BT Tradespace drags small biz kicking and screaming onto Web 2.0

eBay, Yellow Pages and Facebook walk into a bar...

BT says 21,000 small businesses have signed up for its Tradespace website and ecommerce platform since it launched in April.

Tradespace boss Ivan Croxford said members are finding that the sites were indexing well in Google, but would not give The Reg any traffic figures for entries in its Web 2.0 Phonebook. "It's early days," he said. "How good the site is is up to them."

All the Tradespace sites we've viewed look a lot like a slightly chaotic Wordpress blog.

Tradespace offers businesses with between one and 10 employees an online presence without the expense of professional web design or hassle of setting up ecommerce. It allows up to five free product listings, and customers can buy using Paypal, which BT adds a five per cent charge to for itself.

Business who pay a £15 per month subscription get unlimited product listings and a smaller levy creamed off their sales, eBay-style.

BT is trying hard to push the networking features of Tradespace. While the value of a company blog to your local scrapyard may be questionable, Croxford reckons a lot of the early use has been by businesses contacting each other through the site.

The next stage of the project is to start punting it more to consumers, as well as recruiting more companies. The next big update, towards the end of this month, will allow visitors to create a profile so they can ask businesses and other consumers questions, form groups around particular interests, and review products.

BT is calling the experiment "social commerce". ®

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