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A Serious Discussion about Brick Classifieds

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Having come across this thread just a couple of days ago (which means I started by reading the very first post which mentioned BrickOwl.com) ... and after having checked out BrickOwl ... I couldn't but help but dislike the design of the site as a potential seller of Legos.

 

In short ... besides Amazon and eBay ... I'm pretty much dissatisfied with all other Lego "selling options." (In other words ... I'm taking the perspective of what "platform" best caters to the needs of a "first time buyer" so that it makes it as simple as possible for them to by my Lego set.)

 

Lets be honest ... to a potential "first time buyer" of Legos ... trying to find a particular Lego set on BrickLink.com is like hiking Mt Everest.  (I can still remember my first time buying a Lego set last year and simply "giving up" in my efforts to locate a particular set the first time I used BrickLink!)

 

To me ... a site should be set up with the "buyer" in mind ... NOT with the "seller!"

 

It should be designed to make it as easy and simple as possible for a first time BUYER to find what they are looking for (or what they did not know they were looking for until they saw it) ... so that I as a SELLER can make more sells.

 

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Since using BrickLink.com last year ... and after buying off of Lego Shop at Home ... eBay ... Amazon ... Walmart ... Target ... and TRU ... I've often though of how I would design a better "BrickLink." (Thinking about web-design / strategy is something I like to do for fun!  Ya ... I'm definitely a nerd!  Crazy thing is ... my "real job" has absolutely nothing to do with computers of the internet.)

 

After seeing BrickOwl a few days ago and hating it (I think the owners of the site are "missing the mark" ... or what best caters to the needs of a "first time Lego buyer") ... I finally decided to put some of my thoughts down onto paper (or .jpg) because it helps me to better clarify them (yes ... I have way too much free time at work to spend on crazy "distractions" like this) ... and to offer them to the BrickPicker community.

 

(NOTE: my intent is not to say that this is what the Jeff or Ed Mack should or should not do in designing BrickClassifieds.com ... but rather ... it is simply to offer some ideas that I have had over the past several months of what I would like to see a Brick website look like so that I as a seller could then sell more Legos to "first time Lego buyers."  If anything ... perhaps there is 1 or 2% of what I might have to say that the Macks could then use either now or down the road that can make BrickClassifieds even better for all of us "sellers."  If BrickClassifieds is able to attract more buyers ... we all benefit!)

 

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For the "Home Page" ... I would design "my" site (note the "my" ... I am in no way saying the Macks should or ought to do it this way) as follows in an attempt to (1) attract more "first time Lego buyers" ... and (2) to make navigating the site as simple as possible for a "first time Lego buyer."

 

 

 

I have to say I'm sorry that this image's resolution / size is not the best ... but if you can read the text in the bar directly above "Filters" ... it reads "BrickClassifieds ... where everything on the front page is at least 10% cheaper than on Amazon.com."

 

Then if you look at the images ... it has the listing price in red ... and directly below it ... it has the Amazon.com price.

 

Although I have repeated the 4 images in the 4 rows ... I've just done that for illustrative purposes.  In reality ... a particular set would only be represented once on the Home Page ... and it would be the one with the greatest savings compared to Amazon.com.

 

Basically ... you let this become your "Marketing Engine."

 

This is why "first time buyers" will come to BrickClassifieds ... because of the reputation and the Google Search results for Legos that are cheaper than on Amazon.com (and eBay!)

 

In short ... BUYERS benefit because they can get Legos cheaper than Amazon ... and most likely eBay.

 

Furthermore ... as a SELLER ... I benefit ... because even if I list an item for 10% cheaper than Amazon ... I am still making 5% more than I would had I sold it on Amazon (considering 0% commission.)  Perhaps as a site owner ... I would seriously consider charging 0% commission to all sellers who list and sell their sets at 10% less than Amazon ... since this is the "gimmick / benefit" that will drive traffic to the site ... or why people will be visiting the site on a daily (hourly ... yes ... we SELLERS are always looking for a deal) basis.

 

Finally ... it is my opinion that this would actually raise the price of retired Lego sets on Amazon.com ... thus enabling us sellers to list our sets at 10% less than Amazon ... but at ever increasing prices.  In short ... it seams that the cheapest priced sets on Amazon are from those sellers who want to sell their set "today."  In order to sell their set "today" ... they have to undercut the lowest currently listed price.  Well ... instead of undercutting the lowest currently listed price on Amazon ... they would sell it at a 10% discount on BrickClassifieds ... thus almost guaranteeing an immediate sell ... than everyone would benefit with a more rapid progression in the increase in price. 

