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Depop was launched in April 2013 and has achieved 200,000 downloads from the App Store so far. 

The UK based start-up, which is difficult to describe as anything but a cross between Instagram and eBay, expertly marries mobile commerce with social networking and has many advantages over other m-commerce platforms: simple and quick selling, fluid checkout, inherent social integration and no listing fees.

According to TechCrunch, the app has been responsible for 200,000 items being sold worldwide, at a value of around €5m and as of February 2013, Depop is now available for Android users, thereby extending its reach to the dominant operating system of mobile users worldwide.

If you haven’t heard of Depop before, now is the perfect time to acquaint yourself. Here I’ll be looking at the app from a user experience point of view to see what the advantages and disadvantages are in using it. 

On immediate download, you are presented with the modern looking interface, visually similar to Instagram, and with clear, pithy instructions of how Depop works.

Sign up

If this is your first time, you’ll be asked to sign-up. You have a choice between signing-up with Facebook or registering via email. 

I don’t necessarily like doubling up my social media profiles, I prefer to keep them all unique to the platform (David Moth eloquently discusses the pros and cons of Facebook login here), so I’m going the old fashioned route.

Sign up is a breeze. A minimal amount of personal info is needed, all typed into nice large text fields on a single screen. A profile picture can just be taken directly from your phone’s photo album.

Next you are presented with a list of seller’s profiles, featuring a few clear examples of their products.

Each of these is default set to follow, however if they’re not to your taste, you can easily unfollow and find sellers who you do like later. This is good for giving you a general flavour of what’s on offer.

That’s it. Once you’ve finished this quick, three screen sign up, you can browse and buy.

Browsing

Products are presented on a home feed, which you swipe up and down through. The product images themselves are presented in almost full-screen, contemporary square-shaped glory. 

Much like Instagram, posts are presented chronologically with the latest product at the top. There is no ‘EdgeRank’or similar algorithm, it’s up to the user to personalise their own feed by actively following the right sellers.

Product descriptions appear below the image as a ‘comment’, which other users can comment on in turn and converse with the seller.

Here is where Depop really comes into its own: going beyond m-commerce into social networking.

Customer service can be provided immediately, through conversations that are visible to all (private messaging is an option). Also users can ‘like’ a product, and leave positive messages about it, whether they are thinking of buying it or not.

This encourages social proof, a powerful tool in ecommerce. People will tend to believe that the decisions and actions of others reflect the ‘correct behaviour’. The above item has 45 likes, it’s very popular among my peers and therefore a ‘recommended’ item that I should buy.

Also the higher number of likes a product has, the more this encourages an impulse buy. Depop has used scarcity marketing in a very unique way here. Integrating it with social proofing and the mechanics of social networks.

After just 24 minutes of being Depop user, I’ve already picked up a couple of followers.

They have no idea what they’re letting themselves in for.

Search

Hashtags are a vital part of the search functionality of Depop. 

Sellers must be thorough, accurate and imaginative when deploying hashtags. The more hashtags are used, the more the product can be found when the user searches for various terms. Hashtags also help create a network of products that a shopper can explore, which they perhaps normally wouldn’t just by typing keywords into a search field.

Search functionality is straightforward enough and it can be done by item or user. Although there is no automatic suggestion, so spelling has to be accurate.

Search results are displayed clearly as a series of square images.

I’m particularly impressed by the option to filter by ‘around me’ that uses geo-location to identify the sellers most local to my area.

My one complaint however is that Depop doesn’t remove or filter out sold items.

Once or twice I was caught out while browsing through my home feed or search results, by finding a product I wanted to buy, and discovering it has already been sold. Perhaps this is just me being used to eBay removing sold items from the listing immediately, but it proved frustrating here.

I do understand however that these products go beyond ecommerce and occupy the Instagram-esque world of “hey look at these awesome trainers/cookie-jars/neon headbands that I’ve spotted”, so perhaps they are kept online as a record for that user's profile.

To give Depop further credit, if you tap on a user’s profile, it shows all of their products with the ‘sold’ buttons clearly visible. 

This should really be consistent throughout the experience though, rather than creating unnecessary frustration.

Buying

Purchasing an item is a masterclass is simplicity and clarity.

Every option is presented clearly, with delivery charges in bold. A seller can choose to have the item picked-up from them to save on delivery costs if they wish.

Pick your despatch method, then if it’s your first ever purchase, you’ll be asked to enter your address.

Then for added security and convenience, Depop offers PayPal as standard for checkout. The seller can choose whether they offer further credit card payment options.

Apart from perhaps Amazon’s 1-Click mobile site, I have never experienced a smoother mobile checkout experience.

Selling

This is where Depop really improves on the eBay experience in terms of simplicity of use.

Firstly I really enjoyed the how-to guide that provides a great tutorial in how to take an attractive and appealing photograph of your product.

This immediately encourages users to up their game and helps set Depop apart from eBay, where listings are rife with flat, dimly lit photography or images copied and pasted direct from other ecommerce sites.

When you want to sell an item, tap sell on the bottom navigation bar. This immediately brings up the ‘take a picture or choose from library’ option. Thus putting the photography at the front and centre of your product listing.

Instagram-style filters are available to spruce up the image as well as cropping and resizing tools, although if you’ve taken Depop’s advice earlier, you shouldn’t need these. You can also add up to three further images.

Then it’s a just a simple screen where you write you product description, location and price.

Don’t forget the hashtags.

After this you can set whether you wish to offer the ‘meet in person’ option, your shipping price and whether you ship internationally.

Then, it’s a simple one-tap procedure to share with Twitter or Facebook.

Depop should really look into making Pinterest an option here too, being as Pinterest has now overtaken Facebook for UK referral revenue.

That’s it, all finished. My product listing is published and appears at the top of the home feeds of all those that follow me, or those that search for any terms I’ve mentioned in my text.

In conclusion...

I don’t put half the care and attention in my eBay listings as I did for the above. I created an entire island paradise, purely because I was encouraged to do so by the quality of the other listings. I also did this in half the time as it takes to list on eBay.

Depop encourages a high level of product listing, through its own how-to guide and through the users it attracts. This is a platform clearly geared towards the retro/vintage orientated shopper, who has a grounding in the functionality of Instagram.

The social aspect is also something that hasn’t been grafted on artificially as an afterthought, it forms a fundamental part of the experience and enjoyment. It wouldn’t function without networking and engagement.

Personally I wouldn’t dream of sharing my eBay listings with my friends on social media however, much like my Instagrams, I would happily share my Depop product lisitngs.

On a final note, in terms of a business model, Depop doesn't charge a user for listing a product or take a percentage. It doesn't carry adverts or sponsored listings. It also doesn't charge to download the app.

So how does Depop make money? Depop has its own profile, in which it sells its own products, although you can quite easily unfollow it and at the moment it only carries a handful of items. Perhaps it won't be long before we start seeing sponsored listings or the introduction of seller fees?

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 24 February, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (1)

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10basetom

"Apart from perhaps Amazon’s 1-Click mobile site, I have never experienced a smoother mobile checkout experience."

Have you ever used the Groupon mobile app? It's so simple to buy it makes shopping addictive.

over 2 years ago

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