eBay Expands Reach to 850 U.S. Cities

Dominant online auctioneer eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) extended its reach to 850 U.S. cities Tuesday through an agreement with CitiQuest.com, a national network of city-specific portals.

Under the agreement, visitors to specific city sites within CitiQuest will be able to click on an eBay icon to connect directly to one of the 57 regional auction sites that eBay operates within its national Web portal. eBay promotes its local sites as a way to “avoid unnecessary handling” when a shopper is looking to buy something fragile, get an item quickly or avoid shipping fees.

The site “provides a more convenient venue for trading items that are difficult to ship long distances, such as cars, furniture or sporting goods,” eBay says.

The localized eBay sites also highlight items of specific interest to buyers in those regions. For example, the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina eBay auction page features items for Duke University and University of North Carolina boosters, Sir Walter Raleigh fans, collectors of U.S. Civil War items and tobacco-related products.

Local Content Means Loyal Customers?

CitiQuest’s city sites operate on the same principle: Web surfers want access to local content, information and shopping opportunities in geographic areas that are near or familiar to them. “By working with eBay, CitiQuest.com once again expands the geographically targeted services to our users,” CitiQuest.com CEO Dan Johnson said.

From the CitiQuest.com city pages, visitors will have direct access to eBay’s regional auction pages and its national home page. Since eBay’s local items are completely integrated into the worldwide eBay site, registered users outside of the local area will also have an opportunity to view and bid on more than 2.3 million items currently listed on the site.

Crowded Market

Launched in September 1999, CitiQuest.com is competing with local pages on several major Web portals for the attention of those consumers who are looking for localized news, information and entertainment options. Alta Vista Local, Microsoft Network’s Local Lookup feature, Netscape’s Local Channel, Snap’s local pages, Yahoo!’s Get Local pages and the customizable My AOL information pages all offer city-specific news, information and shopping services. Netscape’s Local Channel even features a link to eBay.

CitiQuest draws its information from a database of more than 11 million businesses, providing visitors a choice from more than 2,500 categories in the directory’s menu system. “The site is designed to be an interesting, informative and highly personalized experience for all local information. With CitiQuest.com, consumers are offered comprehensive local information that encourages them to visit CitiQuest.com on a daily basis,” the company said.

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