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In this post we explain the lifecycle of our marketplaces and how relates to membership.
Our entire marketplace is divided up into a number of smaller marketplaces based on Regions and Categories (i.e., Species). Currently we have three different regions: US/North America, Europe, and South Africa, and every region currently has 10 Categories. That's a total of 30 markets!
Categories have three life stages: staged, developing, and mature. While staged, Breeders can access the categories and create ads but the public can't see them. Next, they get launched publicly and commerce begins, however we still consider them to be under development (also called "beta"). And finally, when the market reaches a certain age, size, and activity level we declare them to be mature.
For example, right now the "Other Pythons" category which includes Burmese Pythons is staged. Within a few weeks, we plan to release it into the public. This would put it in development along with most of our other marketplaces such as Boa Constrictors and Crested Geckos. The US Ball Python market is our original and oldest market and is the only one we have declared mature.
As discussed in our last blogpost, memberships provide a way for sellers to support the mature marketplace which is supporting them. We aren't asking sellers in our developing markets to pay, only those in our mature markets. We also think sellers who are getting more value should provide more support than those getting less value. The best way to do this is with commissions, but since we didn't think that model was feasible, the next best approximation is based on the items being advertised.
Our US Ball Pythons marketplace is our first and only mature market, and it has actually been considered mature for many months. It's only because we've now completed memberships that they are being released. The timing has nothing to do with Facebook bans or other theories you might read in social media. Membership has two kinds of benefits. First, it gives you the ability to have a larger store capacity in a mature market (e.g., US Ball Pythons). Second, it provides new features which will benefit your store in every market.
Just because we're declaring Ball Pythons to be mature doesn't mean it's plateauing from a seller's point of view. First, our site is still relatively young and growing every month in buying traffic. Second, we are continuing to add new features to make the experience better to both buyers and sellers. And finally, there will inevitably be a one-time correction in the inventory in this market. This is good news for our members as it will produce a higher local demand on their goods.
Many sellers are having great success in our BP market and have been doing so for a long time. It doesn't mean that every single seller is. We provide the market but can't make sales happen. We've priced our lowest plan at $10/month when paid annually and feel its features can easily pay back that amount for many sellers. But we understand that to one person a membership might look like a good value and to another it might not. We fully support you making the choice which makes the best business sense for you. In any case, feel free to continue listing a few ads a month at no cost at all.
PS - if you're in a developing market, continue to enjoy unlimited free selling, with 100 ads per category. As a bonus, when this market reaches maturity, you'll be in the best position to decide if it's worth a paid membership because you'll have fresh sales data.