The publication that helped inspire Sam Morgan to create Trade Me is to go online-only from the end of this month.
Here’s how we describe the moment of creation in Trade Me Success Secrets:
There’s a wonderful company legend that goes something like this: in early 1999, 23-year-old Sam Morgan was looking for a second-hand heater to help him survive a draughty Wellington flat. Being computer-savvy (in fact, he was an IT consultant for Deloitte at the time) Sam turned to the Internet to help with his quest, but couldn’t find what he wanted among New Zealand websites. The closest was the website for Trade & Exchange, but listings on that site were held back until a week after they’d been published in the paper. By the time Sam found an appropriate listing and phoned up, everything had been sold. That experience inspired him to create Trade Me.
Well, times have moved on, and the Trade & Exchange website is a fully-functioning service these days. Here’s what the T&E press release had to say about the impending closure:
As from the end of November, Trade & Exchange plans to close its paper publications in Auckland and Wellington and concentrate solely on its online service.
Managing Director, Peter Whitmore, said that online traffic had been growing and paper sales had been falling for several years now. “It has reached the stage where around ten times more people visit the website each week than purchase a paper. And compared to the papers, they gain access to around 50 times as many listings.”
Launched in early 1981 by Peter and Jill Whitmore, the Auckland Trade & Exchange was the first free ads paper in New Zealand and also one of the earliest in the world. In 1989 the Wellington edition opened and for a period there was also an edition serving the Manawatu, Wanganui and Taranaki areas. All these papers grew from small beginnings to become major classified advertising publications in their markets.
The Trade & Exchange web site. te.co.nz, launched in 1998, was New Zealand’s first major online trading site. Despite the success of Trademe with the auction model, TE has stayed with an open classified approach that allows buyers and sellers to contact each other directly, and gives the opportunity to view goods before a purchase is made. In terms of listing numbers it is now the largest free advertising site in the country.
“If we could keep the papers open we would”, said Whitmore, “because although most people are now online. there is still a dedicated group of readers who use the papers regularly. However, unfortunately circulations have reached a point where the papers are no longer economic to produce.”
It’s always sad when a publication closes. We wish T&E well in their new focus.