Australians increasingly click with the online marketplace
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 Australians increasingly click with the online marketplace

SYDNEY -- What has happened to the notice boards in supermarkets that offered unwanted kittens to good homes, lifts to work in the city center for those willing to help pay for gasoline and sewing machines that needed a bit of work?
They have mostly migrated to Internet auction sites like eBay.
 But more and more of the informal buy/sell business is also finding its way online through niche websites that both make money for internet entrepreneurs and meet an altruistic urge that in marketing jargon is called collaborative consumption.
 “It's the idea that, as consumers, we waste a lot of the things we consume,” said Will Emmett, 23, the business development manager of a Melbourne start-up courier site called MeeMeep.
 “You have a three-bedroom apartment but only use two rooms, or you might have a book that sits on your bookshelf that you might have read once and continues to sit there for 10 or 20 years when the useful life of that book is still going,” Emmett said, urging Australians to list those wasted assets.
 MeeMeep matches people going places with courier jobs they could do at the same time. The MeeMeep website engine does the matching, and Emmett and his chums take a cut of the price agreed between the provider and the person served.
 “We had someone in a surfing competition in Lorne who left their wetsuit in Melbourne. They needed their wetsuit in about four hours, and it got there,” Emmett said when identifying a typical example of the website's 400 jobs undertaken so far.
 “If you think that someone's going that way anyway, it's a waste not to act on it,” he said.
 As with other sites, there is a green sheen to MeeMeep. Getting someone already in transit to take something along keeps further vehicles off the road, saves gasoline, helps the environment and, importantly, gives a nice feeling of righteousness to both parties.
 When Rebecca Mckechnie had her bicycle stolen while in training for a triathlon, she turned to a site called Openshed to appeal for the loan of a machine so she could compete in the Perth race. That is not something you could do on eBay.
 Chris from Sydney's Bondi Beach, who also uses the Openshed website, is offering to hire out his 2.2-metre surfboard for AU$15 (US$16) a day. For another A$15, you can borrow his bass guitar for the day too.
 What the more successful collaborative consumption websites have in common is secure payment systems and the Wi-Fi wizardry of smartphone and tablet applications.
   Source:     Author: Sid Astbury