 

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For the "All Listings" page for a particular set ... I would design it as follows:

 

 

Again I apologize for the poor resolution.

 

Here is what is important to notice.

 

First ... it seams that buyers are only concerned with two things when buying a particular set (1) PRICE ... and (2) BUYER REPUTATION.

 

Consequently ... I would do this much like Amazon.com ... and list sets in order from least expensive to most expensive.

 

But here are the two things I would do differently.

 

FIRST ... I would list all sets at PRICE + $7 shipping.  You might be able to see how I've done this is you squint really hard.  (One thing I really hate about eBay and Amazon is how sellers will sometimes make an item appear really cheap ... but then charge something like $90 in shipping.  Perhaps you do $7 shipping for the lower 48 states ... a different rate for Alaska and Hawaii ... and yet another tiered rate for international ... or something like that.)  It seams that having all listings be $7 shipping would make it "less confusing" for "first time buyers" ... and even though it might cost $15 to actually ship a larger Lego set ... we as sellers would just build that into how we actually price an item.  Come on ... we can spare a few bucks if we are saving significant commission over Amazon or eBay.  I'd much rather spend a few extra bucks on shipping than pay 15% to Amazon or 10% to eBay.

 

SECOND ... lets say my store name is "Best of Bricks" ... right below it you will see the line that reads "(134* || 1567 VP)".

 

OK ... just like Amazon or eBay ... the "134" is your "Star Power" ... or how many times buyers have given you positive feedback.

 

However ... the "1567 VP" stands for "Vouch Power." 

 

"Vouch Power" is simply the aggregate "Star Rating" of other sellers who will also "Vouch" for me.

 

So lets say that I as a new seller only have a "Star Power" of "14" ... but I'm really good friends with Ed ... and we all know that Ed has sold a gazillion sets and has a "Star Power of "10,000" ... and I'm also really good friends with Jeff ... who by chance also has a "Star Power" of "10,000".

 

If both Ed and Jeff agree to "Vouch" for me ... than my "Star Power" would be 14 ... and my "Vouch Power" would be 20,000.

 

In my opinion ... "Vouch Power" would have a lot of benefits.

 

For one ... I might be a new seller with either no or just a few "Stars" ... but if others in my network who already have a lot of "Stars" are willing to "Vouch" for me ... than this could give me instant credibility to all BUYERS.

 

Second ... it would greatly increase the honesty and credibility of sellers ... and confidence of buyers.  Because if I get a complaint ... it will likewise affect the "Vouch Rating" of those who have Vouched for me.  Think of it as a "STAR RATING mixed with PEER PRESSURE."  Those who Vouch for me will exert "peer pressure" to ensure that I do not attempt to lie or deceive in any way ... to ship as fast as possible ... and to exceed customer expectations in order to preserve and increase the collective "Vouch Rating."

 

(I apologize if I did not explain that clearly.  I have thought about this a lot for the past couple of months ... and I could explain in better detain how it would actually work if asked.  Long story short ... coming out with a site that offers "Vouch Power" would be a "leg up" and a "competitive advantage" to both eBay and Amazon who do not offers their sellers this advantage ... or their buyers this added measure of confidence of delivery / fraud protection.)

 

In essence ... if I was a buyer ... I'm either going to buy the very cheapest listed item of a particular Lego set ... or I might be inclined to pay a few bucks more if that person has more "Stars" or "Vouch Power" ... because of the added confidence that I would have that it might actually arrive as promised ... and that I would not be a victim of fraud.

 

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OK ... sorry for such a long post ... and my apologies if in any way I was "out of line" in making these suggestions.

 

My intent in making this post is simply in the desire that a Lego selling site might come into existence where I as a seller can sell lots and lots of Legos to lots and lots of buyers (while not tipping off new buyers to the idea that they too can invest in Legos ... as it is not in our best interest if every single person out there becomes a Lego investor.)

 

I have a few more ideas about how I would do things differently ... and would be happy to share them if asked!

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I think this whole idea is great and I am looking forward to see what you come up with. I also should say that I would sell here over any other site. I know this has been addressed (and you guys know this), but the number one issue for me as a buyer and seller is the trustworthiness of the site. Can I sell and buy with confidence? If someone buys ten times and things are good then has one bad experience they will be done with the site. The same is true as a seller (at least a small time seller). I can't make a profit if I sell 10 sets and then lose my money and the 11th set in some dispute. I am looking forward to a site that will protect the seller as much as the buyer.

