USAM is getting fairly good visits from interested buyers and our size is fairly decent, but compared to ebay it would be a fairly massive difference. I do believe we've been very successful and firing "on all cylinders" for our size and I hope to continue hard work in that direction.
In the past 30 days around 200k people have come to the site (uniques). On average each time someone comes to the site they look at 5.5 pages and stay ~4minutes. 2.6 million pages have been viewed in that timeframe. Over 60% of visits are from people who have come before. Our data shows that we're growing around 15-20% per year, YOY, but we have around 5x growth left before we're larger than CAM and it will take time. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that ebay might have 25x more buyers than we do, but as a grassroots hifi buy/sell community I feel we're growing quickly.
Those numbers do seem to be pretty respectable given the specialized nature of this site. But I've seen multiple references to CAM and in connecting a few dots, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that CAM is the 'parent' site, meaning that Canada is the primary intended audience? If so, then would a reasonable conclusion be that USAM is more of an 'afterthought' and 'cousin' site but not the site owners primary focus?
You would not need to come anywhere near what Ebay has to be viable, since Ebay is everything to everyone everywhere. Or at least tries to be. You would only need to target a specific audience, in this case all things vintage audio. That audience may only be a small percentage of Ebays overall traffic. But if you can capture a large chunk of that specific segment
, that would make a huge difference.
The "buy now" and "make offer" concepts will come in the future, but it would probably not be a free service, and many users will prefer not to use it because they want to vet their buyers.
Again just my own opinion, but I think charging a fee for that would be an unspeakably bad call. See what I said about buyer psychology and the 'impulse' factor. By not having this option there, it requires would-be buyers to 'think about it' for awhile. And they end up changing their mind. As a marketplace site, that's not a good way to stimulate sales. And nothing has taken away a sellers chance to vet buyers. Again, we are talking about selling vintage audio gear, not a complete background evaluation for obtaining clearances to join the FBI. Buyer vetting isn't that hard to do and there are safeguards that can be in place to resolve a transaction gone bad.
Anyway, we didn't set out to replace ebay or other marketplaces. We're guided by our effort to build a good community and marketplace and so far we're lucky that many sellers and buyers are finding some success here. We'll keep working hard to make the site useful for all and hopefully somewhere along the way we'll hit that critical mass. In the meantime, listing prices the way you are by discounting from what you'd do on ebay does help. You could also let your buyers and potential buyers know you also maintain some items here. Word of mouth goes a long way to build a sustainable platform. Maybe USAM becomes a platform for you to sell to your existing buyers, while ebay remains where you source new buyers, and that's ok.
Overall, I like that. But to be honest, strikes me as a bit too passive. Growing a site does take some ambition and calculated risks. Especially for something like this. In order for a marketplace to succeed, it needs to appeal equally to buyers and sellers alike. Given how difficult it already is to draw traffic away from the Ebays of the world for more than a few minutes is extraordinarily difficult even on a good day. It has to be promoted; people need to be pulled in to 'hey check this site out'. Word of mouth does help, but it still takes effort from the site owners. Relying too heavily on a closed-loop group of already 'in the know' members isn't going to help much the long run.
When I was building TH and it was a nascent, nothing site with no traffic, I employed a multiplicity of tactics to grow it: word of mouth through people I knew, watermarks in my Ebay listings, testimonials enclosed with my Ebay items I sold, carefully worded indexing terms for placement in Google spiders, YouTube videos, and so on. Each one by itself may not have been much, but collectively over time, they made a huge difference. And in less than 5 years, I built that site up from literally nothing to the well known site it was up until I chose to divest it. I made some missteps along the way and learned what worked and what didn't. Most peoples default inclination is to stick with what they know and are comfortable with (Ebay), even if they don't like it (you know the expression about taking the path of least resistance). You have to give them a reason to not just check you out once, but to keep coming back and stick around. The point to all this here is that organic growth takes active aggressive effort from the owners. It isn't going to happen on its own.