The online trading community TradeMe has set itself up as a channel to retailers with a new service it calls Shop By Request.
The service allows consumers to make a request for a particular product or type of product and then receive recommendations and price offers from participating merchants.
TradeMe's online auction business has signed up 30,000 registered users and managing director Sam Morgan says the site attracts more than 50,000 visits a week.
"The cost to an e-tailer of establishing this size consumer base has become prohibitive since venture capital has become scarce," Morgan says. "We have liquidity in our market on day one."
Morgan says retailers benefit from the service by receiving qualified leads and the ability to one-on-one market to potential buyers, using email. He expects to provide provide retailers with "significantly lower costs of customer acquisition than traditional advertising where costs typically range from $50-$80 per customer."
Shop by Request has been launched in the standby e-tail category of computing and electronics, but Morgan says several other categories, including travel, will be launched in coming weeks.
Morgan says the service won't just benefit retailers but will make life easier for customers.
"We've all had the 'Let your fingers do the walking' message drummed into us for years, but people are simply too busy to shop around for commodity purchases. Shop by Request provides our users with the ability to receive information one-on-one from retailers when they can't find what they want in our auction market."