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Watchfinder’s new marketplace: a review

Watchfinder’s new marketplace review

Around 300 watches were added to the browsable and shoppable inventory of Watchfinder this morning as the pre-owned specialist’s third party marketplace went live.

The company had promised a low key launch, with the intention of starting with a curated selection of watches from tried and trusted retail partners.

Among the listings of watches that have been bought, serviced and refurbished before being put on sale by Watchfinder are pieces from third parties including Rolex Watch Trader, Chase Hattan Watches, Trilogy Jewellers and Tempus Lord.

Customers will need to be keen-eyed to notice the inventory from third party sellers or from the Watchfinder catalogue, much as it is easy to miss when shopping on Amazon whether you are buying the ecommerce giant’s own inventory or somebody else’s.

But there are differences.

First, the name of the third party seller is displayed along with the watches on sale and there is a little market stall icon on the listing picture.

Watchfinder's new marketplace watchfinder

You can click on the name of the seller to get more information, but actually there isn’t any.

I suspect this will change over time, because it would be nice to get ratings for each seller, just in case some are better than others in terms of the accuracy of their listings, the speed of delivery, etc.

Photography is another clue. Watchfinder has its own advanced studio where every watch is shot after it has been through the servicing and any refurbishment required, so every piece looks in virtually mint condition. The pictures are also standardised, so you get a perfectly straight soldier view and other angles to browse.

Third party sellers have tried to match this standard, but fall slightly short. One seller has a grey background on every picture, others have different crops, zooms and angles.

The number of watches has not increased by much on launch day, but Watchfinder’s CEO, Arjen van de Vall says it will build up in time, with the Marketplace expected to become a significant part of Watchfinder’s total business.

The first five sellers will be bringing on approximately 300 watches for launch week, with an estimate that the marketplace will eventually expand inventory by approximately 35%.

Watchfinder's new marketplace arjen
Watchfinder CEO, Arjen van de Vall.

“We think that will quickly scale in the first few months to an extra 1,000 to 2,000 watches on the site,” Mr van de Vall told WatchPro ahead of the launch.

“There may be 250 sellers that could be suitable for working with our marketplace, but our ambition is not to immediately onboard 250. What we want to do is onboard sellers that meet our criteria, add value to our platform,” he adds.

Last week there were 3,150 watches listed on Today there are 3,181, so actual numbers are virtually unchanged.

But there does appear to be several hundred watches from third party sellers, so perhaps they are not being properly counted as one inventory.

Watchfinder's new marketplace
Watchfinder’s homepage.

As well as charging subscription fees (waived in the first 12 months for early adopters), Watchfinder earns commission on each watch sold, so it is in their interest to ensure prices are competitive and, although sellers have the freedom to set their watch prices, Watchfinder will share data points with sellers to help inform their pricing decisions.

At the end of the day, this is a significant step into a competitive part of the aftermarket where companies like eBay and Chrono24 are already well established. However, Mr van de Vall is confident that his company will offer a different, significantly improved buying experience.

“We know other marketplaces already exist, but we developed ours with a focus on the quality of our inventory and the quality of our service. We’re working with industry and select sellers to refine and align what’s on offer with what they want to see in a new marketplace,” he told WatchPro.

“We’ve worked very closely with third parties to develop an offering that we all believe will work. It’s not about volume, we’re not trying to get as many sellers into our marketplace as possible. It is a curated solution that ensures the quality of products and services is up to our standard.”

This means that the buying process for customers will be essentially the same as if Watchfinder itself were the seller. A small difference is that there will be a reference to the seller.

Watches will also take a little longer to arrive because Watchfinder is checking them on the way from the seller to the buyer, just like with its central offering with watches being inspected, performance-tested and authenticated in Europe’s largest independent service centre – accredited by 19 of the world’s leading watch manufacturers.

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Watchfinder’s service centre.

Each watch will also come with a 24-month Watchfinder warranty as standard. “We are completely transparent and do everything we can to ensure that the customer experience is of the same high standard,” promises Mr van de Vall.

Watchfinder’s part exchange programme applies to all marketplace stock, enabling customers to trade in one or more watch and put the value towards their marketplace watch of choice.

Instant estimates are given in-store or online. The watch is then collected from them and sent to Watchfinder’s service centre for a full appraisal and a final valuation.

Of course, the real proof of concept will be when customers start to shop from third party sellers, and leave reviews about that experience.

Watchfinder’s marketplace launches first in the UK. Since the company is owned by Richemont, the offer will soon be extended to the United States and Europe.


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