Getting physical in Ottawa’s online classified market – Ottawa Business Journal
Getting physical in Ottawa’s online classified market
- Published onDecember 15, 2010
- Peter Kovessy
Ottawa Business Journal
It’s not often a company with expansion plans encourages customers to also use the competition.
But that’s exactly the message online classified company UsedOttawa.com is sending.
“If it’s a free posting, then go for it. We don’t shy away from telling people to use Kijiji or Craigslist,” says Lorilynn Baker, UsedOttawa.com account representative .
Her theory is shoppers are likely to browse multiple classified sites before making a purchase. Just like mainstream retailers building brand-name recognition by opening multiple locations, Ms. Baker says online consumers are more likely to check out a product if they see it for sale on different sites.
There are more than a dozen online classified websites targeting the Ottawa market. EBay owns industry heavyweight Kijiji and a 25-per-cent share in rival Craigslist. Many newspaper chains also operate their own sites after they saw their traditional print classified revenues evaporate.
Victoria-based Black Press, which publishes more than 100 community newspapers, operates a chain of local online classified sites, including UsedOttawa.com.
Despite its digital platform, the company is banking on forging a physical presence in Ottawa to help it capture market share.
UsedOttawa.com opened a local office in mid-October and plans to aggressively market its presence in the new year by attending trade shows and doing fundraising and charitable events, says Ms. Baker.
“The sales side was doing very well being run out of Victoria … (but) we wanted to be closer to the user and become part of the community.”
Connecting with customers in person is also seen as a way of overcoming the apprehension some may have about using online classifieds, adds Ms. Baker.
The company generates most of its revenues through online display advertisements, although sellers can pay to upgrade their listing and gain a more prominent placement.
Ms. Baker says the most popular listings are for vehicles, followed by real estate.
Website traffic grew from an average of 380,000 unique visitors early in the year to around 400,000 over the summer, she says.
Used.ca, the parent company of UsedOttawa.com, says it receives 55 million page views monthly. By comparison, Craigslist says it nets 20 billion monthly page views across its roughly 700 local sites.