New entry fuels discount retail

Europe-wide “co-shopping” venture Letsbuyit.com has set a target UK launch date for October in its bid to establish a leading position in the online discount retailing sector.

Europe-wide “co-shopping” venture Letsbuyit.com (http://www.letsbuyit.com) has set a target UK launch date for October in its bid to establish a leading position in the online discount retailing sector.

The company, which is in the process of hiring a 15- to 20-strong UK-based team, last week rolled out a “pre-launch” site offering &£10 discounts on initial orders to UK customers registering ahead of the official launch.

The shopping service aims to provide a range of ever-increasing discounts on goods, depending on the volume of aggregated orders secured from customers across its sites during time-limited sales periods.

Customers will initially be offered a range of home electronics, DIY, sports, travel and computing goods. The company also intends to examine customer feedback to explore users’ demands for it to negotiate “co-shopping” deals with manufacturers and suppliers in other sectors.

The planned UK roll-out follows the launch this month of Loot-backed i-BID, which plans to develop its discount sales service into a fully integrated online business. I-BID, in common with many other discount sites, allows consumers to bid against each other to obtain branded goods at unfixed, discounted prices.

But London-based Letsbuyit.com executive Kolja Platen insists the growth of online auction and discounted sales sites offers consumers a different model to the “co-shopping” concept.

“The whole idea is that the more customers sign up to buy, the cheaper the goods become, in accordance with pre-arranged agreements with suppliers,” he says. “In that sense, people are not taking a bet with an offer or getting into a ‘reverse auction’ situation, which they may do with other sites. Our aim is to help drive prices down towards wholesale levels.”

The company has attracted a modest 20,000 registrations in Sweden since its launch in mid-summer. Last month, Letsbuyit.com extended its service to Denmark, Norway and Finland, is it hoping to add Germany to its list of territories.

The company is in the process of moving its headquarters from Stockholm to Amsterdam.

New Media is edited by Michael Kavanagh, michael_kavanagh@compuserve.com

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