Five years ago, fed up with online trading sites available, Hooman Bahreini, a Wellington-based software developer, started a journey to build a new free online marketplace website from scratch.
The premise was simple: create an easy-to-use online marketplace platform where Kiwis can post ads and list their items for free. How is this different from Facebook Marketplace, you might ask? Shopless will donate 20 percent of its revenue to charity. It is dedicated to supporting both refugees and fighting climate change – two causes close to the founders’ heart.
When he started, Bahreini wanted to create a charitable platform to help the refugees (especially children). Since that time, the marketplace has also come to the realisation that global warming is a serious threat to the planet, and that Shopless should support both of these causes.
But how would a free trading platform make money in the first place?
“Our business model is pay-for-promotion,” explains Hooman.
“For casual sellers, we provide the free listing option. Our customers may choose to promote their listing to get more viewings. We also offer a yearly membership to businesses (retailers for example), however, our fees are still significantly cheaper than other alternatives. We also offer a 3-months free trial to any business who wants to join Shopless.”
When charging their clients, Shopless provides them the list of charities that they work with: New Zealand Red Cross, Forest & Birds, Change Makers and Kaicycle. The individual/ business can choose the charity that would receive their 20 percent donation.
There have been so many websites that tried to compete with Trade Me, none of them succeeded. We asked Hooman why he believes that Shopless will have a different fate?
“Growing an e-commerce website is like the chicken and egg problem, you need buyers to attract sellers, you need sellers to attract buyers. That’s why it’s challenging to grow a new platform. According to Platform Revolution by G. Parker, it takes six years for an average platform to build its community. None of those competitors survived that long. Almost all of them failed within the very first year. Shopless has been around for five years now. We have thousands of jobs, cars, houses… listed on our website and our community is fast growing,” he says.
Shopless has joined the ever-growing list of companies whose values are based on the triple bottom line of profit, people and planet.