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PUBLISHING: Local Face Versus Global Computer


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The desire of global online classifieds providers for world market domination has shaken-up the local classifieds industry, particularly in the Western Cape which has a more insular, euro-centric market.

Felix Erken, Managing Director of Junk Mail Publishing Group, the holding company of CapeAds, says that despite the somewhat robotic advance of these global competitors to try to win-over the market, CapeAds is still growing its market share.

Big international companies cannot provide the personal and high-quality customer service that CapeAds, as a locally-based provider, is able to offer.

The aim is to maintain our strong local knowledge underpinned by personal and effective customer service, together with good value add solutions – especially in terms of online and mobile media,” says Erken.

As a local provider, we are extremely customer service-driven. CapeAds is not some faceless machine. We are a customer service-driven company and we still have a local call centre where users can actually call in and speak to a real person,” explains Erken, adding that CapeAds is always nurturing and enhancing its “local-ness”.

CapeAds is a well-known, powerful brand that’s been around for 17 years. The Cape community has a strong affinity with it,” he says.

Erken believes that CapeAds has another advantage over international players, like Gumtree and Craigslist.

CapeAds is available via three mediums; print, online and mobile from which clients can choose the option best suited to their needs. We are here to deliver a value-adding service by making it as big and convenient as possible for buyers and sellers to come together.

Other models in the industry have seen a translation to a purely online facility – especially among some international players that have entered the market.”

Erken is also of the view that even though traditional print advertising will continue to be in slow decline – there is still a loyal strong print readership and the ideal scenario for consumers is to have reach across all three mediums.

Junk Mail Publishing Group also adheres to strict security and quality measures to protect users. All adverts placed online, in print and via mobile must follow a structured format, and all adverts are proofread / moderated. Users who have had an unsatisfactory experience or unpleasant dealings with another buyer or seller also have recourse because they can register a complaint with the call centre.

Last year (2009) saw Junk Mail Publishing Group launch a new strategy for its online business which saw it dump subscription fees, allow unlimited access to all adverts on and; and make the placing of trade adverts online free. The company also overhauled its internal mechanisms so that all adverts (placed via online, mobile, SMS or the call centre) appear on the websites immediately after being placed.

CapeAds Online was then incorporated into Junk Mail Online to provide a unified, easy-to-use and easy-to-navigate platform where CapeAds’ users are exposed to local content from the Western Cape as well as Junk Mail Online’s national content. This makes it easier to interact and trade with a wider, national audience.

Since reconditioning the CapeAds online offering, the number of free ads placed on the site has doubled, with an average of 15 000 fresh ads uploaded each week.

Erken says the Group sees the arrival of international online classifieds services as a welcome challenge to be better at its own game.

Competition in the online classifieds space is heating up and the playing field is also changing. Local websites must learn to do things differently and better if they are to thrive. Our growth shows that we are doing something right,” he concludes.

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