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December 9, 2018

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5-MINUTE EXPERT:

Your guide to buying and selling in the digital marketplace

Stock junk

Gone are the days of garage sales ruling the weekend. Hawking that old shirt, couch or novelty item is as easy as snapping a picture and posting to an app, where communication and negotiation can happen without anyone having to bake in the sun reflecting off your driveway. If you’re looking to sell or buy, here’s a sampling of free outlets.

Traditional

Facebook Marketplace

• App Store rating: NA as the feature is part of the Facebook app

• Snapshot: The world’s dominant social media platform jumped into the game in October, inviting its nearly 2 billion users to buy and sell on the app. (It was already happening in Facebook Groups, so the company made it official.) It lists — and pinpoints on a map — items in your area when you click on the Marketplace, but compared with other apps in the space, descriptions often are lacking.

• Good to know: Facebook is acting merely as connective tissue in your transaction, having nothing to do with facilitating payment or delivery. And the site may have more than a billion users, but only about 600,000 follow its Marketplace.

Mercari

• App Store rating: 3.5 stars

• Snapshot: Spreading from Japan to the U.S. and the United Kingdom, Mercari charges no fees for listings and gives the seller the option to pay for shipping, which can make even the strangest items (“confetti cake batter floam,” anyone?) much more appealing. Another selling point is that payments get held until buyers confirm that items are as advertised. So shoot straight, because they can rate you with a frowny face.

• Good to know: Two reviewers featured on the app’s iTunes landing page complained of being kicked off for violations they considered minor, including offering to trade with other users and logging into the app on more than one device.

In-person

Letgo

• App Store rating: 4.5 stars

• Snapshot: Variety might be this newcomer’s biggest strength, or maybe image recognition that automatically titles and tags items, or a Commercializer that creates instant video ads. Scanning popular finds in the area (you can also search by category), there was a 2005 Toyota Tundra going for $1,500, a pair of Air Jordan 12s for $95 and a $300 bounce house. Buyers click photos to ask questions or make offers, and handoffs are arranged through a private chat feature.

• Good to know: This app is about face-to-face transactions, so it discourages shipping. To give buyers a sense of how far they have to travel, the app provides an approximate location of wherever sale items were posted.

Offerup

• App Store rating: 4.5 stars

• Snapshot: Billing itself as the biggest mobile marketplace for local buyers and sellers, OfferUp claims that listing takes just 30 seconds using a smart device, and reviews back that up. A customer’s GPS location brings up a bevy of nearby possibilities, though some reviewers warn of “local” items that turn out to be in other states, especially when it comes to vehicles.

• Good to know: For those who worry about meeting up with an unknown seller, the app offers an identity-checking feature called TruYou, which requires a selfie, scanned driver’s license or passport and a verified Facebook profile.

Niche

Gone

• App Store rating: 3.5 stars

• Snapshot: Gone deals exclusively in electronics, gadgets and small appliances. Like a consignment store, it determines the resale potential and value and makes you an offer, and if you accept, the app does pretty much everything else. It will pick up or pay for you to ship the item, create the listing and deal with potential buyers. If something doesn’t sell in 30 days, you have the option of lowering the price or taking it back at no cost.

• Good to know: Because all costs of selling an item are covered, expect prices to be lower than what you’d list independently. And Austin, San Francisco, Seattle and New York are the only cities where physical pick-up is offered.

Poshmark

• App Store rating: 4 stars

• Snapshot: If fashion resale is your bag and you’re sick of in-store consignment, Poshmark is your app. It boasts more than 5,000 brands in every size at deep discounts, with about $1 million in new merchandise added daily. Eight photos per listing can be uploaded to really show off that Prada loafer or vintage clutch, and the artistry is worth your time: The best “Poshers” build up followers who loyally shop their listings, and you can meet your peers through virtual Posh Parties.

• Good to know: Credits from sales can be used to buy. The app takes a $2.95 flat commission on sales under $15 and 20% on everything else, and buyers will be factoring in $5.95 for shipping. There are some listings for men and children, but this marketplace is dominated by women.

Smorgasbord

CPlus for Craigslist

App Store rating: 5 stars

• Snapshot: An offshoot of Craigslist, CPlus is the highest-rated selling app on iTunes. The ability to flag fraudulent postings as spam alleviates fears of scammers. The app also allows profile customization, letting users mark their favorite ads so they can save items and quickly compare to other offers across multiple cities in order to get the best deal possible. The views can be customized, too, from a photo grid to a product map.

• Good to know: Users must be at least 17 to download, as they may encounter “infrequent/mild sexual content and nudity.” That’s probably due to the dating ads you can search along with jobs, garage sales and other classifieds.

5Miles

• App Store rating: 4.5 stars

• Snapshot: Not just an online marketplace, this app is a switchboard that connects to residential listings, job postings, deals and goods and services — all within 5 miles of your location. You can add voice descriptions to photos you post, and any updates you make will bump your listing to the top of the heap. There are tabs for free and donated materials and requests of “wanted” items, if you’re looking for an authentic Paula Abdul “Straight Up” poster.

• Good to know: While the 5-mile radius is charming, the app allows for widening the radius as much as you like. From there, you can sort by proximity, relevance, price or recentness of the posting.

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