Alibaba’s second-hand goods marketplace Idle Fish has added a location-based-service (LBS) feature in its latest update released Wednesday, as it redoubles efforts to support a rising e-commerce segment.

Why it matters: The company’s new initiative will help drive consumption through community engagement, linking people that are geographically close to each other or who share similar interests.

  • Launched by Taobao in 2014, Idle Fish, known in China as Xianyu, is now the country’s largest used goods selling platform with 24.4 million monthly active users (MAU) as of March, based on figures from analytics firm Big Data-Research. Its users tend to be young, with more than half born after 1990, the company has said.
  • China’s resale goods market reached RMB 694 billion ($99 billion) in 2018, up 22% year on year from RMB 567 billion in 2017, according to data from iiMedia Research.

Four cornerstones for China’s 2nd-hand goods exchange unicorn

Details: The new feature allows users to filter product listings according to seller location in a bid to boost transactions on the platform, which drives sales through its 1.3 million interest-based communities, according to its September 2019 quarterly earnings filing.

  • Additionally, the update signals greater focus on key features such as livestreams and content from key opinion leaders (KOLs), which are featured prominently on the home page.
  • The app update is only available for Android at present.
  • The company has also been expanding offline since the beginning of this year by setting up brick-and-mortar stores in eight, mainly top-tier, cities including Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.

Context: Different from Taobao where sales are king, Idle Fish is a used-goods C2C marketplace that emphasizes community engagement. There are many interest-based communities for kids and baby goods, for example, where parents can exchange tips. Location is an important feature for the community element.

  • As part of Taobao’s ecosystem, the used goods marketplace generated upwards of RMB 100 billion in annual gross merchandise volume (GMV) in fiscal year 2019, according to the company, a negligible portion of the RMB 5.73 trillion total GMV the company’s retail marketplaces earned during the same time period.
  • Reselling “idle” items is on the rise as China’s consumers grow wealthier. The rental economy has also primed Chinese consumers for second-hand good sales.
  • Idle Fish had 1.3 million interest-based communities and 60 million active sellers of long-tail products including second-hand, recycled, refurbished and for-rent products, as of fiscal year 2019.
  • Mirroring Taobao’s efforts to create quality content, Idle Fish announced its plans to foster 100,000 key opinion leaders (KOLs) in April this year.
  • Competitors include Tencent-backed Zhuanzhuan, JD-backed Aihuishou, and classifieds platform 58.com.

Emma Lee

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.

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