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Erik
October 16th, 2009, 02:10 PM
As y’all know the Vintage Computer and Gaming Marketplace (http://marketplace.vintage-computer.com) has been up and running as a free service for over a year.

In that time there have been hundreds of auctions, nearly 500 users have signed up and thousands of dollars have changed hands in hundreds of transactions.

I think the Marketplace is a great service and I’ve been using it to do almost all of my Vintage transactions since it opened.

I’ve been (impatiently) waiting for the VCGM to hit “critical mass” – that point at which the number of items listed and the number of transactions carried out are sufficient to keep people coming back to see what’s new. It took the forums well over a year to hit the same state.

I’m sure it’ll happen eventually, but I’d like to see what we can do to accelerate that (I'm an impatient man) so I’m seeking ideas from the experts here at the forum: What can we do to improve and promote the Marketplace?

How do we get more people to use it?

How do we make sure more people know about it?

What’s missing? Features? Categories? Payment options?

Do folks not trust it? If not why not?

I’d also like to ask those who are willing to help me promote it.

Do you run an on-topic website or blog? If so can you give the VCGM a plug?

Do you post at other on-topic forums, mail-lists, Usenet groups, etc? A mention of the VCGM couldn’t hurt if you can find a way to work it in.

And, of course, if you’ve got something to sell please consider the Marketplace as an option!



I'm looking forward to your replies!

barythrin
October 16th, 2009, 02:42 PM
I don't have all the answers.

Perception of the audience size will help, one reason anyone is reluctant to put anything on a new site is the who's looking factor vs the known audience size of existing markets.

Google needs to know the Vintage Computer and Gaming Marketplace is one of the best auction sites! ;-) Make sure it's not blocked to robots (I just checked, it doesn't seem to be but I was curious).

Public awareness, and awareness of sales that occur would be good. Maybe a search completed auctions setting if there isn't one.

You've seen me point folks there all the time. I check it once and a while although I haven't bought or posted anything there yet. I'm probably going to soon, but I also have the exposure question in my head on where to post things and get good exposure.

Part of it is also how many people here are actively selling stuff. I'm collecting and acquiring often but rarely sell anything. Not the best trend but just being honest. I'm not selling (never have) on feebay but it's because I don't sell stuff usually other than shortage of space which is starting to occur.

When I do I'll post it since the regular posts DO seem to get mirrored on external sites/bots so a post plus link may help get it out there as well.

NathanAllan
October 16th, 2009, 03:18 PM
I would say talk to Mike at chasethechuckwagon.com he is currently growing his site, might be interested in sending/receiveing clients. He does banner exchange sometimes, referred to linking and other things. Plus he's a great guy to talk to, very easy going and easy to work with.

VintageComputerman
October 16th, 2009, 04:52 PM
I know this might sound weird but try Howard Sterns website. His ad space guarantees 70,000 hits a day and they're not Stern related sites. A lot of companies with new products link there. You can even get your site mentioned on air a few times a day but it costs several grand, iirc.

Erik
October 17th, 2009, 07:29 AM
I know this might sound weird but try Howard Sterns website. His ad space guarantees 70,000 hits a day and they're not Stern related sites. A lot of companies with new products link there. You can even get your site mentioned on air a few times a day but it costs several grand, iirc.

I'm not going to pay to advertise at this point (I did about a month of Google Adwords that brought some traffic) but I like the idea of posting on non-Vintage sites. . .

Jorg
October 17th, 2009, 07:49 AM
I haven't checked it out too closely yet, as my expectation is that most offers/requests are North American located. How easy is it to search for 'regional' auctions?

I haven't registered yet, I think a lot of details are asked that I am a bit careful with, and I'm not sure what is happening with it. For example, I will not give out my phone number for auction sites, or on the internet in general. Although I would probably trust you personally with it.

Erik
October 17th, 2009, 08:26 AM
I haven't checked it out too closely yet, as my expectation is that most offers/requests are North American located. How easy is it to search for 'regional' auctions?

Right now it's mostly US (like the forums) but it shouldn't be too hard to push that.

I don't, however, remember a feature to search by region.


I haven't registered yet, I think a lot of details are asked that I am a bit careful with, and I'm not sure what is happening with it. For example, I will not give out my phone number for auction sites, or on the internet in general. Although I would probably trust you personally with it.

