Wheedle relaunch Monday

KeallHauled

Chris Keall

UPDATE / Sunday April 14: Wheedle has quietly come back online ahead of its official relaunch Monday.

The site went live yesterday, managing director and co-owner Carl Rees said when NBR Online contacted him this morning.

The auction site originally launched on October 1 last year, but closed for re-tooling just two days later after gaping security holes were exposed - including one that let you change the price on another member's listing.

The Christchurch company's backers include NBR Rich Lister and Mainfreight founder Neil Graham, who told NBR the project had a $10 million+ budget. The original launch was backed by high-rotate TV and radio ads.

"Throughout Wheedle’s endeavours we have retained solid financial backing and support," Rees said.

That includes the return of TV, radio and online ads tomorrow.

But don't look for shots of Rees trout fishing, a la Paul Reynolds' XT mea culpa.

The ads will feature the same creative as October, the MD said. The company doesn't use an ad agency. All its ads were developed inhouse, then handed to a production company (Orly Productions).

Wheedle Take I was developed in India. Wheedle Take II was developed by an un-named local crew, and Rees earlier told NBR it would be subject to rigorous independent testing before going live.

"The function inaccuracies [in Wheedle I] were caused by our own doing and they have since been fixed," Rees said this morning.

"Furthermore, we have rebuilt significant areas of our application and redesigned our database and server architecture to enhance the performance."

He added, "I would like to point out that our website security was never threatened or hacked and all member login and password information was fully encrypted and securely stored, we have since deleted all member information. Nevertheless, for peace of mind we have again contracted an independent internet security specialist to thoroughly audit our application and system infrastructure before going online."

While there was never a claim that personal or credit card details were accessed, I'm sure many would count listings being edited by other users as a hack.

In any case, Auckland software developer Ben Gracewood - one of those who publicised problems with Wheedle I - says his very early take on Wheedle II is that security is tighter, and functions like password reset safer.

The relaunch features a $1 reserve auction for a Ford Fiesta, with proceeds going to St John.

There are two other promotions: all listings are free until May 13, and there's the chance to win a smartphone a week (with a choice of iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S III) if you become a verified member.

Ahead of Wheedle's original launch, Mr Graham told NBR the site would be hosted on 40 servers at IBM's new state-of-the-art data centre at Highbury in Auckland. Today. Mr Rees said he couldn't comment on hosting "for security reasons."

ABOVE: The new-look Wheedle.

No market-cracking feature
Wheedle II has a cleaner interface, but not some of the front-foot features suggested after Wheedle I failed such as tight integration with a social media account, or the ability to import a Trade Me profile and reputation rating (something that sparked a threat of legal action from Trade Me when suggested by another action start-up).

Again, Wheedle will have to hope its lower fees will be enough to spark it toward a critical mass of users.

While many agree with Mr Graham that Trade Me needs some competition, the market leader's near-monopoly has only strengthened in the meantime with APN closing free-listing site Sella (which claimed 550,000 users, although its number of listings suggested a more modest membership).

The experience of Sella and others suggests you can't compete against Trade Me on price when everyone knows its huge membership guarantees more bids and a higher sale price.

Right now, the chicken-and-egg critical mass problem is glaring.

Many Wheedle II sections are thinly populated or feature no listings at all.

And of course this time Wheedle faces the additional hurdle of having to win back people's trust.

Still, you've got to start somewhere.

Again.

Rees said he's been in the office 7am to 7pm, seven days a week.

And life just more complicated with the birth of his baby daughter four weeks ago.

Good luck to him and the Wheedle team. Trade Me needs competition.

But the hard yards have only just begun.

ckeall@nbr.co.nz


Get ready for Wheedle, take two

Jan 17, 2013: Trade Me rival Wheedle, which closed for retooling on October 2, will shortly return.

"We are working hard to get things done and ready for a new launch," managing director Carl Rees told NBR ONLINE this morning.

"I have penciled in a new launch date. At this stage all I can say is it is not too far away ... we will launch within weeks."

The comeback will be supported by TV advertising.

The site was closed after a number of bugs were publicised via social media, including the ability to easily change the price on another member's listing.

Rees promised an independent audit, and improvements, before the auction site reopened.

Back in October, the MD told NBR, "The fixes are minimal compared to the size of our entire source code and development. We identified the areas where we had problems and we have engaged an independent company to do the fixes ... for peace of mind."

This morning he added, "We have made a number of good functionality changes and the design and layout has been improved."