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@TheViralSmile, I really appreciate the thought and effort that went into your post. Maybe there are things there I can implement at a later time once we see the impact on the site and how people respond.  The one thing I want to convey to people here is that the intention Ed and have always had was to make things very simple.  Ideas, "gimmicks", etc can all come in later when we see the response.  One thing is that this is not going to be or trying to be a site that is going on a feature comparison with Bricklink.  I don't want it to be.  I want to be known more like eBay where its hey, go buy/sell on Brick Classifieds because its fast, easy and its a site that people know something about buying and selling of LEGO.  We will have things that will allow you to give yourself credibility from the start if you are a big time eBay, Bricklink, Brickowl seller.  

 

 

 

I think this whole idea is great and I am looking forward to see what you come up with. I also should say that I would sell here over any other site. I know this has been addressed (and you guys know this), but the number one issue for me as a buyer and seller is the trustworthiness of the site. Can I sell and buy with confidence? If someone buys ten times and things are good then has one bad experience they will be done with the site. The same is true as a seller (at least a small time seller). I can't make a profit if I sell 10 sets and then lose my money and the 11th set in some dispute. I am looking forward to a site that will protect the seller as much as the buyer.

 

This is an issue that will plague every online merchant forever, including Amazon.  While I love Amazon, I know people that have been "screwed" by them and they have sworn off Amazon forever, so even they can lose customers.  There will always be idiots that ruin the party.

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I think this whole idea is great and I am looking forward to see what you come up with. I also should say that I would sell here over any other site. I know this has been addressed (and you guys know this), but the number one issue for me as a buyer and seller is the trustworthiness of the site. Can I sell and buy with confidence? If someone buys ten times and things are good then has one bad experience they will be done with the site. The same is true as a seller (at least a small time seller). I can't make a profit if I sell 10 sets and then lose my money and the 11th set in some dispute. I am looking forward to a site that will protect the seller as much as the buyer.

To be honest, our site will protect the seller better than any I know.  The Classifieds were designed with sellers in mind, with limited restrictions, regulations and fees.  All we ask is one actual photo of the item with a little place card with the sellers name on it.  That's it.  Everyone will have a very short leash, especially to start, but the procedures will be basically the same as Bricklinks.  PayPal, photos, feedback, approval from Admins/Mods of each listing is some ways to make deals happen smoothly, but it is really up to the sellers to make this work.  If the majority of sellers abuse the system will poor service and prices, it will fail.  Conversely, if the majority of sellers price and ship the items properly, the site will flourish.  

 

From a buyer's standpoint, the site will be very much "eBay-like," but we cannot guarantee anything...not at the low fees we will be charging.  People will use PayPal and there will be feedback, but the A to Z guarantee that Amazon offers or eBay's known proclivity to side with buyers won't happen.  Once again, Bricklink's model will be closer to ours than the other main online retailers.  What we hope is that sellers take the savings from fees and commissions and pass them to the buyers, thus creating a marketplace of reasonably priced sets.  What I can promise is that Jeff and I will be engaged in the listing approval process and any questionable listings or prices will be scrutinized and the seller will be questioned before the listing is approved.

 

Although our site will work in similar fashion to Bricklink, we will not try to be Bricklink.  They are about parts...mainly.  We are about sets...mainly.  We expect help from the community as well.  Help in monitoring other members and listings.  Peer pressure is a powerful tool.  Time will tell...

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Has anybody mentioned the "FAKE" minifigures that are abundant in EBAY?  Can we count that "FAKES" will not be allowed on the Classifieds.

We cannot guarantee any listing.  Does eBay check merchandise?  Does Amazon?  Does Bricklink?  The contract is between a seller and buyer.  Commissions are paid to us for advertising costs, nothing else.

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I think he was asking if it will be allowed for someone to sell the non Lego minifigs if they are listed as such.

I thought he was asking if by manually approving each listing, we can stop the fakes from being listed.  I don't know how I could tell a fake from a real minifigure.  Maybe someone can educate me so I could look for certain indicators.

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I think he was asking if it will be allowed for someone to sell the non Lego minifigs if they are listed as such.

 

I wouldn't care as long as the seller identified them as being non-genuine.  If this is a big market for people wanting to both buy and sell, i can create a category for it, but I would want it to be clear as to what the buyer is buying. 

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One of the forums I love reading the most on this site, is the trading forum. I had noticed another site for trading but it didn't look like it has much interest in it. I would think a fee based store, with trade possibility wouldn't be such a bad thing. I would list here. sometimes I have sets i would like to move fast, that I know an investor would pay the specific price i was looking for. 

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