One of a growing number of online companies for swapping goods, the newly dubbed Switchouse is trying to appeal to a wider audience, company chief executive Michael Lin said.
The company launched in November as a place for college-age consumers to swap CDs. Other swap sites, such as Swap.com, WebSwap.com and Intellibarter.com, are trying to duplicate the success of stalwart auctioneer eBay in creating an alternative form of commerce.
On eBay, consumers buy and sell goods outside of the normal retail or wholesale channels.
The idea behind the swap sites is a simple one, one that has thrived on grammar-school playgrounds for decades.
"It works the same way as when people used to swap a bologna sandwich for a peanut butter," Lin said. "That is how simple we want to make swapping goods online."
Switchouse members list the CDs or books they are offering along with what they want to find. A proprietary matching system automatically identifies possible swaps. When a deal is struck, Switchouse then reveals the addresses of each member and the consumers are responsible for mailing the items. Switchouse never touches the merchandise, nor does it ensure that the items are delivered. A peer review system rates Switchouse members.
Swaps are currently free, but the company plans to charge a yet-to-be-determined fee, probably around a dollar, Lin said. Switchouse also plans to generate revenue by selling advertising.