Shpock, the local classified mobile app (or flea market in your pocket) is reporting some decent progress today. Three and a half months after launch, the iOS and Android app has seen 120,000 downloads, and 60,000 items listed in its marketplace; up from 10,000 downloads, and 3,000 items listed last November. That’s probably testament to the simple solution that Shpock provides and the high quality design of the app itself. But with that simplicity comes low barriers to entry — so it’s not surprising that Finderly, the Austrian startup behind the app, is bracing itself for plenty of European competition, with co-founder and CEO Armin Strbac noting that he’s already seen ads on Odesk looking for developers to “copy” Shpock.
Hoping to rekindle some of the attraction of eBay and similar classified sites before they got overrun with power sellers, Shpock provides a local marketplace for the second-hand sale of ‘beautiful things’. Using the free app, users simply photograph the product they are selling, add a simple description, pick a category and suggest a price. Then other users can search by location and/or category and begin communicating with a view to purchase off-line; Shpock doesn’t handle the transaction, instead users are encouraged to pay in cash upon real-world collection.
Strbac tells me that the majority of downloads come from Austria and Germany where the app is seeing largely 4 star plus reviews. Growth was particular strong during the holiday season as users were seeking to find presents before Christmas and get rid of unwanted presents afterwards. Strbac also thinks that apps like Shpock are benefiting from a trend where consumers are looking to recycle their purchases in order to claw back money (given the harsh economic times), as well as a growing appreciation for vintage products and items. To that end, the most popular categories in Shpock’s marketplace are fashion, electronics, and interior.
The app has seen some nice updates, too. This includes the ability to save a search and be alerted via push notifications or email if and when said item is listed, which is a very smart (and useful) way of getting users to return.
Strbac believes that the lessons provided by Shpock’s relative success is to focus on a high quality product, short update cycles and building a close relationship with users. “We care about our users and quickly react to questions and support requests. In exchange users are satisfied and let us know what they would like to have next or what they dislike”, he says.
As for the competition, it would be remiss not to mention that, whoever may or may not be in the process of cloning the app, Shpock already has similar competitors in the U.S., which pre-date its existence, such as Rumgr and Yardsale. However, Strbac expects many more to crop up “over the next few months”.
Still no word on monetization plans, the app is free and so are listings, but with decent growth, how to generate revenue should be a nice problem to have.