Amazon moves to take on Gumtree and Craigslist


Once upon a time we used to look up local tradespeople in a big yellow book. Now Amazon founder Jeff Bezos wants to revolutionise the search for plumbers, piano tuners or the nearest chimney sweep in the same way as he has transformed the global retail industry.

In a long-awaited move, it has been reported that the giant online vendor is testing a new system in the United States that links services to the thousands of products it sells. If it is successful it is likely to be rolled out worldwide.

The move would offer a massive competition to existing trades-ratings sites as well as platforms such as Craigslist and Gumtree in the UK, analysts said. eBay is already testing a similar service in the UK called "eBay Hire".

It is estimated that the average Briton spends £70 a year on Amazon. The scheme is expected to operate by linking the purchase of a washing machine through Amazon, for example, to the details of approved installers who would be ranked according to the company’s "A-to-Z Guarantee".

Anthony Quigley, founder and director of the Digital Marketing Institute said Amazon’s move into services was inevitable. “What is surprising is that it has taken this long. The challenge is that it is very complex matching so many services to so many products and they will have to do it city by city. But Jeff Bezos is determined. Any business he goes after he will make sure he dominates it,” he said.

Amazon, which started as a book retailer in 1995, announced profits of £64m in the first quarter of 2014. The maker of the Kindle has recently expanded into streaming video with the launch of its popular Fire TV box which was launched in direct competition to Apple’s set-top product.

The company has so far declined to comment on the reports which claim it is using the same approach in the testing process as it did when it launched its grocery delivery service Fresh in Seattle, followed by San Francisco and Los Angeles last year.