So it's probably a very smart time for Sensis to take the Trading Post into the world of online auctions.
Today the Telstra subsidiary announced that they'd be launching auctions on the Trading Post website. And they've clearly structured their pricing model at disgruntled ebay sellers: it's free to list your item, you get the first photo free with every auction, and you only pay when you make a sale. On top of that, sales under $10 will only cost you 50 cents, while the most you'll pay for an auction is $24.95 on any item over $500.
Not only that, but they support a wide range of payment options including Paymate, bank transfers and credit cards.
Competition in this area can only be a good thing, especially with all the efforts ebay's had recently to drive away sellers. But the question is: will the Trading Posts's online auctions be good enough to draw users away from ebay? Or are we looking at another Sensis search situation here? Tell us your thoughts in comments.
The full press release, for those of you who get off on that kind of thing (you know who you are):
Trading Post® weighs into Online Auctions
27th May 2008
Sensis and its iconic Trading Post® business have weighed-in to the local online auction market with the launch of auctions on the new www.tradingpost.com.au website.
The move, a major part of Sensis' strategy to capitalise on the booming online growth of Trading Post®, is one of the most significant developments in Trading Post®'s 40 year history.
Launching the new website and auction capability, Sensis CEO, Bruce Akhurst said the Aussie icon Australians have loved buying and selling with for decades was entering an exciting new era.
"Introducing auctions opens up enormous opportunities for us to accelerate our growth online and capture a significant new market of buyers and sellers.
"On top of the 2 million people that already use www.tradingpost.com.au each month, there are an additional 3.4 million Australians using online auctions that are not currently using Trading Post®.1
"And while auctions have only just started on tradingpost.com.au, our aim is to build up the number of items available and become Australia's favourite place to buy and sell," he said.
Mr Akhurst said the investment in the Trading Post® website was an important part of the business' continued focus to provide its products over multiple-platforms.
"Sensis has taken decisive steps to return our classifieds business to growth. This includes successfully reducing the rate of decline in the circulation of our print publication, strengthening our online product and plans to further grow our presence in mobile.
"Through this investment in www.tradingpost.com.au, we are creating a new wave of growth for Trading Post® through a completely new revenue stream," Mr Akhurst said.
The Trading Post®'s announcement comes at a time when Australian sellers are up in arms following eBay's decision to force sellers to use its own payment service PayPal and as a result, pay higher selling fees.
"Trading Post®'s new website and auctions means we now offer a strong local alternative to eBay - one that lets you choose payment options and provides terrific value for money," Mr Akhurst said.
"Australian businesses that make their living trading online are screaming out for a way to trade online in which they have more control over how they do business.
"Trading Post® has been listening closely and is now providing auctions with a broad range of payment options for sellers to choose from. We've also made it easier to register, buy, sell, navigate, search and compare products online," he said.
Mr Akhurst's comments were supported by a Newspoll survey that confirmed 93 per cent of online sellers and 95 per cent of online buyers said it was important to have a choice of payment options when trading online.
President of Australia's Professional eBay Sellers Alliance, Phil Leahy, said he was pleased Trading Post® is providing a new platform that includes auctions and offers Australian sellers a viable alternative.
"Our members are in the business of trading online and anything Trading Post® can do to help competition by providing a more flexible environment and more affordable alternative, we support," he said.
Mr Akhurst said to successfully compete in the online auction market, Trading Post® needed to offer something different.
"As well as providing sellers with a choice of payment options, one of Trading Post®'s main points of difference is it is free to list your items for sale. This means you only pay a fee if you sell your item."
Mr Akhurst said Trading Post® was also focussed on providing personalised customer support by phone and email and a security program to verify the identity of online traders.
"Buying and selling online should be easy, fast and efficient and so should getting answers to any questions you may have along the way. That's why Trading Post® has a dedicated Australian-based customer support team to help buyers and sellers with queries seven days a week.
"Through our research, we know security is important for many people trading online. Trading Post® supports this by requiring people to supply an Australian address to register on our site. Furthermore, our Verified Trader program provides buyers and sellers the opportunity to verify themselves through a free 100-point identity check with Australia Post. That way we can provide people with more confidence they are buying or selling with someone based in Australia," said Mr Akhurst.
In developing the new website and its auction capability, Mr Akhurst said the business closely studied markets around the world and looked carefully for the right technology partners.
"We scoured the globe conducting research, market analysis and talking to the best technology providers. The end result is our partnership with Intershop, FAST and Satyam to deliver best-in-breed technology for tradingpost.com.au, similar to that employed by global IT leaders Hewlett Packard and Sun Microsystems, Mr Akhurst said.
Usage of www.tradingpost.com.au has increased by a compound annual growth rate of 33 per cent over the three years to July 2007. In March 2008, the site reached 2 million unique visitors for the first time. The Trading Post® newspaper, which comes out every Thursday, is read by 725,000 people each week.1Roy Morgan Single Source Australia, Jan - Dec 2007, base: Australians 14+
Sensis is Australia's leading information resource. Sensis' popular information services make complex lives simpler by helping Australians find, buy and sell. These services include Yellow™, White Pages®, Trading Post®, CitySearch®, UBD®, Gregory's® and Whereis®. Sensis provides advertising services to 420,000 Australian businesses, of which 90 per cent are SMEs.
® Registered trade mark of Telstra Corporation Limited (ABN 33 051 775 556). Sensis Pty Ltd (ABN 30 007 423 912) has responsibility for Production of Yellow™ and White Pages® directories and related products on behalf of Telstra Corporation Limited.