Facebook Groups have easily become a great example of how clusters of people on popular online platforms can create communities that offer a lot of value and convenience.
Which is why people use them as online classifieds platforms, helping bring customers and service providers or sellers together. It’s also why Facebook has been developing services around this opportunity.
That’s what Harare Bidding Wars, a secret Facebook Group targeted at people in the capital city is doing, albeit with a different approach. It works as an online auctioning platform for people who want to get rid of unwanted “preloved” stuff.
Any member who wants to auction off something uploads a photo of the item, puts a name and brief description of it, sets a starting bid price (in dollars), along with the payment method, the time and date the bidding ends (it’s a maximum of 72 hours) plus the place of collection or delivery options. Saying just Harare doesn’t count.
Members can put a maximum of 5 bid posts a day and the seller is obliged to tell people who won the bid. Items posted on the group shouldn’t be shared on other platforms as well and there’s all its of items not allowed there like alcohol, firearms, drugs, animal furs and pets.
The group has a list of rules that help maintain order around how the bid and buy process works while its administrators and moderators also keep member activity in check.
So far Harare Bidding Wars’ group membership has grown to 15,765 and a cursory look at transactions carried out shows a lot of activity.
Considering some of the controls like a strict approach to how the group operates, the volume of auction activity is impressive and highlights how there’s a huge market for second-hand goods. The team behind Harare Bidding Wars managed to tap into that using one social media platform that’s easily accessible to a lot of Zimbabweans.
The more “traditional” online auction type of platforms like eBay, Craigslist or Etsy or local attempts at such businesses haven’t made a splash in the Zimbabwean market with issues like the cost of going online plus the scepticism that online commerce has faced in the past having been factors in blocking these ideas.
Harare Bidding Wars’ success so far does, however, suggest that people want to sell their used stuff somewhere. Doing it online, through a platform that has made a lot of must-haves like images, referrals, a sense of community, and the network effect possible just makes it easier.