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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 24th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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What ever happened to?

16 March 2017

Hands up if you remember any of the online auction sites that once started off with a hiss and a roar, promising to dethrone TradeMe.

There have been quite a few of these sites and although they started with great optimism and promise, it seems that none has realised its claims or captured more than a tiny fragment of the online trading market here in New Zealand.

With TM boosting its prices and commissions at every turn, why on earth are they still the biggest game in town and why can't anyone (not even Facebook) seem to crack this lucrative market?

Well before I address that question, perhaps we should take a look at some of those pretenders to the crown and see where they are now.

First cab off the rank would have to be Wheedle. This site was launched with a hiss and a roar, promising to have lots of capital and an aggressive marketing campaign that would give it a high profile right from the start.

Sadly, that just didn't happen. In fact the launch of Wheedle was a fiasco, with the site effectively turned off as quickly as it was turned on due to bugs and problems.

You only get one chance to make a first impression and Wheedle blew it - big time!

Then there is ListSellTrade which, surprisingly, is still going!

It is rather telling however, that the $1m prize offered to one lucky user once the site hits its 500,000th paid user has yet to be paid out even after four years of operation. Looking at the listings, I doubt it will ever be paid out because that half-million users is probably never going to happen.

There was also promising site called Bananas4Free but when I tried to check it this morning I only got a "Forbidden" page.

The king of the printed trading papers, Trade and Exchange merged with Sella to try and create a unified competitor to TradeMe but sadly, that didn't seem to work out either.

The online classified advertising site SellIt is pretty much just a ghost-town now -- with ads from as long as a decade ago remaining online - unmanaged and unpruned.

And who remembers Zillion?

Well not the DNS, that's for sure. Zillion.co.nz

I'm sure I've probably missed a few (readers can chime in with those by way of the forums) but that's a pretty good list of the "tried and failed" attempts to come up with a TradeMe-killer online auction/trading site.

Does that mean that TM will never be dethroned?

No it doesn't. One of the great truths of the universe is that "nothing ever happens until the first time" so I'm pretty sure that given enough capital, the right ideas (which I still think *I* have) and sufficient tenacity, TM could be relegated to second division.

Sadly however, most of NZ's money is still going into unproductive areas such as the property market and few people really have the rare combination of vision and capital that would be required to accomplish this worthy (and ultimately very profitable) goal.

What do readers think -- will TM ever be deposed as king?

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