Startup StuffBuff.com premiered at TechCrunch50 2009 as another eBay alternative, but with a twist. Unlike other online auction sites, StuffBuff is a spoke on your social hub, allowing for viral networking or, as they put it, Viral eCommerce.
That explanation sounds nice, but doesn’t really convey much. It’s hard to explain StuffBuff in a short sentence without sounding too Web 2.0 propagandist. You have to experience it. Lucky for us, StuffBuff just went into private beta on November 11, and we got in to try it.
One the one hand, StuffBuff is an auction and eCommerce site like eBay or any other. At that level, it’s very much the same as they are. Where the innovation comes in is with how StuffBuff alters the auction process and creates interactive and (dare I say) entertaining buying and selling process.
Instead of waiting a week to see if you’ve won, only to find out that you were sniped at the last minute by somebody using one of those services, you can find, bid, haggle, and win your item in real time.
Through a system called LiveHaggle, users can basically enter a chat room dedicated to a seller’s item and start bidding. Bidders can compete or even collaborate while the seller answers questions, encourages bids, and so forth. During the conversation, bids are recorded (they are commitments to buy, just as on eBay or a regular live auction) and can be paid through a semi-automated PayPal API (Adaptive Payments™).
Products can be delivered through the mail, in person, or in real-time for digital products.
Of course, being in private beta, there isn’t a lot to choose from yet, but should this site catch on (which I think it will), this will change. Using StuffBuff is intuitively easy, can be very fun, and so far as I could see it worked flawlessly.
The fees are straight up front and aren’t couched in pages of legal jargon like on some other auction sites. You pay twenty-five cents (25¢) to set up an auction and 5% of the final sale price of your item. An additional $1.50 is charged if you have a reserve price on your item.
The addition of cloud-based cataloging and integration with popular social media makes the whole thing very real-time. Their cool search tool can stay active and immediately tell you when someone lists something that matches your criteria.
StuffBuff is based in New York City and is the first application to be built on the French AJAX Push Engine (APE), which claims to be ten times faster than Twitter.