|Sun Apr 20 2014 18:38:57|
eBay Wants to Take Garage Sales Online
By: Ina Steiner
eBay has already disrupted local and person-to-person commerce, now it wants to literally bring garage sales online. The ecommerce company was recently granted a patent for "On-Line Garage Sale":
"This application relates generally to garage sales, and more specifically to systems and methods for on-line listings of items in a garage sale. The application also relates generally to the creation and presentation of garage sale listings using a portable electronic device." eBay filed the patent in 2012.
One paragraph describing the system explains that sellers can enjoy "parallel publicity" and additional exposure to potential buyers by including garage sale items in mainstream online offerings. At the same time, it gives prospective buyers searching the web for a desired item "greater depth of content to review."
"As described herein, buyers can in some embodiments identify specific items to purchase locally or within a defined geographic region, or at a location, of interest. Local buyers are put in touch with local sellers, and vice versa, and the scope of potential commerce is supplemented by items offered for sale at temporary seller locations, or offered in the "informal" market sector, as it were."
eBay envisions sellers including photos and barcodes when they upload their garage sale items (presumably using smarthphones) to help the system identify the items, and the eBay patent mentions its RedLaser mobile app.
Interestingly eBay also envisions giving the garage-sale seller tools to allow them to offer buyers the ability to purchase the items via the computer network before the start of the garage sale and to let sellers offer discounts to buyers who purchase items online rather than in person.
The point of holding garage sales is usually to clear out space from basements, attics and garages quickly and easily, but often there are at least one or two items that have some value. You might not want to list them on an online marketplace or Craigslist, but if you could scan their barcode and list it on a marketplace where buyers knew they would have a narrow window of time to make a purchase - in-person - would it be worthwhile?
eBay would probably not be the best marketplace for such items, unless there was a clear designation that the items were garage-sale goods available for local pickup only.
Please weigh in with your thoughts as a buyer, seller and garage-sale holder!