Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Startup Alert - ShelfLife

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If you’re a passionate collector of anything collectible – Transformers action figures, Star Trek paraphernalia, those comics from DC and Marvel or even from The Walking Dead, vinyl toys, stuffed toys, gaming consoles that date back to when you were still in your diapers to the latest version – and you know how the collecting trend nowadays go, a catalog of every possible item that you can collect, along with a place where you can hang out with other collectors, is like the first drops of rain amid a seemingly endless dry spell.

Despite the proliferation of a good bit of information on the Internet, collectors have to look in a number of sites (forums, message boards, sports and action figure collectible sites, video game sites, etc.) to find what they are looking for, which can be rather frustrating, if not time-consuming.

Life on the shelf

ShelfLife, a newly launched startup for collectors, knows this pain point too well and seeks to connect avid collectors in a single site. ShelfLife, in a nutshell, is like a collection of four different sites tailored to custom fit the collector’s discerning taste: (1) Facebook where you can discuss your toys with friends, (2) Flickr/Instagram to take pictures of your collection and share them online, (3) eBay if you’re looking to buy or sell some of your toys, and (4) Wikipedia where you can become a curator and provide in-depth information about your collection. Oh, and the site works as a checklist for your collection, too.

Like Wikipedia, the information in the site is provided by volunteer curators. ShelfLife’s user base might still be in the low thousands since its beta launching in the spring of last year, but the number of items catalogued have already reached more than 80,000. Unlike Wikipedia, curators have to apply to be accepted in the fold. They are then assigned their catalogs, which they normally should complete within two weeks. And instead of relying on donations (like Wikipedia does), curators get 25% of the commission for every item sold in their catalogs.

Essentially, the more they curate, the more they can get compensated monetarily. In addition to that, they get the points awarded to the Collector Wars contest where site users stand to win credits or more items to add to their own collections.

The buying and selling game

Once an item has been curated, listing your collectible up for sale is as easy as determining what item you own and your price. If you're a buyer, there will soon be a system where all you do is put your money in, set the price you're willing to part with to obtain an item and walk away. Instead of looking unceasingly, ShelfLife will automatically grab the item for you once it finds a match. And since each item in the catalog is broken down to its individual parts, if you're out looking for just a part and not the rest of the collection, the system can help match you up with a part seller, too.

Collectible vendors can take advantage of the site’s “haves” and “wants” to determine which items will be hot in the coming days or months. If a product is announced to be released, say, at a comic conference a few months from now, a catalog entry can be set up as early as today. Depending on the number of “wants” for the product, the vendor should know whether to stock his shelves with that item or not.

What’s next

The creators of ShelfLife plan to create a mobile app next. With this app, collectors  are informed where to find the collectible they’re looking for instead of waiting for another user who saw the item to post about the “sighting.” The app should also allow users to scan a bar code that will automatically point them to the whereabouts of a collectible and how many are still available.

[Via - NicheGeek.Com]

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