Australia’s oldest marketplace charts digital growth

GeoffHolmesAussie consumers’ penchant for snapping up a bargain and capitalising on its standing as a trusted marketplace are fuelling bumper ambitions for Australia’s first buy-and-sell marketplace.

Trading Post hit 50 years in the marketplace last year and has aggressive growth strategies in place. Since being acquired by a group of Australian e-commerce entrepreneurs – comprised of ex CarSales.com.au, Webjet and REA in mid-2015 from Telstra – who have somewhat overhauled the company by changing the pricing model to a free one and implementing a dedicated development team to manage its new platform.

The website has since grown to see more than one million unique visitors a month under the leadership of CEO, Geoff Holmes. The group’s growth strategy has also seen the acquisition of jobs and services booking website, Service Central in 2016, along with partner investor, Bell Potter.

This month Holmes and Trading Post CFO, Rod Bradenburg, have been in Sydney and Melbourne to meet with potential investors to raise $15m they look to continue the groups steady growth – and go head to head with US-owned Gumtree.

Speaking to Inside Retail, Holmes said the brand’s heritage helps solidify trust with consumers – at a time when cyber security is increasingly on consumers’ radar. “Trading Post has been a part of everyone’s household since the late 60’s,” he said. “You or someone you know probably bought your first car through it – it’s as iconic to Australia as a jar of Vegemite.

“Starting as a weekly newspaper in 1966, Trading Post was the place to go when you needed something odd, something cheaper, or you just wanted something special. It’s our rich heritage and that is what makes us one of the most trusted names in the Australian retail industry.”

In that time, Holmes said the brand had learned “just how much Australians value a safe online marketplace,” he said.

“The number of Aussies affected by online scams and fraud these days is frightening and amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars lost each year.

“We decided to do something about it and built proprietary systems along with implementing a 24 x 7 x 365 trust and safety team to ensure that TradingPost is a safe place for our buyers and sellers. We now get comments almost daily from customers who notice the difference these trust & safety systems make and thank us for it.”

Holmes said customers trust the brand as it is symbiotic with Australia’s working class heart, ingenuity and ability to snap up a bargain.

“It’s also fair to say that over its 50 plus year history, TradingPost has done a great job of looking after it’s buyers and sellers,” he said.

“Trading Post is still trusted as the fair go for Aussie consumers who want a safe local marketplace and our strategies and plans are staying true to the brand, just updating the technology.”

The marketplace has set lofty targets this year, with  plans to triple its website visitation numbers by the end of 2017 after a 25 per cent increase in users last year.

In February, a free property was launched with 50,000 listings. Holmes said the brand has taken key learnings over the last few years in the face of digital technology tapidly changing multiple industries.

“We listen to our customers and are always looking for ways to give both our buyers and sellers the latest tools and the new features that they are looking for,” he said.

“One example that was rolled out last year is the ability to easily upload videos to ads on TradingPost. We’ve now got around 20,000 ads on the site with one or more videos attached, and as expected, these ads get great engagement and sell quickly, which goes to show that our customers are right when they tell us they want something.”

“The easier we make things, the more our customers tend to do with us and spend with us,  also, and this is something I think all of the founders brought with us from our past digital lives, is that to be successful in this business you have to own your own tech…and constantly innovate. If you haven’t got a great software development team in this business, you’re in trouble. We’re fortunate to have one of the best in the business that we’re very proud of.”

Trading Post is looking to accelerate all its metrics this year, with ambitions to grow total ad numbers past the two million mark. “We’re going to be rolling out more new tools to our business customers to help them streamline their digital strategies and get more bang for their buck from their online advertising spend too,’ said Holmes.

“Off the back of our capital raise we also plan to create more noise through new marketing initiatives and continue to welcome more and more Aussies to TradingPost as the safe place to buy and sell.”

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