the bids and choose a winning bidder at any time. Once selected a notification is sent to the winner and the two can get in touch and arrange to make the exchange. Spekios role is to provide the introduction; they don’t get involved in the financial transaction. All standard precautions are recommended such as meeting the person in public and verifying their payment prior to parting with your item.
Spekios comes with a few of the amenities that leading online classifieds providers don’t include. The first is a messaging system between users. This allows users to send and receive correspondence without revealing their personal email address. On top of this Spekios does one other thing that I greatly appreciate. They didn’t try to convert their site into yet another social network. It’s not a place where you ‘friend’ or ‘follow’ people. They hold true to the purpose of helping buyers find sellers without getting distracted with other social functions. If you’d like to be friends later, those relationships can carry on outside of their network. Possibly, gasp, in real life!
To place a bid you simply click on the item you’d like to review. This will bring up the summary page of what someone’s looking to purchase. You can also see the location of the person, the current bids, and any questions people have asked. The questions section is particularly helpful since anyone can ask the buyer details on what they’d like, and everybody can see the interaction. Once you’ve read through the buyer request profile you can set a price for what you’re selling, include a description, and upload a picture. There are no limits to the number of bids or posts you can submit.
As I was browsing Spekios I slowly began to realize that this was a beautiful solution. Possibly the Craigslist killer that I’ve been waiting for. (No relation to those that stalk in the night, mind you.) Seeing a buying request flush full of sellers with their items is a great way to find what you’re looking for. The primary means of finding items is by searching so other buyers and sellers will readily be able to see the offers as well.
To ensure their site has relevant entries their beta launch is focused on New York only. Once that gets rolling I’m sure their plan is to take the country and then world by storm. For all the contenders in the online classifieds world I think with Spekios we finally have a formidable challenger. One can only hope.