Glyde: An eBay that’s ‘Easy Enough for My Mom to Use’

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Simon Rothman, a former eBay executive, discusses his new venture called Glyde. It’s an online marketplace that aims to make life easy for buyers and sellers alike by automatically formatting listings and setting prices. Sellers don’t have to upload images, and they’re even given pre-stamped, pre-addressed packages, so that all they have to do is slide the item inside and drop it off at the post office. Think of Glyde as an eBay for dummies, or for the merely lazy.

For now, the only items up for sale at Glyde are DVDs, books, video games, and CDs. So the goods are obviously far more limited than what you can find at eBay. Another big difference is that there’s no bidding at Glyde, though of late there seems to be less and less auctioning and more flat “buy now” pricing at eBay anyway.

The browsing process at Glyde is simple and intuitive. It’s especially nice that when you find an item you like, the price and the shipping charge are both listed upfront, so you know your grand total right away. Like this:

The nicest feature for sellers has to be the Netflix-like “Glyde Mailers”—which is what Glyde calls its pre-stamped, pre-addressed envelopes. Anyone who has ever sold something on eBay and then rambled around in the garage looking for a cardboard box and tape, and then stood in line at the post office waiting to pay for postage knows the value of this highly convenient innovation. Here’s what a Glyde Mailer looks like:

There’s no shortage of new niche sites getting into the business of helping people buy and sell online; see a recent WSJ story, which profiles Glyde as well as sites such as etsy.com and gazelle.com. But Glyde is one of the most interesting, particularly because of it’s “anybody can do this” approach. Check out an in-depth, highly positive review of Glyde at Mashable.

Here’s what Simon Rothman, Glyde’s chief executive, had to say in our Q&A:

Give us the gist of what Glyde is: What kind of stuff can you buy and sell at the site, and how does it work?

Simon Rothman: Glyde is a marketplace where real people can buy and sell real things. The idea for Glyde came to me when I went back to my hometown in Ohio after nearly seven years at eBay and saw that my friends and family weren’t buying or selling their things online because it was too hard. At first I was defensive – eBay had been so successful that I was convinced that everyone was buying and selling everything online. They weren’t. So, I started re-envisioning ecommerce. I wanted to create a site easy enough for my mom to use.

Our first four categories are DVDs, books, video games and CDs, because the average U.S. household has $3000 worth of media gathering dust on their shelves. We all have a huge amount of stuff that we wind up giving or throwing away.

Why would a consumer go to shop at the site as opposed to, say, Amazon or eBay?

SR: Buying on Glyde is so intuitive that even first-time shoppers will know exactly what to do. You just type the title of what you’re looking for into the search box, select the condition, and click “buy”. You’re done. One page. One click. You don’t have to sort through pages of similar items, sellers, ratings and prices just to save a few bucks. Searching for “Madden NFL 10” on eBay brings up multiple versions from 546 sellers, each with their own payment and return policies, leaving you with hundreds of decisions to make before purchasing.

Selling on Glyde is as easy as buying on Glyde. Once you’ve registered on the site, it takes about 10 seconds to list an item because Glyde does all the work – you don’t have to upload photos, write descriptions, deal with packaging or the post office. You just type in the title of your item and the condition and Glyde puts in all the information about the product for you. When your item sells, we send you a stamped and addressed Netflix-like mailer. Drop the item in the mailbox and you’re done.

How does Glyde match up with a site like Swaptree, which allows folks to swap books, CDs, DVDs, and more at no cost whatsoever outside of shipping?

SR: There are a few factors, but a key one that comes to mind is selection. When you’re swapping with someone your choices are limited to what they have. If you’re an average household, you might have a couple dozen DVDs. I’d bet if you look through my stuff and I look through yours, there wouldn’t be a ton of stuff you wanted to trade. There’d be one or two things, sure, but probably not much beyond that. Now imagine looking for something specific or a bit obscure like “The Seven Samurai,” “Eraserhead” or “Blood Simple.” Glyde, on the other hand, has nearly every DVD ever released. For an individual to have a DVD collection with that kind of depth, they would have had to spend about a million dollars. For books, that number goes into the tens of millions of dollars.

Bartering and trading for stuff just doesn’t work on a large scale. People want money for the stuff they sell so they can turn around and buy exactly what they want rather than settling for what’s available.

[NOTE: Actually, with Swaptree and other sites, the one-to-one swap is not the only option. Triple swaps, involving several people and all sorts of permutations of CD, book, and DVD exchanges are also possible, and a site such as Swaptree handles all the logistics for the folks involved, as this Q&A with Swaptree co-founder Mark Hexamer explains.]

SR: From the sellers perspective, isn’t it possible to make more money selling stuff via a local consignment store or with a Craigslist post?

Not necessarily. The difference is the reach of a national market versus a local market. The more buyers that know about your item the better. The more places these buyers come from the better. At a local consignment shop the item value is limited by however many people go to that consignment shop tucked away in that strip mall. That’s a very limited clientele.

Then there’s also the convenience factor. People have told us about the hassle of having to meet some guy in a random parking lot to collect his $25 after listing a game on Craigslist. Or worse still, waiting for someone who never shows up and having to start all over again. With Glyde you don’t even have to leave your house to make a sale.

What kind of protection do buyers and sellers get when working with Glyde?

SR: We worked hard to integrate safety into every feature of our marketplace. Three of the most notable are the no-hassle return policy, payment-on-satisfactory receipt and automated, algorithmic buyer and seller ratings.

Unlike the other sites where the seller collects the money before shipping an item, the seller isn’t paid until the item arrives in the described condition. So there is no incentive for sellers to overstate the condition of the item because they don’t receive the money unless the buyer is happy.

The buyer has a simple no-hassle return policy on all items. That’s rare for used goods.

Existing feedback systems can be incomplete and inaccurate. It’s hard to decode the ratings to understand who is at fault for any specific transaction. The system is subjective and open to interpretation and even manipulation. Our buyer and seller ranking system is algorithmic. We know everything about how both the buyer and the seller have performed, because and we touch every point of the entire transaction from listing to delivery. So our rankings are automated, objective, accurate and comprehensive.

In your opinion, where can shoppers find the truly best values at Glyde? What items are selling on Glyde at prices that shoppers just can’t find anywhere else? Be as specific as possible.

SR: We have lots of great deals everyday on video games and DVDs. Today a buyer can find “The Dark Knight” DVD in excellent condition for just $2.25. Our video game prices are typically better than GameStop’s. For example, a user can buy “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” for PS3 for $37.75 – it sells for $59.99 new at GameStop.

Overall, buying used items on Glyde is up to 90% cheaper than buying new, and the experience is much more like buying retail than buying used. We’ve made buying used online as safe and simple as buying new, and selling an item is as easy as throwing it away.

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