Sold on online classifieds and auctions? You're not alone.
"People love buying and selling online," says Ben Black, vice president of business development for market research firm Harris Interactive. "[Auctions] are becoming more like a religion than a business."
Online classified ad companies boast vast listings of items or services for sale, easily accessible to the entire world online. Increasingly popular are niche-oriented online classified ad sites specializing in everything from cars to British paraphernalia.
RestMart.com, a Boca Raton, Florida, online classified advertising business for restaurant sellers run by father-and-son Jeff and Bryan Sussman, 49 and 25 respectively, has grown 100 percent or more every month in Web site traffic and revenues since it opened in January. "For restaurant sellers, there was really no place to advertise their [businesses] other than generic advertising in local newspapers," says Bryan. "With RestMart, we're reaching out to the [restaurant] community and getting mass exposure."
Online auction companies go one step further by offering Web surfers the chance to bid on items, which is where many experts say most of the real opportunity-and money-lies. According to Harris Interactive, the average expenditure per visitor at online auction sites in April was $191.
In the coming months, niche auction sites should expect tough competition from larger auction sites with wider appeal. Online classified advertisers and auctioneers must also strive to gain the trust surfers, particularly when dealing in high-priced items such as cars and antiques.