OpenBazaar was released to the public on April 4th, and after two weeks of use we wanted to take a snapshot of what this emerging ecosystem of decentralized trade looks like right at the beginning. In this post we’ll walk through some stats and also talk to people who have been using the software.
We’ve put out four releases of OpenBazaar over the past two weeks. Altogether, the installers for these releases have been downloaded more than 54,600 times. However, not everyone who downloads an installer ends up installing OpenBazaar and running a node on the network. Because it’s peer-to-peer it’s difficult to know exactly how many users did become a node on the network, but we can make educated guesses. BazaarBay.org is a website which runs a crawler of the OpenBazaar network in order to display content on the web. Their site collects stats as they crawl, which aren’t meant to be precise but give a rough approximation of what the network looks like. According to their stats they’ve seen ~17,800 nodes on the network in total since launch. Of those over 2,200 were vendors selling items. The total number of listings people have put up for sale is just over 6,500. At the moment there are 546 valid OpenBazaar handles that have registered a blockchain ID.
Stats are interesting, but we wanted to talk to some people using OpenBazaar to get a better understanding of their experience. I asked a set of questions to a few vendors on the network, as well as some developers who are building services on top of OpenBazaar.
This third party service was mentioned above in this post. It’s a website that acts as a way to view the OpenBazaar network via the web. The creator of BazaarBay had this to say. Why did you get involved with the project? I was looking for interesting projects to support / work on / to develop some project-related addons. OpenBazaar was just what I was looking for. It contained technologies which I’m familiar with as well as the e-commerce side + bitcoin + bit of anarchistic attitude. That’s exactly what I was looking for. Can you describe your experience with OpenBazaar over the past few weeks? Everything has been great, there has been minor technical issues. But that’s something everyone should expect from new project. Anything related to using OpenBazaar that was unexpected? I think the vendor side has been unexpectedly strong and diverse. I didn’t expect so many vendors to start selling goods & services so quickly. How long have you used Bitcoin? Since launch. Anything else to mention? Because of all these positive feedback and experiences, we’re encouraged to add more resources; they will be assigned to BazaarBay development.
Tyler is a developer building various helpful services for OpenBazaar users, such as a hosting service for OpenBazaar stores. Why did you get involved with the project? I’ve been interested in OpenBazaar since before it was forked from the DarkMarket project because I believe in free markets, decentralization, and open protocols. OpenBazaar combines the three in a way that’s extremely interesting to me by introducing a simple but powerful protocol that anybody can use to structure trade. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get involved until mid-to-late 2015 but since then I’ve been working hard on providing tools, services, and support to the community because I think OpenBazaar can a giant success for free commerce if executed correctly. If we do things right we can enable open and unrestricted trade for all people and machines. Can you describe your experience with OpenBazaar over the past few weeks? The past couple of weeks have been extremely busy because the reception has been huge. I’ve always expected OpenBazaar to do well, but I would have never guessed at how excited, active, and helpful the community has been. I’ve gotten feedback for my services from nearly a hundred users and very quickly we’ve developed a group of enthusiastic users volunteering their time and energy to help others and report bugs. I already feel that I’ve made very good friends that I’ll keep in touch with for a long time. There were far less issues than I expected going from a pool of a dozen users to thousands in a couple of days. The issues that we did come across were quickly resolved. Working with the OpenBazaar protocol is very easy so it’s simple to adapt to rapidly incoming feedback. I look forward to helping make OpenBazaar a giant success; the ubiquitous protocol used for all commerce over networks.
This OpenBazaar store sells cigarettes. Store handle: @gotcigarettes Why did you start an OpenBazaar store? I’ve been waiting to open my OB store for over a year now - the promise of permissionless peer to peer trade was just too mind-blowing to ignore. The idea that for the first time in history, it will be possible for any two people on the planet to trade with one another (not even mentioning the escrow) without asking anyone’s permission, or paying intermediaries has kept me awake at night really. Having said this, I’m really proud to be sitting in the front row of the commerce revolution! Can you describe your experience with OpenBazaar over the past few weeks? Apart from a few bugs here and there (which have been patched with incredible speed), my experience has been very positive. I’ve received a dozen of orders and have two positive feedbacks already - it feels great! :) Anything related to using OpenBazaar that was unexpected? The UX and the loading speed were totally unexpected. I was definitely not expecting such a smooth first version of the OB software. How long have you used Bitcoin? I’ve been using Bitcoin for a good five years already. Anything else to mention? It’d be nice if the dev team continues to work on the privacy aspect of OB - it’s so transparent (one’s IP address is pretty much public info) that it’s a little disconcerting.
