UPDATE: My reverse auction on new site Pricemaker closed at 5pm, finishing its day-long run.
I got two bids for my business on the item I want to buy – a Bosch dishwasher, chosen on the basis that it featured on the websites of both of Pricemaker's only two retail partners at this point: Magnus Benrow and 100%.
The whiteware model I was after* turned out to be no longer available.
One retailer offered a stainless steel step-up model for $1597, including free delivery.
The other quoted $1580, including free delivery.
(Both retailers are anonymous. If I choose an offer by the 10am tomorrow deadline, we then exchange contact details.)
They were both good prices, but not killer. Looking around (as I definitely have to do after only two quotes), Harvey Norman has the same model for $1659 with a $60 delivery charge – though I dare say they would talk turkey if presented with the offers above.
So: I got a glimpse of Pricemaker's potential to save time, and money.
But also of its limitations until more retail chains come onboard ... and I'm wondering if some will be that motivated to support a service that will naturally drive down prices.
Maybe they all will, once some kind of critical mass of sellers joins up.
* Sorry retailers, the auction was for journalistic purposes only and I'll be choosing neither of you.
There's been a lot of action in e-tail lately.
The likes of Wheedle, Geta and listselltrade are going for a full frontal assault on Trade Me.
And last week, we saw a fresh twist: a Kiwi-authored Facebook app called Buddy Bid that lets you target auction to your social media followers.
Now there's another crowd with a new(ish) angle.
Pricemaker is offering reserse auctions.
You list the item you want to buy, then retailers compete to offer you the lowest price.
It's a neat idea.
At the moment, Pricemaker suffers from the fact it has only two retailers signed up: Magnus Benrow and 100% Electrical.
So the discerning buyer is still going to have to work the phones and websites, or trudge around town to see how prices from Harvey Norman, Bond&Bond, JB Hi-Fi and so forth compare.
Still, you've got to start somewhere.
Pricemaker is run by Erin Walshe, who seems like a smart guy (he's held senior FX trading roles at ANZ and Westpac).
So hopefully he's going to get a bunch more retailers on board to make this a useful service. A third large retailer is in the wings, but unconfirmed, NBR ONLINE is told.
In the meantime, I've listed an auction, for a dishwasher, so I'll let you know how that goes (it's scheduled to end at 5pm today; I have to make a choice by 10am tomorrow.)
There are options to request details on delivery and finance pricing. Mr Walshe says that's the sort of info that will be included in a "sweetner" box when each retailer submits its bid.
It wasn't as easy as you might think to set up a bidding war between Magnus and 100%, as they have some brands in common but not many models.
Walshe told NBR retailers can offer a quote for any product, so if they don't have your desired product in stock they might offer a price on a comparable model.
Anyhow, check back later today or tomorrow to see how it went.
On Pricemaker, you can only see your own auctions, or what the bidding is, which is a pity. It would be good to see which areas are competitive, even if auctions are only displayed as anonymous (I'm auction No 45, so there's obviously been a smattering of first-day interest).
Retailers can see what each other are bidding for your business. The idea is it'll incentivise tem to get into a price war.