Melbourne software developer Tower Systems has launched a pre-beta of findit.com.au, a site that will offer free classified advertising inspired by Web 2.0 technology.
-We are inspired by the success of [US free classifieds site] craigslist.org," said Tower Systems CEO, Mark Fletcher. -They have had great success shaking up the classifieds market."
Advertisements on Findit for items selling at AU$500 or less will therefore be free and will be allowed to include audio, video and any number of photos. Fletcher's belief that -Advertisements are part of a conversation", means readers will be able to leave comments on ads and will be encouraged to discuss the goods on offer.
These features have all been built on Microsoft's .Net platform, which Fletcher says has proven itself as Web 2.0 infrastructure on many other sites.
Findit's use of Web 2.0 ideas will also go beyond its online presence by using social interactions in a network of over 1000 newsagents to drive traffic through a network.
"Australia's newsagents see 15 to 17 million customers a fortnight," says Fletcher, who also owns a newsagent to test his company's software.
-That is an incredibly powerful network that will talk to us every day. Word of mouth is incredibly powerful in this business," and Fletcher hopes that newsagents' friendships with regular customers will drum up business for the site. Newsagents will also sell pre-paid vouchers for ads on the site.
The site will also offer a directory service aimed at securing business from tradesmen and other small businesses, using newsagencies as a channel to sell ads and drive demand for the site's services.
-In the early morning newsagents see a lot of tradespeople, who today see the Yellow Pages as the best place to advertise," Fletcher says. Social interaction, he hopes, will be the key to converting them to become Findit.com.au customers.
Newsagents will receive weekly e-mails of local ads to print out and place on a branded Findit.com.au notice board.
-It's low-tech but we can do this without spending thousands of dollars per store," Fletcher says.
In true Web 2.0 style the site is currently in pre-beta and users are encouraged to offer feedback on the site as they sample its services.
Tower Systems, whose signature product is a point of sale application for newsagents, has developed the pre-beta version of the software as an -incubator" for the new business. Four Tower staff will migrate to the new entity, which will be an independent business and launch in early 2007.