Auctions Around the World

Here I am, in deepest, darkest Peru. It’s 3 am and I’m on a layover on a flight between Buenos Aires and Los Angeles. The plane has stopped in Lima Peru, and as I scout the airport for anything interesting, I spy a cyber café! Leaping into the seat, I order my Diet Coke (Coca Cola Light in the Southern Hemisphere) with no ice, and I pay my $1.50 for an hour on the computer. What’s the first thing I do? You know it – to check on my auctions.

Then I began to think – we’re very lucky to be in the United States – we have eBay. What happens in the rest of the world? We’re comfortable shipping state to state and we assume without worry that our packages will arrive. In Georgia people speak the same language as they do in California – and we all use U.S. Dollars. What happens in Europe and South America ? Where they have different postal systems, different money and even different languages in countries as close to each other as our states.

The rest of the world is splattered with online auctions. Europe’s online auction market is expected to match or exceed that of the U.S with a projected $26.6 billion in sales this year. EBay, of course, established itself in Europe early on. They have eBay Germany (practically a mirror to the U.S. eBay), Canada (there’s an old post office up for sale, eh?), United Kingdom (eBay politely apologises (sic) for the Friday maintenance outage on the home page), Australia (16 boomerangs – none with instructions) and Japan (all I can say for sure is they have a café). It’s also rumored that eBay is planning expansions into France and Italy.

Britain’s, Europe’s current leader with over 1.7 million users covers a swath of territory. They have sites in the twelve countries, mostly in Europe, and also has sites in Sweden, Denmark and Poland. I checked out their U.K. site and its’ well, ah, very businesslike. (I can see that the Star Trek Barbie & Ken didn’t sell over there either!) EBay shouldn’t have a problem leading Europe, QXL doesn’t have a cafe, or any news content – it’s really not a community. The quantity of items up for bid is not what we’re used to either, with many sellers putting too high a starting bid on items so they pass away unsold. By the way, visiting eBay U.K.’s chat room is very interesting – lots of nice people. Your regular eBay password will allow you in.

South America is an entirely different story. In a heated conflict, – launched in July of 99, and – launched in August of 99, are in a battle for domination of the Latin American market. DeRemate ( in Portuguese speaking Brazil) covers the countries in South America, while MercadoLibre covers “most” of South America, and tosses in Spain for good measure. Both sites have U.S. sites in Spanish, and run pretty much like eBay. They have agreements with a company that expedites shipping through their geographic areas,, which solves the many delivery problems.

Due to an incredibly strong advertising campaign (they even have billboards here in Los Angeles), and a fun site, DeRemate is the clear leader. In July 2000, they reached over a million users, and they are growing fast. The number of completed transactions and their total gross sales have outweighed the giant MercadoLibre so far this year.

In an effort to add uniqueness to their site, MercadoLibre added a “Contra-Oferta” or counter offer bargaining feature to their site. They felt that “haggling” was a Latin American cultural thing. While this seems amusing, it seems to me that it somehow undermines the actual “auction” experience. DeRemate offers a larger selection of items, and, if you collect professional “futbol camisetas” (soccer jerseys) you’ll find an amazing selection here. DeRemate’s interface is easy to use and they’re getting more community oriented. Their café society is not quite like eBay’s, but it has its’ own uniqueness.

There’s an entire planet full of online auctions, and you can visit them with a click of your mouse. If you want to visit any of the non-English speaking sites, go to BabelFish. This site will translate your web pages instantly!

Back to Articles

Please Tell Me What You Think

If you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!