Bill Bobbitt was moving from Dallas to San Francisco and had to sell his furniture fast so he could start his job a week later.
Bobbitt arrived in the Bay Area only to repeat the process in reverse.
“I went to IKEA and pretty much bought the same room I had just sold in Dallas, and in the process lost several thousand dollars,” Bobbitt said.
Bobbitt was so frustrated by the experience that he teamed up with his three co-founders to create Move Loot, a startup that takes the annoyance out of Craigslist furniture buying and handles the selling for you.
Starting today, the two-year-old company will start working with retailers, like antique stores, to handle their deliveries and online sales through a new platform called Trade.
A better way for the Craigslist-IKEA set
For anyone who has moved recently, or even just needed a new furniture piece, Craigslist and IKEA have become staples for furniture buying. The higher-end designer stores still often rely on foot traffic to come by and flop down on couches before making a purchase, which makes sense for people looking to shell out a lot of money on their living room.
Many people, though, fall in Bobbitt’s category: They want nice furniture that isn’t a pain to assemble and will last longer than particle board, but they also want it now. A three-month delivery window for a couch won’t work if you don’t want to sit on the floor for three months without one.
Move Loot started as website geared toward these folks. The company’s app allows furniture owners take a pic of their item and upload it.
Move Loot, in return, quotes the seller a price, and if they agree to it, the startup will send movers to pick up the item, photograph it, and then deliver it to whomever ends up buying it.
While Move Loot used to split the money from each sale 50/50 with the seller, Move Loot recently changed so it now takes its share based on the cost incurred to them for the logistics of the sale and the rest goes to the seller. If a user is selling a $US2,000 couch, they will get a larger amount than someone selling a $US200 couch because of the value — since it costs MoveLoot the same price to transport it.
Compare it to the hassle of setting a fair price on Craigslist, taking your own photos, and then negotiating how the couch will get to its new owner, it’s pretty easy — although there is a higher standard of quality than the stained couches of Craigslist.
“One of the problems with Craigslist is that you could never tell if it was a stain or if that’s a shadow or what’s on the back of it,” Morrill said. “One of the things we decided in the beginning was we wanted to set that trust level and show all the pictures clearly and make sure we’re really showing the full piece.”
Bring on the businesses
So far, Move Loot has grown by focusing on the individual seller. It’s processed more than $US1.5 million worth of furniture in New York alone and has more than 100,000 users, although it declines to discuss other numbers. To increase those numbers, and work towards making a profit, Move Loot is launching Trade.
The idea is to open up MoveLoot to retailers to sell while also giving buyers more options that they may not have found stumbling into their neighbourhood store.
“What we’re launching is a way for businesses to have access to selling their items online, while keeping their inventory in store,” said Jenny Morrill, founder and CMO of Move Loot.
Trade by Move Loot lets businesses like antique stores or home-stagers set up an Etsy-style business page on the site. While Move Loot will still handle the delivery, the items are photographed and stay in the stores, unlike its normal process of moving it to a warehouse.
The payout will work the same, with Move Loot only taking its share for the logistics, around 30 per cent, although that percentage will be smaller than it is for individual sellers, ince the company doesn’t have to store inventory from its retail partners.
At launch, the items won’t be listed as coming from certain stores, but mixed in with the rest of Move Loot’s inventory so buyers just see more options available and with some pieces in brand new condition.
“We really want to stand out as a place that’s affordable and fast to get stuff, but it’s also tailored to your style. You can find pieces that are more unique than getting an entire living room from IKEA,” Morrill said. “It’s just having a lot of different options and not having to go to 10 different stores to find the pieces.”