Interview with George Bevis from Speed Sell

I recently went out for Lunch with George Bevis from SpeedSell.  As well as having some excellent food at the Pavillion in Victoria park, I got to know something about his exciting new business

Please give us an outline of your service and some history

SpeedSell is an online rag-and-bone business.  We give an instant online price for unwanted items, and (if desired) send a van to your home or work to collection.  The concept is well established in the States ( is the most prominent such business) but we are the first in Europe.  Currently we trade games consoles and games – later this year we will trade a wider variety of consumer electronics, sports equipment, DIY equipment, baby gear etc.  We performed test trades for most of 2008 and launched a fully scalable infrastructure, with a bespoke CRM system, in January.  We’ve recently launched an affiliate programme and our volumes are now growing well.

Like dropshops (which have broadly failed) your business model requires customer to change their behaviour.  What makes you so sure they will use your service

We don’t consider that SpeedSell’s proposition requires a big change in attitudes/behaviour.  Customers understand the concept of offline rag-and-bone shops (like CashConverters) and may well have used an online mobile phone recycling businesses like EnviroFone as well.  The only difference is that SpeedSell trades different types of items. SpeedSell’s customer proposition is much closer to those businesses than it is to the dropshops.  With dropshops, customers don’t know when they will be paid, how much they will be paid, and perceive (rightly or wrongly) significant hassle in getting items to the dropshops etc.

What is your competitive advantage?

Three advantages:

– Our analytics are best-in-class, taking account of lots of factors to predict resale pricing.  That stuff is difficult to do well.

– Operationally a biz like SpeedSell is very complex to manage because  customers don’t always send us what they say they will, when they say they will.  We’ve built some fairly advanced (and expensive) IT to manage that process and make it straightforward for everyone.

– Most importantly, SpeedSell is obsessed with simplicity of customer experience.  The process is completely streamlined and a million times  easier to use than an auction site.   One example of this obsession was the decision not to create customer ‘accounts’ with logins etc.  Simplicity is in the company’s DNA.

What are your plans for the future.  Will you be moving into other product types?

see above – yes we’ll be trading other product types.  Also we’re  talking with major retailers about helping their customers resell unwanted items for retailer credit instead of cash – effectively an outsourced trade-in programme with all the work done by us, not by the retailer.

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