Monthly Archives: December 2007

What's Hot This Week On Trade Me

Amongst the week’s hot offerings on Trade Me: a classic collectible featuring the Caped Crusader’s legendary Batmobile that’s already attracted 261 pageviews and 59 bids. Details on the car are sketchy, but – good old Trade Me community to the rescue – a more-informed passerby notes that this Corgi Batmobile “is the 1976 whizzwheel version and is missing the red beacon from on top of its canopy.” You’ll find the Batmobile here, but be quick: the auction closes on Wednesday (Jan 2) at 9.36am.


So what makes an item “Hot” on Trade Me? The Hot Listings category on Trade Me is simply a collection of the 1000 items currently on display on Trade Me that have attracted the most bids. Top of the listings as we write these words (but subject to change as bids ebb and flow) – an LG KU970 mobile phone which was listed for $1 but, after 177 bids, is currently deemed to be worth $248. At the other end of the spectrum, a number of items with 23 bids apiece are sharing last place in the Hot 1000. They range from the ethereal (World of Warcraft characters on the block for $151) to the obscure (10 metres of camouflage netting can be yours for as little as $30) to the ordinary (trampolines, cellphones, dishwashers).

And how can you make your own auctions hot? Well (ahem) we have written a book which covers exactly that topic at some length. In a nutshell, though, it’s a mix of: 

  • appropriate pricing — many of the hot auctions started life at $1 No Reserve, although that’s not a price point we recommend for every product (that strategy is a great way to go broke fast)
  • headlines that sizzle and sell (see Trade Me Success Secrets for eight types of compelling headlines)
  • descriptions that enlighten and inform
  • a closing call to action that drives bids
  • and promotion to the right people in the right place at the right time

Easy, right?      

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Christmas Misery or Marketing Ploy?

The reindeer were barely back in their stables, enjoying a well-deserved munch of frosted hay, when the first listings for “unwanted gift” began appearing on Trade Me. Two days after Christmas, the count – at least of those items actually labelled as unwanted gifts — currently stands at 766. Tip of the iceberg?

Probably. But, at the risk of being branded post-Christmas humbugs and unseasonal Scrooges, may we respectfully submit our observation that at least some of the so-called “unwanted gifts” currently being peddled on Trade Me are actually nothing of the kind.

What are we to make, for example, of the poor unfortunate trader who apparently received not one, not two but three necklaces made from shell, each being sold as unwanted bling in the new age & spirituality section? Or the Tupperware Large Cake Container, billed as “an unwanted gift which I have used only a couple of times”? Really? Since Christmas?

We’re not sure whether to feel sorry for — or denounce as a marketer — the poor unfortunate person selling four different XBox360 games as gifts supposedly bought for but rejected by an ungrateful son.  And we really should point out to the person selling money tins that describing a couple of listings as “unwanted gifts” strains credibility when simultaneously listing other money tins as part of an ongoing product range.

We have a little more belief in (and sympathy for) the regifter of the Ab King Pro fitness equipment, “still has plastic wrapping, includes dvd and diet plan” — the gift that keeps on nagging. We can’t help but feel sorry for the generous gift-giver whose $653 Pascoes gift voucher is now being offered at a discount on Trade Me by a recipient who says she “doesn’t wear very much jewellery, so has no real use for it”.  And we worry about the person selling the wedding keepsake, expressing good wishes for an upcoming wedding — but now unwanted.

When it comes to unwanted Christmas gifts, frankly, we would expect to find many more listings such as the “elf on a sunflower” ornament or the Moon & Star Phone Charm. And what ever happened to those hideous knitted cardigans and flamboyant ties and scarves beloved of well-meaning but hopelessly out-of-date maiden aunts?

Today’s listings on Trade Me are far too pedestrian. Of course, they’ll probably sell.

If you’re contemplating regifting some of your own Christmas knicknacks, some suggestions as noted on

Is the gift regiftable?  Never regift handmade or one-of-a-kind items.  Signed books and monogrammed items are off-limits.  Do you have to be told not to regift free promotional items?  Some gifts that are good candidates for regifting include good (unopened!) bottles of wine, new household items and inexpensive jewellery.

How is the condition?  Only new, unopened gifts in good condition should be considered for regifting.  Never give partially used gift cards.  Don’t give items that you have owned for a long time.  A general rule of thumb:  if you have to dust it off, it is not regiftable. 

Is this going to work?  Successful regifters use common sense.  If you are going to regift, be sure you know who gave you the item, so you don’t return something to the original giver.  Only regift items to people who are not likely to see the original giver.

Do you have good intentions?  Don’t just give a gift to give a gift.  Be sure that the recipient will appreciate the item.  Remember, if you feel that an item is undesirable, the recipient probably will too.  If you are regifting simply because you ran out of time, gift cards are simple to obtain and always well received.

