For comic book, action figure and even antique collectors, welcoming places on the internet are few and far between, says Tom Bennett, CEO of online peer-to-peer marketplace Gemr. “We don’t want to be traditional commerce play like eBay or Amazon. We want it to be very focused on collecting and culture,” he says. “Collectors can come here and let their geek flag fly.”
Founded in 2015 with antiques and appraisals in mind, Gemr shifted its focus to pop culture collections and now has more than 527,000 users on its platform. 375,000 of those joined the platform last year, which Bennett credits to the launch of Gemr’s mobile app. “People are really digging the app,” he says.
Consumers can join collection-specific clubs, or fandom clubs, for Marvel’s Avengers, 3D printing, Nintendo, vintage jewelry, among many others. Within the club, consumers can upload photos of their collections on an interface that resembles Facebook, where there’s a news feed of recent user activity. Consumers also can click on a photo of an item and click the heart to like it (similar to Instagram) and add a comment. Within these clubs, consumers also can sell and purchase items from other users in the shop tab.
All sales are facilitated between users. Sellers set their own price, take payment via PayPal Inc., ship items themselves and must deal with any unhappy customers. Gemr currently takes a 1% cut of sales on its marketplace. “Those are likely to go up as we spur activity on the site,” Bennett says. Right now, Gemr.com receives an average of about 241,000 visitors to its site per month, according to data from web measurement firm SimilarWeb, which only had data available for November 2018-January 2019.
Now that Gemr has good mobile traction with its app, Bennett says it’s focusing on marketplace commerce this year. For example, Gemr plans to overhaul the checkout process and allow shoppers to purchase multiple items at once, and to rate buyers and sellers.
In addition, the platform has a blog that receives “north of 100,000 visits a month and growing every week,” he says, and a YouTube channel with more than 2,000 subscribers and some videos receiving more than 32,000 views. Gemr plans to continue to promote its platform to grow its marketplace via these channels, and through social media marketing and giveaways.
Gemr had a direct ecommerce shop on its site from 2016 to early 2019, where it sold wholesale products. But Gemr scrapped the ecommerce shop since it barely made a blip on its revenue, Bennett says without revealing more.
Instead, Gemr wants to focus on the marketplace and work on being an affiliate aggregator for collectibles, meaning it will show users the best place to buy the items they’re looking for. For example, if a user uploads a photo to show off her Iron Man Funko Pop figure, the platform will show other users an affiliate e-retailer from which to purchase that item. “We’re working on a more sophisticated algorithm and developing an intensive recommendation engine for this,” he says.
The marketplace also wants to work with more major brands to better market their products to Gemr’s audience of collectors, Bennett says. “Brands have a problem with audience fragmentation, which is getting worse for them. There was lots of hand wringing over the loss of Toys R Us,” he says. Bennet wants brands to use Gemr to share new products to a receptive audience and find new customers through them. It’s a win-win for brands and Gemr users, he says.Favorite