Worldwide, online auction sites are the way that many people buy a variety of products, but often they lack local feel and focus. This is one of the main reasons that Switzerland-based ricardo.ch online auction site has been so successful and since launch a decade ago, is now used by over 2 million registered users, pinging 340,000 unique visits per day.
Ricardo is also one of the first Swiss companies to deploy a Windows 8 app, making it even easier for its customers to upload, offer, bid and buy all kinds of items, wherever and whenever. We've asked Paulina Wielinska, who is in charge of the mobile business at ricardo.ch, to tell us why the company felt this was the way to go.
Ricardo has been so successful because we are focused on creating a marketplace just for Swiss users. We are not the only dedicated Swiss online auction site, but we are the market leader in the country. We are constantly looking at ways in which to maintain that advantage, by looking at how we can serve customers even better and a big part of that is our mobile strategy. Mobile is important to us because it increases our penetration and drives more traffic to our website. We have to go where customers are and these days, that is increasingly on their mobile devices, not just smartphones but tablets too.
We’ve already deployed iOS and Android apps and that’s helped us to grow our mobile traffic, but we really believe that Windows 8 has huge potential and we are very excited to be there from its beginning. We feel that it will definitely give us an edge over our competitors. The app contains no advertising, so income depends on user traffic on the website, which is why it is so important to also reach Windows 8 users.
Because the platform was new to us, there were some ways of doing things that we had to get used to, such as the horizontal scrolling, but Microsoft supported us every step of the way. Despite this being a new platform for us, we were able to bring the Windows 8 app to market in less than 3 months. The design guidelines are very strict and clear and we helped Microsoft fine-tune some of these, for instance where even greater controls were beneficial, or where a more relaxed approach was needed. It was a good collaboration.
Of course, what really matters is the user experience and I love the fact that with our app it is very appealing to the eye, using the Windows user interface which is clear and well-structured. Once you’re familiar with the Windows 8 functionalities and shortcuts, it’s very easy to use. The ‘snap view’ is a differentiator from other platforms: users can track the status of their bids while working in another application.
I encourage other developers to build Windows 8 apps, because it is a positive experience and a great business opportunity. There is a lot of training available, as well as hands-on support from the Microsoft team.
We are top of our market but it’s a competitive one, so it is essential that we continue to look for new opportunities: innovations like Windows 8 helps us create those.”