Craigslist vs. Kijiji vs. Varage Sale Compared: Speed-To-Sale

I’ve long been a huge participant in online classifieds.

Craigslist vs. Kijiji vs. Varage Sale Compared: Speed-To-Sale

I’ve long been a huge participant in online classifieds.

I have a terrible habit of wanting to be on the cutting edge, thus I’ve had to get very good at reselling older things to make way for newer ones, particularly electronics. And given that I’m impatient, speed is of the utmost importance.

As a result, I’ve spent a ton of time on eBay, then Craigslist and Reddit, and more recently Kijiji over the years. I’d estimate that I’ve resold somewhere between 150 and 200 different electronics and pieces of furniture since moving to Toronto in 2008.

As the sheer number might suggest, I’m not a loyalist to any one of those platforms. Generally speaking, I want to get stuff gone as fast as possible for the highest amount possible. I like to cross-post my wares in the hopes of moving them quickly, but I tend to forgo doing so on platforms that don’t prove fruitful.

There’s much to be said about which of these is the most effective, and I should probably spend some time writing out my thoughts on the lot — particularly with the recent entrance of Varage Sale into the fray.

Alas, with immediate need to move a couple of items and a mind for speed being the only present concern, I decided to do a test and see which of the platforms would win said battle of speed-to-sale.

The Test

I decided to clean out my den of a few pieces of tech before the turn of October, and to test speed-to-sale fairly, I listed the same items with the same descriptions and pictures at the same time.

The Items

I decided to compare the sales of three related items:

  • A 16 GB iPhone 4
  • A Lifeproof Fre iPhone 5S case
  • A Microsoft Zune

For simplicity’s sake, I priced all of the items at $40 each. I’d thought that the 5S case was the most desirable of the lot and was the most likely to sell first, as the value is clear at the price point (given that the case retails for $100), but I seriously underestimated people’s willingness to buy the iPhone 4, I learned.

The Results

Within 15 minutes, I’d gotten my first ping: a young lady expressed interest in the iPhone 4. The lead generator? Kijiji.

The second came from Craigslist, from a motivated buyer, but he unfortunately was looking for an unlocked iPhone 4.

Two strikes.

About an hour later, I got a ping on my phone. It was a direct message from a buyer on Varage Sale. Unlike the other platforms, the conversation wasn’t via email but rather the platform’s IM. We were able to hash things out pretty quickly and arranged to meet by a subway station.

After some back and forth, and a brief wait, though, the Varage Sale buyer declined.

What subsequently followed was a stream of emails expressing interest in all of the items coming from a split of Craig’ers and Kijij’ers.

The results from but a day of listing on both Kijiji and Craigslist. In comparison, I had 3 messages on Varage Sale.

Strangely, the Zune was the first to go, thanks to Kijiji. By 5:30 pm the same day, the Zune was gone.

At this point, the requests for the iPhone picked up steam via Varage Sale, but after another day and 20 or so more emails from Craigslist and Kijiji, a Kijij’er scooped it up with a pick up right at my house.

The Observations

Within 48 hours, I’d moved two out of the three items, and both were moved by Kijiji.

Based on this completely non-scientific and anecdotal experience, it’s clear that Kijiji is by far the most effective sales platform today, at least when it comes to speed-to-sale.

Here’s how things added up:

  • Zune: 1 lead from VS, 1 lead from Kijiji; sale via Kijiji
  • iPhone 4: 22 leads from Kijiji, 3 leads from VS, 2 leads from Craigslist; sale via Kijiji
  • iPhone 5S Case: 2 leads from Kijiji, 1 lead from Craigslist; no sale (yet)

This is perhaps an obvious result because it’s the natural outcome of having the biggest membership base in Toronto; more members = more DAU = more potential buyers = more interested parties = more sales.

However, there’s one interesting thing to note: Kijiji net a lot of leads, but many were what I’ll call “unqualified”.

Almost all of the emails I received asked “clarifying” questions that were redundant if you took the time to read the actual posting, and only 2 out of the 25 net the sale.

On the other hand, the Varage Sale leads were all interested and made direct contact immediately, but they simply decided not to proceed with the purchase after price negotiation or discussion with family.

From my sellers perspective, then, it seems like Varage Sale was actually more effective than Craigslist in this regard, particularly because Craigslist only produced 3 dead-end leads with what I would’ve expected to be a bigger memberbase than Varage Sale.

Perhaps given more time, though, one of the two would have net a conversion and settled the debate.

The Conclusions

All told, Varage Sale is a welcome newcomer to the classifieds game, and to be quite honest, between it and Kijiji, ditching Craigslist altogether is my present consideration, as I had too previously done with eBay and Reddit. Sure, Craigslist is free, but it seems like Toronto has spoken when it comes to Craigslist vs. Kijiji.

As for the long-term potential of Varage Sale as a platform, the jury’s out, but so far, I like what the service has to offer. Building the memberbase and improving the search tools will do wonders, and I’d be very curious to see how this test would turn out a year from now.