As Indians, many of us are used to grand mother’s who hoard most everything for that rainy day that never seems to come. Consequently, many of us also inherit the same tendency. But while our grandparents had the luxury of space, in our nuclear lifestyles, apartments are no place to hoard. So what does one do with a book shelf that stacks everything else but books or that side table tucked under the bed to make more space for the gaming console? Well, you can sell it, and be sure, there are plenty of people in the market willing to buy.
While the erstwhile version to this market was selling to the chana-wala, websites like OLX, Sulekha and Quikr have created a community market between themselves where anything from second-hand induction stoves to third-hand furniture to unused foosball tables find a buyer.
In fact, a recent survey conducted by OLX.in and IMRB International, a market research and consultancy firm, reveals that the total estimated realisable value of stocked goods across 12 cities is about `5,100 crore.
What makes this such a green market is the fact that major cities have dynamic populations with new people moving in and others moving out, all in the vicious cycle of seeking better job opportunities. With many being fresh college graduates and bachelors, setting up house ground up isn’t necessary; just a few essentials will do.
Says Pratiek, a software engineer, “I moved to the city a year ago and have been sharing a flat with friends. Since none of us are sure how long we’re here and don’t intend on settling down in the city at the moment, shopping for second-hand furniture was a good idea. It was cheaper and served the purpose.”
According to the survey, 24 per cent of urban Indians stock used goods because they feel they will use it at a later date (although that rarely happens). Another 20 per cent of the respondents ceased to find value in the product, implying a change in tastes and preference, even though the product is in a good condition; 17 per cent however cling to them due to emotional attachment. At some point though, disposal becomes inevitable and a lack of a proper channel is also a major factor to why used goods gather dust. These shopping portals though incentivise owners with a fair market value and a justified reason to get the clutter out of the house.
“We believe that every item can be used, but it is merely lying around with the wrong user. By connecting people who do not have the need for an item to ones who do, we encourage what is often called collaborative consumption, in which the same product is used by multiple users, not only enhancing its utility, but also lowering depletion of personal and national resources,” explains Amarjit Batra, CEO, OLX.in. For Sai Charan, an engineering student, this has become the easier way to clear out his room. “We have this nasty habit of piling up unwanted items in our homes. Earlier we needed to go to the bazaar to either sell or exchange these items, so mostly out of laziness, we never used to do it. But, now it is much easier with the internet offering us the option of selling second-hand items,” says the youngster who has already sold a laptop, a mobile charger and a phone through these mediums.
“Apart from clearing out stuff which I don’t need, I can actually make some money out of it and use it to buy something new. Either way, it is a win-win situation for me. Sometimes, however, it takes a while to get an appropriate buyer, hardly one or two people come forward and most of them don’t trust the product. Luckily for me, all of my products were still in good condition, so I was able to sell them,” adds the 20-year-old.
The survey indicates that another strong incentive for selling used goods is to upgrade to a better product. With latest versions of various technologies and gadgets out every quarter, there is increasing number of people who change gadgets at the drop of a hat. The survey revealed that 70 per cent of the respondents sold their goods to earn quick cash and used it to for an upgradation.
“I’m a huge technology geek, I have always felt the need to have the latest smartphone or a tablet. Also, I have this competition with a few friends as to who has the most fancy gadget. So I constantly keep changing my phone (once every six to eight months). This is when websites like these come in handy. Because I sell most of my items in a relatively new and almost perfect condition, I often get decent money from it, which I use along with my savings to shop,” shares another online merchant, Nikhil Kumar.
And while sellers get to dispose of relatively good merchandise, it’s a bargain for those buying as well. “I am a huge music lover. So when my iPod got damaged once and I was cash-strapped, I purchased one for `1,300 only,” shares G Rakesh, an MBBS graduate in the city.
Adding that it is much easier to purchase second-hand items online, he says, “Personally, I feel it is easier to buy second-hand items temporarily than to spend more money to purchase items in branded showrooms. Anyway, most gadgets and electronic items become outdated after a while, so why not buy it second-hand for cheap and enjoy it while it lasts?”
So whether you’re a miser saving every penny’s worth or skipping the immediate upgrade for a better mobile phone in a few months, the verdict is clear: shopping second (and sometimes third) hand online has never seen a more bustling market.