New website creates ?even playing field? for retailers

UK-only shopping portal Ortso is taking on Amazon and eBay with its new business model
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UK-only shopping portal Ortso is taking on Amazon and eBay with its new business model

British retailers are being offered the chance to bid for business online, using a new website that lets customers specify what they want before stores compete to sell it., which recently secured a six-figure investment from retail veteran Phil Wrigley, went live at the beginning of December after being trialled for a year. Consumers list the products they are looking for and retailers then submit offers. While some shoppers may have a specific item in mind, others can be more general.

“It’s about allowing retailers to compete on an even playing field,” Ortso’s chief executive Steve Jones told PCR. “We only allow verified UK businesses, not foreign firms that import their products at a very low price, and in some cases are not selling genuine products.

“We allow the retailer to make their sales pitch directly to the customer, rather than just creating an ad. Retailers can see each other’s offers, which allows them to be competitive with their pricing.”

The site currently has around 1,000 registered retailers, primarily independents and specialists, and products are usually a mix of new and older stock.

Electronics and computers are the biggest category, making up around 35 per cent of purchases.

Ortso usually takes a seven per cent commission, but the firm is planning on offering commission-free periods to encourage more retailers to sign up, and a national advertising campaign will be launched in the New Year.

“So far retailers seem very positive and motivated – they want alternatives to eBay and Amazon, which are doing a very good job, but they want other methods,” Jones said.