Robert Valmassoi (Owner, Surf Burro)
This OpenBazaar store sells Mexican blankets. Store handle: @surfburro Why did you start an OpenBazaar store? I’ve had multiple problems with dispute resolution on eBay and I have never liked their high fees, but there hasn’t been better alternatives. With what OpenBazaar provides and as a bitcoin user, it was naturally compelling. Although I plan to use it personally when I need to sell something, my company Surf Burro was a perfect first store. OpenBazaar is another outlet for us to find more customers, has no fees, and is bundled in a fairly smooth platform. Can you describe your experience with OpenBazaar over the past few weeks? Application: The program is simple and well designed. I was able to get the store setup very quickly. There has been a few bugs, but after working with the OB1 developers, they have all been resolved and the software is running smoothly now. Buying: I haven’t yet made a purchase. At the moment the catalog is lacking, but I’m sure it will increase with user growth and improved search/browsing functionality. Selling: I’m happy with the volume we’ve sold in the short amount of time. Half of our buyers chose to use a moderator, but didn’t need to start a dispute. The escrow system works great, the funds get released quickly and no chance of a chargeback to worry about. Overall I am very happy with OpenBazaar, even it its early stage. Anything related to using OpenBazaar that was unexpected? I didn’t realize how useful the chat would be. It is a much better way to communicate with customers and potential customers alike, as compared to eBay’s email-like messaging system. It has even led to a few sales. How long have you used Bitcoin? I first became interested and invested in bitcoin in 2012. Surf Burro has accepted bitcoin on our site since we started in 2014. Anything else to mention? I think OpenBazaar aligns well with bitcoin’s ideals, and is a great step towards a future of free trade. Although OpenBazaar’s youth currently shows, I can see its potential and have high hopes for its future.
Gold and Silver Bazaar
This OpenBazaar store sells gold and silver coins. Store handle: @GoldandSilverBazaar
I put my store up on the OpenBazaar network in the first week of your release.
I was excited to see 2 sales come in within the first 48 hours. A 50 gram silver bar to a customer in France and a silver “CopBlock Quarter” to someone in the USA. I have also sold this week a “1766 Spanish Piece of Eight” Coin along with several other rare silver coins. I moved my site from my windows laptop after the first 2 days and I was unable to migrate my store to the new server. So I built a new one and my existing customers found me and were happy to report that there orders had arrived and wanted to make sure I would get the BTC before they released it. So far, 500.00 in a week! I put it up on a Digital Ocean VPS and had a difficult time keeping it up for more than 2 days at a time without it hanging and requiring me to restart the server. I have automated that process with a “cron script” for now. Recently I did an “git pull” update on both of my servers and they haven’t had issues yet.
I launched a second store @thefarmersmarket a few days ago and have had 3 sales of homemade caramels to people from around the country. I am impressed with OpenBazaar. I sell alot on ebay and I cant wait to spread the word for OpenBazaar Bitcoin.
I am looking forward to the future of OpenBazaar.
We also run a store on OpenBazaar, selling merchandise. Proceeds go to the project fund. Since launch we’ve had 221 orders placed and ran out of OpenBazaar pins the first day (more are on the way). The store now has 8,800 followers!
We’ve been very pleased by the community’s reception of the OpenBazaar launch, but it hasn’t gone off without a hitch. Most users could install the first release without problems, but when we released the next update (1.1.1) many Windows users couldn’t install the software, or received the message “Unable to Connect to Server.” This was a bug caused by not properly packaging OpenSSL, which was fixed in newer releases. The “Unable to Connect to Server” problem still impacts some users, and we’re working to diagnose why this is. The first three releases also had a problem with CPU usage on the server side. The server would run fine for sometime, and then spike quickly, causing it to become unresponsive for several minutes (or even crash). This issue was solved in the newest release (1.1.3). Many users have joined OpenBazaar to test out the software, but don’t keep a server running continually. For other users who later try to navigate to their page, they get a “The page you’re trying to view is currently offline” message, which is a frustrating experience. This is a current limitation of the software, and we’re working to address this issue. Vendors have reported that the shipping options are too limited, and order management is too simple. We’re aware of this (I experienced this personally when dealing with @OpenBazaar store orders) and are working to improve them.
OpenBazaar had an exciting first few weeks with thousands of people using the new software. There were plenty of problems, and there’s a long way to go for decentralized trade to reach mainstream. But the developers and users building the ecosystem have finally gotten a glimpse of what permissionless trade looks like, and they’re not stopping until we can all trade free.