New crew
Wheedle drew flak in some circles for hiring staff in India for its initial build, although Rees said the key problem was insufficient pre-launch testing.

Rees refused to identify the independent company implementing the bug fixes, or where it was located.

"All I can say is that it’s not the company that WINZ used of late," he joked.

A rash of contenders launched against Trade Me last year. Most were small time, quixotic stabs at the incumbent, but Wheedle, whose backers include NBR Rich Lister and Mainfreight founder Neil Graham had a $10 million+ budget (by Graham's account to NBR) and was backed by a high-rotation TV and radio ad campaign during its brief initial run.

How it could do better
I still believe doing the same thing with cheaper fees will not be enough to lure people attracted by Trade Me's scale, whatever the budget (if you don't believe my, read this excellent essay by Dylan Bland, who has been there and done that taking on the monopolist).

Let's hope Wheedle take two adds some spice to the mix. Bland, and various NBR commenters, have suggested features that would instantly address the chicken-and-egg scale issue, such as better social media connectivity, or the ability to import or otherwise quote a Trade Me community rating - a suggestion that drew a threat of legal action from Trade Me when it was mooted by another auction start-up, Geta.

Rees won't detail Wheedle's new features ahead of re-launch day.

But whatever happens, you've got to admire his Rocky spirit.


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41 Comments & Questions

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It will take some doing to wheedle its way back into our good books.

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Sorry guys, I think you might still have some problems.

I got the email (as a previously registered user) but can't get in even trying a new registration albeit under my old user name, or do anything on the site.

Please fix it fast, we need you.

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Follow up to my first comment- Persistance pays. went around things a different way and could set up new account.

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Have you heard of Knomee? Awesome platform for buying and selling online check it out at knomee.co.nz. Totally different interface and awesome user friendly features not to mention no success fees, no withdrawal fees and way more points of difference eg 'make an offer' feature is live all the way thru the auction process, and those offers are only known to the seller allowing them to get top offer silently.......check it out

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When using, I ended up on beta3.wheedle.co.nz

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I did too! and http://beta2.wheedle.co.nz/ . Useless. This site cant be trusted.

"contracted an independent internet security specialist " haha what a joke.

The best part about the article is the new Web company that help rebuild the new website doesn't want to be mentioned. They know we will find security holes. LOL

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They spammed me as I previously asked to removed my email addres when they had their old site. Don't have much faith of they can't even manage unsubscriptions

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Why do i get emails from Wheedle when i unsubscribed last year? SPAM much. Does that mean they held on to my user details even after claiming to remove all personal info?

BTW. ...The site looks hideous. What's with the image magnify ? ...

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That's what I would like to know too. Otherwise where else did they get my details from. I tried again to unsubscribe, and iI got and error that said it was already processing my unsubscription.

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Let's give these guys a moment to launch it properly. No point using previously registered details. Start with a clean slate, and good luck to them I say. We need more competition.

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I've already given these guys a fair fighting chance. They let us down.

I've been using another website that started roughly around the same time as Wheedle last year http://www.geta.co.nz (these are the guys who were thinking of introducing Trade Me feedback and ratings to their website). It's free to use and there is no listing fees of any sort. Only down thing is it's a straight buy and sell website, not an auction site. But it has served me well so far. I don't plan to change!

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Seems their response to this tweet
https://twitter.com/IanTLS/status/323209063573909504
was to disable HTTPS so search works

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But they still managed to email me.

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Good luck guys

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"Kiwi owned and operated" is a nice point of difference if you're already level pegging with your competitor, but is otherwise meaningless in my experience with Digirama. The pain point for me with Trade Me is the time it takes to write up the details and work out a reasonable price. How about some sort of Google Goggles implementation where the site works out what's in your photo, looks up the specs and suggests a price range from past sales of the same item. List an item with a couple of taps on your smartphone, now that would be cool.

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But wasn't the website developed in India? Not exactly supporting NZ web designers and developers if it was. At least trademe is developed here in Wellington, and it is also largely NZ owned too, as many NZ share holders own it. Isn't Wheedle instead privately owned?

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Matt, you need to read the article more closely.

"Wheedle Take I was developed in India. Wheedle Take II was developed by an un-named local crew"

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Why won't they let us know the name of the NZ company that built the new Wheedle? I think they must be afraid.

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Welcome Wheedle.. Best of luck.

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Just got an email from them announcing after testing etc they were back up, with a link to click. Of course the link does not respond and even going to their URL direct doesn't respond..... not looking good. I will give it a miss. You had your chance and blew it guys......

