Competing with eBay by Making People Matter

    February 4, 2009
    Chris Crum

As discussed in this article from the other day, Bonanzle is a site that is emerging as a contender to compete with eBay, who as we all know has been driving a lot of sellers away for various reasons.


I contacted Bill Harding and Mark Dorsey, co-founders of the site that was recently named Best eBay Alternative of 2008 to ask them about their strategy for competing with the well-established brand of eBay.

"Our ‘competition’ with eBay is probably something that is paid closer attention to by our users than us," they tell me in a joint email. "That said, we do think that for Bonanzle to matter in such a crowded alternatives environment, we need to distinguish ourselves clearly from eBay and similar sites."

"Our main point of distinction is that we’re trying to create a marketplace where people matter.  On other ecommerce sites, there generally isn’t a compelling reason to visit unless you have a specific item you want to buy or sell," they add. "We have tried to create a more social atmosphere, where it’s easy to meet and talk with people who share your interests in items. 

Bonanzle has real time chatting built right into every "booth," as well as real time messages you can send to anyone on the site. Users can create lists of their favorite items that others can browse and comment on, a feature they say is extremely popular. "And you can see where in the country any user is from, so it’s easy to meet and talk with people who live nearby you," they note.


Based on what the two had to say, the environment Bonanzle has created is one of openness and positivity. "All of these features lead to an environment where the level of anonymity is much lower than eBay, and we’ve found that with lower anonymity, people have more positive attitudes," they explain. 

"We call our community one of the friendliest online — if you sign up and say ‘Hi, I’m new’ in the forums, you might well receive 25 welcomes within a couple hours.  People really seem to enjoy each other’s company, and we try to keep our site’s policies as open as possible to promote that."

As for the growth of the site, the data referred to in this article may have been a bit understated. "Compete has been very accurate at measuring our monthly percentage growth, but not very accurate on getting the actual numbers right," they tell me, providing a new graph from Google Analytics showing traffic at slightly over 280,000 unique visitors for the month of December.

Bonanzle Visitors Overview

They also provided me with the graph below for January that shows over 435,000 unique visitors.  "We’ve now got more than 26,000 users and 1,072,320 items.  Total unique visitors for January were 435k, an increase of 55% over December (our lowest monthly growth percentage so far, but all of our competitors whose traffic is available on Quantcast show traffic declines in January, which makes sense, given that it’s the month after the busiest shopping month of the year). 

Bonanzle in January

But still, Bonanzle continues to grow rapidly. After WebProNews ran the last article, the site attracted over 1000 new users in one day, according to Bonanzle co-founder Mark Dorsey. Based on the 100+ comments WebProNews received on that article, plenty are eager to continue spreading the word of Bonanzle too.

The future is looking pretty bright for this site right now. Let’s hope they can continue to keep up the good spirits of the site’s users in a way that eBay once did during its own rise to fame.