Online marketplaces aren’t new, companies like eBay, Craigslist and Amazon have been around for years, influencing how and what people consume. In fact, the model has even revolutionized the way certain businesses operate. As this trend continues to flourish, one young startup is taking a community-first approach.
Developed by Victoria-based Semadic Interactive Technologies, Diggit.ca is a free, local online marketplace that allows Canadians to share news and stories as well as buy and sell products and services while getting to know each other. Through its innovative user interface and design, the e-commerce platform complements local business by allowing customers to browse, complete transactions online and then fulfill their purchase the same day from the actual store.
Emboldened from their experience at UsedEverywhere, an online classifieds site in Canada and the UK, co-founders Tish Hill and Jody Epp launched Diggit in January 2013 to create a hub for social and e-commerce activity. The startup is currently working on rolling out sub-domains of Diggit.ca in several Canadian cities including Winnipeg, Halifax and Toronto. Their proof of concept, Victoria.Diggit.ca, already boasts 330,000 users.
“When we started Semadic we wanted to take what happens at the local level to the next level and reduce the anonymity of online shopping,” Tish Hill, CEO of Semadic, told Techvibes. “We quickly found that there was a real appetite for a trusted local destination that incorporated content and commerce, that’s the foundation of Diggit.”
Diggit harnesses the power of local and evolves along with the needs and interests of a community by facilitating the exchange of goods, news, services and even time. Users can use Diggit to buy a lawnmower, sell a handmade sweater or book a yoga class.
As a mother and entrepreneur, Hill draws on her female intuition and professional know-how to guide the company. “Eighty percent of shopping happens at the local level or close to it and females drive most of that, which is why we’re focused on women and the types of things they like to buy,” adds Hill.
Last month, Diggit launched a mobile selling app in Victoria which allows businesses to photograph their products, apply a variety of filters, effects and frames, set pricing and share them within the Diggit marketplace and on Facebook and Twitter. Through the app, local retailers can manage their ecommerce platform wherever they are with the aid of a smartphone or tablet. The team is also working hard to add a browsing and buying app to its mobile repertoire.
“Our site, and now this app, are the first steps towards giving business owners the freedom to be open 24/7 and easily share their goods and services with the Vancouver Island community."
Diggit has quickly created its own social network complete with profiles to track activity happening at the local level. By building a massive big data back-end to record and track preferences of users, they are able to offer users a unique targeted experience, through mobile phones, tablets and online.
While companies like Zaarly and Etsy come from a purely commerce space, Diggit is looking to differentiate itself and find success with a hyperlocal approach focused on quality content for local consumers.