Market Tree

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

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.

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).

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.

Alpha release comments

To all those who have already given us feedback, thank you. All these comments are useful and are helping us get things ready for our beta release.

Please keep ’em coming.

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.