If you’ve ever gone shopping on eBay, you know how important seller ratings can be — take a stab with someone who has less than a 90-something approval rating, and you’re testing your luck. And even when you’ve found someone with a satisfactory rating, the descriptions left by other buyers tend to be mostly useless (A++++, anyone?), which makes the whole thing feel a little risky regardless. Oh, and sellers can always get scammed by buyers, which makes it even more fun.
Addoway is an e-commerce site that looks to help reduce these feelings of anxiety by using Facebook Connect to help you find sellers that your friends have had good experiences dealing with in the past. The site launched eight months ago, and is currently drawing 90,000 uniques a month.
The premise is simple: when you run a search on Addoway for whatever it is you’re looking to buy (say, an Xbox), the site will let you sort listings by your social connections. If you know someone who has interacted with a certain seller before, then they’ll show up at the top — and you can talk to your friends about their experience with that seller if you’re still hesitant.
Of course, in order for these social connections to be of any use you need to actually know people who are using the site to either buy or sell things. And right now it’s pretty unlikely — even if you have a few hundred friends, the odds that one of them is using Addoway to sell the item you’re looking for is very low.
CEO Fredrick Nijm agrees that it’s unlikely that the social connections will be much help at this point, but he believes that if the site grows in popularity, it will become much more useful. For the nearer-term, Addoway has a back-up plan in place to help make shoppers more comfortable: very transparent seller listings.
The site invites sellers to link up their blogs, Amazon accounts, eBay seller profiles, and YouTube videos, allowing visitors to quickly get a snapshot of who they are. Granted, reading someone’s blog or watching their videos doesn’t necessarily help you determine if they’re a reputable seller, but this kind of transparency can still potentially help instill a greater sense of trust. Maybe.
So far the site has over 400,000 listings, most of which have been sucked in from eBay (Addoway lets sellers connect with their eBay, Etsy, and Bonanza accounts). Nijm declined to say how many active sellers the site has, but says that most of them (including those who have linked their eBay accounts) are still active.
The site makes money by offering a premium account to sellers for $8.95 per month that gives them prominent placement in search results and Addoway’s social media presences. In the future the site will also add transaction fees, though existing users will have a window where they won’t have to pay them.
This is a very difficult market to crack into, especially given how much traction Addoway will need for its social connections to become useful, and Nijm knows it. Still, he says that this is the only service that uses Facebook Connect to help buyers pick out reputable sellers (as opposed to using it for product recommendations, the way Amazon does), and he says that Addoway has seen significant growth over the last several months, going from 60,000 uniques a couple of months ago to 90,000 today.