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Fairfax stakes e-commerce ground with Pricemaker

Fairfax Media says its recently 50 percent stake in Pricemaker, for an undisclosed price, allows it to access online audiences and revenue from the shopping site.

 Under the Pricemaker business model, shoppers advertise what they want to buy, then retailers come back with an offer. It’s a reverse-auction concept which has been used mainly for appliances, cars and televisions.

Pricemaker’s reverse-auction trade process (Image Source – pricemaker.co.nz)

Fairfax’s product development director Robert Hutchinson says the new investment helps expand Pricemaker’s customer and retail base by using Fairfax networks, resources, and reputation.

“I’m excited about this investment for so many good reasons,” he says. “We see Pricemaker as a real innovation for our retailer advertisers – it’s Kiwi ingenuity at its best.

“It reinforces our belief that we can help great ideas succeed by using our resources, networks and market share to reach New Zealanders.”

Pricemaker co-founder and chief executive Erin Walshe says the deal with Fairfax has made it easier to establish relationship with quality retailers.

“[Fairfax news website] Stuff.co.nz is the biggest platform in New Zealand that helps in terms of driving traffic. We are trying to target qualified shoppers and generate qualified leads through businesses involved with us.

 “Fairfax brings instant credibility and we share a vision of how transactions will be done in the future.”

Pricemaker is accessible online and via a downloadable iPhone mobile app with versions for Android and iPad set to be released soon.

“Pricemaker is trying to play in that mobile technology space as things are moving a lot more online and device orientated,” says Walshe.

The Fairfax deal also will allow Walshe to take the business concept overseas. He sees potential in several different fields, including tertiary education in the US.

For example, school-leavers could go onto a Pricemaker-like site and list the preferred attributes they would like to get out of university life, potential overseas opportunities and their studies.

Universities would then respond with relevant information based on the students’ input criteria, with a potential offer in the programme.

“We want to think global from the start. Fairfax has influence in New Zealand and Australia so hopefully that opens up some doors for us.

“There is also a big world out there and a lot of countries we want to get into.”

Upper Hutt-based appliance store, 100% Newbolds has retailed on Pricemaker since 2011. Owner Darren Gittins says he has enjoyed being able to negotiate with customers to find a suitable price for both him and his customers.

“We are able to engage the customers which is working quite well,” he says. “Online shopping just gets bigger and bigger. Pricemaker is a little more intuitive as you’re able to negotiate which makes it easier.”

Online conversations between customers and retailers last 24 hours. During that time, retailers bargain with the customers and offer deals on new, refurbished and floor goods.

Walshe says Pricemaker will help set customers up with reliable and authentic retailers.

“We are trying to connect the shopper with the high street business – someone who is established. Customers should feel comfortable dealing with them and taking back something if it’s broken.”

Pricemaker isn’t interested in the second-hand goods space dominated by TradeMe, says Walshe.

TradeMe isn’t commenting on Pricemaker’s business model but a spokesperson said it is “an interesting area of e-commerce and [we] wish the Pricemaker/Fairfax crew all the best.”

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