Marketplace goes unnoticed by Chapman students  

A new website designed to help Chapman students buy and sell merchandise is apparently having a hard time gaining traction.

Ulyngo, an online e-commerce site promised an easier and safer way for students to buy and sell textbooks, furniture, clothes and other items they craved or wished to jettison, appears to be having a tough time luring users away from established sites such as Amazon and the Chapman “Free & For Sale” Facebook group.   

According to Alex Jekowsky, a Chapman student who left his sophomore year to run Ulyngo, the site launched sometime in December.  But an Oct. 23 story in The Panther said the site was going live that week–and a post advertising two tickets to see Montell Jordan on the site is dated Oct. 23. A peek at the Chapman Ulyngo site on February 7, 2018, revealed a total of only 13 posts by seven people selling a bike, a portable air conditioner, and tickets to Montell Jordan, among other items – with no visible responses.

The seven people who had posted items did not respond to email inquiries made by Prowl except for one student.

Sophomore Rylea Gillis, a health science major, said she posted on Ulyngo a few months ago to sell a pair of Beats headphones.

It said the post had been viewed 20 times, but nobody ever commented or tried to buy them. I ended up selling them on Facebook instead because it doesn’t seem like students are too responsive to the Ulyngo platform, probably because many just don’t know about it,” said Gillis.

Jekowsky said Ulyngo, which is funded by investors,  is also in place at California State University Northridge but declined to comment on other schools that may use the service.

Jekowsky said his site shares a portion of the 5 percent commission fee it takes from the price of an item with the universities using the service. He claims schools have created scholarship funds, and increased student government operating budgets with the money made from his e-commerce site.

Ulyngo was promoted by student government president Mitchell Rosenberg as a better, more exclusive, non-anonymous way for students to sell and buy merchandise. The site promises to arbitrate disputes and hold money in abeyance until both parties verified their satisfaction.

“I think that the biggest differentiation from Ulyngo and other sites is that it is a site just for  Chapman students. On Ulyngo, there’s no fraud going on or outside individuals trying to sell to students, so it has that extra layer of safety,” said Rosenberg.

Interviews with students indicated that many saw little need for it.

Sophomore environmental science major Julia Boronski said she’s never used or heard of Ulyngo. She prefers the efficiency and immediacy of Amazon.

“Nothing I have ordered from Amazon comes broken or different than shown in the pictures. I love Amazon because I can find everything I need and a lot of the products have free two-day shipping which is really convenient,” said Boronski.

Boronski said she most likely will not use Ulyngo since there are plenty of other similar sites.

“I wouldn’t use the site because I already have accounts for Amazon, Facebook, and eBay which gives me all the opportunities I need to buy and sell what I want, ” said Boronski.

Freshman Davis Anderson, a strategic and corporate communication major also hasn’t heard of Ulyngo. She uses Chegg to help shop for books.

“I feel like Chegg is convenient because the books are a lot cheaper and you can rent them so I don’t get stuck with a book I’ll never use again,” said Anderson.

Anderson said she wouldn’t buy items from Ulyngo but might conceivably post things for sale on it.

Sophomore Michelle Vera, a creative writing major, has never heard of Ulyngo but is interested in using the site.

“I would totally use it! Even though we have the Chapman University class of 2020 Facebook page Chapman University Class of 2020 Public Group | Facebook where people sell things, it would be nice to sell things to all Chapman students because our Facebook page only has students in our grade,” said Vera.

Jekowsky said he had established a need for the site at Chapman. He speculated that about 1000 students have accessed the site, and expressed hope more will join after an upcoming Chapman marketing campaign. “In about two weeks Chapman will be doing a lot of campaigns for Ulyngo; There will be postcards in the cafeteria, in basket holders, and they’ll have emails going out to students about the marketplace,” Jekowsky said.

Student Government President Mitchell Rosenberg – who has not used the site himself – also believes the site will gain popularity following a Chapman marketing campaign.

But Assistant Vice President of Panther services and Operations in Strategic Marketing and Communications, Char Williams said in an emailed response, “We have NO knowledge of this being used at all on campus.”   

“Anything that’s new takes time to start up and be a part of the students daily culture. The startup of the Chapman student marketplace has definitely been slow but I know that the University has plans to start promoting it to students so they know there is a safer place to buy and sell things,” Rosenberg said.

Courtesy of Alex Jekowsky

Dr. Deborah Ferber, a professor at the George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics said rewards and university affiliation would draw more students to the site.

“Chapman students would be more open to using Ulyngo if the University could draw students to the same type of benefits crowdfunding does. An example would be creating a reward system using Ulyngo where you and your friends can see your earning points. Another example would be reminding students that the activity on their account creates a revenue share to help the university,” said Dr. Ferber.

But Merzia Cutlerywala, a sophomore business major, said that even a rewards system would be unlikely to lure her from her current shopping preferences.

“I wouldn’t use the site because I have Amazon Prime for students, which offers a lot of rental textbooks that are cheap,” said Cutlerywala.

 

Katie Whitman

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