Published on August 16th, 2012 | by G33KBOT0
Featured Partner: ShelfLife – The Ultimate Collector’s Platform
If you’re anything like us at G33KPRON, then you’ve probably got a spare room or areas of your house taped off for your rare Transformers or Star Wars collections, (I’m looking at you, Troy). And, like us, you probably get pretty frustrated at trying to find those few items missing from your collection to complete them. Hell, you might even want to sell some of your collection to buy that new Marvel box set coming out but only want to sell it to worthy, fellow collectors.
Well, that’s where ShelfLife comes in. We had a chance to meet with James Chillcott and crew over some delicious beers to talk about their amazing new service that we hope will redefine the future of collecting.
What is ShelfLife?
We like to say that ShelfLife is the future of collecting. And what we mean is that we’re aiming to give collectors the best research tool and hang-out they could possibly imagine.
We’re talking about fantastic collection management tools, subscription-based custom site navigation, next-gen marketplace and social functionality, and the merging of activities that currently take place on a bunch of different sites with more fun and efficiency.
Well, if you think about eBay and what an auction really means for the users, it’s kind of crazy that any of us are willing to participate. As a collector, you want what you want, and you want it now. It’s a passion right? So this thing you want is up for auction, and 17 other people are going to waste a week or so right alongside you. Then at the end of that process, someone’s going to swoop in with sniping software and scoop it up. And there you are, totally unfulfilled and forced to search all over the web to track it down again. You go to a bunch of sites for news, others to get social, and it’s just a huge waste of time and opportunity.
With ShelfLife, we’re centralizing all of that activity under one big sexy roof, giving everyone what they want and giving collectors more time to stroke their precious-es.
So what kind of collectibles fans should care about ShelfLife?
Of course, in the end we will complete a full record of 99.9% of all collectibles ever made, but that goal is still a while off because we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of products.
So far, we’ve launched a ton of action figure and toy catalogs. Video games are going live now, starting with Xbox 360 and PS3. We’re working on automating the build out of a lot of the Lego, trading card, music and DVD catalogs. We’re recruiting curators to handle everything from video games and comics to running shoes and sports collectibles like skateboards, designer vinyl, limited edition H&M releases, coins, stamps, more action figures, and really anything that makes sense as a collectible.
If you’re into one-of-a-kind home made stuff, Etsy’s your site. But if it’s a limited edition collectible, and you wear your nerd badge proudly, then ShelfLife is definitely your new home online.
A big part of ShelfLife seems to be about building community amongst super-fans, and helping them connect and contribute to their shared passions. How can fans get involved on the site?
The biggest contribution fans can make to the ShelfLife community is to become a Curator. Curators function much like Wikipedia Editors. They take on the creation and maintenance of a catalog of collectibles within ShelfLife on a volunteer basis. In return, a chunk of the commissions paid by sellers are passed on to the curators on transactions that take place within their catalogs. It’s a great way to convert fan passion and knowledge into community building, and for really popular catalogs, a decent way to build up some cash to acquire more grails.
We’re also working on building significant social tools and an amazing collector dashboard. Discussions are already supported on product pages and of course we’re integrated with Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. User product ratings and video reviews are coming soon.
At the heart of all of this is the automatic connections we’ll be making between buyers and sellers, and the conversion of those matches into transactions and social connections based on shared interest.
Tell us more about how ShelfLife makes automatic matches between the buyers and sellers.
When you think about a traditional auction site, the crazy thing is that those sites have all this data, but they just discard it every few months. So there’s no permanent record of the products we all love. And they don’t maintain a permanent record of our collection purchases so it’s tough to track what we bought, for how much and to turn that into smart decisions about buying or selling more stuff.
The net result is that we have to do all this external research to figure out what we want, how much we should pay, and whether it’s right for our collections. Whenever we want to sell things inside those systems, it’s basically up to us to waste 10-20 minutes building an auction listing with dozens of fields, and this gets repeated thousands of times for no reason.
With ShelfLife, you have this near perfect record of every collectible ever made, and we track every product right down to the parts. So when you just want the two missiles from Generation 1 Optimus Prime, we can hook you up on that. That’s truly an awesome thing, because it opens the door for multi-party trades and all sorts of crazy stuff that’s simply never been possible before.
The biggest deal is our automatic matching of buyers and sellers based on the Haves and Wants collectors record in the system. Tell us what you want, and then kick back and wait for a match. You’ll even be able to set price ranges and varying levels of committment for ultimate in flexibility and collecting convenience.
Not to mention all the time the vendors will save by being able to borrow curated content to simplify their sales listings and publish their sales out onto other platforms.
So what’s next for ShelfLife?
We’ve spent the last 6 months in a closed beta with 750 users. Those fans have taught us a ton about how to approach the evolution of the site. With most of the curation and collection management functionality ironed out now, and our marketplace live, we’re focused on launching automatic matching of buyers and sellers, our collector rewards program (Collector Points) and some really sweet photo sharing tools that will make Flickr and Instagram tools of the past.
Fans are plowing through the catalogs, adding thousands of Haves and Wants, donating photos, and helping our curators work the bugs out of their catalog data. And of course, we’re recruiting more curators and vendors, and setting up collector and vendor advisory groups to ensure the fans get what they want.
This fall we’ll be rolling out our mobile strategy, including barcode scanning with your phone, to manage your collection inventory and scout collectibles sightings when you’re out around town, and turn those events into transactions.
We’d tell you what Toy Mountain is all about, but they’d kill me. Suffice to say, we’re talking major sexy on the Phase 2 launches.
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