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Last Updated: Friday, 15 April 2005, 17:10 GMT 18:10 UK
The People's Web

What would you do if you wanted to challenge heavyweights like eBay, Google and Yellow Pages at their own game?

We have a viewer who is doing just that, aiming to undercut the big advertisers and auction websites, and it's all happening from a humble base near Gatwick Airport in West Sussex.

The viewer in question is Mark Tuppen, a pilot of passenger jets and now also an internet entrepreneur.

One payment

Like many new businesses the People's Web, started with some idle chat at the local pub - that was four years ago.

And the early meetings at the founders' homes were fuelled by pasties from Bannisters the local baker.

They were also driven on by the belief that they were making a pricing breakthrough.

This was that you paid one price and then had as many adverts as you wanted.

They see it as a matchmaking site - they don't handle or get involved in the money that changes hands between buyers and sellers and providers of services.


This is what the People's Web is charging.

For consumers to advertise things for sale - 5 a year regardless of how many things.

For services and trades like plumbers to advertisers - 25.

And for retailers to put all their goods on - 100.

Although there are big discounts at the moment to get customers on board.

Big boys

The company is up against some giant companies.

Like the internet auction site eBay.

It charges an insertion fee of 75p for an item worth 25, based on the starting price, and a Final Value Fee of 5.25% of the winning bid - all per item.

Or Yellow Pages, where for a business the basic listing is free, but highlighting such as special type would start at 34 in London, rising to hundreds of pounds, and a Priority Advert on the internet would cost 149 for a year.

These players already have the high volumes Mark dreams of.

What the team knows is that the internet is an unforgiving place to trade.

Competitors will take what they need from the People's Web model and try to push them aside.

And although they already have several thousand subscribers the race is on to get enough on board to convince other potential users that it's worth posting their possessions on the site.

Student Guide

The People's Web is a place where anyone can buy and sell almost anything.

It's just an electronic version of a street market.

Listing items on the website is like setting a stall in the market place.

People browse the site or are on a mission to buy a particular item.

Look at people in the market place. They are either pottering around the stalls looking for an interesting bargain or are busy searching and comparing the prices of jeans, apples, trainers or flowers.

If you are looking for something specific, the People's Web saves you the search.

Because when you fill in your requirements, the system searches for matches that fit your price requirements and are as local as possible.

Just think...

The street market and the People's Web are both forms of market.

What other types of market can you think of?

What is the advantage of a search which matches your requirements?

The actual price

Sellers and buyers pay the People's Web when they register.

  • A customer pays 5.
  • A small company pays 25.
  • A large company pays 100.

    It doesn't matter how many For Sale or Wanted ads you put up - the cost stays the same.

    There are no hidden charges so the price you see on the screen is the price you pay.

    Some trading websites have hidden charges which make the actual price a lot higher than it appears.

    Just think...

    What advantages and disadvantages are there for buyers and sellers of having a fixed price for as many ads as you want?

    What effect do the hidden charges have on buyers and sellers?

    What makes a price?

    Sellers can list items at any price they chose but unless it is at a price people want to pay - they won't sell.

    Price is all a question of agreement between buyers and sellers.

    Businesses work hard to set prices which cover costs, provide a profit and customers are happy to pay.

    Just think...

    What happens when a clothes shop hasn't sold all its stock at the end of the season?

    What happens when a toy becomes the top favourite for Christmas?

    If you've covered demand and supply curves - draw some to show what happens in both these situations.

    How does the People's Web help this process?

    How does an auction site like eBay help buyers and sellers to arrive at the price they are both happy with?

    The BBC's Simon Gompertz
    "The People's Web started with some idle chat at the local pub"


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