Most of the details are optional, but there is a minumum bit of info required to conduct business (email address and postal address being in there.)

VintageComputerman
October 17th, 2009, 08:55 AM
I'm not going to pay to advertise at this point (I did about a month of Google Adwords that brought some traffic) but I like the idea of posting on non-Vintage sites. . .

Ever try http://dir.webring.com/rw

Erik
October 18th, 2009, 05:31 PM
The main site is already associated with a couple of rings. . .

Unknown_K
October 18th, 2009, 07:48 PM
You need more people with a bigger selection if you want it to grow. I think I purchased 2 items before the makeover, and never rejoined since I never see anything I want at a better price then ebay.

carlsson
October 18th, 2009, 10:40 PM
I'm not sure how to fix it, but I find the layout and listings a bit cluttered. There are featured items and regular items and categories and sections and menus and ... well, to some point it looks more like a flight control than an auction site. :-D This is a problem that other sites (e.g. CTCW) has as well. I don't know how much ability you have to tune it up, but as it stands right now I get the feeling one needs to advertise e.g. on this forum that one has posted auctions at the marketplace to get people to find them. Actually it was what I did and managed to sell one out of five items last time around.

I agree with Jorg though: people listing items on the site should not be so USA-centric. It is fair if international shipping costs thrice as much as domestic one and takes twice as long to arrive, but please don't shut out those of us living abroad. This is one of my pet peeves and I have commented about this on CTCW as well. I can't bother complaining to eBay about their sellers not shipping internationally, but for those smaller auction sites trying to be alternatives to eBay and where at least 80% of the trading supposedly will be inbetween forum members, I look for a more open attitude to overseas bidders. I always post my items world wide, but warn in advance that shipping costs from Sweden are silly.

Jorg
October 18th, 2009, 11:33 PM
I'm not sure how to fix it, but I find the layout and listings a bit cluttered.

That is indeed also a point- I couldn't lay my finger on it, but now its pointed out - my eyes go everywhere and I don't know what I'm looking at.
If you search, you can find - but it is not inviting for browsing and stumbling over interesting things.
But again, not sure what can be done there.

Erik
October 19th, 2009, 01:46 PM
You need more people with a bigger selection if you want it to grow. I think I purchased 2 items before the makeover, and never rejoined since I never see anything I want at a better price then ebay.

Agreed - more sellers would be nice.

It's part of the whole critical mass thing, though. Sellers beget buyers, buyers beget sellers. . . :P

Unknown_K
October 19th, 2009, 03:37 PM
Agreed - more sellers would be nice.

It's part of the whole critical mass thing, though. Sellers beget buyers, buyers beget sellers. . . :P

The thing is sellers don't pay anything to post an auction nor do they pay a fee if somebody wins, so if they can do that I dont see why they don't bother to put items up (vintage items anyway). Buyers will show up if they hear about something unusual.

What might be of use is an application like turbo lister (or whatever its called on ebay) that makes it very easy to setup an auction using a template that works on ebay so sellers don't have to do all the work twice going to VCGM and ebay.

Erik
October 19th, 2009, 03:58 PM
What might be of use is an application like turbo lister (or whatever its called on ebay) that makes it very easy to setup an auction using a template that works on ebay so sellers don't have to do all the work twice going to VCGM and ebay.

There is a bulk lister that will allow you to set up your auctions locally and upload them.

It's not quite as pretty as eBay's offering, but it's a lot cheaper in the end. :)

tezza
October 19th, 2009, 04:14 PM
Yes, I agree with Anders.

It's a little cluttered and hard to find your way around. I'm not sure what Erik can do about this. However, I have used it to buy something and everything worked as it should.

I too would like to see more of a global marketplace with most items being available from and to anywhere in the world. Of course this is something Erik has no control of...it needs people from all over the world to use it.

I know shipping beyond a border can be a hassel. However, many collectors often need just a small thing just to complete or restore their vintage machine like a badge, cables manuals cards and even drives. As it has no fees, this is where I see the Marketplace as playing a particularly valuable role. If you have small easily-shipped spares to offload and are happy to post them (domestically and internationally), why not put them there?

Tez

Erik
October 19th, 2009, 06:28 PM
It's a little cluttered and hard to find your way around. I'm not sure what Erik can do about this.

True. It's "off the shelf" software and I'm not game for another migration.

