Monday, June 1, 2009

Used Cameras tailors technology to please camera buyers

Seth Schmidt at Smash Direct is one smart guy. Years ago he figured out there was money to be made helping people sell their used, out-dated cameras so they could afford to buy new ones. Now he is using technology again to help camera buyers find great deals on used equipment directly.

Smash Direct built a custom website so people could quickly and easily see what their old cameras were worth and sell them to UCB for real money. The website prints out a pre-paid mailing label, the camera and accessories are shipped to Smash Direct, and the consumer gets a check. Seth's team then inspects the merchandise, makes sure it is described correctly, and sells it used on eBay. That's worked so well that national retailers have partnered with Smash Direct so they could provide trade-in programs to their customers. Terrific!

However, there is still a lot of call from consumers for a catalog site for these same used cameras and parts, so Smash Direct built custom website where you can browse the entire current inventory of used cameras, find the exact model and configuration you want, and get a deal on the used camera... without hassling with the bidding process at eBay. Brilliant!

The new website was scheduled to launch to the public this morning, so Seth announced it on Facebook and Twitter. We're always watching out for announcements about technology like this, especially from our fellow VA Council of CEOs members. Life-long learners like these business leaders always come up with great ways to leverage technology to reach business goals while delviering something consumers will really love.

Peeking at the UsedCameras site early this morning, we found the custom ecommerce site was attractive and well-designed, but the product listings had defaulted to "high to low" and every product they ever carried was displayed. That meant there were hundreds of pages of products you couldn't order right now and they started off with the most-expensive items like a very nice Canon EOS L-series lens, a 1600mm f2.8, for $418,000. Not something the typical user wants to see at the top of their browsing.

A quick email to Seth showed how on-top-of the technology they really are. They took our constructive input on the marketing perspective and user experience appeared and reprogrammed the Used Cameras site in minutes.

By launch time, the site was not just a great place to look for finding used cameras at a bargain, but it also showed visitors just the available camera bodies, lenses, batteries, flashes, and accessories, but it also did so in the most-useful order. A great new service coming out of the gate with the best possible presentation for making customers happy.

Well done, Seth! What's coming next?

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