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With a branding of "Wheedle", you wouldn't want to get your hopes up, too high, that it will come good.

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Hello people do not start to judge Wheedle give them time to breath!!
NANOGEN was on WHEEDLE just for those first few days and we noticed traffic starting to flow on to our website .Wheedle we are happy you are back :))

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Common guys instead of simply blaming them just give them a chance...otherwise you will end up paying all your money to Trade Me...

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There other alternatives that are better than Wheedle and cheaper.

http://www.listselltrade.co.nz/

And the best one:

http://www.Geta.co.nz

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I just registered now. Planning to leave Trade Me

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Just planning? It doesn't sound like you have much confidence in the switch if you're only just 'planning' to leave.

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Hey guys, it's build for you..Try to welcome it instead of just blaming..

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I registered succesfully without any probs...good work guys...

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Wheedle is now on IP (202.68.94.178) so the web hosting went from IBM (http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2651/5762673445_818ee9d1a4.jpg) to DTS http://gallery.dts.net.nz/var/resizes/DTS-Folder/Datacenter-Build/IMG_74... (YES THAT IS OFFICE HEAT PUMPS ON THE WALL!) I have no idea why they left a Tier 3+ Datacentre to go to a really cheap office made Tier -1 DC in Wellington?
I personally believe they want super cheap hosting as they are concerned with the CAPEX required to host a large site such as TradeMe!

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Is that in the building in Upper Hutt?

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The IP address a server's connection sits on has nothing to do with the data centre it's hosted in. A DTS IP address means DTS connectivity. It reflects nothing about the physical location of the hosted servers. IBM is not an ISP.

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Everyone deserves a (few) second chances. Good luck.

Apart from the geeks, who gives a toss about where they are hosting. I would hope they are sensible enough to realise a lack of capacity would be a basic and bad thing. My 2c worth would be put it onto the Sydney EC2 environment and scale as required.

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A few comments along the 'good luck' and 'give them a chance (again)'. Hopefully, for the investors sake, luck, forgiveness and special pleading to customers is not the central strategy to displace the incumbent.

In what other fields of customer experience would you persist with something like this? Would you go back to a restaurant that was otherwise empty, with bad customer service and a limited choice if there was a vibrant place with the opposite but costing 10% more down the road?

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Trade Me wasn't perfect when it first came on line, and in fact there have been many bugs recently with their changes. How about giving Wheedle a go. Competition is always a good thing. These people have put a lot of time and money into this venture, and I think we can cut them a little slack in the early days.

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I gave it a go. Verdict: Like Trade Me, but not in the same ball park. They haven't done anything better. Usability wise, imo it is worse than Trade Me. Design-wise, it really needs some finesse. Where is the responsive design? Where is the mobile site? Where is the "Wow, this cool" factor... The site to me looks like a few guys with some cash thought "let's setup a site to compete with Trade Me", and paid some developers to build it. The key is, I don't think they tried to build a better experience. There is no passion in this idea because they copied another one, there is nothing new in this site.

If any new auction site wants to compete with Trade Me then they need to be at the top of their game, from launch, and give something different, something better.

I'm waiting for something better.

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wheedle

Verb
1, Employ endearments or flattery to persuade someone to do something or give one something: "you can wheedle your way onto a court".
2. Coax or persuade someone to do something.

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Haven't had a look at any security vulnerabilities yet - not sure I can be bothered as I'm sure others will! Superficial look at the http responses doesn't inspire confidence though - multiple duplicated requests for the same JS files at different URLs, no amalgamation or even minification of much of the rather large number of separate JS or CSS files loaded, top nav that breaks on a whim (presume poor JS) - life's too short to go on. Oh, and about a third of the image requests on the first listing page 404'd.

This is cr*p - feels like it was built by amateurs using some kinda framework they don't understand and have bolted together badly. All too common these days, alas, but sad for a new site which has just been pulled for a six-month "quality enhancement". Would seem that has just been a lipstick-on-a-pig job, wonder why it took so long?!

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I was getting errors in image upload ,but seems to be fixed now.uploaded all images without probs..

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Hi everyone, Just to let you people know that the new Wheedle is develeped by Sod Technologies http://www.sodtechnologies.com/

An India company... Well, I am one of the developers :)

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So Sella has joined the Ozymandias Club, Wheedle the Lazarus Club and TradeMe is still in the Goliath Club. My site, www.sellbuynet.com, is still in the David Club.

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Can't get it going for the love of trying

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