Market Tree

Welcome to the blog for Market Tree, the new web site for buying and selling goods and services in the UK

Category: Announcements

Daily and weekly E-mail subscription service restored?

Automattic WordPress’s daily and weekly E-mail subscription service seems to have been restored. This means that this and future posts to our blog should result in subscribers receiving a new post notification via E-mail.

WordPress Support have not yet given the promised update to this issue, so either they are still working on it, or else they have fixed it and just not informed us as promised (or worse, they they have stopped working on it without having fixed it).

It’s a small Christmas gift, but we are not complaining!

Advertisements

We are awarded G-Cloud 4 framework supplier status

Our fixed-price and auction marketplace service has now been awarded supplier status in the government’s new G-Cloud 4 CloudStore. This will allow all public sector organisations – both national and local – to follow a much-simplified EU-compliant procedure to select Market Tree for their E-commerce needs (for example: to dispose of surplus assets via fixed-price sale or auction).

The founder of Market Tree, Ian Marshall, says:

The award of supplier status to the government’s cloud computing store called ‘CloudStore’ will allow us to supply public sector organisations with an easy way to dispose of surplus stocks and assets, and so release public money for more effective use elsewhere.

The use of cloud computing allows customers to focus on what they need to do, and removes completely the need to install and maintain computer software on individual computers – be they desktop PCs, laptop PCs, tablets or smartphones.

BACKROUND INFORMATION

What is G-Cloud?
The government’s G-Cloud programme aims to deliver fundamental changes in the way the public sector procures and operates Information Technology (IT). Suppliers can apply to offer their services using cloud computing (or otherwise for certain specialist services), and public sector bodies can then search these services using G-Cloud’s CloudStore.

The G-Cloud programme allows suppliers to pre-qualify their services under European Union (EU) public procurement rules and thus enables public sector customers to buy services more easily – without having to follow a full EU tender procedure.

These services require approval before being published in the CloudStore. (“Approval” here does not imply that the service fits a customer’s performance, quality, price and other criteria, but it does mean that it matches various general pre-qualification requirements.)

Why G-Cloud 4?
Each supplier’s service offering is governed by a contractual framework agreement. There is a maximum time that any given framework agreement contract can be valid. Therefore, suppliers’ offerings can be extended beyond this maximum time by the process of having separate contracts: one for each G-Cloud version. The latest version opening now is version N°4 – hence “G-Cloud 4”.

Public cloud first
The government has introduced a Public Cloud First policy mandate for central government departments. They are now required to consider public cloud first in any IT procurement, and the wider public sector is strongly recommended to take the same approach.

In practice this means that when considering procurement of new or existing services, central government departments must have considered and fully evaluated potential cloud solutions before they consider any other option. In addition to this, central government departments are also required to:

  • develop plans detailing how and when they will shift each aspect of their IT portfolio to cloud computing services
  • review and revise their IT portfolios to fully take advantage of cloud computing services
  • consider and discount potential cloud solutions first before they consider any other option
  • share the above openly with the public sector to help build a reference library of good practice.


What does all this have to do with Market Tree?

Market Tree’s fixed-price and auction marketplace service has been admitted to the new G-Cloud 4 CloudStore. We can now supply our E-commerce service to the public sector the easy way: by using our service, which is a cloud computing service and which is pre-qualified under EU public procurement rules.

Daily and weekly E-mail subscription service twitching into life

We have noticed intermittent E-mail notifications for our blog and other blogs hosted by Automattic WordPress.

We cannot yet declare this issue fixed – not least because WordPress have yet to do so!

We’ll keep you posted….

Daily and weekly E-mail subscription service is down

We have discovered that Automattic WordPress’s daily and weekly E-mail subscription service is down. This means that this and future posts to our blog may not result in subscribers receiving a new post notification via E-mail.

We shall let you know on this blog when service is restored.

Our service is released to the public

Introduction
As a Yorkshire-based high-tech E-commerce start-up company, we are proud to announce that we have launched our on-line service to challenge EBay in the UK. You can find us at MarketTree.co.uk.

We are the new web site for buying and selling goods and services between individuals and/or businesses by fixed-price and auction transactions. We are based near Doncaster Airport in South Yorkshire.

Our mission is to be the UK’s best electronic exchange for buying and selling goods and services by providing an effective, low-cost, simple-to-use marketplace for consumers, individual traders, and businesses.

The company’s service provides an alternative marketplace for those suffering from EBay’s high charges and the fear of de-registration without adequate explanation.

