Eren Ozagir is chief marketing and commercial officer at musicMagpie, a site which buys tech, fashion, entertainment items, and electronics.
I've been asking Eren about the company and the growth of recommerce (as well as what it is)...
Can you tell us a little about musicMagpie, turnover, traffic growth etc?
musicMagpie has grown exponentially in its five year history, starting at zero and now predicting turnover for FY13 of around £100m, with consumers en masse taking up the opportunity to declutter and musicMagpie their stuff using our easy and original online channels.
UK traffic volumes to our website have gone up by 1400% since 2009 and in February of 2011 we launched our first iPhone app which so far has been downloaded more than 2m times.
In the last twelve months we have dramatically increased the range of stuff consumers can now musicMagpie to include technology products, old electronics and clothes so we literally recognise billions of different items and can provide an individual offer price for them.
Today, musicMagpie is leading the way in recommerce and it’s being obsessed with making it as easy for consumers to sell online as it is for them to buy that has made musicMagpie the hugely successful recommerce company it is today.
For the uninitiated, can you explain what recommerce is?
Recommerce, or reverse commerce, is when consumers become sellers and are able to unlock the value from their belongings.
What musicMagpie does is enable everyday consumers to become recommerce active, letting them know how to sell their unwanted items and making the process as easy and simple to do as possible.
We are converting generations of consumers, in multiple territories … into active recommercers.
Typically, the belongings they sell are unwanted so, as well as being untapped income, they are also taking up premium space in people’s homes.
Demand for recommerce is growing at a rapid pace and is predicted to be one of the major mega-trends affecting consumer behaviour in the coming years.
We commissioned some of the very first recommerce research back in 2010 and have followed this through every year since then. We have a number of extensive studies into the industry which help us understand where growth is coming from, and how we can best capitalise on it.
The most recent study showed us that, in the UK alone, recommerce is expected to be worth around £6bn in 2013 and is growing at a rate of 12.5% a year.
Why is recommerce growing?
On a macro-level in developed economies we have become bigger consumers and by that I mean literally… we have been personally consuming and buying more and more in the last twenty years than previously.
So the items around us, the collection of things, the level and number of now stored and unused items have increased at a faster rate than they ever have before.
This has fuelled the need for recommerce activity, which enables people to exit their investments in these items in a convenient, easy to do, accessible and ultimately rewarding way.
Also playing a part - mainly by sparking interest from the early adopters and less a factor today - is the economic downturn which has caused some people to take up recommerce to supplement or replace their incomes.
But what is evident today is that it is no longer a small niche set of people who are using recommerce to fund a specific purchase.
It’s now something everyone does as part of their daily lives, making much needed space at home, smartly unlocking value in their purchased items and using the money to fund everyday living; because like I said, it’s now an accepted part of everyday finances.
The need to declutter is also a significant driver. Our homes, despite the government generously allowing some extensions without planning permission, aren’t generally getting any bigger in the UK and they didn’t start off super-sized…
So when we have had a good year of being a happy, jolly consumer who has helped fuel the economy with our new purchases - what that usually means is we have rooms, lofts, garages, sheds and cupboards full of unwanted items and little room left for living.
Our customers tell us every year that the need to claim back space plays a really important part of why they choose to musicMagpie their stuff.
How do you see the future of the market?
I see the future of the market as something we are building right now... musicMagpie took those all important first steps to critically defragment the market in order to provide consumers with a simple access point, an easy first step into being recommerce active.
Before us, consumers would have to consider selling different products via different channels, going to the hassle of getting up at 4am to get to a carboot to try and get rid of their items… dealing with potential buyers, not selling most of the things they want to get rid of, putting them back in the car and driving them home etc… who really wants to do that?
Instead the majority of people can access recommerce benefits in an easy way and that’s why millions of people have chosen and continue to choose to musicMagpie their stuff, using our distinctive, bespoke valuation engine that we call “Val’ to generate individual prices for every item they want to sell - in real time - then we send a courier to their door.
Now that’s easy and requires no 4am start!
Our absolute focus is making it even easier for people to sell their stuff for free online, leveraging our technology and our platforms and making the experience as rewarding as possible; this I believe will drive the market forward.
musicMagpie has been quite active with TV advertising. How has this worked, and how do you attempt to drive traffic from TV to online?
TV makes up part of our delivery strategy.. remember part of our job is letting people know that this is something that they can do. Previously, the majority of people didn’t know how to sell their entertainment media, their old tech or their unwanted clothes online.
It’s just not something that would have occurred to them. Our TV marketing lets a large number of people know in the first instance that this is possible, then how easy it is and that there is a reward.
It’s a simple but compelling story… but aren’t they the best kind?
From that point, our next job is to ensure that when they reach out to us online that we are there for them, no matter what they search or type… that they reach us safe and sound. When they arrive they are presented with what they expect. Again, we are about making the whole process, easy.. easy to find and easy to use.
As a first mover, that actually created the market, the generic search terms that existed online in other industries didn’t exist in the same way for us, so our marketing activity actually drives interest in the market as a whole.
How important is the user experience in attracting sellers? Are you testing the quote / upload process?
It’s critical and we are refining and testing our service levels all the time. All our tech is in house designed, built and managed. We take the experience we offer our customers very personally because it’s us that delivers it to the market.
How do you acquire customers? Which channels are most effective for you?
Like most online businesses we have masses of data available to us, we track transactions, trends, profiling is important and then we match this back out to media channels on and offline in various territories, domestic and international.
So we are looking to acquire core sets of high value consumers as well as ensure that our messaging and our channels have wide appeal; because we are talking about a mass-market proposition.
How would you persuade customers to use you rather than listing items on eBay?
I wouldn’t. That’s not what I see my or our job as.
We are talking to different consumer sets. We are for people that would never consider selling in any other way other than our super-easy service.
Our customers would never consider using another service other than ours… in fact over 80% of our customers when we asked them told us they hadn’t considered selling anywhere else.
That’s because these people would never even consider selling if it involved them taking pictures of things, writing descriptions, dealing with customers (yikes), working out fees or understanding feedback ratings. They just wouldn’t use that service.
So my job is to convert consumers who are inaccessible as sellers to other people but who become sellsumers when they see how easy it is to musicMagpie their stuff.