Trade Me rival Geta says glitches fixed after social media mob audit
UPDATE Oct 11: Geta has clarified its position on its redesign.
"We have acknowledged the input about Geta's design and have shifted the re-design of the website as our number one priority.
"The team at Geta will be working hard in creating a fresh new interface that will both be more eye-pleasing and easier to navigate.
"We are aiming to have this ready by end of next week for the public."
UPDATE Oct 10: Gerard Peters, chairman of latest Trade Me rival Geta, says developers have fixed problems with his site identified during yesterday's social media mob audit (the colloquial term for the phenomenon of web developers and geeks on Twitter, and Comments below, descending on a new website after it is featured in NBR, looking for security glitches or other problems).
The mob accused Geta of some scrappy web development practices.
Critiques have ranged from the aesthetic (J Bank's "the design hurts my eyes") to the technical.
Ben Gracewood (@nzben) elaborated that Geta is "not sanitising URL input," pointing to this page, and here where you can change the key word "hello" in the URL to anything you like. Geta will process the change - to the chagrin of Mr Gracewood.
"Rule number one with any web stuff is 'don't trust user input' he told NBR. Do not process anything the user types in without cleaning it.
"That means URLS, input boxes, anything. This is the central fail of Listselltrade and Geta. Wheedle's fails were multiple."
Meanwhile, your correspondent was unimpressed his password was emailed to him as plain text in a confirmation email. Mr Gracewood's verdict on that "Terrible."
Mr Peters says a redesign is pending in a couple of weeks to address the "eye hurt" issue over the look-and-feel of the site.
On the technical front, all issues raised yesterday have now been addressed by Geta developers, he says.
That's all very well, Mr Gracewood huffs, but "the problem with a mob audit is that we're not even trying. Who knows what deeper problems exist?"
@ruatara (the first to spot Wheedle's security hole that allowed one member to change another's pricing) offered, "They all should get this crap right and test themselves."
And still they come: third Trade Me rival gears for launch, reveals cunning plan
Oct 9: Meet the latest contender to take on Trade Me: Gerard Peters, a Malaysian ex-pat, IT industry veteran and, on the side, director of Xmotors, a company that imports American muscle cars.
His website Geta, which went live with classified ads a month ago, will add auction functionality within the next few days.
At this point, after Wheedle and listselltrade's problems, many readers will be rolling their eyes.
Trade Me rivals seem like so many whales determined to launch themselves at a beach. Or perhaps lemmings who can't be dissuaded from heading over a cliff.
Mr Peters has his tail up.
The Geta chairman points to five key features:
All listings are free, and will remain free. He plans to monetise the site from advertising around traffic (cue teeth sucking from mainstream media publishers). Whatever. New entrants always undercut Trade Me. As Mr Peters acknowleges, people still head for Trade Me because of its larger audience, and stronger brand.
Geta features a "Social Store" function that cross-promotes an auction to a business's Facebook page. Now we're talking. In comments after NBR's various articles on Wheedle and Listselltrade, many readers have named Facebook connectivity as something that's conspicuously missing from the online auction scene (as auction site insider Dylan Bland did in this post). Geta has done most of its marketing so far through Facebook, generating a healthy 9400 "Likes" (though a social media presence can be a mixed blessing, as Wheedle found when it was slagged mercilessly by Facebook fans during its aborted launch).
Video listings. Again, something conspicuously absent from Trade Me (at least for auctions; Trade Me recently soft-launched a video option for commercial retailers).
Customisable dealer pages. Mr Peters also said a Geta API, soon to be released. He was looking at integration with realestate site Open2View, and others in real estate. The idea is if they update listings on their site, the Geta version of their listings will be updated at the same time.
- Prompted by NBR about a the possibility of a function to import a Trade Me profile or reputation score (something else on readers' wishlist), Mr Peters said it was in the pipeline. "People want to know who they're doing business with. We're absolutely working on it," Mr Peters said. I suspect this statement will energise Trade Me's legal team. Whether Geta succeeds or fails, it will be interesting to see if it can set a precedent in this crucial area. Like Facebook connectivity, it's a feature with potential to help a newcomer circumvent the critical mass problem. (Trade Me did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)
Mr Peters had a familar tale of being sick of Trade Me's monopoly and increasing fees.
He also acknowledged that low or no fees was not enough to chase down the frontrunner. The old Catch-22 (or Sella-22, should we say) remains: most people won't list products until there's a critical mass of members - and most people won't joint until there's a critical mass of listings.
How many is enough?
After Geta's first month, Mr Peters claims 3000 members (whom he says generate 3000 to 10,000 page impressions a day between them).
How many constitute a critical mass? "Probably six figures," Mr Peters replied.
Trade Me claims just over 3 million active members (some individuals, some businesses).
Sella (now owned by Herald publisher APN) claims 550,000.
Dylan Bland revealed his Trade Me rival, Zillion (now part of Sella), gained 120,000 members. But it wasn't enough to solve the chicken-and-egg conundrum.
Looking for an investor
Geta's main problem is that it's no longer 1999. I'm not sure anyone can gain critical mass against Trade Me now. I suspect that when Sam Morgan and Jon Macdonald look at the competetive landscape now, they're looking more at overseas rivals, and local e-tailers like Fishpond and Mighty Ape (where Mr Bland now resides), as their real opposition as the site moves more and more beyond its auction roots.
Regardless, Mr Peters is going to give it the college try.
Geta will, at the very least, be more secure and robust than Wheedle, the chairman says.
Wheedle was outsourced and utilises templates, whereas Geta has been built from the ground up by a team of four over four years (in the interim, Mr Peters has made his living from other web development projects, plus his vehicle import business).
He currently has an "independent" web server arrangement, which he won't detail but says he is paying for out of his own pocket.
What next? Mr Peters is looking for equity investors, to fund a move to a proper server farm, and bankroll a nationwide campaign that will include billboards, and more social media marketing.
Trade Me shares [NZX:TME] - which hit a post IPO high of $4.10 last week - were up 0.25% to $4.09 in mid-afternoon trading, outpacing NZX50 whiich was down 0.15%.