David and Goliath
The founder of Market Tree, Ian Marshall, says:

“What hope can a new challenger have against the established giant? Our new, nimble upstart offers innovations to improve both buyers’ and sellers’ experience of on-line trading which differentiate us from EBay.

We have a ‘no surprises’ pricing policy (so that all prices for delivered items include the cheapest delivery cost), auctions that finish 24 hours after the latest bid (there is no pre-determined cut-off time, so no need to delay bidding until the auction is about to finish), much lower fees, and a recruitment scheme that encourages users to recruit new users by giving them a share of the fees that their recruits generate.”

Different from EBay
In detail, we differ from EBay by offering the following features:

  • Our unique selling proposition of a simple “no surprises” pricing policy: free delivery
    Have you ever seen the price of something on-line and then, when just about to pay for it, a delivery or other charge appears without warning (and very annoyingly too)? Well, Market Tree insists that, where delivery is offered for an item, at least one of the delivery methods must be free. So you need not pay any extra for delivery unless you require a premium service. All the delivery options (including any additional cost for optional premium delivery) are clearly listed with each item.
  • Buy either at a fixed price or use simple, flexible bidding
    We offer fixed-price transactions. We also offer auctions – but auctions that end 24 hours after the bidding stops, not just when a given dead-line is reached. This allows users to bid daily at a time convenient to them. The minimum bidding interval is one penny, so you can bid without having to go higher than you really want to!
  • Far lower fees and charges than EBay
    The service is free for buyers and has only one charge for sellers: an item sale success fee of 2.5% of the total sale amount (including any delivery charge for optional premium delivery). Listing an item is free, so if an item does not sell there is no charge.
  • Recruitment scheme
    With our recruitment scheme, we pay you a recruitment bonus of 10% of the fees we receive for transactions where you have recruited the buyer or the seller. If you have recruited both, you get 20%! So if you like the service, get recruiting your friends, work colleagues and others.
    You also receive 10% of the recruitment bonuses paid to your recruits, so your own recruitment bonuses can build up seriously if you put your mind to it.
  • Earn money and save money in tough times
    The web site offers these ways to earn and save money:

    • earn money by selling goods or services on the web site
    • save money whilst buying when sellers, who take advantage of the market-beating low item sale success fee, pass at least some of those savings on to you
    • earn money by recruiting new active registered users of the web site.
  • PayPal freedom
    Sellers do not have to offer the PayPal payment method – it’s optional, unlike on EBay.
  • A web site that is uncluttered, easy to use, and has no advertisements
    Market Tree’s service is clear, easy to use, and simple. (Why should a service be anything else?) We do not use fancy artwork, or annoying things that pop up suddenly or flash. Also, we do not clutter things up with advertisements; the service is for our users – no one else.
  • No arbitrary de-registration
    There is no arbitrary de-registration of businesses and individual traders without good reason and adequate explanation.

Helping to re-balance the economy
Charges for using EBay in the UK are paid to EBay Europe SÀRL, which is based in Luxembourg. These charges are effectively an import from abroad.

Our (lower) charges are paid to Market Tree Ltd, which is registered in the UK. Even though we are not an exporter, buyers and sellers using us instead of EBay will help to rebalance our economy away from imports – and support home-grown jobs in the UK too.

Fair corporation tax
As a company registered abroad, EBay Europe SÀRL is unlikely to pay corporation tax to the UK government. Since Market Tree is based solely in the UK, all profits will be subject to UK corporation tax and so contribute fairly to government.

Cloud computing
The web-site-based service is run in a modern, smart way: using a cloud computing service. We have no rooms full of computer servers which need maintenance and can be affected by fire or flood. We use Google’s computer infrastructure instead. It’s like relying on your electricity company for continuous electrical power instead of operating your own generator; it’s simply more reliable that way.

Keeping costs down
By using open source computer software for developing and providing the web-based service, costs can be kept down, which is reflected in the low fees offered to sellers.

Future improvements
Ian Marshall, says:

“In the near future, we plan to improve our marketplace service by offering free on-line ‘shops’ to sellers – unlike EBay, where there is a fairly hefty charge of at least £14.99 per month. We also plan to allow users to save their item searches for later use.

Should our new marketplace expand as planned, the need will arise for additional skilled UK-based jobs – initially in computer software development. That’s got to be potential good news for our economy.

I’ve always been enthusiastic about manufacturing, which in the UK is having a tough time. I like to think of designing and developing computer software as a sort-of modern equivalent of manufacturing.

Even though we do not make objects that you can touch such as a steam engine with all its rods levers and steam hissing around the machine, there are plenty of logic “connecting rods” and “levers” in our computer programs which control the information (our equivalent of steam) as it flies around the software; you just can’t see any of them. But you can see the end result: our web site and its associated automatic services that just hum along doing what they need to do: managing items for sale, bidding and buying, sending status E-mails, calculating recruitment bonuses, and everything else.

