Market Tree

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

Category: Idle thoughts: business

Oh no, we don’t have a blue background

What a crisis: the pages of our web site do not have a pale blue background! Of course, many web sites have such a background nowadays.

Is it bad news that we don’t? Do we not ooze a sense of warm trust even if we are not blue? We do not happen to think that this is a disaster, but who knows. Perhaps we are dead wrong. (What’s wrong with good old black text on a white background anyway? Is this now passé?)

What do you think? If anyone has any views on the matter, please comment.

Sticking to what you do best

We have heard the news of the death of the economist Ronald Coase. Who? Well, one of his key works was an essay in 1937 entitled The Nature of the Firm.

In the words of an editorial  in a recent issue of The Economist:

And he set a test that every boss still has to answer: what does their firm do that cannot be done more efficiently elsewhere?

We try to adhere to the spirit of this thought. For example: we decided that it would be far better to use Automattic’s expertise to run our blog using their WordPress service rather than write a computer program/application to do it. This freed us to concentrate on what we can do better than others: offer a refreshingly new approach to an electronic exchange or market place.

Big bad wolf

I recently saw the Schumpeter article entitled “Too much of a good thing” in The Economist magazine of 8th June 2013 (http://www.economist.com/news/business/21578990-leaders-need-learn-beware-their-strengths-too-much-good-thing). The extract I particularly like is:

Richard Branson has turned Virgin into a global brand by relentlessly exploiting his two biggest strengths: his ability to take on “big bad wolves” – firms that are overcharging and underserving the public – and his talent for infusing Virgin with a counter-cultural personality.

I like to think that we too are taking a “big bad wolf” on (we all know that I am talking about EBay), which is overcharging their customers – both individuals and businesses. Whether this wolf is bad or not, I’ll leave for others to say. But they are big, and they do overcharge their customers.

But hope is not lost; there are alternatives to EBay.

Here endeth today’s lesson.

Business ethics

As the founder of Market Tree, why do I want to talk about the ethics of business?

Well, I would not be happy to promote a product or service which I did not consider to be beneficial to potential consumers. I am satisfied that our on-line trading service is a good one. It can and will be made even better but, as a former efficiency engineer, I know that anything can be improved and made better (or made cheaper instead – but that’s a value-for-money debate which we could have another time).

Just as the London Stock Exchange is ceding trade to nimbler stock exchange platforms in London that are faster and cheaper, so we offer the Market Tree on-line trading service as a simpler and cheaper service than that of the current dominant provider.

Our effective trading platform is here. I am happy to offer it and still sleep soundly at night.

Why start Market Tree?

The Question
That’s a good question: Why did I start Market Tree?

The Answer
Well, I found myself using various web sites to buy stuff (as you do), including a web site that sells nothing of its own but just other people’s stuff: EBay.

Yes, EBay works. People offer stuff for sale, I and others buy via auction or fixed-price sale, I pay for and receive my items, and I leave feedback. But the whole EBay experience annoys me so much. Let me give you some of my main bug-bears:

  • Sniping.  If an item is on auction and bidding is at least fairly busy, you are wise to wait until the last few seconds before the auction finishes to place your bid (“sniping”), so as not to give others much time to counter-bid.
  • Charges, charges, charges.  Almost whatever I do when selling (which, to be honest, I hardly ever do), there are additional charges (on top of the enormous final sale success fee of around 10%):
    • a listing fee (I am charged to dare to sell before I have even started!)
    • another listing fee (if my item did not sell and I want to try again)
    • for priority listing
    • for bold text
    • for a small picture when in a list of items.
  • Delivery charges.  These can be significant, and are on top of any bid or purchase amount. (Why are these not included in the item price?)
  • Selling an item.  The process seemed very complicated to me when I put an item up for sale. The forms to fill in were many and big and, because I did something wrong or did not understand what was going on, I had to cancel and start all over again a few times.
  • Feedback from the seller.  Often sellers cannot not be arsed to leave feedback after I have left them positive feedback. Thanks for that, even though, of course, I did pay you before you despatched my items.

Does this ring any bells for you?

So I decided to “scratch my own itch” and create something that I want to be better. I’ll let on-line citizens decide whether I am on the right lines or just barking.