An online auction service for New Zealanders was rolled out last week by Australian Internet content company LibertyOne.
UBid.co.NZ offers auction service in the areas of computer products, consumer electronics, sporting goods and homeware.
New Zealand is the second country LibertyOne has introduced uBid to since reaching an exclusive licensing agreement with uBid.com in July 1999. It was launched in Australia last October.
Liberty One, which bought New Zealand Web developer Clearview Communications last August, was the first Internet content provider to list on the Australian stock exchange. It has plans to list on the Nasdaq. UBid is an online retail store where the customer sets the price they are willing to pay for a wide range of products, using an auction format. There is no reserve price and bids can be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Consumers bidding for products on uBid.co.nz compete against other uBid customers in New Zealand and Australia.
All products are backed by warranties and guarantees.
PC World editor Chris Keall, who has been tracking the developing online auction market, says there are a number of amateurish sites in New Zealand but the only real competitor at this stage for uBid is TradeMe.
New Zealandised content will accelerate the uptake of the Internet as a purchase medium, says IDC researcher Pat Pilcher.
"Inititiatives such as uBid will be compelling because they will provide much more favourable buying conditions. Freight times will be shorter and buyers won't have to deal in US dollars."
UBid's general manager for Australia and New Zealand, Chris Hitching, says detailed product features, specifications and conditions are included on the site so customers know exactly what they're buying.
"Most of our products are backed by a 21-day money-back guarantee, which applies even when a successful bidder decides they no longer want to purchase the product."
UBid does not allow individuals or merchants to sell products on the site, and thus takes responsibility for delivery of the products, complete with guarantees.
Single-product auctions typically last for two or three days, he says. All bids are made in Australian dollars - bids usually begin at about $A9 - with New Zealand customers having access to a currency converter.
"New customers need to register their details on the site before they can make a bid," Hitching says. "They can also use an automated 'BidButler' to manage their bidding.
"At the end of each auction, the winning bidders are notified by email, and the goods are then dispatched from uBid's warehouse facility in Sydney."
Delivery is by courier, with delivery time to New Zealand customers about seven days to major centres and nine days to other areas.
VeriSign encryption is used to ensure that digital IDs are protected.
The international Truste group to which uBid belongs includes sites that adhere to established US government-developed privacy principles and agree to comply with ongoing oversight and consumer resolution procedures.