A few months ago, I caught wind of a new Transformers website that was in the works and had begun to make a presence on the web. That website was called Crave.com and it has since been trucking ahead at full speed ahead. I caught up with Erin from Crave and got a chance to ask a few questions about the site and what it means to the general collector community at large. Check out our discussion below and see for yourself.
Collecticon: For those that might be hearing about Crave for the first time, can you give a general overview of what the website is and how it related to the Transformers community at large?
A: Crave (www.crave.com/transformers) is the only Transformers-dedicated marketplace for fans, by fans. We’ve focused on making it easy to buy & sell with other collectors by having standardized product listings. Every Transformer released shows up in our catalog so fans know which one they are buying or selling. In addition, fans can help each other find great deals by giving price feedback and discussing the Transformers on the listing pages. Many members have told us it feels a lot like buying & selling at a convention.
Collecticon: How is the site at Crave designed to function? What specific features does the site offer that you can’t find anywhere else? In a nutshell, tell us why Crave is so special and why even the casual Transformers collector needs to take a look.
A: Crave is unique for two reasons. First, we actively help you find what’s on your want list. We have a fan-created catalog of every Transformer ever released, so you can browse it check off your “wants.” When one of your “wants” goes up for sale, you get an email alert. Second, it is a social experience. Fans login with Facebook, so you can get to know the real people, their collections, their listings, and their opinions. Our mission to to build a community where fans help fans collect and can share the fun of collecting Transformers.
Collecticon: How long has everyone been working behind the scenes at Crave before launch, and when was the official launch?
A: We started Crave a year ago as an experiment and it has evolved based on the fans’ feedback. It began last summer when we had a closed beta version of the site. At first the site let fans collaborate on a Transformers catalog and set of interactive checklists. We added features for fans to share what they have and want, then they asked us to add buying & selling features. So, we launched the marketplace at the beginning of November.
Collecticon: So why might a seasoned Transformer seller want to post their potential sales at Crave versus a place like Ebay or a Transformers messageboard?
A: Great question. First, selling on Crave is free and listings don’t expire. Second, listing on Crave is fast. A seller finds the Transformer they are selling in the catalog and then just clicks “Sell Yours” instead of going through a labor-intensive writing process.
Finally, Crave is in the middle of the transaction (like Amazon). The buyer pays Crave, the seller ships with tracking, then after delivery confirmation, we transfer payment to the seller. We’ve found this reduces the problems like non-payment or not-as-described items that sellers and buyers complain about on other sites. Our sellers really like this structure.
Collecticon: Can you tell us any success stories between buyers and sellers that have occurred since the launch of the site?
A: In January we started seeing the number of transactions doubling every month which surprised us. We realized that the community was developing and that led to a lot repeat buyers and sellers. One of our most frequent sellers has remarked that he has had over 30 repeat buyers purchasing his figures and that never happened on eBay. He loves the fact that Crave helps him establish relationships with other collectors. We’ve also found that our system of creating want lists and alerting buyers when what they want goes up for sale is a very effective way at helping collectors find what they are looking for.
It’s exciting to help make fans happy.
Collecticon: The blog section of Crave contains some very well-written and exhaustive articles thus far. You even have some guest blogs from Bensen Yee, who is notable as a Transformers fan that has ‘crossed the divide’ to become a brand consultant for Hasbro. How does Crave plan to continue this quality of blog and will we see any more familiar faces in the coming months?
A: Thanks for the positive feedback. Ben and others have been generous with their insights and knowledge. The blog is focused on showcasing fans & their collections, as well as sharing collector knowledge about Transformers. As far as familiar faces go, we have since done blog interviews with Jim Sorensen and TCC’s Pete Sinclair. You can also find information on our past contests, special listings that have gone up on the site, and fan generated content. Recently we started a weekly guest post about customization written by one of our members, Joe Lewis. Joe comes up with custom projects himself, takes meticulous photos, and writes out very detailed and humorous explanations of his customs work. It is a lot of fun!
Collecticon: Crave is targeting something many other Transformers sites have been lagging on in the recent years: the social experience. In what ways is Crave reaching Transformers fans and the general public that other sites are not?
A: We believe that collecting is a social experience, but at most marketplaces or retail sites you don’t get to connect with other fans & share opinions on the potential purchases or new releases. We integrated a social experience on the Crave site by letting fans create collection profiles and browse those of other fans. They can also comment, like, share, or vote ‘Good Price’ on Transformers listings.
You can see the most recent activity on the homepage
Collecticon: After deciding on a general name like ‘Crave’ over a more Transformer-centric title, it could be surmised that the company may have far loftier goals than just assisting the tried and true Transformer collector niche. What can you divulge about the scope of Crave beyond the world of Transformers, if any?
A: The Transformers marketplace will stay and always remain strictly Transformers. We do also have plans to branch out. We have just opened our second marketplace, Star Wars, and have plans for more.
Currently on our main site homepage (www.crave.com) you have the option of entering either one of our live marketplaces or you can vote on which marketplace we should launch next.
Collecticon: And last but not least, Autobot or Decepticon?