ebay's bid for Polish market

Within a few weeks, Poles should be able to place bids on internet auction house eBay, and join the 135 million-strong worldwide community of the site's users.

The local version of the site will be the 25th on the company's books and its first in the new EU member states. With over $34.2 (zł.108) billion worth of successfully closed listings last year, eBay remains the number-one online auction platform and one of the largest dotcoms in the industry. The California-based enterprise is the second-largest commercial site to enter the Polish market, with only Google outpacing it.

So far, the domestic auction market has been largely dominated by Allegro.pl, which has an estimated market share of 80 percent. Although the company's turnover in closed listings constitutes less than one percent of eBay's turnover, its managers claim they enjoy the rivalry.

"We grew up amid competition. In 1999, when we started, there were a lot of auction sites," says Allegro spokesperson Artur Brzęczkowski. He says that the possibility of eBay entering the market has been taken into account from the beginning. Brzęczkowski believes his company is already well placed; it is partners with all the major Polish portals, such as Onet and Wirtualna Polska, and the brand is well recognized among internet users.

"In Scandinavia and in Switzerland, where national portals were already established, eBay is not the prime one," claims Brzęczkowski. The test will be whether Allegro keeps its customers and maintain merchandise volume growth dynamics, which doubled last year to zł.830 million against 2003's figures.



Błażej Karwowski
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