Stuff's managing director, Simon van Wyk, said the initiative would sound the death knell for traditional paid classifieds.
"Online classifieds is an emerging market globally and, according to Forrester Research, the internet will eliminate traditional classifieds and reduce print classifieds revenue by $US4.7 billion by 2003," Wyk said. "In the US, online classifieds services have already driven advertising prices down by 90 per cent."
Van Wyk said the initiative, Stuff Classifieds, was planning to acquire market share from traditional classified services such as those offered by major daily news publications. "We're targeting our service at the existing users of traditional classifieds. For too long consumers have been held over a barrel by media organisations that are dependent upon classifieds revenue. Now they (consumers) have an instant and accessible alternative."
The free "basic" listings include unlimited advertising text, immediate availability of ads and national coverage. For a fee, sellers can choose to enhance listings by placing them in a "feature" category, on the Stuff homepage, or adding a picture.
Van Wyk said the introduction of online classifieds recognised that "most people didn't want to waste their time bidding on a second-hand Commodore" through auction sites. He said the experience of Stuff.com.au, and requests from its buyers and sellers, had proven that some items -- such as second-hand cars -- were more suited to be sold through classifieds than an online auction.
Wyk said Stuff Classifieds had listed more than 500 cars in the first day of trading.
Stuff Classifieds was the first of a number of new trading applications intended to develop Stuff.com.au into a site where users can buy and sell products using any method they choose, he said.