As a country, we need to keep up with the growing electronic commerce industry to create and sustain UK-based jobs in this exciting and expanding new area.

Finally, we ask for your good wishes for our home-grown attempt to get in there and succeed. You might care to take a look at our web site – or even try us out for buying, selling or recruiting.”

We are about to launch our service to the public

Because the service is new, there might be the occasional error, bug, glitch or other unexpected behaviour which we have missed during our testing. (A common technical term for software that is new and therefore can still have some bugs present is “beta” software.)

If you do find anything that is wrong or unexpected, or you want to make an improvement suggestion or general comment, then please leave a comment here, or on Twitter or Facebook, or use the “Contact us” link at the bottom of most of our web pages.

Isn’t that “great” about technology: there are so many ways to do the same thing (make a comment).

Alpha release

We have today released our service in alpha for testing by the public.

Invitation to evaluate our web site and associated service
We invite you to evaluate our new web site for buying and selling goods and services in the UK, which can be found at:

http://MarketTree.co.uk

We would appreciate any evaluation you could do of the web site and service, from whatever perspective interests you. For example:

  • The service offered.  Do you have any thoughts about the exchange services offered (by fixed-price and auction)? The auctions work differently than on EBay. Do you like or dislike this?
  • The look and feel of the web site.  Any views and comments?
  • Recruitment scheme.  The site has a scheme to encourage users to recruit new users. What are your views of this scheme?
  • Software testing to find bugs.  Feel free to give the web site a thorough beasting to find any weak points.
  • Anything else.  Do you have any other views, comments or tips? What could make the web site or service better or more effective?

The status of all activity on the web site
All user data, items and transactions (fixed-price purchases, auction bidding and auction winning) will be treated as fictional and for testing purposes only. No activity will be contractual so you can test all you like. You should be aware of 2 exceptions:

  1. Your E-mail address will need to be a real one since we ask users to verify their E-mail address.
  2. PayPal functionality is live. All payments made via PayPal (using a debit card, credit card or PayPal account) will be effected. Therefore, please make no payment via PayPal unless you are making this type of test by prior arrangement with us.

Evaluation notes
Please do have a play with the site. There are test items on sale. Some are on offer by fixed-price, the others are on auction. Feel free to bid for items or buy them. We shall organise a test user to bid against you, so you can see the bidding process in action. This will give you a chance to see whether you like the bidding system or not.

If you buy the item or win the auction and select payment by cheque, please then indicate on the web site that you have sent it (even though this is all testing so no cheques are actually sent).

You can register one test user, and then use this user to recruit a second. Feel free to make your test buying and selling activity using this second user. This should trigger recruitment bonuses for your recruited users’ buying and selling activities.

Protection of your personal data
During this evaluation phase of our service, the sole personal data entered during user registration which has to be real is a valid E-mail address. This needs to be real because we ask users to verify their E-mail address after registration. All other data can be fictional.

All personal and other data entered and recorded by our systems will be deleted before the service leaves its evaluation phase and goes “live”.

Please be assured that at all times – during this service evaluation phase and afterwards – we shall adhere to our privacy policy.

Conclusion
We will welcome all comments and suggestions. These can be left either via the Contact us link on our web site or as a comment on this blog post. These will help us to get the service the best it can be before commercial launch.

Upcoming alpha release

Hello there,

Our service, where we provide a place on-line for buying and selling goods and services in the UK, will be released officially when ready. Before then we shall release our service in alpha, and then in beta.

What do we mean by “alpha”
Before official release, we offer our service to the public to allow people to use and play with our web site to:

  • explore our service and see what we can do for buyers and sellers
  • come up with suggestions on how our service and web site can be improved (for example: a new feature, a change to the existing service, or the web site’s look and feel)
  • make any other comments which come to mind
  • test it in order to spot any bugs (errors or things that go wrong).

All suggestions and comments can be left either via the Contact us link on our web site or as a comment on this blog post.

A little caution whilst you explore
All items and transactions (fixed-price purchases, auction bidding and auction winning) will be treated as fictional and for testing purposes only. No activity will be contractual so you can test all you like.
Exception: All payments made via PayPal (using a debit card, credit card or PayPal account) will be effected. Therefore, please make no payment via PayPal unless you are making this type of test by prior arrangement with us.

Conclusion
We trust that you enjoy exploring our web site, and look forward to receiving any feedback. We shall announce here when we release our service in alpha.