EBay launches international classified ad site

EBay said this week that the online auction giant is entering the internet classified niche through a new site aimed at international users.

The San Jose, California based company launched Kijiji.com on February 28 as a place for users to buy and sell goods and services that are difficult or impossible to ship—such as baby-sitting services in the Montreal suburbs or a matching leather ottoman and recliner in Beijing. Users can post advertisements in local languages if they’re looking for a new roommate or potential love interest, want to find someone to share driving expenses on an upcoming trip, or are looking for day labourers or longer-term employees.

EBay says the “intensely local” site was the brainchild of a group of entrepreneurial employees looking for a new business niche. Kijiji means “village” in Swahili.

The site, which lists items for more than 50 cities in Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, is a stark contrast to ebay.com, a global e-commerce destination where buyers and sellers rarely live in the same area and frequently ship goods worth thousands or millions of dollars across state and country lines.

“It’s a great local trading platform, as opposed to eBay, whose whole focus is building a global platform for trade where geography is irrelevant,” said eBay spokesperson Hani Durzy.

EBay will not say how many people have used the site since its debut less than three weeks ago.
The site is not expected to affect 2005 revenue, and costs associated with the unit were incorporated in eBay’s most recent financial outlook.

It’s unlikely that eBay will launch a similar site for Americans, who comprise the company’s largest national audience.

That’s because Kijiji is similar to craigslist, a popular online network of classified ads that a San Francisco programmer founded in 1995. EBay purchased a 25% stake in the company in August so it could learn about the online classified business, which e-commerce rivals Yahoo and Google have invested heavily in.

Each month, craigslist posts more than 2,5-million classified ads and more than 100 000 new job listings and gets more than 1-billion page views and 5-million unique visitors per month.

“We believe that craigslist has been incredibly successful in addressing the needs of the communities it serves,” Durzy said.

“Because of their success we saw less of a need for a service like Kijiji in the United States.”

In trading Wednesday afternoon, eBay shares fell 73 cents, or 1,8%, to $40,12 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $32,40 to $59,21. - Sapa-AP