We want to use the experience we gained in Europe and create the platform with the biggest product variety in the US.
Solarodo – New and Used Solar Equipment Marketplace
Frank Fiedler | Solarodo
Tell us about Solarodo and the service you provide.
Solarodo is an online marketplace for new and used photovoltaic products. The marketplace enables you to always find the right PV product, whether you are building a new solar array or are looking for a spare part. For distributors and manufacturers, it is a perfect way to present their product to a broad new customer base. But also residential customers can use the marketplace to sell and buy products easily. Furthermore, we have an extensive business directory in which solar integrators, cleaning services, maintenance providers, lawyers, etc. can enter their business free of charge. Our goal is to be the place to go to for all kinds of PV array operators regarding all PV-related issues.
How did Solarodo get started? What did you and Stefan Wippich do before, what experience are they bringing in?
Solarodo has its roots in Germany. The solar market is a bit older over there, and it is very hard to find the right spare parts for older PV systems. Our marketplace, called SecondSol in Europe, is the answer to that: it is the leading PV marketplace in Europe with over a thousand daily users and a market volume of 100 million euros. Frank comes from the finance and insurance sector; Stefan has been working in the PV business since 2003. Frank noticed rising costs for repairs and upkeep in PV systems and knew something had to be done. This is how the idea for SecondSol was born.
You are launching in the US, what is the potential there and what are your goals?
The US is an enormous and still expanding market. This is very exciting, as it is quite the opposite of the more saturated European market. We want to use the experience we gained in Europe and create the platform with the biggest product variety in the US. Thereby helping integrators, distributors and manufacturers sell their new and used products and commercial and residential customers to find the PV products and services they are looking for. There is a lot of potential in the US market in our eyes, especially since areas like maintenance and other services haven’t fully developed yet.
What market needs is Solarodo fulfilling?
Sellers will find a multitude of interested customers for their products. Distributors offer regular goods; integrators sell remaining stock from the construction site. Buyers can find the exact right product from the variety of products on offer. No matter whether they are looking for cheap products, the right spare part, a quick delivery, products near them, or specialised items. In contrast to a normal distributor, the offer on Solarodo will be much larger, with a lot of different options to choose from.
Let’s say I am a Solar Integrator, give me an idea of how the buying and selling process on Solarodo works?
This is relatively easy. As soon as you find the right product, you put it in the shopping cart and make your buy. If you have some questions first, you can use the contact function to contact the seller. Shipping must often be cleared in the individual case. The actual sale is directly between the buyer and the seller. After finishing the buying process on the platform, the buyer will receive the payment information from the seller. If the seller is a commercial trader, a separate invoice will be sent to the buyer.
If I buy a product on Solarodo, how do I know the product will work and be as advertised? What about product returns?
The seller can describe the state of the product in his ad. Obviously, this is especially relevant for used products. In Germany, used products are often offered with important metrics, flash data or electroluminescence images. This way, it is very easy to see what state the product is in. Return policies are defined by the seller or follow the legal requirements if nothing is specified.
What are some challenges the idea and the market bring and how do you deal with those?
One challenge in the US is the size of the country. We want to reach every manufacturer, distributor, integrator and operator with our platform. Here we depend on magazines like AltEnergyMag to help us increase our brand awareness. Furthermore, we are looking forward to hearing the demands from our users and see where their user behaviour is different from the European users. We are very much open to ideas and to implementing them on our platform. Finally, we hope to be welcomed by the US solar market. With our knowledge and thirteen-year experience we are confident in the European market and think we can offer a great service to the US market.
Where do you see Solarodo five years down the road?
As in Europe, we also want to create the biggest product variety in the US and we want to be an important building block for the American energy revolution. We want to be the place to go to for repairs, maintenance or the building of solar arrays with budget-friendly PV products.
About Frank Fiedler, CEO of SecondSol Inc.
Born in 1977, Frank started his banking career as a Software Project Manager at the HypoVereinsbank in 1999. In 2001, Frank switched to Siteforum to work as a Key Account Manager. Three years later he continued as Area Manager for IMB (later Apella). Noticing the rising costs for repairs and upkeep in PV systems, he got together with Stefan Wippich, a PV professional, to start SecondSol. The SecondSol Group now consists of SecondSol; Solarodo; Panel42; SunKauf and PV-Diebstahl, covering many aspects of the PV market in Europe, with the US now to follow.
As part of the experienced European SecondSol Group, Solarodo is the photovoltaic marketplace for the US. Solarodo can be used by manufacturers, distributors and solar integrators to sell new, used or surplus products and by residential customers as well as integrators and insurance companies to buy products for new arrays or as an exchange for faulty products. Furthermore, there is an extensive business directory where business can offer their PV-related services. Distinguishing itself from other players, Solarodo has some clear advantages: a nationwide platform; an effective online sales channel with a broad customer base; the largest online product database; a great platform to present a company and generate new leads; a marketplace for both new and used products and no transaction costs.
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