Want a New Way to Sell Locally? Try OfferUp, Letgo and 5miles
Personal sellers and secondhand shops take note: OfferUp, Letgo and 5miles are all up-and-coming apps to consider integrating into your e-commerce strategy.
These apps all have sleek interfaces and tap into Americans’ desire to buy locally, cheaply and sustainably.
One thing to remember as we explore each of these channels: While Craigslist is established enough that it has a significant presence in every metro area, these other channels’ popularity varies widely depending on what part of the country you are in. For example, Dallas-based 5miles has a significant presence in Texas, but not so much in the Northeast or parts of the West.
These Local Sales Channels Are Growing Fast — Are You On the Bandwagon?
As of 2016, Washington-based OfferUp had already surpassed eBay’s early-days’ sales volume and, along with Letgo, was dubbed a potential “Craigslist killer.” New York-based Letgo came nipping at its heels by landing a $175 million investment. 5Miles was started by an SMU grad and has been gaining traction in cities all over the country. More and more customers are discovering or rediscovering their local resale stores because of channels like these.
Brush Up On Your Photography Skills
The key difference between these three channels and Craigslist is that they are image-based and not text-based. What sets your listing apart is not an attention-grabbing headline but an eye-catching photo.
Because of this, if you’re going to sell effectively on OfferUp, Letgo, 5miles or similar channels, your photographs must be excellent—as close to professional quality as possible.
These websites feel less like stores and more like social networks such as Snapchat, which is a great thing for any merchant. With Letgo, you can just keep swiping and see product after product. You never even have to use the “back” button. OfferUp is interactive and fun and has even been described to be “as addictive as Instagram.”
Just like with Craigslist, one huge advantage storefronts have over most sellers on these channels is credibility. People feel much more comfortable walking into a storefront than a stranger’s home.
Letgo is basically an image-based version of Craigslist that thrives in a mobile environment. If Craigslist is Facebook, Letgo is Instagram.
It has followed in the hyper-local giant’s footsteps and prioritized ease of access over an intelligent algorithm, which seems to be working so far since it’s the fastest-growing of the three newer competitors. While it’s still too early to see who will “win” this game, Letgo is winning right now.
Perks of Selling on Letgo
- Mobile app
- Simple posting system
- Seller verification and ratings
Your employees could post merchandise on Letgo within seconds! At a bare minimum, all you have to do is name the item, snap a (high-quality) photo and set the price.
As you can see in the above screenshot, Letgo’s “I’m interested” button below each picture prioritizes showcasing products and ease of contact over identity of sellers. You have to click a listing before you can see the seller, their rating and their verification.
OfferUp and 5miles
OfferUp and 5miles, as opposed to Craigslist and Letgo, both use intelligent algorithms that are designed to combat fraud. Because of this difference, users may already feel much safer using these platforms over Craigslist.
OfferUp’s interface lets you know price and seller identity right up-front:
You can also click on a seller’s profile to see their rating and reviews:
However, the intelligent algorithm creates a couple of extra barriers to posting items, which equals more work for you. OfferUp and 5miles both require more details than Letgo in order to post an item.
Security and Credibility
We love that both of these platforms have a strong commitment to safety. OfferUp has an impressive standards page, and 5miles promises that its support team continually reviews listings. They even have identity verification steps, giving you a distinct advantage if you become a verified seller.
The higher entry barrier, although it means more work for your employees, might also mean you can find more qualified customers on these channels, while on Craigslist and Letgo you might encounter more scammers. I personally found a neat local used furniture store by using OfferUp, and I was relieved to get to walk into a store rather than have to negotiate meeting up with a stranger.
Despite heightened security measures, neither 5miles nor OfferUp has been incident-free, but those problems unfortunately come with the territory of local sales channels. These security risks give you an advantage as a professional seller. People will trust you much more than they will trust the average seller.
5miles: Professional Appeal
A major benefit of 5miles over Letgo and OfferUp is that it has more options for professional sellers like you. You can pay to boost a listing, similar to Facebook promotion, to get in front of your audience.
The site does have small listing fees if you post more than 5 of the same item, but these small fees serve 3 important purposes:
- Discouraging spammers posting multiple listings of the exact same item to gain more exposure
- Encouraging serious buyers and serious sellers to use the platform
- Differentiating 5miles from OfferUp, Letgo and Craigslist by blending elements of larger e-commerce channels like eBay and larger social networks like Facebook with a neighborhood feel
Here are screenshots of the 5miles interface and seller reviews panel:
The Main Problem with These Channels: No E-Commerce Integration
Unfortunately, we’ve been unable to find any e-commerce automation platform that integrates with Letgo, OfferUp or 5miles — which makes sense when we consider that all of these local channels encourage users to make payments in person. In fact, many users have been scammed when trying to receive transactions through online payment methods such as Venmo.
You’ll have to manually post and monitor inventory if you want to use these apps—meaning you need to either have one of your employees delete inventory from these websites as soon as possible after it sells in-store, or you’ll need to only post select inventory online.
Are Letgo, OfferUp and 5miles Worth It?
For small operations, yes—IF:
- You have excess inventory that is not being bought in-store
- You have a niche product that you could sell at a great price to the right customer, but the odds of them walking into your store are small
- It’s a slow season and your employees have some extra time to post and monitor your listings
If you have multiple locations and need a comprehensive e-commerce solution that syncs your listings across all your channels simultaneously, these channels will not work for that purpose. However, if you’re just trying to get the word out that you exist to your local market, don’t underestimate the power of using channels like OfferUp, Letgo and 5miles to get more people to visit your stores. It’s free advertising!
We look forward to future developments with these sales channels and are excited to see how they grow.
Has your business used Letgo, OfferUp, 5miles or a similar channel? Tell us about your experience in the comments!