Trade Me rival Wheedle launches
The marketplace has debuted with only a tiny fraction of the goods of Trade Me or its closest existing rival, Sella.co.nz. At lunchtime the site had 311 items for sale in its "home & living" category, for example, compared with Trade Me's 170,000 and Sella's 20,000.
One drawcard was "a $1 reserve" charity auction of a new Ford Fiesta, bidding for which has reached $16,150.
E-commerce expert Stefan Korn said the timing might be right for challengers to Trade Me, given the possibility that the online powerhouse could become "complacent".
But he said it was disappointing Wheedle's website appeared to be "a clone" of Trade Me, given it had been two years in the making. "It looks exactly the same."
Wheedle's long-term chances would depend on how much money its owners were willing to commit, he said. "It is going to be incredibly hard to convince some of the people who have built up years of trading history to move over to another platform."
Korn said he also found a number of "broken" links and images on Wheedle's website, despite its fanfare launch. "They do really need to address those technical issues."
Canterbury University senior marketing lecturer Ekant Veer agreed Wheedle had a very similar look and feel to Trade Me. "I don't want to say it has mimicked Trade Me because that might be offensive to Wheedle, but other than the orange with yellow tones in Wheedle there are a lot of things that are very similar."
Wheedle, which has been bankrolled by Mainfreight co-founder and NBR "rich lister" Neil Graham, is undercutting Trade Me's fees, charging a flat-rate $1 fee on items that sell through the site for more than $20. Trade Me upped its "success fees" for most general items from 7.5 per cent to 7.9 per cent today. Its commission rate decreases on items priced over $200.
But Veer said that did not mean people would flock to Wheedle. "I don't know how many people go to Trade Me and say 'it is far too expensive for me to buy something off here or to sell something here'. There are a group of people who will find Trade Me's [fees] expensive and this might be a site for them, but you are attracting the lower end of the market who you are not going to make a huge profit out of, in which case, what is the point?
"They are trying to attack head-on and the trouble when you attack a juggernaut head on is you have to be very lucky to beat them. You have got to do something different and I don't see that has happened."
One feature that appears unique to Wheedle is a "giveaway" section that lets people and businesses offer goods and samples for free online, while still letting donors collect shipping charges.
But Veer doubted that would bestow much commercial advantage. "You have freecycle.co.nz and others that have a much stronger brand reputation when it comes to give aways. Trade Me might look at that say 'why touch give aways - is this something we ever want to get into knowing we won't make money from it?"
Another Christchurch-based trading platform, listselltrade.co.nz, will open for buying and selling on Thursday. People can now register and list products.
Trade Me investors appeared impeturbed. The company's shares have climbed back up above $4 since Wheedle announced its plans last week and were up 1 cent during lunchtime trading at $4.01.
Home & Living: 321
Electronics & Photography: 114
Home & Living: 20,381
Electronics & Photography: 19,852
Home & Living: 170,000+
Electronics & Photography: 90,000+
- © Fairfax NZ News
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