Comparing Trade Me and eBay by the numbers

I’m not sure how many people realise just how good Trade Me is. Let’s look at some comparative public numbers against eBay. There are plenty of reasons behind the differences, and I’ll write about the publicly known ones sooner or later.
Here’s an excerpt from a reply I made to this great post on Rowan’s blog.

“Trade Me has 865,000 listings right now, while eBay Australia has just 1,096,000 listings.

Australia has a population of 20.2m and NZ 4.1m. That’s 0.21 listings per Kiwi and 0.05 listings per Aussie.

eBay demands listing fees, and that tends to depress listing numbers (by about half). But that doesn’t nearly account for the difference in listing numbers…<snip>

… itself has 10.5m (0r 11.9m) items located in the USA. That’s 0.035 items per person there. That may exclude store inventory, and it seems really low, and still – pathetic versus Trade Me.

Clearly whatever Trade Me is doing to get listings is superior to eBay. Vastly superior.”

So let’s look at the other business lines.

eBay Australia has 13,365 cars listed right now – that’s just under a third of the 41,494 cars that Trade Me has listed, in a population almost five times as large. has just 39 motorcycles listed.

Here’s something really interesting – Trade Me now has almost as many cars listed as giant US – which has just 44,335 cars and trucks. eBay’s has 7,190 motorcycles, while Trade Me has 4,081. The USA has a population that is 72 times New Zealand’s, so clearly eBay just isn’t the forum for selling bikes, cars or trucks. So while eBay has managed to sell more than 1 million passenger vehicles since eBay Motors launched 6 years ago, they have not cracked what is essentially a locality based market.

eBay Australia has a pathetic 108 properties in Real Estate, and has just 1,582 residential properties listed. Trade Me has 35,995 properties listed, of which 25,759 are for sale – 1,769 of them for more than $1 million. That’s a clear win for Trade Me, even before looking at population differences.

eBay does not list jobs. Trade Me has 7,198 listed.

Paypal was a huge enabler of eBay’s success, and it did this by allowing Americans to send money to each other quickly, easily and safely. It is also a great earner – a 35% kicker on Net Auction earnings.
Trade Me has no equivalent – in NZ we already had a bank account to bank account system that worked via the banks themselves, although the speed is not instant and a succession of wannabe competitors such as PayGo and PayMate have tried to emerge. None have succeeded so far as the banks are ‘good enough’. I feel they should figure out the instant account to account inter-bank transfer, or risk losing out to a competitor that is smarter than any of the wannabe entrants.

Skype gives eBay the opportunity to grab a huge chunk of the telecommunications market, and of course Trade Me has no equivalent.

What I have left out
eBay does have a benign and minor stake in Craigslist, and also owns classified sites, Kijiji Gumtree, LoQUo, Intoko, Karktplaats and, along with,, and epinions. This are all, quite obviously, acquisitions.

Trade Me owns FindSomeone, OldFriends, smaps and has announced that next up is Travel.

We should remember that these are both great businesses, but this shows how much eBay can improve. I still own eBay shares, which are doing very nicely.

Published by Lance Wiggs


5 replies on “Comparing Trade Me and eBay by the numbers”

  1. Given that eBay charges a listing fee and Trade Me does not, we would expect that eBay has a higher STR than Trade Me. A quick google isn’t giving me any results for eBay, and they stopped publishing numbers of items sold years ago. I’d expect their STR to be double Trade Me’s.

    Market share – Trade Me and eBay own auctions in their markets (well – most of eBay’s). Auctions is winner-take-all.
    eBay are nowhere on motors/property/jobs, while Trade Me dominates pageviews on Motors and Property and are #2 on Jobs behind a nervous Seek.

    Sadly I cannot share any of internal data, but I will keep sporadically posting based on externally available information.


  2. Lance,

    A coupla points:

    1. A fairer comparison would strip out the duplicate listings on TM (from the same seller). eBay functionality is quite a bit richer for multiple identical items, although some people do still pay for multiple listings of the same thing to spam the results. It would certainly be a good enhancement for TM.

    2. The “quality” of listings is likely to be higher on eBay due to the listing fee; you only list something if you really intend to get in the market and sell it, not “put it up and see if it sells”. This is reflected in the STR (in fact it is the only influence I can see on this metric; am I shortsighted?).

    3. Items for sale vs eyes vs bids. It would be interesting to compare and contrast the pageviews per item — for sellers (and overall eBay/TM margin) the number of viewers -> number of bidders -> price (roughly, certainly there is a negative correlation :-)

    I certainly agree that the regionality aspect of TM (buyer pickup etc) has not been exploited, and regarding point 2 I’m not sure if I prefer the eBay (pessimistic) or TM (optimistic/opportunistic);

    Thanks for the post.


    I’m not sure if I prefer the opportunistic


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