I'm not saying that trademe's growth is slowing, I am just becoming more and more interested in what tactics trademe will adopt when those growth lines start to level out a bit. I recently wrote an article for Rev2.org ( I'm a week-daily contributing editor there) about eBay's new neighborhood feature. Having already made a direct comparison between eBay and trademe's web 2.0 strategies, writing the post for Rev2 got me thinking about the topic again.
The thing is that trademe are so dominant in the New Zealand online space that they are still developing new offerings in order to take advantage of their relatively massive community. In other words, they re still growing like crazy. I am certain that their latest two major plays, travelbug and more recently new cars, will both be as successful as the foundational auction offering from the Wellington based e-commerce business.
So what happens after they have finished extracting every last drop of potential out of the obvious verticals that their community will demand online services and sales from? They are going to have to start getting a bit creative, a bit more "web 2.0". This is where the US based eBay is right now. Their growth has flat lined and they need new ideas.
One of the things that eBay are suffering from is too much content. Yes you heard me right, too much. The problem is that there are so many items for sale on eBay that customers are finding the site to be a bit hard to navigate when they are looking for something specific. eBay have outgrown their own information architecture. Trademe will probably never suffer from this, there just aren't enough people in New Zealand to generate too much content.
Sam Morgan is a very smart guy and so long as Fairfax pay him enough to stick with the idea of spending his IP at trademe I think they will be fine. However, there is no doubt in my mind that trademe need a plan. They can learn from eBay in the same way that they did by starting trademe in the first place. In a lot of ways this is another advantage that trademe have. They can let eBay do the testing and pick and choose what they think will be great when implemented for the NZ market.
From a customers perspective though, wouldn't it be nice to have some new 'cool' features on trademe now? Is there an opportunity for a new player to introduce a new auction site for the kiwi market that focuses on improving the customer experience?