SMBs get the eBay treatment

Joining the barrage of vendors helping Australia's small-to-medium businesses get online, internet auction house eBay has launched a trading room especially for the SMB market.

Known as Business Exchange, the initiative (http://www.ebay.com.au/business_exchange/) creates an online marketplace for small businesses to buy and sell business products.

According to Bay Warburton, director of business development, eBay Australia, the marketplace is already populated with products from more than 25 categories that already exist on eBay.

"(Business Exchange) is a means of aggregating items already on the site . . . we're building it to provide a forum for trade to happen between small businesses," he said.

Business items such as computer hardware, software, electronics, industrial equipment and office equipment can be bought using the exchange.

Warburton said a key reason for establishing the forum was to capitalise on Australia's large small-business sector. Ninety-four per cent of businesses in Australia are small businesses, according to Warburton. This represents more than one million businesses.

"A fair few small business are already trading (on eBay) . . . we know they use it and we know they find it easy to use," Warburton said. "Business Exchange simply brings together small business traders in an environment where they can more easily transact with each other."

Warburton could not reveal what percentage of eBay's customers were from the SMB sector.

Figures from IDC reveal that while 75 per cent of SMBs may use the internet for displaying product information, less than 10 per cent actually use the web for trading and e-commerce.

However, Warburton said eBay was not discouraged by the lack of internet adoption in the SMB market. "Actually, eBay is offering that 65 per cent that don't trade online a way to do so . . . without having to set it up," he said. "It's the perfect solution for those who don't trade online yet."

Warburton said he expects the Business Exchange to be successful due to the large traffic to eBay and the large number of small business users. Additionally, he said more traffic will be driven to the site from targeted banner advertising and new co-marketing agreements such as a partnership with ASP company Peakhour.

Business Exchange was launched by eBay in the US in March.

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