If you have specific suggestions I'll forward them on to the vendor for the next update.


I know shipping beyond a border can be a hassel. However, many collectors often need just a small thing just to complete or restore their vintage machine like a badge, cables manuals cards and even drives. As it has no fees, this is where I see the Marketplace as playing a particularly valuable role. If you have small easily-shipped spares to offload and are happy to post them (domestically and internationally), why not put them there?

I've shipped lots of stuff internationally, including quite a few items from the Marketplace, and I've never had a problem.

Sure it's a bit more work with the customs forms but it's no more expensive for the seller than that bit of ink and effort.

I always welcome international bidders as long as they understand their costs (shipping, customs, etc.)

pontus
October 19th, 2009, 10:58 PM
True. It's "off the shelf" software and I'm not game for another migration.

If you have specific suggestions I'll forward them on to the vendor for the next update.



I really appreciate the effort of making a marketplace parallel to ebay and don't want to complain. But I have to concur with the sentiment that it is to cluttered.

A concrete suggestion would be to rearrange the page you get when selecting a category on the left. If I click on "Vintage Computers" I would expect to see a list of auctions, or perhaps some subcategories. Instead I get a search box which takes up considerable screen estate. Below that box is what I think are highlighted auctions? Then comes the list of auctions, which have to share vertical space with a box of subcategories.

Oh, the concrete suggestion: Move the list of auctions to the top and make subcategories appear among the other categories (just like on ebay). Make the search a page of its own. And regarding the highlighted auctions... well I've never liked that feature on any auction site.

Also, this page looks incomplete:

http://marketplace.vintage-computer.com/site_fees.php

Obviously you have just removed it because there are no fees, but you should have some informative message there.

I hope I have not put you off this project now, its a great initiative!

carlsson
October 19th, 2009, 11:17 PM
The main question is how much of the layout is easily customizable through control panels, style sheets and alike. Perhaps the vendor has a few different skins, but the word "vendor" makes me think every skin would cost additional money. Of course if they can produce something which eventually makes the site easy to look at and browse, it may lead to more usage and worth the investment.

Hm.. ok, I looked up the vendor. The auction software costs £110 to start with. If you want a custom skin it costs £400 extra, but then I suppose it really is customized after the client's needs. Here is a list of auction sites (http://www.phpprobid.com/portfolio.php?mod=skin) using the same software, but custom skinned. Anyone with too much time on their hands can at least browse their customers and see what options the software has. Most sites seem pretty much alike eachother, just varying colours and background graphics.

barythrin
October 20th, 2009, 08:04 AM
I hate saying I'll do something because it's usually doomed to not occur in a timely manner. However sometime "soon" I'll be reorganizing a lot of my collection and may offload some items of potential interest. Maybe I'll post some books, etc. I know that's one thing the lady would like to see less of.

I may post an obsolete sun server just to see what it does and post the auction on other lists to get some bots and folks to start hitting the site.

Erik
October 20th, 2009, 10:47 AM
A concrete suggestion would be to rearrange the page you get when selecting a category on the left. If I click on "Vintage Computers" I would expect to see a list of auctions, or perhaps some subcategories. Instead I get a search box which takes up considerable screen estate. Below that box is what I think are highlighted auctions? Then comes the list of auctions, which have to share vertical space with a box of subcategories.

Oh, the concrete suggestion: Move the list of auctions to the top and make subcategories appear among the other categories (just like on ebay). Make the search a page of its own. And regarding the highlighted auctions... well I've never liked that feature on any auction site.

The best I can offer at the moment is the suggestion to click "Basic Search" to shrink down the search options.

For the rest, I'll pass along the suggestion. I'd love to see user configurable views into the auctions.


Also, this page looks incomplete:

http://marketplace.vintage-computer.com/site_fees.php

Obviously you have just removed it because there are no fees, but you should have some informative message there.

I haven't been able to find a way to put a message in there. Again, I'll ping the author(s) to see if they can set up a "fee free" option.


I hope I have not put you off this project now, its a great initiative!
Nah. It's worth it. :)

Chuck(G)
October 20th, 2009, 12:31 PM
I don't often get to the Marketplace because I have a difficult time figuring out what's going and what's been around for awhile. And often, I simply forget. :(

How about a "crawl" somewhere on the forum main page that lists things that are about to end? That might tweak my curiosity more...