Last year we launched our own marketplace to enable the exchange of products, tools, parts and machines from people to people. We called it Bazar as a reference to the bohemian cultural gathering at the centre of many villages around the world. A meeting place for economic exchange and, more importantly, a meeting point for the cultural and social cohesion of communities. We love bazaars for their spontaneous, vigorous and extravagant nature and wanted to replicate it digitally for our own Precious Plastic community.
* Was only a few weeks after launching that we found out that it is actually spelt bazaar with two As. Oh well, we’re Precious Plastic. Bit dyslexic. And it’s ok. I guess. Not claiming to be perfect 😅. Just normal, fallible human beings.
We initially launched the Bazar in beta as an MVP (minimum viable product) to first understand if there was even the need for it. I mean, to check if people even wanted it. Now after eight months, we can say fairly confidently that people have been very enthusiastic since the beginning and that there is a real demand for this tool. We’re super keen to keep working on the Bazar and make it better to create new small, local, plastic economies to help all of you make a better living by selling recycled plastic related products.
Machines & parts
We particularly like the Bazar as it enables people to buy and exchange parts, tools, components and entire machines. This is particularly powerful as Precious Plastic will not go about producing the machines for sales for a series of different reasons. Sales of machines and parts have been steadily growing between community members across the world. This is partly because the Bazar was initially very nested into the website with only the hardcore fans that knew about it (we wanted to take it slow in the beginning) and because it solves a real problem, finding parts to build the machines. We’re very happy with how things are going 🎉
We believe products and sales of products is the ultimate measure of Precious Plastic’s impact as it means that people are ready to buy recycled products and repurpose plastic “waste” in their lives for another few years. Meaning we can find a new place for all these recycled products, otherwise what’s the point?
..and this, well, is not going as good as hoped 😓 Sales of products on the Bazar are still a little slow for different reasons that we’re trying to figure out. Hey community, any practical ideas on how to push products sales?
Problems / improvements
As you can imagine creating a marketplace isn’t exactly easy. That’s why giant tech companies pour millions of dollars 💵 each year to design, maintain and develop digital marketplaces like eBay, Etsy and the likes. We ain’t got that capital of course, so to create the Bazar we used a third party tool called Sharetribe that makes it easier to create a marketplace. As we’re counting on an external infrastructure and framework we’re limited in what we can do and customize. From this limitations spur the problems some of you have been experiencing. Let me list a few we’re aware of and would love to fix in the future:
1. Shipping is by far the most troublesome issue with Sharetribe that only allows sellers to set two shipping prices, which of course is a problem when you try to serve different markets.
2. The absence of a Cart that makes it impossible to buy multiple products or from different sellers.
3. Paypal as the main payment service which can be very expensive for multiple-currencies transactions (USD to EUR for example) sometimes charging up to 16% of the total price 😱😱😱
4. The buyer’s address isn’t automatically sent to the seller (c’mon 😓)
5. Invoices are not supported at the moment, which is, of course, a big limitation.
Sharetribe is a kind of powerful platform (even though it’s got its flaws), however, it does not come cheap. We originally started on a subscription that was little over 1000€ per year but we quickly run beyond the 1000 users limit. Nowadays, we pay around 2000€ a year to have the Bazar running. Which is crazy much 😱 At least from our experience. The sales volume is still relatively low to allow the 5% commission fee we charge on each sale to cover this yearly subscription. Which brings me to the following point, make sure to process all the transactions through the Bazar. If you take payments outside of the platform (we know of some instances) it will be even harder for us to cover the costs associated with maintaining this service. So please, all payments within the Bazar 🤞
We’d love to hear more feedback from you. Whether you’re using the Bazar as a seller or a buyer let us know what kind of issues you’ve encountered, what things you like most and what you like least or upsets you. If you have ideas on how to make it better, drive sales or create new markets comment below your genius ideas to push plastic recycling through the roof 💥
And last but absolutely not least, thank you @katharinaelleke for helping us managing the Bazar. Not sure how we would do without your help ❤