How does it look?  When it comes to gift-giving, go for show!  While gift bags in good condition can be reused, wrapping paper is a one-time thing.  Always spring for a new card or gift tag.

Can you handle it?  If you don’t plan to announce the gift as a regift, ask yourself if you can keep the secret.  Never feel guilty about regifting once you’ve done it. 

Have you considered your options?  An unwanted gift could be a welcome donation to a charitable organization. It is also an option to suck it up and keep an unwanted gift—after all, it was a gift.

All good advice for regifting on Trade Me (or eBay) as well! 

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The Christmas Cruise

You may have noticed that Trade Me first hit the magical million listings mark — 1,000,000 auctions concurrently listed — back in October this year. Because Trade Me’s auction base is largely rebirthed every week (old auctions expiring every second, new listings being created at the same frantic pace), that glorious total fluctuated a little bit at first, occasionally dropped back to six figures, before stabilising above a million throughout November and the first two weeks of December.

For the last week, however, that total has been dropping, as listings expire or products are snapped up by increasingly frantic last-minute Christmas shoppers. We are now effectively at the point where it’s too late to close an auction and get the product shipped in time for Christmas.  Yes, items can still be picked up — or gift vouchers created, redeemable after Christmas – but our hard-working posties and couriers are nearly at breaking point.

Even so, as we write these words there are still some 859,000 items on sale on Trade Me. Not every item on offer is a gift, of course — but it made us wonder. How low will Trade Me numbers go this Christmas?

Those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it, so we decided not to make that same mistake twice. We took a look back to see what’s been happening on Trade Me over the last five years worth of Christmases. Here’s what we found:

  • In October 2003, typical listing numbers: 116,000. Late December: 80,000
  • October 2004: 272,000. December 2004: 183,000
  • October 2005: 498,000. December 2005: 379,000
  • October 2006: 737,000. December 2006: 512,000
  • October 2007: 1,000,000. 12 noon 25 December 2007: Your best guess?

Post your answer here as a comment in response to this blog entry. We’ll give a copy of Trade Me Success Secrets (Second Edition) to the answer that’s closest to the actual number!

Oh yes — entries close 10pm Monday 24 December. No entries timestamped thereafter will be counted!

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Really, Really 24-7

The most surprising change on Trade Me over the last two years — captured but not especially highlighted in Chapter Ten of both the first and second editions of the book on which this blog is based – is just how round-the-clock Trade Me trawling has become.

In 2005, weekday visits were at their lowest between 3am and 4am, with around two thousand visitors on Trade Me at that particularly wee small hour. We thought back then that those two thousand really should get a life.

Fast-forward to late 2007, and when we did the analysis again – using appropriate software to grab the numbers on an hour by hour basis, we must add (we’re not that Trade Me addicted) — we were surprised/horrified/your-adjective-here to discover that the lowest attendance numbers on Trade Me didn’t fall below fourteen thousand people, even at 4-5am. They can’t all be nightshift-workers.

Most of the other critical Trade Me numbers (members, traffic, listings) have essentially doubled over the past two years. Early morning visits, however, are up seven-fold. What’s happening here?

We did a quick search for “vampire”. Hmm, 598 listings. Maybe, just maybe …. 

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A Pago Update

Late last year the ASB Bank launched Pago, a mobile and online payment service. If you’re not familiar with the offering, a quick introduction: “Pago allows customers to make digital cash payments to friends and families online or via their mobile phone. They can also shop online without a credit card.” For the full sales pitch, head over to

The main benefit of Pago, at least from a Trade Me perspective: Pago allows buyers to send instant cleared payments to sellers. If you have enough money in your Pago account (you can store up to $200) just send a text or email to the seller. If they have a Pago account as well, they get the money instantly. It speeds up the buying process as quickly as — well, as quickly as using a credit card.

At the time that Pago was launched, sellers couldn’t offer credit card processing on Trade Me unless they had their own merchant account or were signed up to PayPal. Pago seemed a great alternative, offering instant payment possibilities (although with the minor inconvenience of both buyer and seller having to set up a Pago account). Pago and Trade Me seemed a natural fit, with the Trade Me’s younger audience so wedded to their mobiles already. 

Unfortunately for Pago, however, Australian credit-card processor PayMate turned up on Trade Me (offering credit cards as a payment option) not long after Pago launched, to be followed in mid-2007 by Trade Me’s own credit card service Pay Now. Buyers, given the choice of using Pago or their existing credit card, are more likely to follow the path of least resistance — using a facility with which they’re already familiar. As a result, there’s been no particular pressure on Trade Me sellers to offer the Pago service.    

That said, however, there’s been some promotion of Pago of late, especially on the ASB Bank’s website, and it’s obviously having some effect. Latest Pago statistics:

  • The Pago service is now growing by 200 customers a day 
  • Pago has attracted more than 15,000 customers in 12 months
  • Christmas shoppers have boosted transactions by 300% in November 2007
  • The average Pago transaction is around $22

If you’re a Trade Me seller, you should offer as many payment options as possible. There may not be many Pago customers right now, but the sign-up process is pretty painless — and the offering might just one day create a sale that you wouldn’t otherwise have had.

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In Our Latest Newsletter

The latest issue of our email newsletter README has just hit the virtual newsstands. Content includes:

Should You Offer Pay Now?
Fascinating facts and figures on “Trade Me’s most important release of 2007″

Christmas in e-otearoa
What Kiwis want for Christmas, according to research from Nielsen//Netratings.

If you’d like to see a free copy of this month’s newsletter, just send us an email at with SAMPLE in the subject line.

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David Beckham: Corncobs, DNA and Domain Names

We Kiwis are supposedly blasé about celebrities, pretty much leaving them alone as they wander the highways and byways of New Zealand. Tall poppy syndrome, respect for privacy — or sadly ill-informed and unaware of the famous folk in our midst? The reasons don’t really matter.

But when it comes to real superstars, any feigned Kiwi indifference goes out the window. Just look back at our reaction to the recent visit of the world’s most famous footballer, David Beckham. Adoring crowds, rabid fans — and those who are happy to exploit Beckham-mania in the hope of making a bob or two. As Stuff noted in its story last week, “Becks’ dirt dished on Trade Me“:  

A mystery customer swiped the football star’s cutlery moments after he had finished his meal at Nando’s restaurant in Courtenay Place. The entire haul – including a half-eaten corn cob, a knife and fork with pieces of food still on them, a glass, and a half-filled Coke bottle – have now been listed on Trade Me.

The restaurant obviously needs to look a little more closely at who it lets through its doors. Yet another larcenous diner managed to swipe poor David’s serviette, and has spent the last week trying to flog the superstar’s DNA on Trade Me at a starting price of $500. Thankfully, cloning and genetic modification are still off the menu in this country, so the auction closed without any takers (though with some 371 curious visitors). We’re not sure how Victoria would react if little Beckham lookalikes suddenly started appearing throughout Aotearoa …

The domain name has also been on offer through Trade Me this week, Unlike the serviette, however, this auction started at $1, which has proven (as it often does*) to be a most unwise marketing strategy. The Nelsonian seller, who bought the domain a week ago for around $27, has just managed to resell the name for $2. Once you include the $19.95 fee for listing Domain Names on Trade Me, our intrepid entrepreneur is out about $45 on this little investment.

*We’re not knocking $1 auctions — they’re wonderful for the right products, but only those that are very popular and thus will attract a lot of interest (and convert into frenzied bidding). Otherwise, as the man from Nelson has just discovered, such auctions tend to be very expensive (see pages 166-171 of Trade Me Success Secrets Second Edition for advice on the right pricing strategies). The time to sell was during the feverish build-up to his arrival, not after the party was over.

PS A word to the lucky buyer of the domain name: be very careful what you do with it. There are major copyright issues involved in using registered brands in domain names, and the courts have come down strongly in favour of the copyright owners. And make no mistake about it, David Beckham is a brand — and, as we’ve just seen, a very magical and powerful brand!

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Trade Me Job Lots

If you’re a heavy duty advertiser of job vacancies — typically a recruitment agency, government department or the HR arm of a large company — then you’ve long been able to enjoy volume discounts when advertising on Trade Me Jobs.

For others recruiting on a regular but low-volume basis, though, your options have been rather more limited.

Good news! Just in time for the “New Year, New Job” recruitment drives, Trade Me has announced the availability of Job Packs – prepaid packs available for use over six months.

Casual advertisers currently pay $69 to list a vacancy on Trade Me Jobs. Now Trade Me has just begun offering its new prepaid packs:

  • A five-pack will enable you to place five jobs within a six-month period at $60 each (plus GST)
  • Ten-pack: $55 plus GST per job
  • Twenty-pack: $50 +GST each job
  • Fifty-pack: $45 +GST each job

Trade Me’s high-volume offerings kick in at $43.50+GST per job, but require ongoing commitments. The prepaid packs (just pop them on your plastic fantastic) are a useful halfway house for advertisers with only occasional job recruitment urges.

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Amazon Offers "Bill Me Later"

The world’s leading online retailer announced yesterday (story via RetailWire) that the company was taking a stake in the Bill Me Later payment service and that it would make the payment option available to consumers on its website.

As the name implies, the Bill Me Later service enables customers to make online purchases now and pay for them at a later date. Shoppers click on the Bill Me Later option when checking out. The service asks the shopper for the last four digits of their Social Security number along with date of birth. The service does a quick credit check, okays the purchase and pays the merchant. Shoppers then receive a bill a couple of weeks later and consumers pay through online banking or mail a cheque.

Sooner or later a similar service will emerge in New Zealand, offering delayed payment terms to creditworthy customers. It’s a natural fit for Trade Me, and will make it a lot easier to buy and sell large-ticket items on the site.

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